Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Relation of Cognitive Learning Strategies to Psychosocial Employability Attributes Amongst Black Adult Learners in the Economic and Management Sciences Field

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Relation of Cognitive Learning Strategies to Psychosocial Employability Attributes Amongst Black Adult Learners in the Economic and Management Sciences Field

Article excerpt

Introduction

Focus of the study

Globally, the employability of existing and prospective employees continues to be a matter of major concern for employers (Guzman & Choi, 2013; Savickas, 2011). Employability is associated with the notion of lifelong learning in a rapidly changing and technologically advancing knowledge economy (Steur, Jansen & Hofman, 2012; Williams, 2012). Employers and their employees increasingly realise that in order to flourish in a highly competitive and turbulent business environment they need to invest in the continued education, training and development of their employees (Tshilongamulenzhe, 2012). In addition, the South African national skills development legislation emphasises the design of workplace-based training and learning programmes to enhance the employability of employees (Coetzee, 2013a; Tshilongamulenzhe, 2012). Research also provides empirical evidence of the importance employers and employees attach to continuous learning and development opportunities as aspects of the employees' employability, retention, organisational commitment and job and career satisfaction (Joao & Coetzee, 2012; Tshilongamulenzhe, 2012; Van Dyk & Coetzee, 2012).

Learning practitioners involved in training and development initiatives further realise the importance of understanding how individuals' learning preferences and personality attributes influence their motivation and ability to learn and perform optimally in a learning and assessment environment (Choi & Jacobs, 2011; Kiguwa & Silva, 2007). Although research indicates that individuals' learning style preferences drive the actual skills or competencies that they require to optimally and successfully engage in learning and assessment activities (Sugahara & Boland, 2010), research on how adult learners' cognitive learning strategies influence the psychosocial attributes they need to manage and sustain their employability has been lacking. Understanding the relationship between these variables could potentially bring new insights to the design of formal learning and development programmes and help to further the continued employability of adult learners attending these programmes.

Background to the study

Recent research has made important progress in understanding the notions of cognitive learning styles and preferences in workplace-based learning (Choi & Jacobs, 2011; Hosford & Siders, 2010; Kiguwa & Silva, 2007) and psychosocial employability attributes in sustaining individuals' employability in the contemporary world of work (Bezuidenhout, 2011; Fugate, Kinicki & Ashforth, 2004; Pool & Sewell, 2007; Potgieter, 2012). In the context of the present study, the notion of learning strategies is understood as the cognitive-behavioural strategies individuals prefer to adopt when engaging in formal learning and studying activities (Williams, Rudyk & Staley, 2004). Learning and studying activities may involve preparing for an examination or any type of formal assessment activity that forms part of the individual's lifelong learning agenda. Adult learners who engage in formal workplace-based training and learning or further their qualifications at a higher education institution are frequently exposed to formal learning and assessment events (Coetzee, 2013a; Tshilongamulenzhe, 2012).

The presence of specific, identifiable learning strategies indicates the likelihood that an individual will engage in certain cognitive behaviours, thereby enabling one to predict the probability of an individual's preferred cognitive learning behaviours and strengths (Williams et al., 2004). Research by Williams et al. (2004) suggests that individuals are energised or affronted by environmental stimuli that either encourage or discourage the adoption of positive learning behaviours. Similarly, some individuals enjoy dealing with abstracttheoretical information whilst others prefer dealing with factual, practical information when engaging in learning activities. …

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