Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

The Psychological Well-Being Manifesting among Master's Students in Industrial and Organisational Psychology

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

The Psychological Well-Being Manifesting among Master's Students in Industrial and Organisational Psychology

Article excerpt

Introduction

Industrial and organisational psychologists often consult to the optimisation of psychological well-being amongst individuals, groups and organisations as their clients. Effective performance in this task requires that psychologists not only know the relevant theory, but also illustrate psychological well-being in their professional roles and personal lives (Lowman, 2002). This research studied the psychological well-being of first-year part-time coursework master's degree students in Industrial and Organisational Psychology (IOP) as the platform for their last formal educational endeavour towards learning to consult on psychological well-being.

IOP is the scientific study of human behaviour in the workplace. It applies psychological theories and principles to organisations, towards the optimisation of individual, group and organisational performance (Cummings & Worley, 2015; Van Tonder & Roodt, 2008). According to South African law, an industrial psychologist requires a bachelor's degree, honours, a coursework master's degree and a 12-month internship in IOP. These degrees are all regularly inspected for approval by the Board for Psychology, a division of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The successful completion of all the above parts leads to the students' professional registration as an industrial psychologist (HPCSA, 2016).

This research focussed on the first-year part-time coursework master's degree in IOP at a large South African university. The selection criteria included full-time employment in an organisation in an IOP role, previous academic performance, numeracy, literacy, personality and other relevant competencies assessed in a structured assessment centre. The degree is presented over three academic years. The first year consists of coursework in five academic modules, namely Career, Organisational and Personnel Psychology, Psychometrics and Psychological Research Methods, as well as a practical module in Personal Growth. In this practical module, students keep track of and process their personal experiences with one another through blogging. Students attend compulsory residential on-campus workshops in all six modules, totalling 18 full days spread over the academic year and presented by 14 staff members who act as facilitators. The students' assignment and examination marks in the modules contribute 50% to the degree mark. The second and third academic years consist of a dissertation of limited scope under the supervision of a designated supervisor and contribute the other 50% to the degree mark.

In the researchers' discussion with the master's programme manager, the following data came to the fore. Whereas most students pass the first year, only 60% complete their dissertation and thus complete the master's degree. This statistic is of concern on many levels. On the macro level, the university authorities are concerned about throughput, especially because of the labour intensity of the degree (a ratio of 14 lecturers to 20 students), which has subsidy implications. On the meso level the lecturing staff, who are also assigned as supervisors for students' dissertations in the first year, do not have the advantage of publishing the research project with the student. On the professional level the university is not able to deliver the desired number of industrial psychologists to take up their roles in practice. To solve this systemic problem of low throughput and loss of research, publications and professional registration opportunities, the discussion turned to the coping behaviours of the first-year part-time coursework students. These students seem to cope well cognitively - their intellectual competence serves as a selection criterion, they rate the coursework content and the facilitator inputs as cognitively challenging, and they have an above-average pass rate. In contrast, in terms of emotional coping, a recent systems psychodynamic study (Cilliers & Harry, 2012) on students in this specific first-year part-time coursework master's degree programme illustrated their high levels of performance anxiety, emotional exhaustion, introjected emotional and relational incompetence, a sense of not being good enough and therefore pretending to be happy, resilient and coping well to impress their lecturers. …

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