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Psychological attributes and work-integrated learning: an international study

Maureen T B Drysdale (Department of Psychology, St. Jerome's University/University of Waterloo,Waterloo, Canada)
Margaret L McBeath (School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada)
Kristina Johansson (Department of Education, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden)
Sheri Dressler (Department of Counselor Education, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
Elena Zaitseva (Teaching and Learning Academy, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore – on an international level – the relationship between work-integrated learning (WIL) and several psychological attributes (i.e. hope, procrastination, self-concept, self-efficacy, motivation, and study skills) believed to be important for a successful transition to the labor market.


A between-subjects design was used with participants in one of two groups: WIL and non-WIL. The design provided data on the effects of the independent variable (WIL) on a number of dependent variables (attributes) across four countries. Data were collected via an online survey and analyzed using a series of ANOVAs and MANOVAs.


WIL and non-WIL students in the four countries shared several attributes – however – significant differences also emerged. WIL compared to non-WIL students compared reported stronger math and problem solving self-concepts, yet weaker effort regulation and perceived critical thinking skills. WIL students were more extrinsically motivated than their non-WIL peers in three of the four countries. Female students in WIL reported being the most anxious compared to other students.

Research limitations/implications

Self-reports to measure psychological attributes and the small sample sizes at some of the institutions are limitations.


The positive relationship between participation in WIL and several aspects of positive self-concept are provided. In addition, data are provided indicating that overall there are more similarities than differences between WIL and non-WIL students on a number of psychological outcomes. Data also suggests that females who participate in WIL may be at risk for anxiety problems.



Drysdale, M.T.B., McBeath, M.L., Johansson, K., Dressler, S. and Zaitseva, E. (2016), "Psychological attributes and work-integrated learning: an international study", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 20-34.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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