Proposal Focus

Practice

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Professional identity is an ongoing process that evolves throughout the undergraduate years of study, and which will hopefully facilitate graduate school and vocational choices that match the student’s skills and sense of vocational calling. Professional Identity (PI), one form of social identity, has been described as the “attitudes, values, knowledge, beliefs, and skills that are shared with others within a professional group” (Adams et al., 2006, p. 56). Understanding the options and opportunities the chosen major may facilitate, allows for a good match between student interests and abilities and the potential career of choice. Developing a strong sense of professionalism is a key component within this process. Fields practiced by many NCFR members, including counseling and gerontology, are studying PI because of its links to important educational processes and outcomes. From the beginning of a student’s college education, PI or professional/vocational identity has been shown to relate to important educational processes and outcomes, including completion of a bachelor’s degree. After graduation, PI has been associated with reduced burnout, increased team functioning, and greater retention in fields such as nursing and related helping professions. These links are supported by Social Identity Theory, which suggests that PI shapes the attitudes and behaviors that can differentiate an individual from members of other professional groups, allowing improved collaborations and occupational flexibility. PI is also increasingly important to the work of Family Life Educators (FLEs) and the profession, as the PI of FLE’s becomes more distinct. For NCFR and for educational programs, studying PI seems wise to help promote FLE’s professional status and to encourage family life educators to remain engaged in the profession. Conference attendance can be used as an instructional tool to guide students towards greater professional identity. The increased need for inter-professional collaboration in delivery of services (e.g., family sciences) and the corresponding rise in inter-professional education, demand clear professional identity as an important training metric and goal. These links are supported by Social Identity Theory, which suggests that attitudes and behaviors can differentiate members of specific professional groups, allowing improved collaborations and occupational flexibility. In 2011, following attendance at a regional professional conference, family science students responded to a retrospective pre-test / post-test survey adapted from the Professional Identity Scale. In a two more recent studies within our school (2016 and 2017), it was found that family science students as well as Education majors, benefited from attendance of a professional conference. The implications for the scholarship of teaching and learning in Family Science, as well as Education, could be widespread. The implications for the scholarship of teaching and learning in family science could be widespread. For example, our results indicate that educational programs in family life education could benefit from regular assessment of PI throughout the curriculum. If PI is improved by specific educational practices, such as experiential and service learning opportunities and field placements, it might be possible to focus on improved PI as a path to improve recruitment and retention of students, as well as wider benefits apparent in our field.

Keywords

professional identity, conference attendance, vocational role

Location

Tiger II

Start Date

9-3-2018 3:30 PM

End Date

9-3-2018 4:15 PM

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Mar 9th, 3:30 PM Mar 9th, 4:15 PM

Building a Professional Identity: The Role of Conferences

Tiger II

Professional identity is an ongoing process that evolves throughout the undergraduate years of study, and which will hopefully facilitate graduate school and vocational choices that match the student’s skills and sense of vocational calling. Professional Identity (PI), one form of social identity, has been described as the “attitudes, values, knowledge, beliefs, and skills that are shared with others within a professional group” (Adams et al., 2006, p. 56). Understanding the options and opportunities the chosen major may facilitate, allows for a good match between student interests and abilities and the potential career of choice. Developing a strong sense of professionalism is a key component within this process. Fields practiced by many NCFR members, including counseling and gerontology, are studying PI because of its links to important educational processes and outcomes. From the beginning of a student’s college education, PI or professional/vocational identity has been shown to relate to important educational processes and outcomes, including completion of a bachelor’s degree. After graduation, PI has been associated with reduced burnout, increased team functioning, and greater retention in fields such as nursing and related helping professions. These links are supported by Social Identity Theory, which suggests that PI shapes the attitudes and behaviors that can differentiate an individual from members of other professional groups, allowing improved collaborations and occupational flexibility. PI is also increasingly important to the work of Family Life Educators (FLEs) and the profession, as the PI of FLE’s becomes more distinct. For NCFR and for educational programs, studying PI seems wise to help promote FLE’s professional status and to encourage family life educators to remain engaged in the profession. Conference attendance can be used as an instructional tool to guide students towards greater professional identity. The increased need for inter-professional collaboration in delivery of services (e.g., family sciences) and the corresponding rise in inter-professional education, demand clear professional identity as an important training metric and goal. These links are supported by Social Identity Theory, which suggests that attitudes and behaviors can differentiate members of specific professional groups, allowing improved collaborations and occupational flexibility. In 2011, following attendance at a regional professional conference, family science students responded to a retrospective pre-test / post-test survey adapted from the Professional Identity Scale. In a two more recent studies within our school (2016 and 2017), it was found that family science students as well as Education majors, benefited from attendance of a professional conference. The implications for the scholarship of teaching and learning in Family Science, as well as Education, could be widespread. The implications for the scholarship of teaching and learning in family science could be widespread. For example, our results indicate that educational programs in family life education could benefit from regular assessment of PI throughout the curriculum. If PI is improved by specific educational practices, such as experiential and service learning opportunities and field placements, it might be possible to focus on improved PI as a path to improve recruitment and retention of students, as well as wider benefits apparent in our field.