The perceived importance of the occupational work ethic among adult students in technical colleges
Palmer, Lisa Landrum
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The purpose of this study was to explain adult students’ perceived importance of the occupational work ethic by using their personal characteristics, work experience, and exposure to a work ethic program in Georgia. Research questions included: (1) How do students rate the importance of specific work ethic indicators? (2) To what extent can the perceived importance of the three dimensions of work ethic be explained separately by the personal characteristics, work experience, and program exposure of the students? and (3) To what extent can the perceived importance of the three dimensions of work ethic be explained jointly by the personal characteristics, work experience, and program exposure of the students? Perceptions were measured with an instrument, What Really Matters in the Workplace. The sample included 287 students at one technical college in Georgia. In answering question one, the means of the 22 work ethic items were calculated in rank order. Data analysis revealed that students rank the following as most important: dependable, reliable, follow regulations, considerate, not being tardy, not being irresponsible, courteous, efficient, not being hostile, and resourceful. In answering question two, t-tests, ANOVA, and correlation were employed. Perceived value as an employee was positively correlated with the importance placed on being dependable, initiative, and interpersonal skills. The amount of emphasis by instructors was positively correlated with the importance placed on initiative and interpersonal skills. Women valued interpersonal skills higher than did men. In answering question three, multivariate analysis found that gender, perceived value as an employee, and the amount of emphasis by instructors jointly affected students’ perceptions about work ethic. Six conclusions drawn included: (1) Students rated all work ethic items as important in the workplace, (2) The work ethic items that were rated in the top ten are related to DTAE’s curriculum, (3) Students’ perceptions of their work experiences impacted the value they placed on all dimensions of work ethic, (4) Faculty made a difference in influencing students’ perceptions about work ethic, (5) Females valued interpersonal skills higher than did males, and (6) The age of the student did not impact the importance placed on work ethic.