Professional socialisation of family ecology and consumer science students at South African Universities
Thesis(PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.
Professional socialisation can be described as a subconscious process whereby persons internalise behavioural norms and standards and form a sense of identity and commitment to a professional field. The primary goal of professional socialisation is considered to be internalisation of the professional culture and the development of a professional identity. It is learned through interaction with professionals and educators during a student’s education. It is a continuous, life-long process of learning formal knowledge, skills and rules, as well as informal and tacit knowledge, norms, values and loyalties within the profession. An understanding of the professional socialisation process is vital to all persons involved in postsecondary education, for it is the professional socialisation process that allows education to achieve its goals. This dissertation determined whether students of Family Ecology and Consumer Sciences in South Africa are professionally socialised into developing a professional identity within the Family Ecology and Consumer Sciences profession. The objectives of the research included; to examine through a literature review the development of the profession and to propose a new position for the profession in South Africa; to identify the factors that influenced South African students when they decided on Family Ecology and Consumer Science as a field of study and the factors that influenced them while they were obtaining their degree at a South African university; to determine whether Family Ecology and Consumer Science students evidence the developmental stages of the Cohen model of the professional socialisation process; to determine Family Ecology and Consumer Science professionals’ perceptions of their professional preparation environments; and to analyse and compare Family Ecology and Consumer Science programmes at South African universities. A quantitative research methodology in the form of an analytical survey was undertaken with the participation of students and staff at South African universities where Family Ecology and Consumer Science programmes are offered by means of postal questionnaires. Three questionnaires were used in the research, namely; the Professional Socialisation Influences (PSI) questionnaire; the Professional Socialisation Staging Scale (PS3) questionnaire; and the Emphases, Process and Influences on the Professional Preparation Programmes questionnaire. A conceptual framework was used to compare the Family Ecology and Consumer Science professional preparation programmes presented at South African universities.. Descriptive statistics and the factor analysis method were used to examine the objectives to determine which factors influenced students to select Family Ecology and Consumer Sciences and the factors that influenced them while they were studying for a degree at a South African university. Descriptive statistics, ANOVA and Bonferroni Post-Hoc tests were used to examine whether Family Ecology and Consumer Science students evidenced the developmental stages of the Cohen model of the professional socialisation process. Descriptive statistics were used to examine Family Ecology and Consumer Science professionals’ perceptions of their professional preparation environments. The main findings drawn from the study indicated that Family Ecology and Consumer Sciences students, when selecting Family Ecology and Consumer Science as a profession, were influenced by the ‘Service Ideal’ and ‘Entrepreneurial’ factors. Aspects that elicited the highest percentage of positive responses from the respondents were; ‘desire to help others’; ‘a desire to improve the quality of family living’; ‘a desire to help people learn to do things’; and ‘entrepreneurial possibilities of the course’. While studying for a degree in Family Ecology and Consumer Science, they were influenced by the factors ‘Student Interaction’ and ‘Departmental Influences’. Aspects such as; ‘career opportunities available’; ‘application of what I learned to my personal life’; and ‘employment opportunities available’; were those that had the biggest influence.