Emotional Intelligence and Professional Education: The Use of Narrative Journaling
Emotional intelligence (EI) or the ability to understand one's own emotional state and the emotional state of others is hypothesized as critical for appropriately and effectively connecting with others. It has also been linked to academic and professional practice success and competence. Research suggests social work students do enter their professional education program with an “average” level of EI. To be effective and demonstrate competence, professional education programs whose focus requires interacting with people with compassionate and empathic understanding, i.e. medicine, counseling, psychology, psychiatry even education itself, must first increase student emotional competence for connectedness to others. A narrative journaling component in curricula may increase academic and practice competence and effectiveness.
Research suggests a strong relationship between EI and academic performance suggesting the potential for enhancing social emotional learning (SEL) in graduate classrooms. Literature suggests cognitive and emotional development are inseparable and emphasizing one over the other leads to diminished learning and job performance. Literature notes corporate executives view graduate education as too theoretical and lacking consideration for the emotional development of students. Using the process of narrative journaling for a cohort of social work students to express and explore their affective reaction(s) to social work course content and issues; receive feedback that facilitates self- reflection and self-exploration is important to education, practice and work competency and effectiveness. Narrative journals can be the educational tool to increase and assess student growth in and strengthening of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.
The aim is to develop a SEL component for infusion into social work and other professional learning curriculum. It is hypothesis students will manifest EI above their pretest mean at post-test with the intervention of narrative journaling. Implications for professional education and practice strategies, techniques, skills, and for overall social and professional competence will be presented.
Keywords: Emotion, Behavior, Emotional Intelligence, Academic Performance, Practice Effectiveness, Professional Competence, Journaling, Narrative Journals
Dr. James Smith
Associate Professor, Department of Social Work, Washburn University