Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


5.1 PSYCHOLOGY, Social sciences, 6. HUMANITIES

Publication Details

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Technological University Dublin, 2019.


Previous research has demonstrated that higher social and emotional competence (EI) results in increased life and career success. To date, EI coaching programmes have been delivered in higher education and in the workplace and have demonstrated success in terms of increased EI competence, post intervention. However, to date no attempt has been made in an Irish context to design and deliver a tailored EI coaching programme, based on the stated needs of employers. This study aimed to address this gap in EI research. It was exploratory in nature with a mixed method design being employed. In Phase One, a survey of employers in key vocational sectors of Irish industry was conducted to gather their opinions on (i) the importance of EI competencies and (ii) the current levels being displayed by graduates, on entering the workplace. Phase One concluded with a series of semi-structured interviews with employers (n = 5). Based on these results and due to the iterative nature of the research, a sample of final year engineering students (n = 62) in two institutes of technology (IOTs) in Dublin were recruited to participate in Phase Two. Participants were tested at baseline utilising an accredited test of EI, the Bar-On EQ-i2.0 and one general and one bespoke EI coaching programme were designed and delivered. In Phase Three, each participant met with an employer for a mock EI competency based interview, followed by post-intervention testing. Key results demonstrated that employers rated all competencies as either ‘very important’ or ‘important’, with highest ratings of ‘good’ being attributed to current levels among graduates. Scores on the EQ-i2.0 increased for both groups, post-intervention with statistically significant differences found between the groups for some of the competencies. A template for a TU Dublin X-Cel (Excellence in Personal Development) award has been designed based on results from this study.