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Blog » Connecting Classwork to Workplace Success

Rebecca Johnson—For faculty who struggle with persuading career-minded students to devote time and intellectual energy to a general education course, R. Eric Landrum has devised a strategy.

Landrum, a professor of psychology at Boise State University, teaches a course called “Introduction to the Psychology Major.” This required course for prospective psychology majors orients them to the discipline and informs them about academic requirements, expectations, opportunities, and the like, providing the students with information and experiences that ensure “truth in advertising” if they decide to pursue a degree or career in psychology.

Early in his class, Landrum introduces students to the 2007 study by Phil Gardner at the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University: “Moving Up of Moving Out of the Company? Factors that Influence the Promoting or Firing of New College Hires.” In this study, Gardner updates the work conducted by faculty at Johnson and Wales University in the early 1990s that showed the behaviors and attitudes most likely to get a recent college grad disciplined or fired.

R. Eric Landreth's slide on factors influencing lack of success or job loss for new college grads
R. Eric Landrum uses this slide to encourage students to view their classroom activities as training for the workplace.

Even though the study was published in 2007, Landrum says that he still uses this slide to connect students’ academic behavior to workplace behavior, whether they continue in psychology or not. This slide is an effective motivator because it helps students realize that “by practicing what not to do now (display a lack of attention to detail, be late for work, misuse technology, etc.), they are practicing how to keep their first job later.”

The message that resonates with many of Landrum’s students is that even writing a paper in APA format can become training for the workplace. “For item 3, failure to follow instructions, I tell them that by practicing the tedious details of APA format in psychology, they are practicing attention to detail. So although many students will not use APA format after they graduate, they will need to possess that skill to be able to follow instructions and pay attention to details.”


Gardner, P. (2007). Moving up or moving out of the company? Factors that promote the promoting or firing of new college hires. Research brief retrieved from College Employment Research Institute, Michigan State University.


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