Emotional Intelligence Competencies Can Be Developed

Pool, Lorraine Dacre, and Pamela Qualter. “Improving Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Self-efficacy through a Teaching Intervention for University Students.” Learning and Individual Differences 22.3 (2012): 306-12. Web.

 Many researchers argue that emotional intelligence plays a significant role in our attitudes, health, well-being, and professional success (P. 306). If this is true, why don’t k-12 schools and colleges create and implement curriculums that support the development of these skills? “As undergraduate students are gaining qualifications, knowledge and skills to prepare them for future lives in the world of work, it would make sense to ensure they are also equipped with knowledge and skills in relation to emotional functioning and with the confidence to enable them to act on these abilities” (P. 306) This study investigates whether it is possible to improve levels of emotional intelligence and emotional self-efficacy in university students through a teaching intervention (P. 307).

Pool et al. hypothesize that “both ability EI and ESE appear to be important predictors of academic success and graduate employability; theoretically, it should also be possible to improve them” (P. 307). Therefore, they designed a study to investigate whether or not it’s possible to improve levels of emotional intelligence and emotional self-efficacy. Using university students, the authors studied the impact that an eleven-week intervention class had on the participants’ EI and ESE competency levels.

The organization of the article is clear, coherent and logical. The article begins with an introduction, which is broken down into subsections. The subsections include the following headings: the importance of EI and ESE (laying the foundation for the importance of emotional intelligence and emotional self-efficacy), Designing EI/ESE teaching interventions (describing the interventions and assessments), and the present study (explaining who the participants were). Following the introduction was the methods section. Again, the authors broke it down into subsections: Participants, Measures, EI Intervention, and Procedure. Throughout this section, the authors provided detailed descriptions of the study. Next, the authors included the findings and discussions section. In the discussion section, the authors reflected on what they learned, acknowledging that there were some limitations of the study.

Prior to conducting this study, there was very little research regarding the ability to improve in EI and ESE. One study that the authors had investigated did not result in any improvements for the participants (this study consisted of a four-week intervention). Therefore, Pool et al. designed their intervention to take place over 11 weeks and found that the intervention resulted in significant participant growth in EI and ESE. The results implicate that people needed a longer period of learning and reflection in order to develop their emotional understanding abilities. These findings should have significant implications to our k-12 schools and universities and what we value as curriculums.

It was evident that the authors performed extensive research on EI and ESE as well as investigating the studies that had already been conducted. During the introduction and throughout the article, they included research for every variable within their study. When designing this particular study, the authors built on the work Nelis et al. (2009).

They began by designing the intervention (based on the Salovey and Mayer Four Branch Model of ability EI) for the study and identifying the pre and post assessments (EI (MSCEIT) and ESE (the Emotional Self Efficacy Scale). Their study included a larger sample size than the study conducted by Nelis et al. Additionally, they included both males and females from diverse academic concentrations. The study also included a control group.

The intervention class was offered to all students as an elective. The class was two hours per week and was eleven weeks in length. “Students completed the MSCEIT and ESES during the first class and were given a report and detailed one-to-one feedback of their results. They were asked to reflect on their results and incorporate these reflections in their first journal entry. The tests were repeated in the final class” (P. 308).

Throughout the class, the teachers implemented various activities including, “mini-lectures, video clips, case studies, group tasks and discussions, role play and an off-campus visit to an art gallery” (P.308). Students were asked to keep a reflective journal as well as respond to essay prompts and case studies.

The findings were positive. After the 11 weeks, participants showed growth in emotional self-efficacy and some aspects of emotional intelligence ability. When measured against the control group as well as their pre-assessments, the intervention group showed significant improvement.

While presenting the findings, the authors noted several limitations of the study. They stated, “one limitation of this study is the reliance on data gathered from a single source, the participants themselves. The use of multiple source methods, possibly including peer ratings of EI pre and post- intervention, would engender greater confidence in the findings” (P. 311). Another limitation included the teachers/tutors that taught the intervention. Because the teachers/tutors play an instrumental role, their EI and ESE need to be considered when making teacher selections.

“Previous research has suggested that higher levels of ability EI and ESE are desirable for a number of important reasons associated with work-related outcomes, academic achievement and graduate employability, but until now there have been few studies that demonstrate it is possible to increase levels of EI and ESE through teaching or training” (P.306). Through this study, we can conclude that it is possible to improve EI ability. The results of this study also show that it is possible to increase a person’s self-efficacy. These findings have significant implications for how we should be teaching and training our elementary, middle school, high school and college students.



Nelis, D., Quoidbach, J., Mikolajczak, M., & Hansenne, M. (2009). Increasing emotional intelligence: (How) is it possible? Personality and Individual Differences, 47, 36–41, doi:10.1016/j.paid2009.01.046.


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