Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Ieda M. Santos


Strategies for Developing Interpersonal Communication Skills for Business Students


Sharon A. Pope

M.B.A., Cleveland State University, 1995

M.S.H.P/A., University of Cincinnati, 1983

B.Ed., University of Toledo, 1981

Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Education

Walden University

December 2015

Research has shown that interpersonal communication skills (ICS) are important for employment success, particularly if they are learned by students during college. A private university in Ohio identified the need to enhance students' ICS; however, the university's faculty lacked strategies to teach those required skills. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate perceptions of key administrative staff (KAS), faculty, and alumni about the implementation of ICS instruction to foster students' work-ready skills. Guided by the social skill component of Goleman's emotional intelligence theory and related research, this study examined key applications of ICS including communication, collaboration, conflict management, and cross cultural awareness. Three KAS with extensive knowledge of university practices were purposefully sampled to take part in a focus group addressing current and recommended ICS instructional strategies. Network sampling, informed by the KAS, identified 23 faculty members who completed an open-ended online questionnaire and 4 alumni who participated in semi-structured interviews targeting their perceptions of ICS in the classroom. In addition to these sources of data, the researcher's reflective journal was analyzed to examine implementation and perceptions of current and alternate ICS instructional strategies. Data were transcribed, reviewed, then coded inductively without a prior list of codes resulting themes of presenting, self-branding, group/team work, networking, global awareness, and diversity. These findings were used to create a faculty professional development series on effective ICS instruction that can be used to promote positive social change for the university, students, and community by preparing graduates ready for success in the workforce.