Fostering Counseling Students' Career Information Literacy through a Comprehensive Career Web Site

Article excerpt

Counseling students need to become knowledgeable about existing online career development tools to provide effective career development services today. The authors describe the characteristics of a Web site developed to foster career information literacy among students taking graduate career courses and examine its academic usefulness. Student evaluations suggest that the Web site is useful in promoting career information literacy and knowledge. Students who used the Web site showed a significant gain in perceived self-knowledge as well as in actual knowledge of career information. Ways of using the career Web site to improve students' knowledge of online career resources are explored.

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Career development is a major component of most master's degree programs in counseling. To effectively help individuals with career decisions, counselors need to be aware of and comfortable with online career development tools and career information. Today, career counseling students must be able to access career information from a variety of sources, analyze and evaluate this information, and integrate it to construct a knowledge base from which to make informed decisions. Current ways of delivering career information, which include computer- and online-based systems such as the O*NET (onetcenter. org) and the online Occupational Outlook Handbook (Murray, 2003; Stevens & Lundberg, 1998), create a need for counselor educators to train students to acquire technical competencies, learn how to use technology effectively, and become career information literate. In this article, we describe a Web site that has been developed to foster career information literacy, review its academic usefulness, and discuss ways in which it can be used in career courses.

Creating a Comprehensive Career Web Site to Foster Career Information Literacy

The need to help students continually advance their computer literacy, competencies, and knowledge led the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) and the National Career Development Association (NCDA) to promote the use of computers and the Internet in career guidance and counseling (ACES/NCDA, 2000, p. 11). Both organizations asserted that technology should be used in various ways to teach students how to evaluate and use information systems in career counseling (p. 8). "To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (American Library Association, 1989, [paragraph] 3).

Traditional research papers (e.g., based on printed books and articles) and traditional library skills (e.g., use of a library's catalogs and indexes of printed documents) are therefore not sufficient to achieve information literacy. To describe the required knowledge base of students at the completion of their counseling education program, the ACES (1999) Technology Interest Network developed the Technical Competencies for Counselor Education Students: Recommended Guidelines for Program Development. Included among these competencies are the ability to use technology to develop Web pages, group presentations, letters, and reports; to use e-mail; to help clients search for information about careers, employment opportunities, and educational and training opportunities via the Internet; and to evaluate the quality of Internet information. These objectives have also been endorsed by the American Counseling Association (Kuo & Srebalus, 2003), and the NCDA (1997) stated that "it is mandatory that the career counseling profession gain experience with this medium and evaluate its effectiveness through targeted research" (Need for Research and Review section).

The Internet and its subsystem, the World Wide Web, have contributed substantially to the dissemination of career information (Karper, Robinson, & Casado, 2005; Kuo & Srebalus, 2003). …