Career Self-Efficacy and Perceptions of Parent Support in Adolescent Career Development

Article excerpt

The authors examined the relative contributions of both proximal and distal supports to the career interests and vocational self-efficacy in a multiethnic sample (N= 139) of middle school adolescents. Consistent with Social Cognitive Career Theory, it was found that (a) vocational self-efficacy and career planning/exploration efficacy consistently predicted young adolescents' career interests across Holland (J. L. Holland, D. R. Whitney, N. S. Cole, & J. M. Richards, 1969) themes; (b) gender and career gender-typing predicted interests in Realistic, Investigative, and Social careers; and (c) perceived parent support accounted for 29% to 43% of the total unique variance in vocational self-efficacy for all Holland theme careers.

The role of parents and the role of professional school counselors go hand in hand in the career development of young adolescents. School guidance programs have an underlying purpose to assist students in making informed education and career decisions and to provide the resources and materials to ensure that this process unfolds in a systematic and comprehensive manner (Kosteck-Bunch, 2000). Guidance and counseling are integral parts of each school's total educational program, which is designed to support, facilitate, and encourage classroom instruction and student achievement. The National Career Development Guidelines (Kobylarz, 1996), established in consultation with leading career development experts, recommended that professional school counselors attempt to establish student competencies around several broad areas that include career planning and occupational exploration. Middle school students who develop competency in career planning and exploration gain confidence in such career development tasks as understanding the relationship between learning and work, understanding how to gain the information necessary to seek and obtain various jobs, and understanding the process of career planning (Lapan, Gysbers, Multon, & Pike, 1997; O'Brien, Dukstein, Jackson, Tomlinson, & Kamatuka, 1999).

The role of parental influence and support outside the school setting has also been hypothesized to have a significant, positive impact on a child's career development process. Astin (1984) stated that parents act as "value socializers," shaping their children's perceptions of the appropriateness of occupational-related decisions. Eccles (1994) theorized that parents are "expectancy socializers" who greatly influence their children's self-perceptions of being academically and vocationally competent. Young (1994) described parents as the primary providers of encouragement for their adolescents to reach vocational goals through both the modeling of career-related, goal-directed behavior and by actively providing career-related learning experiences.

Research has demonstrated some of the positive effects of parent support on adolescent and young adult career development. For example, rural adolescents' perceptions of parent support for pursuing occupations that represent certain Holland (Holland, Whitney, Cole, & Richards, 1969) themes was a significant predictor of their interests in, vocational self-efficacy for, and valuing of these occupations (Lapan, Hinkelman, Adams, & Turner, 1999). Perceived support from fathers was found to be related to the education plans and career expectations of Mexican American high school girls (McWhirter, Hackett, & Bandalos, 1998). Parental encouragement was found to have significant direct effects on learning experiences (grades in mathematics and science), efficacy, and outcome expectancies among undergraduate college students (Ferry, Fouad, & Smith, 2000). These various correlates of the career development of adolescents have been modeled in a newer theory of career development, social cognitive career theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994,2000).

SCCT (Lent et al., 1994,2000) provides a model for understanding how the perceived support of parents and the confidence gained through student participation in comprehensive guidance programs interact to support the career development of adolescents. …