Career Planning Validity of Self-Estimates and Test Estimates of Work-Relevant Abilities

Article excerpt

This study sought to determine whether self-estimates of work-relevant abilities can improve upon the validity of test estimates (scores). Validity for career planning applications was the focus. The study (final sample of 1,620 college students) used 9 self-estimates and test estimates to predict certainty-screened occupational choices grouped by J. L. Holland (1997) types. The addition of ability self-estimates to test estimates substantially improved upon the validity of test estimates alone. Study results (together with previous research) suggest that ability self-estimates can provide efficient additions or alternatives to test estimates during career planning, while substantially broadening the range of abilities under consideration.

As Donald Super noted over 40 years ago, "In choosing an occupation one is, in effect, choosing a means of implementing a self-concept" (1957, p. 196). What might be called "Super's Dictum" has implications for both career counseling and career development, more generally considered. Regarding the former, self-estimates provide a way to make career-relevant self concepts evident to the counselor and counselee, and thus, open for discussion, clarification, and application. Regarding the latter, self-concepts are relevant to understanding career choice.

The general purpose of this study was to determine whether self-estimates of work-relevant abilities can improve upon the validity of test estimates (i.e., test scores) when both are used to facilitate career exploration and planning, hereafter called "career planning." The study's validity analyses addressed the use of self-estimates of work-relevant abilities in a comprehensive, work-world search for occupations with counselee-compatible work tasks, that is, in career planning "for the many." The use of self-estimates in personnel selection, college admissions, and so forth was not investigated, nor is it proposed.

In what follows, the term work-relevant abilities includes noncognitive abilities in addition to cognitive abilities, and it subsumes "basic and cross-functional skills" (Peterson, Mumford, Borman, Jeanneret, & Fleishman, 1999, p. 51). Many of these abilities are relevant to career planning, but relatively few are routinely assessed by tests. For a number of years, self-estimates have been used to address this problem. However, computerbased literature searches using PsycINFO (http://www.csa.com) and the Social Science Citation Index (http://www.webofsciencc.com) located only five studies (summarized below) that determined whether self-estimates can improve upon the career planning validity of test estimates. Because both self-estimates and test estimates of abilities are readily available to career counselors, research on this topic would appear to be important to the practice of career counseling.

Estimates of skill self-confidence and self-efficacy were not addressed in this study because no one appears to view them as ability estimates. For example, Betz, Borgen, and Harmon (1996) noted that the Skills Confidence Inventory "is not a measure of actual abilities" (p. 21). Regarding the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey, see Campbell, Hyne, and Nilsen (1992, p. 41). In a study of the relationship between selfefficacy beliefs and self-rated abilities, Brown, Lent, and Gore (2000) concluded that the constructs "are empirically distinguishable. . . . [They] may, thus, serve complementary, rather than competing, roles relative to . . . career choice making" (p. 233). The computer-based literature searches revealed no studies comparing the career planning validity of skill self-confidence and self-efficacy estimates with that of test estimates of work-relevant abilities.

Rationale for the Use of Ahility Self-Estimates

Prediger (1999b) discussed general considerations regarding the assessment of abilities for the purpose of facilitating career planning. Much of this section draws on that discussion. …