Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Parent Support and African American Adolescents' Career Self-Efficacy

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Parent Support and African American Adolescents' Career Self-Efficacy

Article excerpt

This study examined African American adolescents' perceived parent support for the four sources of self-efficacy information hypothesized by Bandura and for their efficacy in four areas: career planning and exploration, knowledge of self and others, career decision-making, and school-to-career transitions. Results indicate that the primary predictor of girls' self-efficacy was their parents' emotional support and of boys" self-efficacy was their parents' career-related modeling. Discussion focuses on the National Model for Comprehensive School Counseling.


The National Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs calls for career development services to become an integral piece of each school's educational mission (American School Counselor Association, 2002). The model identifies professional school counselors as leaders in the systematic guidance of students, providing students with the knowledge and skills required to establish personal goals and develop future plans. The model promotes the development of students' self-knowledge and interpersonal skills, career exploration and decision-making skills, and knowledge of the relationships between education and work. The model also invites the collaboration and involvement of parents in their children's and adolescents' career planning and educational development. Following the guidelines established by ASCA's National Standards for School Counseling Programs, the national model emphasizes equity and access in the work force preparation of adolescents from all racial and ethnic groups (Hatch & Bowers, 2002).

Research bas shown that African American adolescents are not being prepared to enter the workforce at the same rates as adolescents from other ethnic groups. While educational and career options were unavailable to African Americans in previous eras, today educational and career opportunities abound, yet many young African Americans are not in a position to take advantage of these opportunities (Walsh, Bingham, Brown, & Ward, 2001). Instead, African Americans continue to experience lower high school graduation rates than rates in the overall population (56% for African Americans compared to 71% overall; Kaufman, Kwon, & Klein, 2000), to be over-represented in service and labor-related jobs, and to be underrepresented in professional occupations (U.S. Department of Labor, 1997).

Various theories have been proposed to help us understand the reasons that many African Americans are still undereducated and underemployed. For example, the application of Expectancy Value Theory (Feather & Newton, 1982) proposes that because of the current social and economic conditions of many in the African American community, African American adolescents may tend to devalue school and occupational achievement (Graham & Taylor, 2002). Identit3T theory (Helms, 1990) postulates that African American adolescents' minority group identification may cause them to have lower educational and career expectations than adolescents in the majority community (Gainor & Lent, 1998). Additionally, researchers have found evidence that African American adolescents perceive both subtle and overt discrimination in their classrooms and social environments, causing them to lose confidence in their abilities and limit their consideration of specific career options (Brown, 1995;Gainor & Lent, 1998; Hackett & Byars, 1996; Ogbu, 1991).

Despite these obstacles, many young African American adolescents continue to aspire to the same educational and career opportunities as adolescents from other ethnic and racial groups (Bobo, Hildreth, & Durodoye, 1998.). Further, researchers have shown that supportive influences in the environments of adolescents from all ethnic groups, especially parents' support, have a mediating affect, serving as a buffer against the negative effects of social obstacles. Researchers have shown, for example, that parents play an essential part in the total educational and career development services offered by professional school counselors (Evans & Hines, 1997; Williamson, 1997). …

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