Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Investigating the Impact of a Career Education Program on School Engagement

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Urban Research

Investigating the Impact of a Career Education Program on School Engagement

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Career Trek program is designed to instil some protective factors that develop positive self-esteem in participants and promote school engagement. In addition, the program tries to challenge the general motivational decline towards schooling in middle years. The purpose of the current study is to examine the impact of participation in Career Trek on school motivation. Thirty-three Career Trek participants completed questionnaires related to academic motivation and self-esteem and responded to questions in an interview at the beginning and end of the Career Trek programming year. Ten non-participants in Career Trek also completed the same tasks as control measures. Career Trek participants positively increased in measures related to academic motivation while controls decreased in these indicators. School satisfaction decreased significantly in the Career Trek participants. Discussion centres on the possible explanations and future directions for research.

Keywords: Career education, academic motivation, risk factors, protective factors and self-esteem

Resume

Le programme Career Trek vise a inculquer des facteurs de protection pour developper une estime de soi positive chez les participants et promouvoir leur engagement scolaire. De plus, le programme tente d'eviter, chez les eleves du cycle intermediaire, une baisse de motivation. Cette etude propose d'examiner l'impact du programme Career Trek sur la motivation des eleves a l'ecole. Trente-trois participants au programme Career Trek ont complete des questionnaires se rapportant a l'engagement scolaire et a l'estime de soi. Des entrevues avec chaque participant ont aussi eu lieu au debut et a la fin du programme. Dix non-participants ont accompli les memes taches afin d'etablir des mesures de controle. La motivation academique a augmente pour les participants au programme Career Trek mais diminue pour le groupe controle. Cependant, la satisfaction scolaire des participants au programme Career Trek a subi une baisse considerable. La discussion tente de cerner des explications possibles et d'identifier des pistes pour de nouvelles recherches.

Mots cles: formation en developpement vie-carriere, motivation academique, facteurs de risque, facteurs de protection et estime de soi

Introduction

In 1997, Red River College, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg launched Career Trek, a joint initiative intended as a poverty prevention program. Career Trek was designed to encourage academically at-risk youth in Winnipeg to pursue post-secondary studies. The relationship between living in poverty and poor education is well established. Therefore, one objective of the program was to mitigate the potential negative life trajectories of many at-risk youth by exposing them to the range of career options available at three post-secondary institutions. However, involvement at the post secondary levels typically requires the completion of secondary school. It was anticipated that by inviting children to explore a variety of careers in an experiential manner at post-secondary institutions, their motivation to remain in school and pursue post secondary studies would increase. To this end, a second objective of Career Trek is to increase a participant's educational self-esteem and academic motivation.

The purpose of the current study is to examine the impact of participation in Career Trek on children's academic motivation and self esteem. We begin by examining issues identified in the literature that relate to the environmental challenges experienced by inner city youth to academic success and career development. Our theoretical premise is drawn from Bronfenbrenner's ecological model (1979), a conceptual framework that emphasizes the importance of understanding students in the context of their family, peer, school and community systems. We then describe the Career Trek program, an intervention designed to expose inner city children to post-secondary educational institutions, and the wide range of careers that are available in the various faculties and departments. …

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