Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT and the DEVELOPMENT of SELF-EFFICACY and CAREER DECIDEDNESS AMONG ADULT COLLEGE STUDENTS

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT and the DEVELOPMENT of SELF-EFFICACY and CAREER DECIDEDNESS AMONG ADULT COLLEGE STUDENTS

Article excerpt

Students in the federally funded student support services program that we direct, called Cornerstone, require academic, personal, and career planning support in order to persist toward a degree. The majority of our students are adults; they all commute to college; and they usually work in excess of 20 hours a week. Many come to us with disabilities that further challenge their persistence toward a degree. None of the students we work with are academically ready for college, yet college represents for them their best opportunity to break out of a cycle of poverty, low-income jobs and limited opportunities. Support programs need to reflect their often desperate need for a college education, a life-style of severe time pressures limiting access to support of any kind, and low feelings of academic self-efficacy. As we look for ways to support the educational aspirations of our students, we are seeking interventions that meet their time constraints and that will support their persistence toward a degree and new opportunities. This article describes the initiation of a longitudinal study that will track the effectiveness of our efforts to facilitate the development of a sense of career and academic self-efficacy among adult college students who are eligible for federally funded student support services.

As we have reviewed our own twenty-year-old program, examined the literature, and considered programs that serve a similar audience, we have come to ask several questions. Is the level of cognitive development of adult college students, according to Perry's (1970) schema, reflected in their status as self-directed, independent learners? How might cognitive development relate to the resolution of such developmental tasks as career decisiveness, temperament, and academic self-efficacy? Can we facilitate the evolution from learners who are dependent on authority figures in directing their learning and guiding their career development toward their becoming self-directed learners and career planners? We intend to answer these questions by helping our students develop the vocabulary and the self-awareness we believe they need in order to understand their own development as independent learners.

This longitudinal study that we are undertaking will address several questions we believe are key to developing self-directed learners and career planners among our students:

1. Will students' understanding of their own development help them move from an external dependence on their learning experience to an internally driven learning experience?

2. Is there a relationship between career decidedness and cognitive development?

3. What role does temperament and cognitive development play in helping students become self-directed learners?

4. Will an intervention that attempts to facilitate students' understanding of their development influence the development of academic self-efficacy among them?

5. How will our efforts with the learners that take part in the intervention we describe here be reflected in their persistence and grade point averages as compared to their classmates that have not participated in the intervention?

Our effort to help students become personally responsible for their learning is not unique to our campus. Indeed much of the effort is driven by the knowledge that students that feel connected, value their education, and experience a sense of community will be more likely to persist toward graduation. (Tinto, Russo, & Kadel, 1994) Recent efforts on the part of the American Association of Colleges and Universities asserted the need for colleges to develop intentional learners. "Becoming an intentional learner means developing self-awareness about the reason for study, the learning process itself, and how education is used." (Ramaley, &Leskes, 2000, p. 21)

Knefelkamp and Slepitza (1976) offer a framework for tracking the development of career self-efficacy based on Perry's scheme. …

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