Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

An Outcome Study of Career Decision Self-Efficacy and Indecision in an Undergraduate Constructivist Career Course

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

An Outcome Study of Career Decision Self-Efficacy and Indecision in an Undergraduate Constructivist Career Course

Article excerpt

This study explored outcomes in a constructivist career course. Using a pretest-posttest design, the authors assessed the empowerment (operationalized as career decision self-efficacy) and career indecision of 82 culturally diverse college students at a large, midwestern university. Data were analyzed using a multivariate analysis of variance. Results indicated that students reported significant increases in empowerment with no commensurate decreases in career indecision. In addition to shedding light on the nuanced relationship between empowerment or career decision self-efficacy and indecision, results indicate the potential constructivist career development has to empower culturally diverse college students.

The current era is one of constant change. In 2007, the Association of American Colleges and Universities reported that Americans change jobs an average of 10 times after the age of 18 years, and according to the U.S. News & World Report (Clark, 2004), 50% of all undergraduates change majors at least once. In this postindustrial era, gone are the days of predictable career stability, where people spend their whole lives with one employer or in one field. At hand are times of uncertainty and change in which young adults need to feel empowered to construct their futures and forge their career paths. Empowerment can be defined as a cognitive shift toward expectations of success and control (Schaurhofer & Peschi, 2005), and constructivist career development has been posited as one way to prepare and empower young adults to meet the challenges of the 21st century (Brott, 2004, 2005; Campbell & Ungar, 2004a, 2004b; Chen, 2003; Grier-Reed, Skaar, & Conkel-Ziebell, 2009; Hoskins, 1995; Peaw, 1995; Savickas, 2002).

Constructivist Career Counseling

Constructivism encourages people to construct their own identities and careers through life planning skills, personal meaning making, and the cocreation of knowledge, and constructivism has been linked to empowerment across a number of fields. Hoskins (1995 ) connected constructivism and empowerment through career counseling, and Weissglass (1990) linked constructivism with empowerment in education. Constructivism and empowerment have also been connected in the career classroom, where Grier-Reed et al. (2009) have found increases in career decision self-efficacy and decreases in dysfunctional, self-defeating career thoughts. The present study further examined the relationship between constructivist career development in the classroom and empowerment by focusing on changes in students' levels of career decision self-efficacy. In addition, in light of die well-established and negative relationship between career decision self-efficacy and indecision (Betz, Hammond, & Multon, 2005; Betz & Luzzo, 1996; Betz & Taylor, 2001; Betz & Voyten, 1997; Taylor 8c Betz, 1983; Taylor & Popma, 1990), we also examined whether a significant change in career decision self-efficacy would be accompanied by a significant change in career indecision.

The roots of constructivism are based in meaning making and are often traced back to Piaget's (1930) theory of cognitive development, including assimilation and accommodation, the processes used to construct meaning and new knowledge. Empowerment also has roots in cognition and has been defined as the cognitive shift from apathy and resignation to expectations of success and control, and activities focused on identifying strengths, problem solving, and self- reflecting have been recognized as a means for developing empowerment from a constructivist- perspective (Grier-Reed et ai., 2009; Schaurhofer & Peschi, 2005). With an integrative approach to constructivist career development, the career course in the present study incorporated activities designed to foster empowerment through a focus on strengths, self-reflection, and problem solving and was composed of three course modules.

Constructivist Career Course Description and Outcomes

Module 1 focused on exploring the past and present; Module 2 focused on constructing the future; and Module 3 focused on planning, action, and integration. …

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