Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Using the Constructs Multifinality, Work Hope, and Possible Selves with Urban Minority Youth

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Using the Constructs Multifinality, Work Hope, and Possible Selves with Urban Minority Youth

Article excerpt

This article describes and highlights the potential contributions that the constructs multifinality, work hope, and possible selves make for designing career counseling interventions and for better understanding possible career-related factors associated with academic engagement and achievement among urban minority youth, Multifinality may serve as a superordinate orientation because it conceptualizes development as discontinuous and relatively plastic, allowing for youth deemed at risk to follow more hopeful pathways. Work hope and possible selves emphasize the utility of providing urban minority youth with space to answer questions related to what they might achieve and do in the future and who they might become. Together, multifinality, work hope, and possible selves provide a hopeful conceptual framework for career researchers and practitioners.

A number of contemporary educators have conceptualized variations in academic performance as representative of qualitative differences in learning opportunities (The Education Trust, 2006; Flores, 2007). Using persistent interracial differences in math scores as an example of unequal opportunities to learn mathematics, Flores (2007) provided cogent data demonstrating that African American and Latino students were less likely to have access to experienced and qualified teachers, more likely to face lower expectations, and less likely to receive similar per-student school funding than their White student counterparts regarding mathematics. The unfortunate trajectory of this opportunity gap is differential school completion rates, which then lead to differential occupation, career, and life pathways for different ethnic and racial groups of students. Statistics clearly show the link between education level and income; individuals without a high school diploma will earn $7,500 less per year and $200,000 less over the course of their lives than their counterparts that have a high school diploma, and, on average, individuals with a bachelor's degree earn $20,000 more per year than their counterparts with a high school diploma (Schwartz, 1995; U.S. Census Bureau, 2009).

Differences in levels of schooling are indirectly related to differences in health and life experiences through variations in salary and occupation type. Barbeau, Kreiger, and Soobader (2004) described this indirect relationship in the following manner:

Not only ii occupation the link that binds education and Income-in that we attain educational credentials enabling us to be employed in certain jobs, at which we earn a wage or salary-but it is also an important determinant of health in its own right. At issue are ways in which work affects health, whether directly by hazardous exposures or, more indirectly, by influencing health behaviors. (p.269)

In fact, uncovering social class as a key variable in explaining variations in the distribution of disease has been referred to as one of sociology's most significant contributions to the health field (Williams & Collins, 1995).

Using the term the opponunitygap, Flares (2007) and others have artfully utilized the family therapy technique of reframing by reconceptualizing a severe and chronic social problem so that it is more amenable to change (Robins, Alexander, Newell, & Turner, 2000). Educators and social services providers' efforts to close the opportunity gap should be aimed at providing direct learning opportunities and experiences that encourage students' attachment and engagement in the learning opportunities that are made available to them. Career counseling interventions hold promise in affecting the opportunity gap both directly and indirectly.

Career counseling interventions directly address the opportunity gap, because they are themselves specific learning opportunities that positively affect career outcomes, such as career-related maturity and career decisiveness (Patton & Creed, 2001; Shea, Ma, Yeh, Lee, & Pituc, 2009), knowledge of the world of work (Prediger, 2002), and occupational satisfaction (Jepson & Sheu, 2003). …

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