Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

An Emergent Phenomenon of American Indian Secondary Students' Career Development Process

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

An Emergent Phenomenon of American Indian Secondary Students' Career Development Process

Article excerpt

Nine single-race American Indian secondary students' career development experiences were examined through a phenomenological methodology. All 9 participants were in the transition period starting in late secondary school (age 18). Data sources included individual interviews and journal analysis. The phenomenon of American Indian secondary students' career development process comprised 7 themes, which were integrated into 3 interacting dimensions: introspective, relational, and contextual. Findings reveal unique career development processes for American Indian secondary students living in tribal settings, including career decision process, career options, outcome expectations, and self-efficacy. Implications for school counselors and counselor educators are discussed.

Keywords: American Indian, career development, phenomenology

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's (2000) public use microdata sample, single-race (i.e., personal heritage affiliated with one race) American Indians living on tribal lands have the lowest levels of schooling and lowest labor market rewards than any other minority group in the United States. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau (2008) reported that American Indians earn a median annual income of $33,627 and one in every four (25.3%) American Indians live in poverty. Scholastically, it has been found that American Indian students have the highest national dropout rate (up to 36%) of any minority group in the United States (Faircloth & Tippeconnic, 2010; National Center for Education Statistics, 2003). Literature has repeatedly described American Indian degree completion at the postsecondary level as rarer than any other student group in the United States (Guillory & Wolverton, 2008; Reddy, 1993). Given these findings, counselors working with American Indian students at the secondary level play a vital role in empowering these students to adopt a "college-going attitude" through an effective career development process.

Wolfe and Kolb (1980) defined career development as a dynamic experience that encompasses individuals, the environment, and their interaction. Within career development, career decision making has been described as a process by which students learn about their personhood, the world of work, and the process by which work and personhood interact (Arbona, 2000; Srsic & Walsh, 2001). There is a dearth of research describing the career development and decision-making process of single-race American Indian students living in tribal settings (i.e., reservation). Previous research demonstrates that American Indian adolescents report career interest patterns that are dissimilar to those of adolescents from other cultural groups. Turner and Lapan (2003) quantitatively examined the relationships among environmental supports, personal factors, career efficacy, and career interests of American Indian adolescents. The results of their study indicated that American Indians have a range of career interests within investigative, artistic, social, and enterprising occupations. In addition, past research reveals that American Indian secondary students report less career self-efficacy compared with other minority groups (Amick, 1999; Turner & Lapan, 2003). Finally, according to classic research, American Indian adolescents reported low occupational expectations, lack of confidence in their vocational skills, and lower self-estimated abilities for social, investigative, and enterprising careers (Krebs, Hurlburt, & Schwartz, 1988; Ludwig, 1984).

Adolescent Transition Period

According Super and Overstreet (1960), adolescents at the transition point of completing secondary degrees are at an early stage of career maturity. This period usually takes place during the last year of high school (typically age 17 or 18). Ginzberg (1984) described this period as the realistic stage of career development, encompassing a period in which adolescents are in a process of specifying and crystallizing occupational choice. …

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