Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Relationships between Calling and Academic Motivation in Postsecondary Students/Rapports Entre la Vocation et la Motivation Académique Chez Les éTudiants Postsecondaires

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Relationships between Calling and Academic Motivation in Postsecondary Students/Rapports Entre la Vocation et la Motivation Académique Chez Les éTudiants Postsecondaires

Article excerpt

The phenomenon of calling, as it relates to career development and postsecondary education has recently emerged as a subject of empirical inquiry in counselling psychology (e.g., Dik, Duffy, & Eldridge, 2009; Duffy, Allan, & Dik, 2011; Hirschi, 2011). Indeed, Duffy and Sedlacek (2010) revealed that 43% of their sample of first-year university students reported that having a calling is either mostly or entirely true of them, while 30% of the same sample reported that they were searching for a calling. Thus, calling appears to be a salient concept not only to researchers but also to young adults as they prepare for their future careers.

CALLING

The Christian religious tradition has historically associated calling with being impelled by God to pursue a life of service (e.g., Matthew 4: 17-20; Luke 5: 27-28). Contemporary religious theories of calling have expanded upon the type of work to which a person may be called while still asserting that calling originates from God and is, therefore, a spiritual experience (Guinness, 1998). Conceptualizations of calling that extend beyond religious experiences are also present in the psychological literature. For example, Hall and Chandler (2005) described calling as a strong sense of inner direction to do work that is beneficial to others. More recently, Elangovan, Pinder, and McLean (2010) defined calling as the convergence of prosocial intentions, desires, and actions for the world of work. These perspectives do not require calling to be understood in religious terms but still recognize that some individuals may perceive their callings as coming from God.

One of the more frequently used conceptualizations of calling in the counselling psychology literature is Dik and Duffy's (2009) three-dimensional model that defines a calling as (a) originating from outside of the self (typically from a transcendent entity); (b) meaning-oriented, involving pursuit of a career not as an end in itself, but to gain purpose or meaning in life; and (c) focused on others-oriented and prosocial pursuits. They also clarify that it is the external pull that an individual feels towards a specific career-whether it is from God, family, or a pressing need-that distinguishes a call from vocation (in the more general sense) or related concepts such as meaning or values. This theory of calling is the foundation for the current study.

Although much of the work to define calling has been theoretical (e.g., Charland, 1999; Elangovan et ah, 2010; Guinness, 1998; Hall & Chandler, 2005), researchers have begun to empirically examine perceptions of calling. For example, in French and Domeñes (2010) qualitative study of Christian university students with a strong sense of personal calling, participants described their callings as being altruistically focused and as aiding in their development of a sense of identity. Callings were also found to be a strong motivating force in their educational and career pursuits, even in the face of substantial barriers. Similarly, Hunter, Dik, and Banning (2010) found personal fit and well-being to be important elements of undergraduate students' callings. Their participants also reported that calling is a means to pursue interests, talents, and meaning; to display altruism; and to engage in effortful dedication. Additionally, Steger, Pickering, Shin, and Dik (2010) concluded that, for university students in the United States, calling is understood more as a method of finding meaning in work than a purely religious experience.

Furthermore, in an examination of calling in a sample of German university students, Hirschi (2011) found three distinct types of calling. Although all types shared three characteristics-career decidedness, career engagement, and career confidence-religion emerged as important in only one type of calling. However, researchers have also found that religious participants who successfully pursued their calling reported that following callings led to challenges to their faith and challenges with being called (French & Domeñe, 2010; Hernandez, Foley, & Beitin, 2010). …

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