Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Rural Latino Youth Career Development: An Application of Social Cognitive Career Theory

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Rural Latino Youth Career Development: An Application of Social Cognitive Career Theory

Article excerpt

This study used social cognitive career theory (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) to investigate the career development of 9th-grade students living in 2 rural communities with large numbers of Latino immigrants. Participants (55.3% Latino) responded to measures of vocational skills self-efficacy, career decision outcome expectations, career aspirations, and barriers to postsecondary education. Contrary to previous findings, results indicated that Latino students in these communities reported higher self-efficacy beliefs than did White students. Latino students also reported higher perceived barriers, but this did not seem to relate to their career aspirations. Results suggest that school and career counselors should focus on programming that attends to Latino students' self-efficacy and outcome expectations, as well as efficacy for overcoming barriers. Doing so could prove useful for increasing career achievement among rural Latino youth.

Within the past 20 years, an increasing number of Latino families have migrated to rural towns throughout the United States. Grey (1997) argued that because of a population decline and low unemployment rates in rural areas, immigrant labor has been a way for meatpacking and other industries to stay viable. Despite the growth of Latino immigrants in rural areas and a renewed focus on understanding the career development of immigrants, there is still relatively little research regarding the career development of Latino adolescents in general (Flores & O'Brien, 2002; Kenny, Blustein, Chaves, Grossman, & Gallagher, 2003; Spokane, Fouad, & Swanson, 2003) and especially in rural areas. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (Provasnik et al., 2007) indicate that Hispanic/Latino students were more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to drop out of high school in rural areas during the 2003-2004 academic year (23.9% of Hispanic/Latino students dropped out compared with 10% of non-Hispanic White students). However, a mixed picture emerges when considering other factors. For example, a higher percentage of Hispanic/Latino students living in a metro area increases the likelihood of graduation, yet decreases the likelihood of graduation in rural areas (Jordan, Kostandini, & Mykerezi, 2012). Jordan et al. (2012) argued that this may be due to the availability of immedi- ate employment opportunities in meatpacking and other industries for high school dropouts. However, the underlying mechanisms of career or job choices for Latinos living in rural areas are poorly understood because of a lack of research. To address this gap, the current study used social cognitive career theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) to examine the career development of Latino and White high school students living in rural areas.

SCCT

SCCT offers a useful framework for understanding career development. SCCT posits that career development is influenced by an interaction of environmental and person variables. Environmental variables rest outside the individual and may affect confidence in one's ability to suc- ceed at a task (i.e., self-efficacy), as well as one's beliefs about what will happen if one attempts a task (i.e., outcome expectations). Self-efficacy and outcome expectations are posited to lead to interests that manifest in goal mechanisms (direct actions) leading to an individual pursuing and succeeding at career-related tasks (performance accomplishments). Person variables reside within individuals and may affect the way they perceive and interpret environmental variables. The theory's central tenet is that environmental variables are interpreted through the lens of individual variables, which create differences in self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and career goals (Lent et al., 1994).

Meta-analyses have provided empirical support for the SCCT model (Brown et al., 2008; Robbins et al., 2004). However, there is relatively little research to explain the overall model's applicability across racial and ethnic groups (Flores & O'Brien, 2002; Spokane et al. …

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