Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Client Anticipations about Computer-Assisted Career Guidance System Outcomes

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Client Anticipations about Computer-Assisted Career Guidance System Outcomes

Article excerpt

Although existing literature suggests that client anticipations affect career counseling, previous studies have not systematically assessed client anticipations prior to using computer-assisted career guidance (CACG) systems in career counseling. This study describes how 55 clients from a career center at a large, southeastern university anticipated using CACG systems to help in their career decision making and problem solving. Using a Cognitive Information Processing framework, responses to a cued and a free response survey indicated that clients' most frequent anticipations included increased career options, enhanced self-knowledge, and strengthened occupational knowledge.

Computer-assisted career guidance (CACG) systems can be used to help solve career problems, and their use has resulted in improved self-awareness (Peterson, Ryan-Jones, Sampson, Reardon, & Shahnasarian, 1994), knowledge of information resources (Cairo, 1983; Peterson et al., 1994), and decision-making skills (Peterson et al., 1994; Sampson, 1996). Despite these outcomes, limited information has been reported regarding clients' anticipations about the ways in which CACGs might be used in their efforts to solve career problems. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (1998) defined anticipation as "the visualization of a future event or state" (p. 77). For the purpose of this study, anticipation is defined as the belief in the possible occurrence of some event. This statement represents a modified version of Galassi, Crace, Martin, James, and Wallace's (1992) question to clients for the purpose of measuring anticipations, "What do you think you will be required to do in session?" as opposed to a question measuring clients' preferences, "What would you like to do in session?"

Client anticipations are important variables to understand (Galassi, Crace, Martin, & James, 1992; Galassi, Crace, Martin, James, & Wallace, 1992). If career counselors know what potential users are looking for, they can prescribe an initial career exploration experience that is in line with those nticipations. Anticipations that are based on clients' faulty assumptions that have a low probability of occurrence can be addressed, whereas those that have a greater probability of being accomplished within the career counseling process can be incorporated immediately into the formulation of career interventions. For example, if a client states a belief that the computer will identify the perfect career choice, the faulty thinking behind this assumption can be addressed. If, however, the goal is to increase career options under consideration, that particular desire can be listed as an outcome of or reason for using a CACG system. Thus, having "a more specific understanding of client perceptions will provide a better foundation for developing counselor intervention strategies for CACG systems" (Sampson et al., 1992, p. 76).

In practice, career counselors can combine knowledge of how clients anticipate using CACG systems with the knowledge of system capabilities and limitations. This synthesis of information can serve to identify clients who might benefit from the use of CACG systems, because their outcome preferences for the use of CACG systems match with the capabilities of the systems. For example, if clients indicate that they would like to use a computer to identify possible college majors based on their interests, career counselors could suggest the following sequence for their interaction with the CACGs: self-assessment, search for occupations, and information about occupations (which generally includes related college majors or fields of study). Cognitive information processing theory (CIP; Florida State University Tech Center, 2003, [para] Key Elements; Peterson, Sampson, & Reardon, 1991; Peterson, Sampson, Reardon, & Lenz, 1996; Sampson, Lenz, Reardon, & Peterson, 1999; Sampson, Peterson, Reardon, & Lenz, 2000) provides a straightforward description of four domains involved in career choice and problem solving (self-knowledge, knowledge about options, decision making, and executive processing), as well as a general five-step decision-making approach based on communication, analysis, synthesis, paining, and execution (CASVE) within the decision-making domain. …

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