Exploration to Foster Career Development

By Niles, Spencer G.; Anderson, Walter P., Jr. et al. | Career Development Quarterly, March 1998 | Go to article overview

Exploration to Foster Career Development


Niles, Spencer G., Anderson, Walter P., Jr., Goodnough, Gary, Career Development Quarterly


Responses to the Adult Career Concerns Inventory (ACCI: Super, Thompson, Lindeman, Myers, & Jordaan, 1988) were organized through cluster analysis to identify different ways in which adults use exploratory behavior to cope with career development tasks. Significant differences in life-role salience among the types of adult career explorers identified were also investigated. Findings indicated a variety of ways in which adults use exploratory behavior. However, no significant differences were found in life-role salience among the types of career explorers. The discussion explains how career counselors can interpret their clients' ACCI profiles to select appropriate career interventions.

Achieving readiness for career decision making requires thorough exploration (Super, 1957). Many people associate exploration with adolescents who are at the preimplementation stage of career development. However, exploration continues throughout the life span.

Exploration has come to be expected not only in adults who are changing career directions, but also in adults who are responding to the demands of progressing in the career they have chosen and in which they may wish to remain. (Phillips, 1982, p. 130)

Despite these expectations, few studies have examined how adults use exploration to foster their career development.

Super ( 1983) noted that exploration involves learning more about oneself or one's situation. What needs to be learned depends, in part, on the individual's developmental status and salient life roles (Super, 1983). In turn, these developmental tasks and salient roles determine which exploratory resources (e.g., mentors, peers, printed sources of occupational information, training programs) might be useful. Thus, developmental career counselors must help adult clients both to articulate the questions they ask about self and situation and to use exploratory resources effectively (Niles, 1996).

To accomplish these goals, career counselors can identify the different ways adults use exploration to cope with their career concerns. If the diverse types of uses to which adults put exploratory behavior can be identified, then career counselors can devise career interventions to enhance the effectiveness of their clients' exploration.

Because exploratory behavior occurs in the context of life-role participation, it is also important to understand the relationship between life-role salience and career exploration in adulthood. In examining the relationship between career exploration and life-role salience, researchers have focused on high school and college student populations (e.g., Bachiochi, 1993; Enzor, 1991; Nevill & Super, 1988; Super & Nevill, 1984). However, it is important to determine whether a relationship exists between how adults use exploratory behavior and the life roles that are important to them. Having this information can help career counselors devise career interventions that are relevant to their clients' salient life roles.

This study investigated how adults use exploration to cope with career development tasks. Specifically, we asked the following two research questions. Are there distinct patterns in how adults use exploration to cope with the tasks of the establishment, maintenance, and disengagement career stages? Are there differences in life-role salience for the types of patterns identified in question one?

METHOD

Participants

Adult career counseling clients at a university-sponsored community counseling service participated in this study. All participants (N = 131, 95 women and 36 men) completed the Adult Career Concerns Inventory (ACCI; Super, Thompson, Lindeman, Myers, & Jordaan, 1988). Eighty-eight of the participants also completed the Salience Inventory (SI; Super & Nevill, 1986) as part of the intake session. To study adult career explorers, the participants selected for study participation indicated a high concern for the career development tasks of the exploration stage, operationally defined as a score of 3. …

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