Two Methods of Exploring Interests: A Comparison of Outcomes

By Croteau, James M.; Slaney, Robert B. | Career Development Quarterly, March 1994 | Go to article overview

Two Methods of Exploring Interests: A Comparison of Outcomes


Croteau, James M., Slaney, Robert B., Career Development Quarterly


The Strong Interest Inventory, formerly the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory, (SII-SCII; Hansen & Campbell, 1985), has been widely used to explore vocational interests in career counseling. Card sort methods of exploring vocational interests are increasingly seen as viable alternatives to the SII-SCII and other traditional interest assessments (Slaney & Mackinnon-Slaney, 1990). Over the last 16 years, traditional interest assessments and card sort methods have increasingly been conceptualized and studied as career interest exploration interventions. Seven treatment by outcome studies (Atanasoff & Slaney, 1980; Cooper, 1976; Lawler, 1979; Slaney, 1983; Slaney & Dickson, 1985; Slaney & Lewis, 1986; Takai & Holland,, 1979; and Talbot & Birk, 1979) have compared the effects of the SII-SCII with the effects of the Vocational Card Sort (VCS; Slaney, 1978). These comparisons have shown few differential effects, none of which have been consistent across studies. Thus career counselors have little empirical information on effectiveness to guide them in selecting from these methods of career interest exploration.

The present study pursues the hypothesis that differential effects have been masked by the failure to study client attribute and outcome variables relevant to how the two interest exploration methods may differ. There has been little discussion of expected differences between the VCS and SII-SCII. One difference between these two methods of interest exploration might involve the degree to which the help from the intervention is seen as self-generated (coming from the client) as opposed to authority-generated (coming from the counselor or assessment device). Participants in the SII-SCII may experience themselves as simply answering questions whose results are later presented in a report that appears impressive and disconnected from the client's own effort. Overall, the results provided may be experienced as coming more from the inventory itself rather than being self-generated. Participants may feel as if their career development is being fostered by some external authoritative source.

Participants in the VCS may experience themselves as not just reporting information, but as actively organizing and interpreting information. There is no period of waiting for an external source to "do something" to the information provided as with the SII-SCII. The results may be seen as a direct outcome of the participant's own decisions in sorting various occupations or occupational themes. Overall, the help in career development may be seen as internally generated. Participants may feel that they are active agents in developing their own careers.

Studies that include participant attribute and outcome variables linked to this "authority versus self-generated" dimension may be more sensitive to differences between the SCII-SII and VCS. Locus of control (LOC; Rotter, 1966) would appear to be a participant attribute that could be related to this proposed difference between the two methods of career interest exploration. LOC is defined as an individual's perceived internal versus external control of reinforcement. Several research studies or reviews (Abramowitz, Abramowitz, Roback, & Jackson, 1974; Kilmann, Albert, & Sotile, 1975; Kilmann & Howell, 1974; Lefcourt, 1982; Meinster, 1974; and Messer & Meinster, 1980) indicated that research participants and psychotherapy clients who have internal LOC may respond better to more nondirected, participant or client-controlled methods of intervention. Participants or clients with an external LOC may respond better to more directed, external authority controlled methods of intervention. Therefore, the VCS may be better suited to clients with an internal LOC whereas the SII-SCII may be better suited to clients with an external LOC.

In addition, within the conceptual framework of Bandura's (1977) self-efficacy theory, VCS participants could be said to have had a "performance accomplishment" in career decision making because of the sense that this intervention is self-generated. …

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