The Effects of Career Goals on Students
The Effects of Career
Goals on Students
The value of studying the
differences between students with career goals, and students without, will help
us learn why students who set goals early have more self-confidence. The
purpose of this paper is to analyze, compare, and interpret numerous research
studies on the effects of career goals on students. I gathered my data from
periodicals, and research studies. Although studies have different methods,
modes, and measures, the results are almost unanimous that students, who are
certain about their career choices, are more likely to be successful and
self-confident than those who are uncertain.
you ever wondered why some individuals earn a professional degree while others
drop-out of high school? Or do you ever think about why some individuals strive
to be presidents of large corporations while others seem destined and satisfied
to be in a minimum wage, manual labor job? Setting career goals at an early age
might just be the answers to these questions.
This paper will
focus on numerous research studies and will analyze, compare, and interpret
their results.As a HR professional, I
want to ascertain whether individuals who make early career choices are more
likely to be self-confident and successful in their jobs than those who don't
make an early choice.In addition to
attempting to answer the above questions, this paper will discuss two main
specific areas. The first area of focus will be the effect that career goal
setting has on an individual's self-esteem. The final area of focus will be a
detailed plan on how to teach young students to set career goals.
effect of career goal setting on an individual's self-esteem
The effects of
career goals on students was a subject of a 2003 study conducted by Richard T.
Lapan, Bradley Tucker, Se-Kang Kim, and John F. Kosciulek. In this study, the
authors evaluated the impact of four career development curricular strategies
to help highschoolers have successful post-high school transitions. The four
curriculum strategies studied were as follows: 1- Organized curriculum,
which is the organization of classes around a specific career goal, 2- Relevant
curriculum, which uses teaching instruction to demonstrate to students the
relevance of course content to the world of work, 3-Work-based learning
experiences, such as job shadowing (the student has the opportunity to go
to a workplace and see what someone actually does in a job), and 4- Connected
learning activities, which connects and integrates learning in school and
career-relevant workplace settings. Additionally, the authors believe that
there are three support groups, which they call"Stakeholder Support." The
three levels of stakeholder support are: (a) school counselors, (b) teachers,
and (c) multiple stakeholders, such as parents. Stakeholder support is
necessary to make the student's development and transition as smooth as
possible (Lapan et al., 2003).
The authors hypothesized that career
development, curriculum strategies, and stakeholder support would each explain
significant portions of the variance in student satisfaction that their
education was helping them to attain their educational and career goals. Also,
it was hypothesized that career development, curriculum strategies, and
stakeholder support would each explain significant portions of the variance in
the level of education required by the student's anticipated setting
immediately following high school. Finally, the authors hypothesized that
curriculum strategies and stakeholder support would each explain significant
portions of the variance in career development (Lapan et al., 2003).
study was conducted in rural areas of a large midwestern state. The authors
used a total of 347 8th graders (206=girls and 141=boys), 281 10th
graders (160=girls and 121 boys), and 256 12th graders (143=girls
and 113=boys). Lapan et al. (2003),randomly selected the students to represent both a wide range of
academic achievement levels and extent of participation in school-to-work
activities. The students were required to answer a survey. Each grade level had
to complete a different survey with different time limits. The older students
needed additional items to assess the wider range of activities that were
available for them. Also, there was a requirement that all data collection
activities for 8th, and 10th graders should be completed
within one class period (Lapan et at., 2003).
The authors included in the survey items from
the career development subscales of the Guidance Competency Self-Competency
Self-Efficacy Scales (GCSE). An example of a question from the GCSE was:"I am
confident that I can make good decisions about the education and training
programs that I will need to get after high school""(p. 5). They also included
items from the Career-Related Efficacy Scale, including six expectation items
related to career paths and career related attribution. Among the many
different questions they answered, the students had to rate on a 7-point Likert
scale (1=very dissatisfied to 7=very satisfied) the following question:"How
satisfied are you that the education you are getting in your school is
adequately preparing you to meet successfully your future educational and
career goals?" (p. 5).
In all three samples, it was found that increased
career development activities predicted greater student satisfaction with the
education they were receiving. The students felt they were better prepared for
their future and for their plans to enter post-high school settings that
require further education. Also, it was found that students with course work
organized around a career goal were more satisfied with their education than
students whose course work was not related to a career goal. In addition, students with courses relating
to career goals had higher educational aspirations. Interestingly, the results
of this study showed substantive differences between rural girls and rural
boys.Girls reported more positive
levels of career development, satisfaction with school, and educational
aspirations than did boys. The authors believe that autonomously chosen goals
help individuals develop direction, meaning, social connectedness, and
subjective well-being in adulthood. The authors also believe that it is critical
that students receive both emotional and instrumental support from multiple
sources (e.g., school, counselors, teachers, parents, peers, and relatives) to
promote positive career development in adolescence (Lapan et al., 2003).
The relationship between career
goals and self-esteem was also analyzed in a school- work transition project.
This project, called My Turn, was a cooperative effort of public schools,
institutions of higher education, corporations, and small businesses seeking to
improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged young people (My Turn,"
1996)."My Turn" provided internship experiences that included formal
counseling or mentoring to designate training and educational needs for career
paths associated with job experience ( My Turn," 1996).
The project involved eighty
high-school students which were placed in six-to eight-week internships that
matched their desired career interests. There was special attention given to
maintain meaningful connections between internships and the students' potential
career goals. The students had the opportunity to learn about the overall
workings of a business (My Turn," 1996). They spent four to six hours each
week training in a different area of the business, including sales, human
resources, shipping and receiving, telemarketing, billing, and payroll. The
students also had one or two sessions with the chief executive officer or a
senior vice-president as a way of acquainting them with organizational
philosophies and missions (My Turn," 1996). In addition, the students were
required to keep a journal of their work experience. Journal keeping was
important because it enabled students to map out their own thoughts and
understanding concerning their experience. Also, it provided feedback, which allowed
the staff to identify areas of failed expectations or inappropriate experience
(My Turn," 1996).
The results of the My Turn project
showed an increase in the students' self-esteem. Also, the students reported
having learned a great deal, considering they had very little practical
business knowledge prior to the internship. Finally, the high-school teachers
observed a significant increase in the students' confidence and interest in
school (My Turn," 1996).
research study involving high-school students in this area was conducted by
Lian-Hwang Chiu. In this study, Chiu (1990) investigated the relationship of
career goals and self-esteem among adolescents. The purpose of the research was
to test the hypothesis that adolescents with some career goal tend to have
higher self-esteem than those without an idea of what they want to do after
graduation from high-school (Chiu, 1990). The study was conducted in a small Midwestern city with a total of 221
students in tenth and eleventh grade English classes (Chiu, 1990).
One of the instruments used was the
Rosenberg Self-Esteem (RSE) Scale."The RSE is a global measure of self-esteem
composed of 10 statements, such as,"On the whole I am satisfied with myself.""
(p. 594). Another instrument used was the Self-Esteem Rating Scale for Children
(SERSC)."The SERSC consisted of 12 items, such as,"Hesitates to speak up in
class" (p. 594).
The teachers administered the RSE
and rated the students' self-esteem (SERSC). The students were divided into two
groups. One group was named"career decisive group" and the other group was
career indecisive group." The group who knew what they wanted to do, the
career decisive group, was predicted to have higher self-esteem on the RSE than
the career indecisive group. Also, The career decisive group was predicted to score higher in self-esteem on the SERSC
than the career indecisive group (Chiu, 1990).
The prediction that adolescents who
knew what they would do after school would score higher on the RSE than the
career indecisive group was supported by the data. Nevertheless, the difference
in self-esteem was only substantial for males. Also, the data confirmed the
same result on the SERSC (Chiu, 1990). Based on the results of this study, Chiu
believes that there is a normal period of indecision in the process of making
career choices but significant indecision may be a reflection of other
psychological problems, including low self-esteem (Chiu, 1990).
haven't stopped studying the relationship between career goals and self-esteem
only when students graduate from high-school. It is believed that helpful
information can be learned even at the college level. One such study, involving
college students, provides further support for the notion that people that have
made a career choice, even before they have started working, have a higher
self-esteem than people who are undecided about their career. This notion was
the hypothesis of Harvey Resnick, Marianne Lesson Fauble, and Samuel H. Osipow
in a 1970 study. The authors hypothesized that college students who have a high
self-esteem show more advanced vocational crystallization than college students
low in self-esteem."Crystallization refers to the formulation of tentative
ideas regarding the level and field of future work, along with a tentative
commitment, and should be complete by age 18, thus making way for specification
where the general choice becomes specific" (p. 465).
The subjects of the study were 114
male and 102 female college students enrolled in"Introductory Psychology" at OhioStateUniversity. The instruments used were
the Biographical Inventory Questionnaire, The Kuder Preference Record, and The
Tennessee Self-Concept Scale. The first instrument, The Biographical Inventory
Questionnaire, was an important device for this study to ascertain a number of
attributes. Some of the attributes included age, parental income, college major
and minor, grade point average, extracurricular activities, expected career
patterns, and for women, purpose for attending college and their mother's
working pattern. This questionnaire also included information about certainty
of career choice. The second instrument, The Kuder Preference Record, was used
to assess differences in degree of preference for various career choices. The
final instrument, The Tennessee Self-Concept Scale, was designed to provide a
convenient and objective measure of self-esteem. This questionnaire presented a
number of scores, of which self-esteem, or P score, was of most interest to
this study. According to Resnick et al. (1970), the P score was a reflection of
how individuals valued themselves.
The three questionnaires were
administered to the students in small groups, ranging from 10 to 20 students.
Students had a total of two hours to complete the three questionnaires in
standardized conditions.They were
informed that the data was being collected for research purposes and that they
could fill the questionnaires anonymously. The results of this study showed
that high self-esteem males expressed greater certainty about their career
choices than did the low self-esteem males. Similarly, high self-esteem females
showed greater certainty about their career plans than low self-esteem females.
Also, it revealed that the relationship between self-esteem and vocational
crystallization was the same for both sexes (Resnick et al., 1970).
involving college level students was a 1991 study, which Paul E. Levy and Ann
H. Baumgardner discuss the effects of self-esteem on goal choice. The authors
conducted a laboratory experiment in which subjects' choices of goal difficulty
was the major dependent variable. Gender and self-esteem were the independent
variables. It was predicted that self-esteem and gender would account for a
significant proportion of the variance in goal choice. Levy and Baumgardner
(1991) predicted that participants with high self-esteem would select more
difficult goals than those with low self-esteem. Also, they predicted that
males would select more difficult goals than females (Levy and Baumgardner,
from an introductory psychology class participated in this study. There were a
total of 92 males and 110 females. The instrument used was the Rosenberg
Self-Esteem Inventory. The participants arrived in the laboratory in groups of
four to six. They were given a consent form and were assured of
confidentiality. Also, they were separated from each other so that they could
not share feedback information among themselves. Initially, the experimenter
read the overview to the participants. After the debriefing, the students were
dismissed (Levy and Baumgardner, 1991).
clarification, the authors described the expectancy theory, which emphasizes
that motivation to perform a given act is a function of the strength of the
expectancy that the act will be followed by a certain outcome (the goal or
reward) and the value of that outcome to the individual"" (p. 529). The authors
believe that individuals are more likely to choose a given goal when they have
high rather than low expectations of reaching it, and when they believe the
goal is somehow valuable to them.
confirmed their predictions. It was found that high self-esteem participants
chose more difficult goals than did low self-esteem participants. It was also
found that male participants chose more difficult goals than did the females.
Their data showed that high self-esteem males chose the most difficult goals.
The results indicate that self-esteem affects goal choice. Also, the results
suggest that high self-esteem leads to harder goals and that males opt for
harder goals than females (Levy and Baumgardner, 1991).
relevance is the implication that self-esteem, gender, and goal choice have on
goal setting. Knowing what leads to achieve a goal, we may be able to teach
students ways to increase their self-esteem by setting goals at an early age.
Also, we may be able to develop new ways to motivate them how to commit to
their goals so that they are determined to achieve them. It is vital that students
learn the importance of having a career goal at a very early age and learn how
to reach it. One way of teaching students this is to show them the rewards of
achieving a goal.Hopefully, this will
instill in the students a desire to work hard to reach their goals.
A plan on how
to teach young students to set career goals
The findings of
a 2000 study by Ellen H. McWhirter, Saba Rasheed, and Marciana Crothers support
the value of career education in facilitation of the School-to-Work transition
(STW). McWhirter et al. (2000) state that the"STW initiatives are based on the
premise that traditional guidance activities which focused on formal individual
counseling and rational choice are not sufficient to meet the vocational needs
of middle-class youth" (p. 330). In this study, the authors explain that"The
School to Work Opportunities Act and other initiatives are designed to help
kindergarten through 12th-grade students obtain the experience,
knowledge, and skills required to explore the world of work, develop employment
skills, make decisions, and to identify, pursue, and attain vocational goals"
of the School to Work Transition, McWhirter et al. (2000) believe that it is
important to develop a comprehensive guidance curriculum. This increases the
students' awareness of themselves, as well as to develop relevant vocation
skills in a manner consistent with their developmental level. The authors found
that unfortunately,many states and districts
do not require career education classes in their curriculum. McWhirter et al.
(2000) hope that their study serves as a model for other districts to invest in
the efficient delivery of STW-transition information in a manner accessible to
find an answer on how to provide stimuli to students, Nancy E. Betz and Gail
Hackett (1987) state the importance of"discussion and role-playing practice of
means of proactively influencing one's educational environment and of how to
assertively respond to problem situations arising along the way" (p. 307). They
believe that creating such situations could be extremely beneficial to many
college students. Betz and Hackett (1987) also recognize that a major problem
of research has been directed at testing a model of career development in which
perceived efficacy functions as a major mediator of career choices. Perceived
efficacy"refers to beliefs concerning one's capability of successfully
engaging in a target behavior; strong perceived efficacy is postulated to lead
to behavioral approach, and weak efficacy to lead to avoidance" (p. 34). In
order to help students to better understand themselves, the authors believe
that the modification of perceived self-efficacy can strongly affect subsequent
In addition, the
results of a 1992 study conducted by A. Timothy Church, Judith S. Teresa, Ron
Rosebrook and Dottie Szendre indicate that interventions to clarify and expand
students' self-efficacy, interests, and incentives will be beneficial to
increasing the range of occupations that students will explore in career
decision making. The authors of this study believe that counselors and
instructors should help students understand the potential impact of prior
socialization on the students' self-perceptions of ability and occupational
preferences. They also believe that it is of extreme importance to modify their
perceptions when appropriate.
was also the focus of a study by Albert Bandura and Daniel Cervone (1986),
which found that motivation through aspiration provides an important and
continuing source of self-efficacy, interest, and personal satisfaction. They
believe that students should be given challenges so they can strive to succeed.
Bandura and Cervone (1986) explain that"without aspirations and active involvement
in activities, people are unmotivated, bored, and uncertain about their
capabilities. Life without elements of challenge can be rather dull" (p. 111).
A more practical
approach for education is taken by Laurie Shepherd Johnson (2000), who states
that the American educational enterprise should refocus on how students can
best learn what they need to know in order to be able to meet the demands of
the job market. Johnson believes it is extremely important to focus on
educating our students differently through a multitude of integrated
approaches. This would ensure the students' ability to understand what they are
learning, why they are learning it, how they will use it, and what difference
it will make in their lives. Johnson (2000) emphasizes that"students need to
know how what they are learning fits into the world they live in" (p. 273).
As a way to help
students understand the reasons why they are learning, Johnson (2000) suggests
a total community effort. First,"teachers need to be encouraged and reinforced
by school administrators, parents and community members to create connections
with the world of work" (p. 274). This would facilitate"that" understanding
and ultimately incorporate the"real world" relevance of their subject matter
into their pedagogy. Second, school counselors need to enter into consultative
collaboration with teachers, co-curricular advisors, coaches, parents and
employers. Johnson (2000) believes that this would create a link between school
and work which would be apparent throughout the student experience. Finally,
Johnson (2000) states that it is crucial that employers do more to articulate
to schools their needs in terms of learning outcomes and skills. She believes
that if employers provide teachers externship and shadowing opportunities to
learn about the contemporary work world and how it applies to their subject
matter, teachers will be better able to apply these insights in their pedagogy,
and consequently increase student learning.
reviewed provide clear support for the notion that students have a better
chance to succeed in a career when they set career goals early on, and when
they have adequate information upon which to base their choices. It is very
important for parents and teachers to know how to formulate a plan for teaching
young students on how to set career goals. The most comprehensive plan on how
to teach young students to set career goals is contained in an article by Kelly
Arrington (2000). Arrington (2000) believes that is extremely important to
expose students to information concerning multiple careers so that it will help
the students realize what is required from them when they are interested in a
certain career, thus making them form realistic career plans. Arrington's
(2000) plan is a six-year plan of study which covers three phases.
The first phase
is titled career awareness and should begin when the student is in the
third or fourth grade. Phase one simply helps the students become aware of
groups of occupations and also helps them understand the role of work in our
society. In this stage, students are provided with lists of occupations, which
are defined and discussed, so that the students have an understanding of the
vast amount of possible career choices. Here, Arrington (2000) also believes it
is important to develop the students' self-confidence and give them a better
understanding of themselves. She suggests three strategies to implement in the
career awareness" phase. The first strategy is"curriculum infusion," which
helps identify career competences to be taught and"folds" them in the
academiccurriculum. This means that the
knowledge or skills needed in a particular career choice are identified. Then,
the teacher can provide the students with school-work which is consistent with
the knowledge and skills that the students will need in that particular
occupation. The second strategy is called"assessment of current interests,"
which includes taking a history of the students' families, inventories of their
interests, and having the students identify information about themselves. These
items may provide indicators to help students select certain career choices.
Arrington (2000) comments that the third strategy is"life-skills/ personal
development" and includes cooperative learning, self-confidence, self-esteem,
and individual learning style. This strategy is intended to help students know
themselves better, and develop more confidence and a good feeling about
themselves as students and people. Also, it is meant to identify a particular learning
style that is better suited for each individual student. Arrington (2000)
believes that phase one should last approximately two years.
Phase two is
titled career exploration and should begin when students enter the next
school year after phase one ends. In the"career exploration" phase, the focus
is to help the students discover their individual interests, abilities, career
values, and needs. This is done by allowing students to explore different jobs
and how those jobs fit in the working world. Arrington (2000) believes the best
way to accomplish job exploration is through job shadowing. Job shadowing
allows the students to actually go on a particular job with a worker that is
employed in a chosen occupation. The student gets to stay with that employee
for a specified period of time, such as the entire day. As an example, if a
student chooses a police officer as a possible career choice, the student will
get to be side by side with the police officer for the entire day. This would
allow the student to observe exactly what the police officer would do during a
work day. Arrington (2000) believes that proper job shadowing requires that a
student interview the person that the student observed at work. This would give
the student a deeper understanding of the job they observed as well as give the
student more information with which to decide whether or not their occupation
is the one they wish to explore further. Arrington (2000) believes that this
phase can be accomplished in one full year.
three, which is titled career guidance, should begin approximately in
the seventh grade."Career guidance" concentrates on helping students explore
the world, as well as their interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Arrington
(2000) recommends that students complete a year long"career class" in the
seventh grade. Once they have completed the career class, their eighth grade
year should include at least a semester of technology education. Finally, the
students' ninth grade year should include an elective education class.
Arrington (2000) strongly believes that phase three requires a tremendous
cooperative effort between school counselors, teachers, school supervisors, and
parents. School counselors and teachers need to have the support and resources
from their school districts to make the plan work. Also, parents are important
to the process. They need to give their children the support and freedom to
explore the career options they chose. Only then, can the development of a
tentative study plan be formulated, which is consistent with working in the
child's career choice.
In the final
year of phase three, students should be placed in small groups of between 15
and 20 students and assigned a teacher advisor. The teacher should meet with
each student at least once per month until the student's graduation from high
school. Also, the plan of study should include a meeting between the students'
parents or guardians and the students' teachers at least once a year to discuss
the students' progress toward accomplishing the plan of study. If the students
are motivated and complete their comprehensive plan related to setting career
goals, Arrington (2000) believes that as students progress through their career
development, planning and preparation, they will better able to develop
academic skills which will enable them to master, at least, the basics of their
reviewed provide ample evidence that setting career goals at an early age has
an impact on the future of our youth. We saw that by increasing career
development activities, which includes setting career goals, students had a
higher self-esteem. Maybe even more important, however, is that students were
more satisfied about the education they were receiving. This will, in turn, hopefully
lead to students having a deeper desire and commitment to succeed in their
education. Another outcome of a higher self-esteem, is that those students
chose more difficult goals than students with low self-esteems.
There is an
excellent detailed plan for teaching parents and teachers how to teach young
students to set career goals. The plan requires a total community effort
through educators, parents, and businesses. Students must be given an
opportunity to identify and explore their desired careers. They can accomplish
this through the"School to Work Transition" or"Job Shadowing Program."
Through the cooperative efforts of the entire community, students can identify
career choices, set career goals, and have higher self-esteems at an early age.
Ultimately, they will further their education and have a better chance of
succeeding in the"do or die" world in which we live.
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