Providing adequate resources for undergraduate students’ career development has been of utmost importance to meet demands from national agencies and industry leaders. At Arizona State University, the size of the undergraduate populations in the School of Life Sciences (SOLS) grew from 1,591 to 3,661, an increase of over 130% from 2003-2017. As of December 19, 2019, SOLS hosted a record 5,318 undergraduate majors on campus and 1,646 students in its online biological sciences program. This steady increase in life science undergraduate student enrollment at ASU attested to the need for appropriate career development education to be woven into the curriculum. Under the framework of higher education’s purpose to provide adequate resources for career success, a career development intervention was designed and implemented as a career planning course for life science students. The purpose of this project was to provide a continuum of job and career information to SOLS’ students to ensure they had appropriate, comprehensive information as they learned about and considered various career opportunities in the life sciences. Three theoretical perspectives guided the research project: Holland’s (1985, 1997) theory of vocational personalities and their connections to work environments, Sampson, Peterson, Reardon and Lenz’s (2003) cognitive information processing career decision theory (CIP), and Bandura’s (1986) self-efficacy theory. Survey results showed increases in all seven constructs—knowledge of career exploration and development tasks, perception of possible professional and career goals and opportunities, goal selection, occupational information, problem solving, planning, self-appraisal—over time among the students. Interview data indicated students noted (a) enrollment in the course for reasons such as determining a career choice that met their needs and preferences while managing expectations and pressures from external sources; (b) broadening perceptions of career options, and (c) developing career exploration and planning skills. The success from this discipline-specific career development course was timely because university leaders were seeking solutions to increase students’ career readiness. The discussion focused on complementarity of the data, connections to the extant research, implications for practice and research, personal lessons learned, and a conclusion.
- Creating and Using a Career Development Course to Prepare Life Science Students for Career Decision Making