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Motivation through relevance: how career models motivate student career goals

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This study addresses the problem of high school graduates with learning disabilities who are unprepared for higher education and the workplace because of limited exposure to career professionals and perceived barriers. The purpose of this study is to examine how

This study addresses the problem of high school graduates with learning disabilities who are unprepared for higher education and the workplace because of limited exposure to career professionals and perceived barriers. The purpose of this study is to examine how a career exploration model, entitled CaMPs (Career Model Professionals) influences students’ career decision-making self-efficacy. CaMPs incorporates exposure to career role models, as well as career research and self-reflection. CaMPs proivides students with learning disabilities first-hand accounts of successful career professionals, to assist them in setting academic and career goals that are aligned to their personal strengths. This mixed methods study develops and evaluates a career based innovation for high school students and reviews the relationship between the innovation and students’ self-efficacy. Students completed a self-efficacy survey (Career Decision Self-Efficacy - Short Form: CDSE) before and after the implementation of the CaMPs program. A t-test comparing pre- and post-survey scores indicated that there was a significant increase in self-efficacy after completion of the program. Qualitative data revealed changes in students’ career interests and new considerations to their career preparation process after participating in the CaMPs innovation. This study will be useful in the development of career programs for high school students, particularly those with learning disabilities, to assist them in choosing and preparing for their future careers.

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2017

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Preparing future scholars for academia and beyond: a mixed method investigation of doctoral students' preparedness for multiple career paths

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This action research study is a mixed methods investigation of doctoral students’ preparedness for multiple career paths. PhD students face two challenges preparing for multiple career paths: lack of preparation and limited engagement in conversations about the value of their

This action research study is a mixed methods investigation of doctoral students’ preparedness for multiple career paths. PhD students face two challenges preparing for multiple career paths: lack of preparation and limited engagement in conversations about the value of their research across multiple audiences. This study focuses on PhD students’ perceived perception of communicating the value of their research across academic and non-academic audiences and on an institutional intervention designed to increase student’s proficiency to communicate the value of their PhD research across multiple audiences. Additionally, the study identified ways universities can implement solutions to prepare first-generation PhD students to effectively achieve their career goals.

I developed a course titled Preparing Future Scholars (PFS). PFS was designed to be an institutional intervention to address the fundamental changes needed in the career development of PhD students. Through PFS curricula, PhD students engage in conversations and have access to resources that augment both the traditional PhD training and occupational identity of professorate. The PFS course creates fundamental changes by drawing from David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory and the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) developed by Robert Lent, Steven Brown, and Gail Hackett. The SCCT looks at one’s self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, goal representation, and the interlocking process of interest development, along with their choice and performance.

I used a concurrent triangulation mixed methods research model that included collecting qualitative and quantitative data over 8 weeks. The results of the study indicated that PhD students’ career preparation should focus on articulating the relevancy of their research across academic and non-academic employment sectors. Additionally, findings showed that PhD students’ perception of their verbal and non-verbal skills to communicate the value of their research to both lay and discipline specific audiences were not statistically different across STEM and non-STEM majors, generational status, or gender, but there are statistical differences within each group. PhD programs provide students with the opportunity to cultivate intellectual knowledge, but, as this study illustrates, students would also benefit from the opportunity to nurture and develop practical knowledge and turn “theory into practice.”

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2016