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Putting Theory to Work: Advancing Career Development in Science and Engineering
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Putting Theory to Work: Advancing Career Development in Science and Engineering

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  1. Putting Theory to Work:Advancing Career Development in Science and Engineering Angela Byars-Winston, Ph.D. Lori Bakken, Ph.D. School of Medicine & Public Health University of Wisconsin-Madison

  2. Workshop Overview • Introduce and review career development theory and empirically-supported career concepts, especially relevant to STEM • Discuss social cognitive career theory • Describe strategies applying career theory to advancing career development

  3. Workshop Goals Participants will: • Know and understand major career development theories; • Identify ways to apply career development theory to their work; • Be able to inform their interventions and research studies with relevant career development theory.

  4. Learning Objectives • Define 3 terms related to career concepts • State 3 reasons why understanding theory is important • State at least 2 limitations of theory • State at least 3 tenets that underlie many theories • Describe the theories of Holland, Super, Krumboltz, and Lent, Brown, & Hackett • State how these theories can be applied

  5. Question • What issues are salient for you as you work to encourage individuals’ pursuits of science careers?

  6. Definition of Key Terms

  7. Definitions • Occupation - a defined set of work tasks commonly performed for the purpose of making a particular product or performing a specific service • Job - performance of an occupation in a specific place for a specific employer • Career – the combination of activities performed at any given life stage in all roles of life, including the role of worker Reference: Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), NCDA

  8. Definitions (cont’d) • Career development – sequence of career-related choices, transitions across life span • Career counseling – the process by which a professional counselor assists clients to make informed career choices and transitions • Career assistance – the process by which a career development facilitator provides specific support to clients, such as finding career information, conducting a job search Reference: GCDF, NCDA

  9. What is Vocational Psychology or the Psychology of Career Development?

  10. Brief Definitions • The psychology of human work behavior • The psychological study of factors (cognitive, behavioral, affective) or antecedents to work processes and outcomes such as: - Career-related choice, identity, consideration, exploration, attitudes, decision-making processes, values, occupational knowledge, job satisfaction, and job adjustment (Jepsen, 1984)

  11. Career Development Interventions(Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2002) • Activities that empower people to cope effectively with career development tasks-- • development of self-awareness • development of occupational awareness • learning decision-making skills • acquiring job search skills • adjusting to choices after their implementation • coping with job stress

  12. Coming of Age of Vocational Psychology: 1850s-1940s • Response to growing unemployment among youth and immigrants - Frank Parsons, 1909 • Growing attention given to individual differences; • Mental measurement and classification of recruits for World War I and II; • Federal support (& VA) for formal training of counselors with vocational emphasis

  13. Current Professional Issues: Where Are We Now? • Response to a changing world --diverse workforce and workplace; --multiple career changes; --evolving meaning of work. • Effective career interventions --mngmnt. skills for changing workplace; --ambiguity & uncertainty arecertainties; --interactive learning process.

  14. 10-2! Share: • Reactions, insights, question • Key words that capture important aspects of presentation • One sentence summaries

  15. Key Assumption • Theory should precede or accompany empirical knowledge and studies and orient “a body of knowledge while it is in its development” (Osipow & Fitzgerald, 1996, p. 5)

  16. Value of Theories • Conceptual models of how we understand the world • We judge their effectiveness based on: • Explanation (career choice and change) • Control (guidelines for intervention and practice, e.g., specific tools, techniques) • Prediction (future events, e.g., job satisfaction

  17. Limitations of Theories • Each views career choice and development from a specific perspective • Participant samples used in research may not be representative of larger population • Each theory is culture-bound • Any model categorizing behavioral phenomena may be oversimplified, arbitrary

  18. Five Key Tenets aboutCareer Development(Gysbers, Heppner, Johnston & Neville, 2003) • Individualism and autonomy • Affluence • Opportunity open to all

  19. Differential Occupational Opportunity: Research Examples Bertrand & Mullainathan (2003) • Racial bias in applicant screening Byars-Winston, Fouad, & Priester (2005) • Racial preference in job interviews Fouad & Byars-Winston (2005) • Racial differences in career choice perceptions

  20. Five Key Tenets aboutCareer Development cont’d (Gysbers et al., 2003) • Individualism and autonomy • Affluence • Opportunity open to all • Centrality of work in people’s lives

  21. People Work To: • Survive • Gain social connection • Attain social power • Achieve economic sufficiency and self-determination • Express and seek fulfillment of life roles

  22. Five Key Tenets aboutCareer Development cont’d (Gysbers et al., 2003) • Individualism and autonomy • Affluence • Opportunity open to all • Centrality of work in people’s lives • Linearity and rationality of the career development process

  23. Overview of Career Development Theories — 4 Categories

  24. Case Study - Renee • A 19 yr-old sophomore, is seriously considering switching from engineering to another major. She enrolled in her university, which is predominantly-White, because she was aggressively recruited. She had heard of the minority engineering program, “but I don’t think it exists…I found there’s just a minority retention office over on the main campus.” Renee often goes through an entire day without seeing another Black student. In her classes, she is usually the only Black person and she does not feel at ease to voice her own opinions. This is especially true in her study groups, where she feels like her intellectual capacity is always in question. She feels “tired of the hassle of justifying my existence every other day” in response to others’ stereotypes about her presumed academic weakness. Although she wants to switch out of engineering, she really likes the field. Renee also feels that if she were to pursue a different major she would let people down, as well as herself, and confirm others’ belief that she is incapable of earning an engineering degree. (Byars-Winston, in press)

  25. Trait-Factor Approaches (Holland, 1959; 1985) • Focuses on the content of career choice • Primary Assumptions: • Career interests result of personality types (6) • Work environments defined by personality type (6) • People flourish in environments similar to their personality type = satisfaction, longevity • Behavior = P * E interaction

  26. Holland’s Hexagon

  27. Key Concepts • Congruence - the degree of fit between an individual’s personality type and current or prospective work environment • Consistency - degree of relatedness between types • Vocational identity - possession of a clear and stable picture of one’s goals, interests, and talent

  28. Applying Trait-Factor Approaches Interventions focus on: • Increasing self-knowledge/vocational identity • Increasing occupational information and awareness • Reality-testing of occupational “fit”

  29. John Holland (cont’d) • Strengths: • Practical theory • Easily interpretable concepts • User-friendly assessment instruments • Criticisms: • Emphasis on choice content vs. process • Potential for reinforcing social stereotypes

  30. Application to Renee • What will you (the career facilitator) focus on with Renee from a Trait-Factor approach? • How clear is her personal and vocational identity? How much does she know about engineering and other fields of study? What kind of decision-making skills do she have? • Key concepts: congruence, vocational identity, consistency

  31. Developmental Theory (Super, 1951, 1990) • Emphasizes the factors affecting career decisions over time. • While workers are busy earning a living, they are also busy living a life (Savickas) • Evolving self-understanding interacts with our life roles that together inform career decisions • Key concepts: self-concept, stages, tasks, career maturity (life rainbow, archway)

  32. Super (cont’d) • Development through the life stages can be guided by 1) facilitating the maturing of abilities and interests and 2) aiding in reality testing and the development of self-concepts. • The process of career development is essentially that of development and implementing occupational self-concepts

  33. Super (cont’d) • Success in coping at any given life-career stage depends on the readiness of the individual to cope with these demands. • The life space segment of the theory acknowledges that people differ in the degree of importance they attach to work. • Self-concepts continue to develop over time, making career choices and adjusting to them are lifelong tasks.

  34. Super’s Thematic Extrapolation Method • Gives practitioners role of historians who invite individuals to construct autobiographical stories of development • Life stories are examined for recurrent themes of continuity that make sense of the past, explain the present, and draw a blueprint for the future.

  35. Applying Developmental Theory - Super Analysis of Life Pattern Themes • Step #1: Analyze past behavior, choices and career development for recurring themes and trends. • Step #2: Summarize themes and trends, considering how each is interconnected with the others. • Step #3: Project the modified themes and trends into the future.

  36. Super’s Developmental Theory • Strengths • Focuses on career development across life span, including “retirement” • Explicates how life roles intersect with work • Limitations • Segments in theory are not cemented together—hard to test longitudinal assertions • Little empirical support

  37. Application to Renee • What will you focus on with Renee from a Developmental approach? • How does she view herself in relation to the world? What life roles are most important to her? How compatible are they? What does she value in life? What developmental stage is she in and how well is she managing related career tasks?

  38. Social Learning Theory (Krumboltz, 1979; 1996) • Explains how career interests are learned and subsequent career decisions are made • Learning shapes: generalizations about self, skills (e.g., problem-solving, habits), and career entry behavior • Key concepts: heredity/special abilities, environmental conditions, learning experiences, and task approach skills

  39. Types of Learning • Instrumental – a person is positively reinforced for some behavior • Associative – a person models behavior after someone who is admired or perceived as successful

  40. Reasons Why People Prefer a Particular Occupation • They succeed at tasks they believe are like those performed in that occupation. • They have observed a valued model being reinforced for activities like those performed by members of that occupation. • A valued friend or relative stressed its advantages to them; observed positive words and images associated with it.

  41. Krumboltz’s Task Approach Skills • These are skills that individuals need to learn in order to define a goal, identify alternatives, gather information, and take action • These can be taught. Krumboltz defines the steps in his DECIDES model Source: GCDF, NCDA Training Curriculum

  42. Applying S.L.T. - Krumboltz • Correct faulty assumptions. • Increase decision-making skills. • Facilitate acquisition of new skills and interests. • Identify strategies for managing issues resulting from life-work roles. • Develop skills for coping with changing work tasks.

  43. Social Learning Theory • Strengths • Focuses on modifiable skills, abilities of person • Explicates how learning experiences influence career choice • Limitations • Only accounts for career behavior up to initiation of career • Little empirical support

  44. Application to Renee • What will you focus on with Renee from a Social Learning Theory approach? • What activities has she observed that were reinforced? What images does she associate with her career interests? Who has influenced her career choices?

  45. Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) • Emphasizes role cognitive factors play in career development and decision making • People tend to pursue activities in which they are confident (self-efficacy [domain specific]) and believe will result in desirable outcomes (outcome expectations) • Key concepts: self-efficacy beliefs, outcome expectations, contextual/environmental factors

  46. “People's level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively the case.” Albert Bandura Adapted from Gail Hackett’s presentation Barriers to STEM Careers: A Social Cognitive Perspective

  47. SCCT, Lent et al. cont’d • Is closely linked to Krumboltz’ learning theory of career development • Incorporates Bandura’s triadic reciprocal model of causality Self-efficacy is a mediating, “Person” variable in the model

  48. Sources of Self-Efficacy (and Outcome) Beliefs • Personal performance accomplishments • Vicarious learning • Social persuasion • Physiological states and reactions

  49. SCCT (Lent et al., 1994; 2000) Can I do this? Contextual Influences Proximal to Choice Behavior Person Inputs - Predispositions - Gender - Race/ethnicity - Disability/ Health status Self-efficacy Expectations Interests Goals Actions Learning Experiences Background Contextual Affordances Background Outcome Expectations Retention What will happen?