Comparing Outcomes of Two Instructional Approaches to a Career Development Course
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College students frequently are not adequately prepared to make academic and career choices upon entering the college environment despite the need to focus on specific goals early in their college careers. Career development professionals offer an array of services to students seeking assistance with their career development processes, including the college career planning course. Most studies of college career planning courses over the past 30 years have sought to determine whether the classes are effective in assisting students with the career planning process. The overwhelming majority of the studies have found that college career courses work. The question that has thus far received less attention is, why do college career planning courses work? Recent meta-analytic studies have suggested that career interventions offer more benefit in terms of outcome variables when they incorporate five critical components. The current study compares outcomes of two different instructional approaches to a college career development course. Existing course plans were used for one group, and a special curriculum that included purposeful infusion of the five critical components into course activities was developed for the other group. A total of 52 freshman and sophomore students at a large public Southeastern university participated in the study as part of their enrollment in the career planning course. Students were assessed at the first and last class meetings of the semester using instruments designed to measure career development outcomes. The outcome variables of interest were career decision making self-efficacy, career decidedness, career indecision, and the presence of negative career thoughts. Students also completed a personality inventory. Results indicate that both courses were successful in improving outcomes on each of the four measures. Demographic and personality characteristics did not have a significant impact on students’ receptiveness to the course interventions. Students in the critical components course commented on their perceptions of course activities, yielding interesting ideas. Implications of the study and directions for future research are addressed.