22 SES 04 D, Student Transitions and Graduate Employability
Career choice is one of the most important tasks that constitute the transition from school to further education or work. The last few years at school are particularly important in this respect, as it is the time when an adolescent faces the challenge of exploring further career opportunities, considering different alternatives and, finally, making a decision which, in turn, might be more or less certain.
Traditionally, in an attempt to answer what makes a successful educational/career transition, many researchers in the field of career guidance and educational psychology have focused on the individual career planning resources and the way the are developed and used. One of the recent developments in the field is marked by constructivism paradigm and a focus on career adaptabilities (a psychosocial construct reflecting one’s strengths to face transitions or changes in life) (Savickas, 2005; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). It is widely agreed that focusing on adaptability and similar constructs might provide invaluable information on how to enable a person to use the utmost of his own resources. On the other hand, if measured from the subjective point of view, they might reflect only part of career choice behaviours.
Based on the theories of career construction (Savickas, 2005) and self-determination (Deci & Ryan, 2000, 2008; Ryan & Deci, 2000, 2006), this study employs a slightly different approach towards the analysis of career choice.
Firstly, it attempts to analyze the actual career behaviours and choices (rather than perceived abilities to implement them) by measuring: a) the frequency of high school students’ career exploration behaviours, b) the level of their career decidedness.
Second, it includes the analysis of career choice motivation and its role in these career choice behaviours.
In this study, the concept of career exploration was taken from the constructivist paradigm and particularly from the works on career adaptability by Savickas and his colleagues (Savickas, 1997; Savickas et al., 2009; Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). The only difference is that what is measured in this study, is the frequency of certain exploratory behaviours rather than perceived strengths to accomplish them. Moreover, based on the Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000, 2008; Ryan & Deci, 2000, 2006), this study draws attention to the perception of the career itself. Drawing on the concept of self-determination, it aims to explore how young people understand the importance of career choice in their lives (i.e. why they need to do it at all) and how it affects their actual career choice behaviours, such as exploration and decidedness. One of the focal parts of the Self-Determination Theory is the conceptualization of motivation continuum ranging from intrinsic motivation (thus, self-determined behaviour) to extrinsic motivation and amotivation (which means the absence of motivation), which forms a powerful basis for exploring and explaining the incentives of human actions. While this macro-theory is used in numerous domains to explain the incentives of human behaviour, there are very few studies that attempt to apply it in explaining career choice. Therefore, the results of this study could provide useful insights into what factors determine career choice in young age and, in this way, contribute to better understanding of those parts of the career choice puzzle that are still unclear.
Specifically, this study aims to test:
1) to what extent career choice motivation (controlling for the background characteristics) predicts career exploration behaviours;
2) whether career choice motivation (controlling for the background characteristics) is related to the level of career decidedness.
Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The 'What' and 'Why' of Goal Pursuits: Human Needs and the Self-Determination of Behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–269. Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (2008a). Self-Determination Theory: A Macrotheory of Human Motivation, Development, and Health. Canadian Psychology, 49, 182–185. Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54–67. Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2006). Self-Regulation and the Problem of Human Autonomy: Does Psychology Need Choice, Self-Determination, and Will? Journal of Personality, 74, 1557–1585. Savickas, M. L. (1997). Career adaptability: An integrative construct for life-span, life-space theory. The Career Development Quarterly, 45, 247-259. Savickas, M. L. (2005). The theory and practice of career construction. Career Development and Counseling: Putting Theory and Research to Work. Ed. by Brown S. D., Lent R. W., New Jersey: Wiley Publications, pp. 42–70. Savickas, M. L., Nota, L., Rossier, J., Dauwalder, J. P., Duarte, M. E., Guichard, J., Soresi, S., Van Esbroeck, R., van Vianen, A.E.M. (2009). Life designing: A paradigm for career construction in the 21st century. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75, 239-250. Savickas, M. L., Porfeli, E. J. (2012). Career Adapt-Abilities Scale: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, 661-673. Vallerand, R.J., Blais, M.R., Brière, N.M., & Pelletier, L.G. (1989). Construction et validation de l'Échelle de Motivation en Éducation (EME). Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 21, 323-349.
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