ERG SES C 02, Inclusive Education
The inclusion agenda is working, This is increasingly evident in the school system and we are now seeing the fruits of this coming through to Further and Higher Education as Irish and EU policies to promote the inclusion of disabled people begin to take effect (Ebersold 2012). Against this backdrop and as the numbers of students with a disability accessing Higher Education in Ireland increase in numbers year on year (AHEAD 2017); it is time to have a theoretically informed practice model for career guidance.
It can be argued that career guidance has changed little since its origins across the world. While it has always sought to engage with people and assist them to find their ‘vocation’͛ (Brewer 1942), never before has it faced a greater diversity of people facing a more uncertain future.
Leong & Brown (1995) declared that the majority of career theories lacked application for ethnic minorities due to a lacking of cultural validity. CEDEFOP (2009) stated that “Guidance and counselling is undergoing gradual change, resulting from the complex demands placed by the society on career guidance practitioners, their working environments, and client groups becoming more diverse ( Pg. 1).” The demands on career guidance have continued apace and it continues to be challenged both theoretically and practically.
Education is evolving – there is now a diversity of learners engaged in new and innovative courses in higher education (AHEAD 2017). Furthermore, all students once made choices about courses and the ‘career’ it would lead to – today they need to think more about skills for future work areas – some that have not even been developed yet. So much change is happening, and being demanded, by so many. This change is being enabled in the classroom and lecture hall (Quirke McCarthy & Mc Guckin 2018) – but what about outside the classroom in the career guidance office?
One group that have historically demanded change against the backdrop of uncertainty – and have achieved it - are people with disabilities. They are a diverse group; a variety of people with different aspirations, values and abilities. Where once a person with a visual impairment would not consider medicine, or a deaf person be even considered as a nurse - technology and curriculum have become enablers and respect ability, motivation and determination. Disability models have evolved and successfully redefined themselves in today’s world.
This presentation will explore this evolution in the world of disability and ask what can the world of career guidance learn– most particularly if engaging with an increasingly diverse population making and effectingup-to-date educational and work choices? Has the theory of career guidance changed from its origins in the 1950’s? Or do we insist on taking a robotic ‘one size fits all’, a traditional approach that works ‘well enough’. Using the Bronfenbrenner ecosystem (Bronfenbrenner 1979) – the challenges facing professional career guidance and what it can learn from the models of disability will be explored.
Professionals in education are in an era of risk and the greatest risk is not to rethink practices, attitudes and the very theories they use as they develop their thinking (McCarthy, Quirke & Treanor, 2018). If their very thinking is ideological based on a ‘medical model of disability’ they will be challenged as they adopt some of the more contemporary inclusive approaches, including Universal Design, that are being proposed in today’s world. Perhaps, in this era of change;, it is time we take a calculated risk and explore models of disability, universal design and reimagine a new model of career guidance. Aftercall – the greatest risk is to do nothing.
This is a research and applied practice project that will demonstrate how the combined approaches of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Bronfenbrenner, Disability, and Guidance Counselling can show a clear and positive path ahead. Aligning the literature with current practice and conceptualising the experience of students with a disability, using both the Universal Design for Learning framework and the Bronfenbrenner ecosystem, will be particularly innovative as both models are well-suited to explore where the disabled learner is positioned in contemporary career guidance. Bronfenbrenner (1979) allows an opportunity to theorize career guidance and the guidance world of a learner with a disability (ecology) placing the relationship of the career guidance professional and the learner with a disability in the centre while acknowledging the 'drivers'. Irish researchers and guidance counsellors have previously used the model of Bronfenbrenner. Greene (1994) and Greene & Moane (2000) utilised the Bronfenbrenner's systems model when researching the different influences of children growing up in Ireland. Finally, Mc Guckin and Minton (2014) showed how the application of Bronfenbrenner’s framework to an educational and counselling context married as both approaches focus on lifespan psychology while needing to be reactive to ever-changing contemporary policies, research, and contextual issues. Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning are evolving frameworks and while originally positioned in the built environment have also found a place in pedagogical approaches. This contemporary system affords the opportunity to rethink guidance and refocus our thinking about drivers and enablers in the relationship between todays guidance counsellor and the disabled learner – in a way that will benefit all learners.
It is hoped that this paper will explore a model of working that will influence contemporary guidance practices not just in Ireland but also across Europe in the field of education. As the need to be more inclusive in our societies and classrooms continues to develop apace – perhaps inclusion and Universal Design needs to be adopted by more than the teacher and architect?
AHEAD (2017), Number of Students with Disabilities Studying in Higher Education in Ireland 2016/17 Dublin: AHEAD Educational Press.
Brewer, J. M. (1942). History of Vocational Guidance: Origins and Early Development. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development Cambridge. MA: Harvard.
CEDEFOP (2009) Professionalising Career Guidance: Practitioner Competences and Qualification Routes in Europe http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/Files/5193_ en.pdf Available in English and German
Ebersold, S. (2012). Education and training policy transitions to tertiary education and work for youth with disabilities, OECD Publishing
Leong, F. T. L., & Brown, M. T. (1995). Theoretical issues in cross-cultural career development: Cultural validity and cultural specificity. In W. B. Walsh & S. H. Osipow (Eds.), Contemporary topics in vocational psychology. Handbook of vocational psychology: Theory, research, and practice (pp. 143-180). Hillsdale, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
McCarthy, P. Quirke, M. & Treanor, D. (2018) The Role of the Disability Officer and the Disability Service in Higher Education in Ireland: A Vision for Future Development. Dublin: AHEAD Education Press
Mc Guckin, C., & Minton, S.J. (2014). From theory to practice: Two ecosystemic approaches and their applications to understanding school bullying. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 24(1),36 – 48
OECD (2002) Who am I? The inadequacy of career information in an information age http://iccdpp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/ 03/OECD-Inadequacy-of-Career-Info-2002.pdf Available in English and French
Quirke, M; McCarthy, P; MC Guckin, C. (2018) “I can see what you mean”: Encouraging higher education educators to seek support from “outside agencies” to aid their work with visually impaired learners.. AISHE-J: The All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 1, Feb. 2018. ISSN 2009-3160. Available at:
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