Margaux Elliott

Palmer Thorton

Mariesa Duggan

 

Article Summary

 

Miller, Mark J. (1994). An assessment of the effect of vocational exploration on career decision making.

Journal of Employment Counseling, 31, 137-143.

 

Human Resource Management as well as many University Career Development Centers have been helping indecisive students explore career choices for years. Initial studies of career indecisiveness attributed this dilemma to a developmental delay in decision making (Grites, 1981; Titley and Titley, 1980). More recent research has revealed that there may be other causes, related to indecisiveness. This divergence in research has made future research difficult to tackle because it is not quite understood how much of a subject’s indecisiveness is due to a delay of development and how much is due to a chronic personality problem (Slaney, 1988). There have also been relationships drawn between indecisive people and certain personality traits. Some personality characteristics that often seem present with career indecisiveness are: anxiety (Jones, 1989), low self-esteem, and poor identity information (Miller, 1994). Research has also supported that career indecisiveness is related to personality; specifically how indecisiveness can relate to a subject’s inability to view the relationship between their personality needs and a fulfilling career choice (Miller, 1994).

Generally speaking there are two methods to treat indecisiveness in regards to career choices. The first includes the administration of inventories and limits the cause of indecisiveness to developmental delay. The second is the exploration model which allows subjects to find an area of greatest fit by resolving their vocational dilemmas resulting in greater specificity and clarity. Miller’s (1994) hypothesis is that “after receiving a traditional vocational exploration activity as a treatment, both treatment and control group of decisive college students will remain congruent in pre and posttest interest inventory scores” (p. 2).

The treatment group was given a traditional career exploration activity, however the control group was not given any activity. The goal of the study was to determine if the vocational activity created any change in decisiveness towards career interest. To create a baseline subjects were pre-tested for their interests. For the baseline two tools were used, the Holland Hexagon and the American College Testing Interest Inventory (ACT-II). Holland’s Hexagon allows an individual to graphically view their potential career direction based on six aspects which included: realistic, investigative, enterprising, social, conventional, or artistic occupations (Miller, 1994). The ACT-II is a basic interest inventory which can yield data relevant to a person’s potential career direction. The use of these two tools helped develop a graphical representation of individual’s level of decisiveness.

The researchers used college freshmen as subjects who were enrolled in an English composition class. The subject pool had consistent and above-average academic ability. This process yielded 175 qualified subjects then those subjects were culled to determine who was career decisive. The remaining group was randomly divided into two equal sub groups: treatment and control. Subjects were motivated with the possibility that the activities could enhance their career plans and that they would receive class credit for their participation.

To compare baseline results the ACT-II and Holland’s tests were given after the treatment group received treatment (3weeks elapsed time). Treatment consisted of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SSI). After the results were explained to the treatment group, they were asked to write a cause/effect inference paper focusing on what caused their proclivities to certain vocational interests.

The differences between pre-and post test results were subjected to a multivariate ANOVA. Wilk’s lambda derived the multivariate F ratio. F ratios for each univariate were also derived. These values were then plotted for both treatment and control groups for comparison. 

The multivariate F ratio yielded a probability of .03. The univariate F ratios for the pretest distance from the center and the distance between coordinates yielded probabilities of .018 and .001. The pre-post incongruities in the treatment groups’ scores were much larger than were those of the control group. The mean distance between the treatment group member’s pre and post ACT II coordinates are 5.63 (treatment) and 3.21 (control) at a .001 confidence. The angle difference from pre and post ACT II coordinates is 199.2 (treatment) and 194.3 (control) at a .04 confidence level. There was no significant change in response consistency between the treatment and control group. The initial pretest interest incongruence was insignificant, however, the posttest scores are significant for incongruence of distance between pre- and posttest scores.

From the results, it is clear that the treatment did have an impact on the decided students. Although both the control and treatment group students claimed to be decided about potential careers, the treatment group changed their interest statement after the treatment and really turned out to be undecided. The treatment, itself, led to uncertainty. On the other hand, the lack of uncertainty in the control group refutes the initial hypothesis. An explanation for these results may be that the treatment may have altered formerly decided students to an uncomfortable connection between their personality and their interests (i.e. unresolved personality issues). This study supports previous findings on the role of anxiety in career indecision. Based on this study’s results, it is clear that confronting one’s personality core is the fundamental work of career decision making. To solve this dilemma cooperative education courses could be taken to allow students the time and structure in which to validate their ideas about the future. Stimulating students with more information, without providing careful counseling and debriefing, as in this study, seems to be a destabilizing activity for students.

 

 

 

Outline

 

I. Introduction

A. Past Research

a. It is not quite understood how much of a person’s indecisiveness is due to a delay of development and how much is due to a chronic personality problem

b. Personality traits such as anxiety have been linked with career indecisiveness

B. Present Study

a. Goal of this study was to determine if the vocational activity created any change in decisiveness towards career interests.

b. Hypothesis of this study was that “after receiving a traditional vocational exploration activity as a treatment, both treatment and control group of decisive college students will remain congruent in pre and post test interest inventory scores”.

II. Method

A. Participants

a. 175 students qualified initially for the study

b. Retained only those students who said they were career decided

c. Treatment, N=39

d. Control, N=40

III. Design and Procedure

A. Initiated study by giving the American College Testing Interest Inventory (ACT-II) to both groups.

B. Used ACT-II for both pre- and post testing of interest.

C. Treatment Group

a. Participated in career exploration activity

b. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator for personality and the Strong Interest Inventory for career interests.

c. Results were explained and the subjects were asked to write a cause and effect inference paper focusing on their test results

d. Test scores were to be looked at as “effects” and participants were told to write about what they believed to be the “causes” in them that resulted in their personality and vocational interest profiles.

VI. Results

A. Multivariate F ratio

a. Probability

B. Univariate F ratios

a. Pretest distance (ACT II) from the center and the distance between the coordinates probabilities.

C. Pre-post incongruencies

a. Treatment vs. control

i. mean distance and confidence

ii. angle distance from pre-post ACT II and confidence level

1. no significant change in response consistency between control and treatment groups

D. Significance of pre-post interest incongruence?

a. Initial pretest interest incongruence was insignificant

b. Posttest scores for incongruence of the distance between pre-and posttest scores were significant.

VII. Discussion

A. Treatment did have impact on decided students

a. Changed their interest statement after the treatment

b. Turned out undecided

c. Treatment led to uncertainty

i. may be due to unresolved personality issues

B. Lack of uncertainty in control group refutes initial hypothesis

C. Study supports previous findings on role of anxiety in career decision

a. Confronting one’s core personality is key in career decision making

D. Suggestions to solve this personality/career issue?

a. Cooperative education courses could allow students more time and structure to validate their ideas about their future.

b. Stimulating students with more information, without providing counseling and debriefing proves to be a destabilizing activity for students.