Every year millions of public and private dollars are spent on career development interventions for America's teenagers. However, no comprehensive listing of these interventions exists in the professional literature. The lack of such a listing hampers both practitioners and researchers in the area of career guidance. To remedy this situation, the Career Development Research Team of the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education conducted research with the aim to (1) identify a comprehensive list of career development interventions that occur in America's secondary schools, and (2) create a taxonomy of the identified interventions. Through consultation with career guidance practitioners and researchers from across the country, as well as through examination of research articles, grant reports, and program manuals, the Career Development Research Team established a comprehensive list containing 44 interventions. These 44 interventions were then rated on 5 variables (i.e., Time, Mode, Control, Place, & Size) by a random sample of the membership of the Guidance Division of the Association for Career and Technical Education. These ratings were then cluster analyzed. This analysis produced a four taxon solution. The taxa were (1) Work Based Interventions, (2) Advising Interventions, (3) Introductory Interventions, and (4) Curriculum Based Interventions.
The next step in creating this taxonomy was to decide what dimensions to use in assessing the 44 interventions. A total of 13 dimensions that can be used to describe school-directed programming were considered. However, to keep the survey a doable length, we decided to limit the rating dimensions to the five we felt would be the most "robust". By robust we mean the dimensions that lead to the most homogeneous taxa possible (Carmone, Kara, & Maxwell, 1999). Our selection of the five was done conceptually and was guided by Saylor and Alexander's (1966) influential text on curriculum planning. In particular, we were influenced by their six level model of factors that influence "the actual experiences provided pupils by the school" (p. 273). We rated as most robust those variables that occurred on the factor level that Saylor and Alexander held was most closely linked to actual student experiences. These five dimensions were (a) duration of the intervention [Time], (b) pedagogical style [Mode], (c) location of intervention [Place], (d) size of the intervention group [Size], and (e) control of the intervention's application [Control].
Our next step was to create a survey that asks career guidance professionals to assess the 44 interventions across the 5 dimensions. We sent this survey to a random sample of the membership of the Guidance Division of the Association for Career and Technical Education. The survey required participants to select the binomial descriptor that "best" represented an intervention. Brief definitions were provided for each descriptor. Specifically, for the Time dimension, the participant could circle S for Short (1 hour to 2 weeks) or L for Long (greater then two weeks). For the Mode dimension, the participant could circle P for Passive (listening, reading, viewing) or A for Active (hands on). For the Place dimension, the participant could circle S for School Based (on campus) or C for Community Based (off campus). For the Size dimension, the participant could circle G for Group (small group and above) or I for Individual (a student). Finally, for the Control dimension, the participant could circle Y for Youth Directed (control over time/scope/location) or A for Adult Directed (control over time/scope/location). In total, each participant made 220 ratings.
The final step was to submit these ratings to a statistical procedure called cluster analysis. Cluster analysis is a multivariate statistical technique used to determine naturally occurring groupings or categories (Wheeler & Kivlighan, 1995). At its most basic level, cluster analysis is the application of a set of rules (i.e., algorithm) for the dividing up a proximity matrix in order to form groups of similar objects (Borgen & Barnett, 1987). In this definition, the term "proximity matrix" refers to a matrix of similarities or dissimilarities between objects. Cluster analysis is commonly used to create taxonomies in a wide variety of fields. Our application of cluster analysis to career development interventions in secondary schools produced a four-taxon solution. A list of the 44 interventions by taxon appears at the end of this digest. One intervention in each taxon is marked with an asterisk. This intervention is statistical exemplar for that taxon.
Taxon 2: Advising Interventions. We defined this taxon as follows: "The class of interventions designed to provide direction, resolve impediments, and sustain planfulness in students about their goals for the future." Eminent career development theorist Donald Super (Super, 1994; Super & Overstreet, 1960) felt that planfulness was a core element to successful career development in adolescence. This taxon was the only one of the school-based taxa described as delivered on an individual basis.
Taxon 3: Introductory Interventions. We defined this taxon as follows: "The class of interventions designed to awaken a student's interest in their own personal and professional growth." This taxon was similar to the fourth taxon with one exception. The modal Time variable descriptor for this taxon was "Strong Short" and the modal Time descriptor for the fourth taxon was "Strong Long." This difference emphasizes the introductory and preparatory nature of this class of interventions.
Taxon 4: Curriculum Based Interventions. We defined this taxon as follows: "The class of interventions designed to promote core student knowledge and skills through means and content relevant to the world of work." As noted in the previous section, the distinguishing characteristic of this taxon of interventions versus the other school-based taxa is its long-term nature. The interventions contained in this taxon represent the school-based complements to the interventions that are part of the Work Based Interventions taxon.
*Service Learning/Volunteer Programs
*Work Based Learning Project
*Academic Planning Counseling
*Career Focused Parent/Student Conference
*Career Peer Advising/Tutoring*
*Career Maturity Assessment
*Career Interests Assessment
*Career Library/Career Resource Center
*Career Passport/Skill Certificate
*College Admissions Testing
*Computer Assisted Career Guidance
*Job Hunting Preparation
*Portfolio/Individual Career Plan
*Referral to External Training Programs
*Referral to External Counseling/Assessment
*Career Day/Career Fair
*Career Field Trip
*Career Aptitude Assessment
*Community Members Teach In Classroom
*Guidance Lessons on Personal/Social Development
*Guidance Lessons on Career Development
*Guidance Lessons on Academic Planning
Curriculum Based Taxon
*Career Information Infused Into Curriculum
*Career/Technical Education Course
*Career Skills Infused Into Curriculum
*Career Academy/Career Magnet School
*Tech Prep/2+2 Curriculum
Borgen, F. H., & Barnett, D. C. (1987). Applying cluster analysis in counseling psychology research. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 34, 456-468.
Brickell, H. B., Aslanian, C. B., Grossman, R., Spak, L. J., Callaway, M., & Smith, K. S. (1974). Taxonomy and profiles of career education, Volume I. New York: Policy Studies of America, Educational Research Council of America. [ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 106 516]
Saylor, J. G., & Alexander, W. M. (1966). Curriculum planning for modern schools. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Super, D. E. (1994). A Life Span, life space perspective on convergence. In M. L. Savickas and R. W. Lent (Eds.), Convergence in career development theories (pp. 63-74). Palo Alto, CA: CPP Books.
Super, D. E., & Overstreet, P. (1960). The vocational maturity of ninth grade boys. New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University.
Wheeler, J. L., & Kivlighan, D. M. (1995). Things unsaid in group counseling: An empirical taxonomy. Journal of Counseling & Development, 73, 586-592
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