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Role of Social Cognitive Variables on Agricultural and Science Career Interests and Goals of Rural High Students
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Role of Social Cognitive Variables on Agricultural and Science Career Interests and Goals of Rural High Students

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Rural students, in comparison to their urban counterparts, have had unique circumstances to contend with when making decisions about education and careers (Apostal & Bilden, 1991). Rural students ...

Rural students, in comparison to their urban counterparts, have had unique circumstances to contend with when making decisions about education and careers (Apostal & Bilden, 1991). Rural students have reduced accessibility to higher education, narrow rural school curricula, limited exposure to the world of occupations, and lack access to science enrichment opportunities available to students in suburban and urban settings (Goodell, Visco, & Pollock, 1999). This study was guided by Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994). SCCT highlights several cognitive-person variables: self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and personal goals and how these variables interact with other aspects of the person and his or her environment to help shape the course of career development (Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 2000). The purpose of this study was to test portions of the SCCT model (Lent et al., 1994, 2001, 2003) in the agricultural and science domains with a sample of rural high school students. Participants (N = 370) were drawn from a 3-day pre-college agricultural science program. Participants completed two questionnaires assessing SCCT career-related variables. We conducted a path analysis testing portions of the SCCT model with results indicating that the model fit the data well. High school students who participated in a pre-college science experience felt confident in their abilities to learn science also saw the value in learning science and planned to pursue science majors and careers. Moreover, participants who were interested in working in agricultural science settings were also interested in pursuing education and career goals in agriculture.

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Role of Social Cognitive Variables on Agricultural and Science Career Interests and Goals of Rural High Students Role of Social Cognitive Variables on Agricultural and Science Career Interests and Goals of Rural High Students Presentation Transcript

  • Role of Social Cognitive Variables onAgricultural and Science Career Interests and Goals of Rural High Students L E V O N E S T E R S a , N E I L K N O B L O C H a , A RY N D O T T E R E R a b , K AT H RY N O RV I S a , & C O L L E E N B R A DY a aD E PA RT M E N T O F YO U T H D E V E L O P M E N T & A G R I C U LT U R A L E D U C AT I O N bD E PA R T M E N T O F C H I L D D E V E L O P M E N T & FA M I LY S T U D I E S 2 N D A N N UA L G - S T E M S Y M P O S I U M F E B R UA RY 1 8 , 2 0 1 1
  • Introduction Students in every demographic of the U.S. have potential to become future STEM leaders (National Science Foundation, 2010). Regrettably, too many of the most able students are neither discovered nor developed.  Adequate access to educational resources.  Not been inspired to pursue STEM.  Numerous other barriers to achievement.
  • Introduction Pre-college programs are one strategy for increasing the pipeline of rural students pursuing undergraduate majors and careers STEAM disciplines. Serve as an open door to opportunities for those historically underserved and/or unaware of what colleges of agriculture & life sciences offer and the career and professional opportunities that are available to them (APLU, 2009).
  • Introduction Few efforts have been focused on providing experiences that foster the STEAM career development of rural high school students. Rural students often have to deal with unique circumstances when making decisions about education and careers.  Reduced accessibility to higher education; narrow rural school curricula; limited exposure to the world of occupations; and lack of access to science enrichment opportunities (Apostal & Bilden, 1991; Goodell, Visco, & Pollock, 1999).
  • Theoretical Framework Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994; 2000). Highlights several cognitive-person variables (SE, OE, Interests) and how these variables interact with other aspects of the person and his or her environment to help shape the course of career development.
  • Person, Contextual, and Experiential Factors Affecting Career-Related Choice Behavior Person Inputs-Predispositions-Gender Contextual Influences-Ethnicity Proximal to Choice-Disability/Health Behavior Status Self-Efficacy Learning Choice Choice Performance Experiences Interest Domains and Goals Actions Attainments Outcome Expectations Background Contextual Affordances
  • Theoretical Framework Only learning experiences in a specific academic or career domain can influence self-efficacy and outcome expectations in that particular domain and ultimately shape interest, goals, choices, persistence, and performance in that domain (Navarro et al., 2007). SCCT has received a good deal of empirical support, little research has been conducted to test the SCCT model in other academic and career domains (Lent, Brown, Nota, & Soresi, 2003).
  • Purpose of Study Test portions of SCCT in the agricultural and science domains with a sample of rural high school students.
  • Modified SCCT Model Tested in Study Self-Efficacy Choice Goals Interests Choice Goals Outcome Expectations
  • Methods Participants (N = 370) were taking part in a 3-day pre- college agriculture/science program. Completed questionnaires which assessed:  Science self-efficacy - confidence in one’s belief to learn science.  Science outcome expectations - one’s belief that learning science will lead to positive results.  Agricultural career interests - interests in working in agricultural settings e.g., food production and processing, plant science and nature, and engineering.  Agricultural education/career goals - goals to pursue education and careers in agriculture.  Science education/career goals - goals to pursue education and careers in agriculture.
  • Methods Students learned about careers and current topics with professors and scientists using hands-on activities in laboratories and field-based settings:  Animal science  Engineering  Food science  Entomology  Computer science  Aerospace  Plant science  Integrated lunar plant sciences
  • Participants 60% male 97% Caucasian Ages  14 to 19 (M = 17.1; SD = 1.27) Science Workshop Attendance  First time: 68% (n = 251)  Second time: 18% (n = 67)  Third time: 11% (n = 40)  Fourth time: 3% (n = 12)
  • Data Analysis Path analysis was conducted in AMOS 18.  Separate models were estimated for boys and girls Models were estimated using Full Information Maximum Likelihood. Model fit was evaluated with chi-square and practical fit indices. The models fit the data reasonably well:  χ2 (df = 2) = 7.02, p = .03; CFI = .99, TLI = .88, RMSEA = .08.
  • Results: BoysSelf-Efficacy -.21* Agriculture .26** .14 Education/Career .45*** .53*** Goals Career InterestsOutcome .44***Expectations .07 .19** Science Education/Career .18* Goals
  • Results: Boys Self-efficacy was positively associated with outcome expectations, B = .53, p < .001. Outcome expectations in turn were positively associated with science education/career goals, B = .18, p < .05 and agricultural education/career goals, B = .26, p < .01. Career interests were positively associated with science education/career goals, B = .45, p < .001 and agricultural education/career goals, B = .19, p < .01. Self-efficacy was also positively associated with science education/career goals, B = .44, p < .001 and negatively associated with agricultural education/career goals, B = -.21, p < .001.
  • Results: GirlsSelf-Efficacy -.02 Agriculture .08 -.03 Education/Career .44*** .55*** Goals Career InterestsOutcome .48***Expectations .30*** .18*** Science Education/Career .22*** Goals
  • Results: Girls Self-efficacy was positively associated with outcome expectations, B = .55, p < .001. Outcome expectations in turn were positively associated with career interests, B = .30, p < .001. Career interests in turn were positively associated with science education/career goals, B = .18, p < .001 and agricultural education/career goals, B = .44, p < .001.
  • Conclusions1. Male and female participants’ confidence in their abilities to learn science was related to their choice goals of pursuing education and careers in science.2. Male and female participants who were interested in working in agricultural science settings were also interested in pursuing education and career goals in both agriculture and science.3. Findings are inconclusive regarding the direct influence of self-efficacy and outcome expectations on male and female participants’ agricultural education and career goals.
  • Contributions & Implications1. Findings provide partial support for the Lent et al. (1994; 2000) SCCT model with a sample of rural high school students.2. Results from this study also provide further support for the utility of the social cognitive career model in other subject areas. a. Less is known about the support for SCCT in subject areas other than math and science (Fouad, Smith, & Zao, 2002; Betz & Hackett, 2006).
  • Future Research Conduct a qualitative study to further explore SCCT variables that influence the science and agricultural career-related choices among rural high school students. Conduct a study using a control group of rural high school students who did not participate in Science Workshops, measuring SCCT-related variables both immediately after the Workshop experience and again at the end of high school (four to five years later).
  • QuestionsThank You.