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Published on March 16, 2008

Author: Paola

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Prospective and Retrospective Study of Career Choice Processes: Methodological and Substantive Implications :  Prospective and Retrospective Study of Career Choice Processes: Methodological and Substantive Implications Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck Jeylan T. Mortimer University of Minnesota Introduction:  Introduction Across methods triangulation Quantitative data gathered via questionnaire Qualitative interviews Advantages of prospective designs and disadvantages of retrospective designs fairly well-known. There are also disadvantages of prospective designs and advantages of retrospective designs. Current Analysis:  Current Analysis Used survey data to identify patterns of career aspirations. Examined continuity and change in career interests over time within groups with similar patterns. Contrasted retrospective interview themes between groups with different patterns. Background:  Background Adolescence a crucial period for vocational development. Perspectives assume individual agency and “orderliness.” Few high school students explore. Extended period of exploration positive or negative for youth? Method:  Method YDS Contacted annually since grade 9 (1988). 76% of 1000 retained by 1998. What is your long-term career goal (include homemaker)? ____________________________________ ____________________________________ ____________________________________ Method:  Method With answers from year 4 (age 18), year 9 (24), and year 10 (25) defined five categories of youth. Interview participants randomly selected from each category. Slide7:  Table 1. Panel Distribution: Determined by occupational aspirations in Wave 4, 9 and 10.     Female   Male   Total   Percent                                                                                                             No Change One Change Constant Change 1 Response Missing 1 Survey Missing Slide8:  Table 2. Sample Groups: Determined by occupational aspirations in Wave 4, 9 and 10                       Female   Male   Total   Percent                                                                                                             No Change One Change Constant Change 1 Response Missing 1 Survey Missing (8%) (16%) (28%) (35%) (13%) “No Change” Group - Continuity:  “No Change” Group - Continuity “I got locked in pretty early, into this deal {police officer}, and so it’s a little unique in my case, but it’s worked out well, so I never really looked at any other possibilities to date.” (1024, Male, p.10) “I think I always knew I was going to do nursing. In high school, I knew for sure in high school. Like when I was younger I had ideas, but when I was in high school, I knew eventually. I didn’t know if it would be right after high school or how long it would take me, but, yeah, I knew definitely nursing.” (34, Female, p.2) “No Change” Group - Obstacles:  “No Change” Group - Obstacles “A turning point in my life. I guess, your big one is on my third MCAT, when I didn’t get in. That was it. I pretty much decided I’ve given that an honest shot. For now that door is closed. I don’t ever say it’s closed forever, but I do say that door is closed for right now. That’s the biggest turning point in my life.” (1456, Male, p. 16) “No Change” Group - Obstacles:  “No Change” Group - Obstacles “I was interested in making money at first and then I’ve always been interested in working with kids, so I started out thinking pediatrics and then when I took biology I changed my mind. I’ve always been interested in working with kids and then I was a little interested in travel, too. I started to major in Spanish and that sort of fell apart, too.” (1695, Female, p. 5) “I think the big turning point is about when I was turning 26...I actually went through a pretty serious bout of depression where I was just like, what the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this? I don’t know what I want to do and that’s where {my mentor}, he was the only person who recognized it as, you need help...I was actually ready to quit photography entirely, get a job as a bartender or something like that.” (1747, Female, p. 25) “No Change” Group – Did not always plan:  “No Change” Group – Did not always plan “I didn’t have an expectation of what would or wouldn’t happen per se more than maybe one year out, like continuing more school. I never was one for making five or ten year plans for myself...” (1284, Male, p. 12) “Constant Change” Group – Little commitment":  “Constant Change” Group – Little commitment" “...I would rather be doing something more creative. I’m really interested in photography and I’m trying to break out into that in a side business.” (191, Female, p.2, clerical worker) “How many possibilities of different types of jobs? Um, I guess just the two, the clerical and the photography...The thing I did out of necessity and the thing that I did out of desire, I guess.” “Actually it’s a new business road and it’s a bunch of new development and that’s where I had applied at almost every building on the street just for whatever was available. I was looking for work and I was determined to find something and it was a new company and they liked my history and it went from there.” (702, Male, p.1) “One Change” Group – Considered many career options :  “One Change” Group – Considered many career options Considered more options than other groups. Majority found common threads tying career aspirations together. Retrospective descriptions fairly continuous. “One Change” Group – Some continuity :  “One Change” Group – Some continuity “Even before high school and all through high school Disney has always been something that I’ve been really interested in...we’d been able to travel here several times and there was just that magic and illusion that really interested me and you come to Walt Disney World and you’re in this totally different environment and you just forget about the outside world and it’s a lot of fun...originally in high school I wanted to be an architect and draw buildings and design the buildings... “(1715, Male, p.2) Later he said, “I need to work at Disney for the rest of my life.” (p.8) “One Change” Group – Many options :  “One Change” Group – Many options “{I’ve considered} maybe 4 or 5 {careers}...I mean, the chemical engineering was one, the computers were two, accounting was three. I don’t know if this as much of a career or a goal or a dream, but the officiating I do. I’d love to be a professional official…” (1083, Male, p. 11) “{I’ve considered} probably like 5 or 6 or 7 {careers since high school}.” (857, Male, p.11)   “One Change” Group – Some discontinuity :  “One Change” Group – Some discontinuity “I never saw any of the options before they came. The options were opportunities that fit, they were right fits. I didn’t have them picked out before. I didn’t know I was going to do forestry before I did it. I didn’t know I was going to do urban forestry until I did it. I didn’t know I was going to...so they just fit. I found things that fit...I mean, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I didn’t...I realized that, I didn’t have anything to put in the box for career, so it worried me, but I was just actively seeking them out as they occurred, when I suddenly needed a career or needed to decide something I would choose and make the choices along the way.” (1967, Male, p. 12) “One Change” Group – Also continuity :  “One Change” Group – Also continuity “I think I only considered one {career}. I would always consider the alternatives as they came up like, should I take the job that’s not a career job. Should I move away even though it’s not a full-time job. If it didn’t fit my criteria I didn’t do it, but I’d consider it and reject it due to it not fitting my criteria.” (1967, Male p.12) “One Change” Group – Engagement :  “One Change” Group – Engagement “Well the experience that one builds up has a direct influence on what will happen in the future, in other words like if I wanted to go into experimentation of the development of a new type of semi-conductor, no possible way, because of the choices that I made before…so that is limited by my own experience and by my own choices …It’s more of a sense of focusing…I don’t see it as my options being limited, I see them as being more focused…” (857, Male, p.11) Conclusion:  Conclusion The prospective record and the retrospective qualitative assessment are of interest in their own right. All approaches are limited in some ways. The qualitative data have become extremely important to our understanding of how people see themselves and their occupational lives. Slide21:  Figure 1. 1998 Job Satisfaction, Educational Attainment, and Career Establishment in Relation to Career Aspirations across Time (Age 18 to 25) Acknowledgments:  Acknowledgments We thank all the participants of the YDS and especially appreciate the time of the 70 interview participants. We also thank Mikki Holmes and Mike Shanahan for their work on the interview project. Finally, thanks to Jeremy Staff For quick help with YDS data analysis.

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