Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,741,889 articles and books

Using the Self-Directed Search: Career Explorer with high-risk middle school students.

The Self-Directed Search: Career Explorer was used with 98 (95% African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. ) high-risk middle school students as part of 14 structured career groups based on Cognitive Information Processing theory The information processing theory approach to the study of cognitive development evolved out of the American experimental tradition in psychology. Information processing theorists proposed that like the computer, the human mind is a system that processes information through the . Results and implications are presented on the outcomes of this program.


With increasing pressure on middle school students to make preliminary decisions that will have an impact on their future careers, such as identifying an educational track to follow in high school, the need for valid and reliable career testing and career counseling Noun 1. career counseling - counseling on career opportunities
counseling, counselling, guidance, counsel, direction - something that provides direction or advice as to a decision or course of action
 for this age group is becoming more evident. Although many articles (Gottfredson, 2002; Rayman & Atanasoff, 1999; Reardon & Lenz, 1999) have focused on the use of the Self-Directed Search with high school students, college students, and adults, very few studies have focused on the utility of the middle school version, the Self-Directed Search: Career Explorer (SDS 1. (company) SDS - Scientific Data Systems.
2. (tool) SDS - Schema Definition Set.
:CE; Holland & Powell, 1994), or how it might be incorporated into a career counseling program for students at risk of dropping out of school. Finding a valid and reliable tool to use in an efficient, theoretically based approach was our goal.

The first goal was to use the SDS:CE version and accompanying interpretive in·ter·pre·tive   also in·ter·pre·ta·tive
Relating to or marked by interpretation; explanatory.

in·terpre·tive·ly adv.
 report with high-risk middle school students. A second goal was to explore the use of these tools within a structured group counseling approach based on Cognitive Information Processing information processing: see data processing.
information processing

Acquisition, recording, organization, retrieval, display, and dissemination of information. Today the term usually refers to computer-based operations.
 (CIP (1) (Common Isochronous Packet) The packet format used in time-based (real time) FireWire transmission. See FireWire, IEC 61883 and mLAN.

(2) (Common Industrial P
) career theory (Peterson, Sampson, Lenz, & Reardon, 2002) as the organizing framework.

Program Description

On the basis of general group counseling principles and CIP theory (Peterson et al., 2002), a 6-week, 30 minutes-per-session group format was used. CIP theory includes four main career choice components: knowledge about self, knowledge about options, decision making, and metacognitions (how one thinks about one's decision making). During Session 1, members of the group introduced themselves, received information about confidentiality, and completed the SDS:CE. Beginning with Session 2, 1 week was allowed per CIP component; Session 6 focused on group closure.

In Session 2, students' SDS:CE interpretive reports were returned to the students and discussed. Students narrowed their options by crossing off unattractive occupations, highlighting those for further consideration, and placing a question mark next to occupations for which they needed additional information or were unsure. Students wrote a reason for crossing off a particular occupation beside the ones they eliminated. In Session 3, students met in the media center and were shown how to use various Internet-based career information sites, such as the online Occupational Outlook Handbook
For the handbook about Wikipedia, see .

This article is about reference works. For the subnotebook computer, see .
"Pocket reference" redirects here.
 (U.S. Department of Labor, 2006), to help narrow options from their SDS:CE interpretive reports further and increase occupational knowledge. Session 4 focused on decision making, and Session 5 addressed self-talk through a modified board game.

The SDS:CE (Holland & Powell, 1994) was chosen because of its psychometric psy·cho·met·rics  
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The branch of psychology that deals with the design, administration, and interpretation of quantitative tests for the measurement of psychological variables such as intelligence, aptitude, and
 properties and appropriateness for use with students at the middle school level. The computer-based SDS:CE interpretive report (Reardon & PAR Staff, 1994), based on their SDS:CE results, was provided to the students. In a study conducted by Jones, Sheffield, and Joyner (2000), middle school students responded favorably fa·vor·a·ble  
1. Advantageous; helpful: favorable winds.

2. Encouraging; propitious: a favorable diagnosis.

 to the SDS:CE. Others (O'Brien, Dukstein, Jackson, Tomlinson, & Kamatuka, 1999) have found that students' confidence in the career decision-making process increased and occupations that were more congruent con·gru·ent  
1. Corresponding; congruous.

2. Mathematics
a. Coinciding exactly when superimposed: congruent triangles.

 were selected after a 1-week career program that included taking the SDS:CE. The SDS:CE has high reliability, with K-R 20 coefficients above .91 for each summary scale (Holland, Powell, & Fritzsche, 1994).

Ninety-eight students from a public middle school located in the southeastern United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  returned permission forms to be included in career counseling groups (14 groups total) and to participate in research. Ninety-one students (41 boys, 50 girls) completed the SDS:CE in its entirety The whole, in contradistinction to a moiety or part only. When land is conveyed to Husband and Wife, they do not take by moieties, but both are seised of the entirety. ; the majority of the students (95%) were African American and on free/reduced-price lunch programs. This middle school was the recipient of a 5-year GEAR-UP GEAR-UP Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs  grant to increase the number of middle school students who stay in school and to encourage them to obtain some type of postsecondary training. Case workers associated with the GEAR-UP program identified students participating in this study as being at risk for dropping out of school because of poor attendance, low grades, high number of discipline referrals, or a combination of those factors.

One-way analyses of variance The discrepancy between what a party to a lawsuit alleges will be proved in pleadings and what the party actually proves at trial.

In Zoning law, an official permit to use property in a manner that departs from the way in which other property in the same locality
 (ANOVAs) were conducted to determine the presence of significant mean differences. In addition, reliability analyses for the six scales were also conducted, and Pearson product-moment correlations were performed on the summary scales.


The most common primary Holland (1997) codes by gender for these middle school students were Artistic (n = 13, 32%) and Realistic (n = 10, 24%) for boys and Social (n = 19, 73%) and Artistic (n = 16, 32%) for girls. An ANOVA anova

see analysis of variance.

ANOVA Analysis of variance, see there
 revealed significant differences for two types: Realistic, F(1, 89) = 21.85, p < .0001; and Social, F(1, 89) = 4.95, p < .05. Boys had higher mean scores on the Realistic scale (M = 22.83, SD = 13.70) compared with girls (M = 11.78, SD = 8.56), whereas girls had higher Social scale scores (M = 30.84, SD = 11.80) compared with boys (M = 25.38, SD = 11.30). More detailed information and tables are available in Osborn and Reardon (2004).

Reliability analyses were conducted on the total scale for each primary Holland code. Internal consistency In statistics and research, internal consistency is a measure based on the correlations between different items on the same test (or the same subscale on a larger test). It measures whether several items that propose to measure the same general construct produce similar scores.  reports were Realistic (.86), Investigative (.78), Artistic (.82), Social (.83), Enterprising en·ter·pris·ing  
Showing initiative and willingness to undertake new projects: The enterprising children opened a lemonade stand.
 (.84), and Conventional (.83). Pearson product-moment correlations for the summary scales were all positive and significant at the p < .001 level. Consistency was demonstrated by high correlations between Realistic-Investigative, Investigative-Artistic, Artistic-Social, and Enterprising-Conventional primary types.

Ninety-seven aspirations aspirations nplaspiraciones fpl (= ambition); ambición f

aspirations npl (= hopes, ambition) → aspirations fpl 
 were listed at the middle school level. The most common aspirations for girls were teacher, lawyer, and singer, whereas professional athlete, lawyer, and doctor were the most common for boys. Aspiration aspiration /as·pi·ra·tion/ (as?pi-ra´shun)
1. the drawing of a foreign substance, such as the gastric contents, into the respiratory tract during inhalation.

 summary codes were examined by gender, and significant differences were found. Boys had higher Realistic and Conventional summary scores, and girls had higher Artistic and Enterprising summary scores.

At the conclusion of the 6-week group career counseling experience, anecdotal anecdotal /an·ec·do·tal/ (an?ek-do´t'l) based on case histories rather than on controlled clinical trials.
anecdotal adjective Unsubstantiated; occurring as single or isolated event.
 comments from students indicated that they had learned about their interests, occupations, postsecondary opportunities, and decision-making approach and how to improve their positive self-talk. In addition, many stated that they found the groups enjoyable and that they would prefer the sessions to be longer in terms of time and the number of sessions. The most common negative statements had to do with physical space, such as the room location.

Implications for Practice

Our results suggest that the SDS:CE is a psychometrically sound instrument for this group of middle school students, specifically, for students who have been identified as being at risk of dropping out of school. On the basis of our experience with running 14 groups, we have suggestions for administration, scoring, and interpretation of the SDS:CE. We recommend that it be administered prior to the first session, which will allow for the profiles to be scored and reports generated (and thus available) for the first counseling session. Second, we recommend that the group leader walk among the students and read the items aloud. We found this to be a useful strategy in minimizing random response patterns and mistakes and helped slower or poor readers to stay on task.

Some students had one very high summary code, such as a 40, and the other scores were similar to each other and much lower. In this case, the group leader would include all occupations listed for that highest code, in addition to the original permutations of the three-letter summary code, with the assumption that the student would be more satisfied with the options that kept that highest code first. Anecdotal statements from students with this adjusted report seem to support this assumption; however, additional research focused on this question should be conducted.

We found some specific interventions to be effective when going over the SDS:CE interpretive reports with students. First, provide students with highlighters for marking occupations as a way to engage them in processing their interpretive reports. Second, a very brief overview of the report contents followed by a period of time for participants to review the report may be preferred to "walking them through the report" page by page. Third, group leaders may find that asking each group member to share with the larger group some themes they saw in the occupations they had highlighted, as well as those that they had crossed out, is a useful activity. Often, this was an eye-opening experience for them, in that they would make statements like "I didn't think about how much I really like working with my hands" or "I guess I really hate any job where I'll be sitting all day." In this way, the SDS:CE interpretive report helped to increase students' self-knowledge as described by CIP theory (Peterson et al., 2002).

Specific career concerns for middle school students have included the need for these students to see the connection between school and work (Shepherd Johnson, 2000), to develop interpersonal skills "Interpersonal skills" refers to mental and communicative algorithms applied during social communications and interactions in order to reach certain effects or results. The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability  (Hill & Rojewski, 1999), and to increase occupational knowledge (Shepherd Johnson, 2000). The 6-week, CIP-formatted groups allowed us to address each of these issues. CIP theory has been described in the literature as a cognitive approach to career counseling and as having promise for the delivery of career services (Jepsen, 2000). It has been shown to be an effective tool in helping middle school students participating in a workshop on educational choices (Peterson, Long, & Phillips, 1999). We found that the coupling of the SDS:CE with CIP theory provided an easy-to-understand framework for the content and process of these career counseling groups.


Gottfredson, G. D. (2002). Interests, aspirations, self-estimates, and the Self-Directed Search. Journal of Career Assessment, 10, 200-208.

Hill, R. B., & Rojewski, J. W. (1999). Double jeopardy double jeopardy: see jeopardy.
double jeopardy

In law, the prosecution of a person for an offense for which he or she already has been prosecuted. In U.S.
. Work ethic work ethic
A set of values based on the moral virtues of hard work and diligence.

work ethic

a belief in the moral value of work
 differences in youth at risk of school failure. The Career Development Quarterly, 47, 267-279.

Holland, J. L. (1997). Making vocational choices (3rd ed.). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Holland, J. L., & Powell, A. B. (1994). Self-Directed Search: Career Explorer. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Holland, J. L., Powell, A. B., & Fritzsche, B. A. (1994). Self-Directed Search: Professional user's guide. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Jepsen, D. A. (2000). A promising step for improving career service delivery: Comment on Sampson et al. (2000). The Career Development Quarterly, 42, 175-178.

Jones, L. K., Sheffield, D., & Joyner, B. (2000). Comparing the effects of the Career Key with Self-Directed Search and Job-OE among eighth-grade students. Professional School Counseling, 3, 238-247.

O'Brien, K. M., Dukstein, R. D., Jackson, S. L., Tomlinson, J. J., & Kamatuka, N. A. (1999). Broadening career horizons for students in at-risk environments. The Career Development Quarterly, 47, 215-229.

Osborn, D. S., & Reardon, R. C. (2004). Using the Self-Directed Search: Career Explorer with high-risk middle school students: Technical report number 42. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University Florida State University, at Tallahassee; coeducational; chartered 1851, opened 1857. Present name was adopted in 1947. Special research facilities include those in nuclear science and oceanography. , Center for the Study of Technology in Counseling and Career Development. Retrieved December 2, 2005, from

Peterson, G. W., Long, K. L., & Phillips, A. (1999). The effect of three career interventions on educational choices of eighth-grade students. Professional School Counseling, 3, 34-42.

Peterson, G. W., Sampson, J. P., Jr., Lenz, J. L., & Reardon, R. C. (2002). A cognitive information processing approach in career problem solving problem solving

Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error.
 and decision making. In D. Brown (Ed.), Career choice and development (4th ed., pp. 312-369). San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden : Jossey-Bass.

Rayman, J., & Atanasoff, L. (1999). Holland's theory and career intervention A procedure used in a lawsuit by which the court allows a third person who was not originally a party to the suit to become a party, by joining with either the plaintiff or the defendant. : The power of the hexagon. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 55, 114-126.

Reardon, R. C., & Lenz, J. G. (1999). Holland's theory and career assessment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 55, 102-113.

Reardon, R. C., & PAR Staff. (1994). The Self-Directed Search: Career Explorer: Interpretive report. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Shepherd Johnson, L. (2000). The relevance of school to career. A study in student awareness. Journal of Career Development, 26, 263-276.

U.S. Department of Labor. (2006). Occupational outlook handbook (2006-2007 ed.). Indianapolis, IN: JIST JIST Juneau Information Service Technology
JIST Joint Imagery Soft-copy Trainer
JIST JSF Integrated Subsystems Technology
JIST Joint Interagency Support Team
JIST Maybe you're looking for the word 'Gist' meaning the central idea?
. Retrieved January 13, 2006, from

Debra S. Osborn, Counselor Education Program, Department of Psychological and Social Foundations, University of South Florida

; Robert C. Reardon, Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Florida State University. The authors express appreciation to Sarah Hartley and Jon Shy for their review of this article. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Debra S. Osborn, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33620 (e-mail:
COPYRIGHT 2006 National Career Development Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Reardon, Robert C.
Publication:Career Development Quarterly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2006
Previous Article:Cross-cultural interviewing in the hiring process: challenges and strategies.
Next Article:Men in traditional and nontraditional careers: gender role attitudes, gender role conflict, and job satisfaction.

Related Articles
Career guidance continuum.
The ability explorer: translating super's ability-related theory propositions into practice.
Career self-efficacy and perceptions of parent support in adolescent career development.
Promoting healthy body image in middle school.
Career planning validity of self-estimates and test estimates of work-relevant abilities.
Impact of a career intervention on at-risk middle school students' career maturity levels, academic achievement, and self-esteem.
Ethnic identity development in early adolescence: implications and recommendations for middle school counselors.
Education-career planning and middle school counselors.
Using service learning to achieve middle school comprehensive guidance program goals.
An after-school counseling program for high-risk middle school students.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters