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Predictors of student and career decision-making self-efficacy among nontraditional college women.

 A study of 354 nontraditional college women found robust levels of
 confidence in their ability to manage the student role and pursue
 career-related tasks. Findings indicated that perceived career
 barriers and social support accounted for variance in student and
 career decision-making self-efficacy for nontraditional college women
 with and without children. Social support added to the prediction of
 self-efficacy over and above the contribution of perceived barriers.
 The discussion focuses on recommendations for career counseling
 interventions to facilitate educational and vocational success among
 nontraditional college women.


Historically, many women have lacked confidence in their ability to succeed academically and to pursue career-related tasks (Betz, 1994; Hackett & Betz, 1981). Women who enter or reenter college at nontraditional ages may be particularly at risk for low levels of confidence, which in turn could affect their ability to achieve academically and advance in their vocation. In fact, nontraditional college women often underestimate their skills and ability to succeed in college (Chartrand, 1990). Low self-efficacy as a student and a lack of confidence in career decision making may cause psychological distress (Quimby & O'Brien, in press) and place nontraditional college women at risk for prematurely dropping out of school (Padula, 1994). Thus, the purpose of this study was to gain new knowledge regarding student and career decision-making self-efficacy to assist career counselors in facilitating academic and vocational success among two groups of nontraditional college women.

Nontraditional college women have been defined as those women enrolled in college who are over the age of 25 years (Lewis, 1988). Recent enrollment statistics revealed that nontraditional college women constituted 35% of all female students at 4-year colleges and 46% of female students at 2-year colleges (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001). For these women, participation in higher education is often delayed because of homemaking responsibilities (Betz & Fitzgerald, 1987). Some of the most salient reasons that adults give for returning to school are related to career enhancement (Luzzo, 1999) and a desire to contribute to the family, both financially and experientially (Clayton & Smith, 1987).

As a group, nontraditional college women are characterized by diversity regarding number of children, age, marital status, work status, and income (Padula, 1994). Many of these women balance multiple roles such as mother, spouse/partner, student, employee, and community member (Padula, 1994). Consequently, researchers have reported that the lifestyles of nontraditional college women are broader and more complex than those of traditional-aged students (King & Bauer, 1988). A significant contributor to this complexity is responsibility for caring for children. The demands associated with caring for children can pose challenges to academic and vocational achievement (Fitzgerald & Weitzman, 1992). Specifically, caring for children often imposes considerable demands on time and energy, which may influence a woman's ability to pursue and her confidence in seeking an education. Moreover, the limited flexibility that often characterizes child-care responsibilities may restrict women's ability to seek tutoring services or participate in group projects outside of class time. Indeed, the American Psychological Association (1998) reported that the lack of availability (and the concomitant expense) of quality child care can contribute to women feeling unable to seek paid employment. Thus, nontraditional college women with children may be at particular risk for low levels of confidence in their student and career roles.

Student and Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy has been defined as the belief in one's ability to successfully perform a specific task and has been linked to initiation of behaviors, persistence despite obstacles, and successful performance (Bandura, 1977, 1986). Indeed, low levels of student self-efficacy (i.e., confidence in successfully negotiating academic pursuits) have been shown to relate to poor grades, attrition, and psychological struggles (Mau, 2003; Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991). Furthermore, a lack of career decision-making self-efficacy (i.e., confidence in managing tasks associated with successful career choices; Betz, Klein, & Taylor, 1996) has correlated with career indecisiveness (Robbins, 1985; Taylor & Betz, 1983), an external career locus of control (Luzzo, 1995), and problems with career exploration (Blustein, 1989). Although the majority of studies were conducted with traditional-aged college students, one study included nontraditional students and indicated that older students were somewhat more likely than traditional-aged students to possess confidence in their career decision-making abilities (Luzzo, 1993). To date, no study has examined student and career decision-making self-efficacy among nontraditional college women.

Contextual Factors: Perceived Barriers and Social Support

The multifaceted nature of career development has recently led researchers to focus on the relations between contextual factors and various aspects of the career development process including self-efficacy (Flores & O'Brien, 2002; Lent et al., 2001; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 2000; Lent, Brown, Nota, & Soresi, 2003; Lent, Brown, Schmidt, et al., 2003). Bandura (1999, 2000) hypothesized that there was a direct relation between contextual variables (i.e., barriers, supports) and self-efficacy expectations. Indeed, researchers found that perceived barriers and supports had direct effects on math/science self-efficacy expectations among college students (Lent et al., 2001).

Additional investigations examining barriers revealed that men and women of various ages and backgrounds perceive a substantial number of barriers to their academic and occupational success (Flores & O'Brien, 2002; Luzzo, 1993, 1995, 1996; McWhirter, 1997; Swanson, Daniels, & Tokar, 1996; Swanson & Tokar, 1991a, 1991b). Moreover, it has been argued that as individuals perceive and identify occupational barriers, they may cope by compromising their vocational goals (Gottfredson, 1981; Swanson et al., 1996). Thus, perceived barriers may lead individuals to approach important career decisions with a general lack of confidence or to avoid aspects of the career decision-making process. Specifically, nontraditional college women who encounter real and perceived barriers in academic settings may experience less confidence in their ability to succeed as a student and to engage in the career decision-making process.

Unlike the attention focused on career barriers, facilitative conditions for women's career development have been less often studied. Several recent investigations, however, have been focused on the role of perceived social support relative to academic and career outcomes. An example is a study showing the relationship between perceived parental support and the educational plans, career expectations, career choice prestige, and career aspirations of Mexican American high school girls (Flores & O'Brien, 2002; McWhirter, Hackett, & Bandalos, 1998). Moreover, faculty support and encouragement have been found to be positively associated with female engineering students' academic performance (Hackett, Betz, Casas, & Rocha-Singh, 1992) and persistence (Schaefers, Epperson, & Nauta, 1997). In addition, rural female adolescents' perceptions of parental support for pursuing certain career fields were found to be predictive of interest, self-efficacy, and valuing of these fields (Lapan, Hinkelman, Adams, & Turner, 1999). Additional knowledge about the role of perceived barriers and supports in predicting self-efficacy for diverse samples of college students, including nontraditional women, could inform the development of comprehensive, age-appropriate interventions at counseling and career centers in colleges and universities.

Thus, the first purpose of this study was to describe the nature of student and career decision-making self-efficacy as well as perceived career barriers and social support for two samples of nontraditional college women: those engaged in parenting and those who have no parenting responsibilities. The second purpose of this study was to assess the relative contributions of perceived career barriers and social supports on student and career decision-making self-efficacy for both groups of nontraditional college women. We hypothesized that perceived career barriers (i.e., multiple role conflicts, conflicts between children and career demands, lack of confidence, sex discrimination, discouragement from choosing nontraditional careers, inadequate preparation, decision-making difficulties, dissatisfaction with career), and perceived social supports (i.e., guidance, reliable alliances, reassurance of worth, attachment, social integration, opportunities for nurturance) would explain variance in student and career decision-making self-efficacy expectations among nontraditional college women with and without children.

Method

Participants

Participants included 354 nontraditional college women (i.e., ages 25 or older) enrolled at a large mid-Atlantic university. We distributed a total of 621 surveys, and 354 were returned, resulting in a 56% return rate.

Participants ranged in age from 26 to 68 years (M = 38.1, SD = 8.3). Nearly 71% were Caucasian, with the remainder being African American (15%), Asian American (2.5%), Latina (3.8%), Middle Eastern (3.1%), Native American (1.3%), biracial (.6%), and "other" (3.1%). All participants had been enrolled as part-time (51.9%) or full-time (48.1%) undergraduate students for an average of 5.2 semesters (SD = 3.6). The average length of time before starting or reentering higher education was 143 months (SD = 91.2). In addition, 19.4% of the reentry women were employed full-time outside of the home, 29.4% were employed part-time, 7.5% were self-employed within the home, and 43% of the women were unemployed. Almost half of the women (49.1%) were actively involved in volunteer work. Most of the women were married or had romantic partners (76.3%), while others were divorced (11.3%), single (6.9%), separated (4.4%), or widowed (1.3%). The sample was divided into two groups: 160 women who had at least one child living at home (M = 2.14, SD = 1.1; range = 1 to 6) and 194 women who did not have children.

Procedure

The names and addresses of female undergraduate students ages 25 years and older were acquired through the registrar's office at a large mid-Atlantic university. We made telephone calls to introduce the study, and women who agreed to participate were mailed a survey packet, which included an introductory cover letter, the questionnaires, a postcard to request a summary of results, and entry into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to the university bookstore. We instructed participants to complete the items in the order presented and return the completed packet within 1 week of receipt via the enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope. To enhance the return rate, follow-up reminder cards were mailed 3 weeks after the packets were distributed, follow-up phone calls were made after 6 weeks, and a second mailing was conducted after 8 weeks.

Instruments

Career self-efficacy. We used the short form of Taylor and Betz's (1983) original Career Decision Self-Efficacy Scale (CDMSE-SF; Betz et al., 1996) to assess career decision-making self-efficacy. The CDMSE-SF measures confidence in accomplishing career-related tasks and consists of 25 items rated on a 5-point scale, with responses ranging from 0 (no confidence at all) to 4 (complete confidence). High scores indicate considerable confidence in performing tasks related to career decision making. Items were developed for the following domains: (a) self-appraisal (e.g., "Determine steps to take if you are having academic trouble with an aspect of your chosen major"), (b) occupational information (e.g., "Change majors if you did not like your first choice"), (c) goal selection (e.g., "Determine what your ideal job would be"), (d) planning (e.g., "Find information about educational programs in engineering"), and (e) problem solving (e.g., "Choose a career that will fit your preferred lifestyle"). Betz et al. (1996) reported an alpha of .94 for the total scale. Concurrent validity was supported by a negative correlation between the subscales on the CDMSE-SF and career indecision (Betz et al., 1996).

Student self-efficacy. A revised version of the worker subscale from the Self-Efficacy Expectations for Role Management (SEERM; Lefcourt, 1995) measure was used to assess participants' belief in their ability to successfully manage the tasks related to the student role (Lefcourt, 1992). Twelve original items referring to the "work role" were revised to reflect student roles (e.g., "Managing time spent working on tasks within my student role"), and two work role items that could not be converted were dropped from the subscale. Participants responded to items on a 10-point scale ranging from 0 (no confidence) to 9 (complete confidence), with higher scores indicating more confidence in the student role.

Quimby and O'Brien (in press) reported an internal reliability coefficient equal to .94 for the revised version of the Student Self-Efficacy Scale with a sample of undergraduate nontraditional female students with children. Construct validity was supported through interrelations among self-efficacy and conflict, self-esteem, and social desirability (Lefcourt, 1995).

Career barriers. Eight of the 13 subscales from The Career Barriers Inventory-Revised (CBI-R; Swanson et al., 1996) were included based on their theoretical relevance for nontraditional college women. The forty-nine items were measured on a 7-point scale with responses ranging from 1 (would completely hinder) to 7 (would not hinder at all). participants were asked, "For each of the common barriers listed below, think about how much it would hinder your career progress. In other words, how much would this barrier interfere with your career progress, or make your progress difficult?" High scores represented greater perceived likelihood that barriers would hinder career development. The subscales are (a) Sex Discrimination (e.g., "Experiencing sex discrimination in hiring for a job"), (b) Lack of Confidence (e.g., "Not feeling confident about my ability on the job"), (c) Multiple Role Conflict (e.g., "Stress at work affecting my life at home"), (d) Conflict Between Children and Career Demands (e.g., "Feeling guilty about working when my children are young"), (e) Discouragement From Choosing Nontraditional Careers (e.g., "Being discouraged from pursuing fields which are nontraditional for my sex"), (f) Inadequate Preparation (e.g., "Lacking the necessary educational background for the job I want"), (g) Decision-Making Difficulties (e.g., "Not being sure how to choose a career direction"), and (h) Dissatisfaction With Career (e.g., "Becoming bored with my job/career").

Swanson et al. (1996) reported adequate internal consistency reliability coefficients for the subscales ([alpha] = .75 to .86). Support for validity was noted when gender differences were found on all eight subscales, with women typically scoring higher than men (Swanson et al., 1996).

Perceived social support. The Social Provisions Scale (SPS; Cutrona & Russell, 1987) measures six provisions of social relationships, with four items measuring each provision. Using a 4-point scale, responses range from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree). High scores on the subscales indicate strong levels of perceived social support. The subscales are (a) Guidance, provided by relationships with people who can provide advice or information (e.g., "There is no one I can turn to for guidance in times of stress"); (b) Reliable Alliance, provided by relationships in which the person can count on others' assistance (e.g., "There are people I can depend on to help me if I really need it"); (c) Reassurance of Worth, provided by relationships where the individual's skills and competence are recognized and valued (e.g., "I have relationships where my competence and skills are recognized"); (d) Attachment, provided by relationships leading to feelings of safety and security (e.g., "I feel a strong emotional bond with at least one other person"); (e) Social Integration, provided by a network of relationships in which people share similar interests and concerns (e.g., "I feel part of a group of people who share my attitudes and beliefs"); and (f) Opportunity for Nurturance, provided by relationships in which one person feels responsible for the well-being of another (e.g., "There are people who depend on me for help").

A previous study with older adults demonstrated alpha coefficients for the subscales ranging from .64 to .76 (Cutrona, Russell, & Rose, 1986). Support for the validity of the SPS was found with samples of postpartum women, hospital nurses, public school teachers, nontraditional college female students, and older adults (Aquino, Russell, Cutrona, & Altmaier, 1996; Quimby & O'Brien, in press).

Results

Descriptive Statistics

The means, standard deviations, reliability coefficients, ranges, and intercorrelations among the variables for both groups of nontraditional college women are presented in Table 1. Both groups of nontraditional college women in this sample reported moderately strong levels of student self-efficacy. Research examining role management self-efficacy for professional women with an earlier version of this scale reported comparable scores (Edwardson, O'Brien, & Krieshok, 2000; Orput, 1998). In addition, the nontraditional college women in this sample indicated a high level of confidence in their ability to pursue career-related tasks. Data collected from traditional-aged female students enrolled at a large state university (Betz et al., 1996) also revealed ratings on this measure that were comparable to those in the current study.

The nontraditional college women in this sample indicated moderate levels of perceived career barriers. A previous investigation of male and female college students found similar barrier ratings (Swanson & Daniels, 1994). Moreover, the nontraditional college women in this sample reported high levels of perceived social support. Previous research reported similar findings using this measure with a sample of reentry women who were balancing family and student roles (Quimby & O'Brien, in press).

Analysis of the correlation matrix revealed significant positive correlations among the eight CBI-R subscales rating perceived career barriers and among the six SPS subscales measuring perceived social support (see Table 1). Very few correlations emerged, however, between the CBI-R and SPS subscales.

Demographic differences between the groups of nontraditional college women with children and without children were analyzed using chi-square analyses and t tests. When compared with nontraditional college women without children, nontraditional college women with children were found to be older (p < .001), more likely to be married (p < .01), and to have taken more time off prior to returning to school (p < .001). There were no statistically significant differences regarding ethnicity or number of credits completed.

In addition, we conducted an analysis of variance (ANOVA) to analyze differences in the levels of perceived career barriers, perceived social supports, and self-efficacy between the two groups of nontraditional college women. As would be expected, the two groups of women differed on several variables. Results revealed that three types of career barriers were perceived as being a greater hindrance for nontraditional college women without children than they were for nontraditional college women with children: decision-making difficulties, F(1, 350) = 9.04, p < .01; lack of confidence, F(1, 350) = 6.15, p < .05; and dissatisfaction with career, F(1, 350) = 4.41, p < .05. In addition, those students with children perceived more opportunities for nurturance than did women without children, F(1, 350) = 65.9, p < .001. Surprisingly, no significant differences were found on other measures of perceived social support and student or career decision-making self-efficacy.

Regression Analyses for Student and Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy

We conducted four hierarchical multiple regression analyses to investigate the contributions of perceived career barriers and perceived social supports in predicting student and career decision-making self-efficacy. Career barrier perceptions were entered first in the regression equations because career barriers have been conceptualized as the overarching contextual variable to which career decision-making self-efficacy is linked. In each analysis, eight CBI-R subscales (i.e., Inadequate Preparation, Decision-Making Difficulties, Dissatisfaction With Career, Discouragement From Choosing Nontraditional Careers, Conflict Between Children and Career Demands, Multiple Role Conflict, Lack of Confidence, Sex Discrimination) were blocked and entered first into the equation, followed by a block including six SPS subscales (i.e., Attachment, Social Integration, Reassurance of Worth, Guidance, Reliable Alliance, Opportunity for Nurturance).

Regressions predicting student self-efficacy. In the regression model predicting student self-efficacy for nontraditional college women without children, career barriers and social support accounted for 26% of the variance (see Table 2). In the first step, career barriers accounted for 10% of the variance. When social support was entered into the model, an additional 16% of the variance was explained. Two provisions of social support (i.e., Reassurance of Worth and Reliable Alliance) contributed unique variance in the entire regression model.

For women who had children, career barriers and social support explained 38% of the variance in student self-efficacy for women (see Table 2). In this model, career barriers accounted for 20% of the variance. When social support was entered into the model, an additional 18% of the variance was explained. There were four unique predictors in the entire regression model including one career barrier (i.e., Multiple Role Conflict) and three types of social support (i.e., Social Integration, Reassurance of Worth, and Reliable Alliance).

Regression analyses predicting career decision-making self-efficacy. For nontraditional college women without children, the regression model explained 32% of the variance in career decision-making self-efficacy (see Table 3). In the first step, career barriers accounted for 17% of the variance, and social support explained an additional 15% of the variance. Unique variance was explained by two types of career barriers (i.e., Discouragement From Choosing Nontraditional Careers and Conflict Between Children and Career Demands) and two sources of social support (i.e., Reassurance of Worth and Opportunity for Nurturance).

The final regression analysis explained 32% of the variance in career decision self-efficacy for nontraditional college women with children (see Table 3). Perceived career barriers accounted for 13% of the variance, and social support accounted for an additional 19% of the variance in career decision-making self-efficacy for nontraditional college women with children. In the model, four types of social support (i.e., Social Integration, Reassurance of Worth, Reliable Alliance, and Opportunity for Nurturance) uniquely predicted career decision-making self-efficacy.

Discussion

The findings of this study increased the body of knowledge available regarding a sample of women rarely studied in vocational psychology: nontraditional college women with and without children. We learned that this sample of nontraditional college women had robust levels of confidence in their ability to manage the student role and pursue career-related tasks, a finding that was consistent with previous research that indicated that nontraditional college women felt confident in completing the necessary steps associated with career development (Luzzo, 1993). In addition, although nontraditional college women reported their awareness of moderate levels of career barriers, they also perceived strong levels of social support. Finally, despite differences in marital status, age, and length of time away from pursuing a college or university degree, we found few differences between the two groups of nontraditional college women regarding social support and student and career decision-making self-efficacy.

As hypothesized, both perceived career barriers and social support accounted for variance in student and career decision-making self-efficacy for both groups of women, with social support adding to the prediction of self-efficacy over and above the contribution of perceived career barriers. Overwhelmingly, perceptions of few career barriers and robust social support resulted in feelings of confidence both in managing the responsibilities associated with being a student and pursuing tasks related to advancing vocational development.

These findings have implications for career counseling. First, career counselors may want to assess the number of career barriers and the amount of social support available to their clients. This assessment might be instituted during the intake process for all career counseling clients. It is likely that nontraditional college women will vary greatly regarding perceived career barriers and social supports. Indeed, some nontraditional college women may need considerable help from counselors, whereas others may not. Second, when clients are struggling with confidence in their ability to succeed academically or to pursue their career dreams, vocational interventions might focus on addressing barriers and strengthening social support. Programming designed for the needs of nontraditional college women might assist them in identifying barriers specific to their life experience (e.g., managing multiple roles, fitting in at college, finding time to study and fulfill family responsibilities). After clarifying the barriers that might impede progress, career counselors can work with these clients to reduce or ameliorate these obstacles to confidence and success.

Moreover, nontraditional college women could benefit from learning about the possible facilitative role of social support in the development of confidence and eventual success. At the University of Maryland, counselors organize informal gatherings for nontraditional students that provide the opportunity to meet others who are close in age and life experience. These types of interventions might reduce isolation and provide opportunities to build social support on campus.

We find it interesting, in our study, that many of the CBI-R subscales were interrelated and many of the SPS subscales were also related to one another. However, very few correlations emerged between the CBI-R and the SPS subscales. Because of the multicollinearity among the CBI-R and the SPS subscales, the following findings regarding specific career barriers or social supports that seemed to account for unique variance in the prediction of student and career decision-making self-efficacy must be interpreted cautiously, because additional research is needed to clarify the distinctive contributions of various types of career barriers and social support.

The specific career barriers that emerged as significant predictors of student and career decision-making self-efficacy in this study included multiple role conflict (for nontraditional college women with children), and discouragement from choosing nontraditional careers and conflict between children and career demands (for nontraditional college women without children). Multiple role conflicts are likely to impinge on time allotted for studying or even to affect the capability to attend class, which may lead to less confidence in an individual's ability to succeed in school. Discouragement from choosing nontraditional careers could halt progression in vocational development, and anticipated conflicts between raising children and managing a career could result in failure to pursue prestigious, nontraditional occupations because they are perceived to be incompatible with balancing family and work. An interesting finding was that the career barriers associated with child care were more predictive of student and career decision-making self-efficacy for nontraditional college women without children than for nontraditional college women with children. Nontraditional college women without children may base their perceptions of career barriers on anticipated future conflicts as opposed to current experiences. Indeed, further research is needed prior to developing interventions based on the preliminary findings of this study.

The specific types of social support that uniquely predicted student and career decision-making self-efficacy among nontraditional college women in our study (i.e., Reassurance of Worth, Reliable Alliance, Opportunity for Nurturance, and Social Integration) were consistent with writings highlighting the importance of relationships in women's vocational development (Cook, 1993). Although these findings should also be considered preliminary due to the multicollinearity among the SPS subscales, four sources of social support emerged as significant in several regression analyses.

Relationships in which women's skills and competence were recognized (i.e., Reassurance of Worth) were related to strong levels of student and career decision-making self-efficacy for both groups of nontraditional college women. This result supports Bandura's (1977, 1986) self-efficacy theory suggesting that verbal persuasion enhances self-efficacy. Thus, career interventions aimed at increasing self-efficacy among nontraditional college women could incorporate encouragement and verbal reinforcement to recognize women's strengths and achievements.

An unexpected finding was that relationships that allowed women to depend on others (i.e., Reliable Alliance) were related negatively to student and career decision-making self-efficacy for nontraditional college women with children and to student self-efficacy for nontraditional college women without children. It is possible that depending on others for assistance may inhibit independent decision making and personal autonomy. Studies in the area of women's career development link personal agency (e.g., the condition of being a differentiated and autonomous individual) to a high degree of career commitment (O'Brien & Fassinger, 1993). The relation between personal agency and self-efficacy should be examined further to determine the potential benefits of interventions that promote independent decision making and autonomy among nontraditional college women.

Additional findings revealed that for nontraditional college women with children, a network of relationships with others who share common interests and goals (i.e., social integration) was related to strong levels of student and career decision-making self-efficacy. Nontraditional college women with children may perceive that it is very difficult to connect with other students on campus because of their lifestyle differences, multiple role demands, and time constraints (Padula, 1994). However, integration into the college community is an important factor in academic progress and retention among nontraditional college women (Chartrand, 1992). Time constraints may prohibit nontraditional college women from participating in therapy groups and psychoeducational programs; however, semester-long career development courses may address the need for social integration as well as other important career-related concerns.

Finally, those nontraditional college women (both with and without children) who felt responsible for another's well-being (i.e., opportunity for nurturance) also demonstrated strong levels of career decision-making self-efficacy. Experts on gender have theorized about the importance of the nurturing role in women's lives and have suggested that this tendency may extend to career development (Cook, 1993). Perhaps women who tend to be responsible for others also take responsibility for accomplishing tasks that relate to making career decisions. In developing career and psychoeducational programs for nontraditional college women, career counselors could consider how feeling responsible for others might be used to promote healthy career development and vocational success.

Because of several limitations in this research, career counselors are encouraged to replicate this study prior to developing vocational interventions. First, the correlational design of this study precludes the assumption of a causal relationship between the predictor variables of career barriers and social supports and the criterion variables of student and career decision-making self-efficacy. Second, the generalizability of the results is somewhat limited by the sampling procedures. It is possible that those participants who returned the research materials differed from those who did not (e.g., those participating in the study may have been more oriented toward career development). Third, multicollinearity was present among the CBI-R subscales and also among the SPS subscales. Additional research should attempt to more clearly differentiate between the subscales on each of these measures. Measures with subscales that have very low intercorrelations and assess different aspects of career barriers and social supports need to be developed because the shared variance may obfuscate the relations between certain aspects of career barriers and social support and the dependent variables. Finally, the sample was restricted in terms of racial and ethnic diversity, which should be addressed in future research.

Despite the aforementioned limitations, this study represents the first investigation of the role of contextual variables in predicting student and career decision-making self-efficacy among nontraditional college women. Further investigations of career development among nontraditional college women should also examine additional factors such as gender role attitudes, role model influence, current multiple role conflict, marital status, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity. Future research is also needed to examine the influence of student and career decision-making self-efficacy on academic persistence and career goal attainment among nontraditional college women. Moreover, future studies focused on developing and testing the effectiveness of career interventions for nontraditional college women should attend to salient career barriers and social supports.

To conclude, career counselors are positioned well to enhance the academic and vocational experiences of a group of students rarely studied, nontraditional college women. It is our hope that continued attention to eliminating or ameliorating barriers, enhancing social support, and strengthening student and career decision-making self-efficacy will assist nontraditional college women in successfully negotiating academic and vocational paths to success.
TABLE 1

Means, Standard Deviations, Reliability Coefficients, Ranges, and
Intercorrelations Among the Variables for Nontraditional College Women
(NCW) With and Without Children

Variable 1 2 3 4

CBI-R subscale
 1. IP - .78 ** .69 ** .60 **
 2. DMD .70 ** - .77 ** .57 **
 3. DWC .68 ** .74 ** - .54 **
 4. DIS .51 ** .42 ** .45 ** -
 5. CON .62 ** .51 ** .53 ** .48 **
 6. MRC .61 ** .59 ** .61 ** .45 **
 7. LOC .80 ** .69 ** .64 ** .50 **
 8. SD .63 ** .49 ** .51 ** .54 **

SPS subscale
 9. ATT -.11 .16 * -.02 -.08
 10. SI -.07 -.15 * -.10 -.16 *
 11. ROW -.17 * -.21 ** -.10 -.17 *
 12. GUI -.03 -.11 -.02 -.10
 13. REL -.18 * -.18 * -.09 -.17 *
 14. OFN .00 -.15 * -.00 .01

Predictor variables
 15. CDMSE -.18 * -.26 ** -.14 * -.32 **
 16. SSE -.16 * -.24 ** -.14 -.20 **

NCWs without children
 M 22.26 34.96 21.33 13.91
 SD 7.02 10.67 5.69 6.46
 Range 5-35 7-49 5-35 5-35
 Cronbach's [alpha] .85 .90 .74 .81

NCWs with children
 M 21.26 31.41 19.91 13.38
 SD 7.59 11.44 7.04 6.27
 Range 5-35 7-49 5-35 5-35
 Cronbach's [alpha] .85 .91 .85 .76

Variable 5 6 7

CBI-R subscale
 1. IP .61 ** .57 ** .76 **
 2. DMD .63 ** .51 ** .75 **
 3. DWC .63 ** .58 ** .61 **
 4. DIS .48 ** .52 ** .56 **
 5. CON - .72 ** .59 **
 6. MRC .78 ** - .55 **
 7. LOC .58 ** .63 ** -
 8. SD .65 ** .67 ** .60 **

SPS subscale
 9. ATT -.01 .04 -.14
 10. SI -.05 -.03 -.10
 11. ROW -.00 -.04 -.19 **
 12. GUI -.00 .00 -.04
 13. REL -.11 -.10 -.15 *
 14. OFN -.04 .03 -.02

Predictor variables
 15. CDMSE -.07 -.15 * -.14 *
 16. SSE -.06 -.16 * -.20 **

NCWs without children
 M 27.37 33.69 16.76
 SD 9.27 9.81 6.03
 Range 7-49 6-42 4-28
 Cronbach's [alpha] .86 .80 .84

NCWs with children
 M 26.55 33.27 15.15
 SD 8.88 10.05 6.01
 Range 7-49 6-42 4-28
 Cronbach's [alpha] .81 .75 .83

Variable 8 9 10 11

CBI-R subscale
 1. IP .65 ** -.06 -.10 -.19 *
 2. DMD .62 ** -.06 -.14 -.14
 3. DWC .66 * -.02 -.05 -.07
 4. DIS .73 ** -.05 -.13 -.18 *
 5. CON .62 ** -.05 -.01 -.06
 6. MRC .63 ** -.10 -.13 -.15
 7. LOC .56 ** -.04 -.09 -.16 *
 8. SD - -.06 -.13 -.11

SPS subscale
 9. ATT -.12 - .60 ** .54 **
 10. SI -.11 .58 ** - .55 **
 11. ROW -.14 .58 ** .51 * -
 12. GUI -.05 .72 ** .50 ** .54 **
 13. REL .24 ** .62 ** .53 ** .45 **
 14. OFN .06 .27 ** .21 ** .16 *

Predictor variables
 15. CDMSE -.19 ** .31 ** .32 ** .41 **
 16. SSE -.15 * .28 ** .26 ** .43 **

NCWs without children
 M 28.11 13.6 13.48 13.38
 SD 9.88 2.29 2.19 2.13
 Range 7-49 4-16 4-16 4-16
 Cronbach's [alpha] .89 .67 .72 .71

NCWs with children
 M 26.81 13.86 13.70 13.50
 SD 10.71 2.43 2.24 2.05
 Range 7-49 4-16 4-16 4-16
 Cronbach's [alpha] .90 .73 .77 .62

Variable 12 13 14 15 16

CBI-R subscale
 1. IP .00 -.06 -.16 * -.26 ** -.31 **
 2. DMD .00 -.01 -.16 * -.29 ** -.30 **
 3. DWC -.05 -.02 -.04 -.17 * -.27 **
 4. DIS -.06 -.15 -.15 -.27 ** -.28 **
 5. CON -.06 .01 -.02 -.14 -.32 **
 6. MRC -.16 -.03 -.00 -.13 -.43 **
 7. LOC -.04 -.01 -.16 * -.19 * -.27 **
 8. SD -.09 -.09 -.19 -.23 ** -.29 **

SPS subscale
 9. ATT .68 ** .61 ** .17 * .19 * .27 **
 10. SI .60 .63 ** .23 ** .38 ** .40 **
 11. ROW .50 ** .53 ** .25 ** .33 ** .43 **
 12. GUI - .64 ** .22 ** .15 .27 **
 13. REL .65 ** - .30 ** .12 .17 *
 14. OFN .22 ** .16 * - .26 ** .11

Predictor variables
 15. CDMSE .32 ** .24 ** .23 ** - .55 **
 16. SSE .29 ** .16 * -.18 * .69 ** -

NCWs without children
 M 14.24 14.38 12.15 178.01 77.05
 SD 2.22 1.95 2.56 33.51 16.11
 Range 4-16 4-16 4-16 0-225 0-108
 Cronbach's [alpha] .75 .66 .71 .95 .91

NCWs with children
 M 14.33 14.53 14.24 183.48 79.66
 SD 2.15 1.91 2.23 29.62 15.42
 Range 4-16 4-16 4-16 0-225 0-108
 Cronbach's [alpha] .76 .71 .71 .94 .90

Note. Correlations for nontraditional college women with children are
above the diagonal and nontraditional college women without children are
below. CBI-R = Career Barriers Inventory-Revised; IP = Inadequate
Preparation; DMD = Decision-Making Difficulties; DWC = Dissatisfaction
With Career; DIS = Discouragement From Choosing Nontraditional Careers;
CON = Conflict Between Children and Career Demands; MRC = Multiple Role
Conflict; LOC = Lack of Confidence; SD = Sex Discrimination; SPS =
Social Provisions Scale; ATT = Attachment; SI = Social Integration; ROW
= Reassurance of Worth; GUI = Guidance; REL = Reliable Alliance; OFN =
Opportunity for Nurturance; CDMSE = career decision-making
self-efficacy; SSE = student self-efficacy.

* p <.05. ** p <.01.

TABLE 2

Summary of Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analyses Predicting Student
Self-Efficacy

Step and Variable B [beta] t

 Nontraditional College Women Without Children

Step 1: Career Barriers (a)

 Inadeqate Preparation 0.01 0.01 0.04

 Decision-Making Difficulties -0.16 -0.10 -0.92

 Dissatisfaction With Career 0.20 0.07 0.65

 Discouragement From
 Choosing Nontraditional
 Careers -0.27 -0.11 -1.29

 Conflict Between Children
 and Career Demands 0.35 0.20 1.80

 Multiple Role Confilct -0.36 -0.22 -1.78

 Lack of Confidence -0.07 -0.03 -0.22

 Sex Discrimination -0.68 -0.04 -0.41

Step 2: Social Support (b)

 Attachment 0.09 0.01 0.12

 Social Integration 0.45 0.06 0.70

 Reassurance of Worth 2.4 0.32 3.70 **

 Guidance 1.11 0.15 1.47

 Reliable Alliance -1.5 -0.19 -1.97 *

 Opportunity for Nurturance 0.71 0.11 1.61

 Nontraditional College Women With Children

Step 1: Career barriers (a)

 Inadequate Preparation -0.13 0.26 -0.51

 Decision-Making Difficulties -0.03 0.19 -0.18

 Dissatisfaction With Career -0.05 0.26 -0.19

 Discouragement From
 Choosing Nontraditional
 Careers -0.10 0.25 -0.41

 Conflict Between Children
 and Career Demands -0.16 0.19 -0.82

 Multiple Role Conflict -0.43 0.17 -2.61 *

 Lack of Confidence 0.27 0.29 0.91

 Sex Discrimination 0.06 0.17 0.37

Step 2: Social support (b)

 Attachment 3.28 0.63 0.07

 Social Integration 2.21 0.67 3.28 **

 Reassurance of Worth 2.28 0.65 3.51 **

 Guidance 0.15 0.74 0.20

 Reliable Alliance -1.91 0.82 -2.33 *

 Opportunity for Nurturance 0.17 0.50 0.35

Step and Variable [DELTA][R.sup.2] [DELTA]F

 Nontraditional College Women Without Children

Step 1: Career Barriers (a) .10 ** 2.48 **

 Inadeqate Preparation

 Decision-Making Difficulties

 Dissatisfaction With Career

 Discouragement From
 Choosing Nontraditional
 Careers

 Conflict Between Children
 and Career Demands

 Multiple Role Confilct

 Lack of Confidence

 Sex Discrimination

Step 2: Social Support (b) .16 ** 6.46 **

 Attachment

 Social Integration

 Reassurance of Worth

 Guidance

 Reliable Alliance

 Opportunity for Nurturance

 Nontraditional College Women With Children

Step 1: Career barriers (a) .20 ** 4.73 **

 Inadequate Preparation

 Decision-Making Difficulties

 Dissatisfaction With Career

 Discouragement From
 Choosing Nontraditional
 Careers

 Conflict Between Children
 and Career Demands

 Multiple Role Conflict

 Lack of Confidence

 Sex Discrimination

Step 2: Social support (b) .18 ** 7.08 **

 Attachment

 Social Integration

 Reassurance of Worth

 Guidance

 Reliable Alliance

 Opportunity for Nurturance

(a) Measured by subscales of the Career Barriers Inventory-Revised. (b)
Measured by subscales of the Social Provisions Scale.
* p <.05. ** p <.01.

TABLE 3

Summary of Hierarchical Multiple Regression Analyses Predicting Career
Decision-Making Self-Efficacy

Step and Variable B SEB t [DELTA][R.sup.2]

 Nontraditional College Women Without Children

Step 1: Career barriers (a) .17 **

 Inadequate Preparation -0.36 0.58 -0.63

 Decision-Making Difficulties -0.57 0.34 -1.67

 Dissatisfaction With Career 0.57 0.61 0.93

 Discouragement From
 Choosing Nontraditional
 Careers -1.47 0.41 -3.60 **

 Conflict Between Children
 and Career Demands 0.80 0.39 2.04 *

 Multiple Role Conflict -0.61 0.40 -1.51

 Lack of Confidence 1.12 0.64 1.77

 Sex Discrimination 0.24 0.33 -0.71

Step 2: Social support (b) .15 **

 Attachment 0.37 1.54 0.24

 Social Integration 1.31 1.27 1.03

 Reassurance of Worth 3.80 1.30 2.92 *

 Guidance 1.82 1.51 1.21

 Reliable Alliance -1.65 1.57 -1.05

 Opportunity for Nurturance 2.00 0.88 2.27 *

 Nontraditional College Women With Children

Step 1: Career barriers (a) .13 **

 Inadequate Preparation -0.45 0.51 -0.88

 Decision-Making Difficulties -0.43 0.38 -1.15

 Dissatisfaction With Career 0.18 0.51 0.35

 Discouragement From
 Choosing Nontraditional
 Careers -0.85 0.51 -1.68

 Conflict Between Children
 and Career Demands -0.25 0.38 -0.66

 Multiple Role Conflict 0.40 0.33 1.20

 Lack of Confidence 0.90 0.59 1.51

 Sex Discrimination -0.06 0.34 -0.19

Step 2: Social support (b) .19 **

 Attachment -0.12 1.27 -0.10

 Social Integration 5.73 1.36 4.22 **

 Reassurance of Worth 3.00 1.31 2.28 *

 Guidance -0.49 1.49 -0.33

 Reliable Alliance -4.90 1.65 -2.96 *

 Opportunity for Nurturance 2.26 1.00 2.25 *

Step and Variable [DELTA]F

Nontraditional College Women Without Children

Step 1: Career barriers (a) 4.69 **

 Inadequate Preparation

 Decision-Making Difficulties

 Dissatisfaction With Career

 Discouragement From
 Choosing Nontraditional
 Careers

 Conflict Between Children
 and Career Demands

 Multiple Role Conflict

 Lack of Confidence

 Sex Discrimination

Step 2: Social support (b) 6.47 **

 Attachment

 Social Integration

 Reassurance of Worth

 Guidance

 Reliable Alliance

 Opportunity for Nurturance

Nontraditional College Women With Children

Step 1: Career barriers (a) 2.81 *

 Inadequate Preparation

 Decision-Making Difficulties

 Dissatisfaction With Career

 Discouragement From
 Choosing Nontraditional
 Careers

 Conflict Between Children
 and Career Demands

 Multiple Role Conflict

 Lack of Confidence

 Sex Discrimination

Step 2: Social support (b) 6.74 **

 Attachment

 Social Integration

 Reassurance of Worth

 Guidance

 Reliable Alliance

 Opportunity for Nurturance

(a) Measured by subscales of the Career Barriers Inventory--Revised. (b)
Measured by subscales of the Social Provisions Scale.
* p < .05. ** p < .01.


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Julie L. Quimby, Department of Psychology, Towson University; Karen M. O'Brien, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park. This study, based on a doctoral dissertation by Julie L. Quimby and completed under the direction of Karen M. O'Brien, was supported in part by a dissertation grant from the American Psychological Association. Preliminary findings were presented at the 111th annual convention of the American Psychological Association, Toronto, Ontario. The authors thank Julie Goldberg for helpful feedback on a draft of this article. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Julie L. Quimby, Department of Psychology, Towson University, Towson, MD 21252 (e-mail: jquimby@towson.edu).
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Title Annotation:career counseling
Author:O'Brien, Karen M.
Publication:Career Development Quarterly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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