An evaluation of a career development program in a government research and development center

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

With the increase in employer-sponsored career development programs (CDPs) there has been the need to evaluate the effects of CDP interventions on the both individual and the organization. Previous-follow-up evaluations of participants in workshop oriented CDPs have focused on the effects of CDP intervention services in terms of individual outcomes (i.e., career/life planning, decision making, stress management), but have not dealt directly with the impact of CDPs on the organization, nor compared the CDP participant group with a group of nonparticipants.

The subjects for this study were all employees of NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. The CDP services are offered in a neutral on-site area, the Career Development Center (CDC), housed in the Technical Library.

Using follow-up questionnaires and interviews, this study replicated many aspects of previously reported CDP evaluations. The results were generally comparable to those studies with respect to the positive impact of the CDP intervention on the individual. Specifically, participants evaluation of the CDC services received were: 1. positive with respect to the CDC process meeting their needs, 2. positive with respect to staff responsiveness, 3. positive with respect to questions they wanted answered, and 4. positive with respect to using the services again if the need arose.

The matched groups of nonparticipants and participants scores (fifty in each group) were compared on the dependent variables of job satisfaction, job. commitment, and "actions taken" related to training services offered by the organization. The statistical analyses indicated nonsignificant differences with respect to job satisfaction, and significant differences with respect to job commitment and "actions taken" in the direction of the control group of nonparticipants.

This study concluded from the comparative findings, with the equivocation of the job satisfaction measures, the differences noticed in job commitment were an attempt to use the services of the CDP to "self-actualize" their careers and better utilize their skills both on the job and in nonjob related activities. The "actions taken" variable did not show a high degree of involvement of the CDP participants in the organization's training services, but they did become more involved in nonjob related activities.

Finally, questions were raised concerning the appropriateness of the dependent variables and matched groups design used in this study for measuring CDP effectiveness. Alternative approaches were suggested for future research.