Assessing the Career Awareness of Early Adolescent Learners

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Virginia Tech


In the next five years, millions of jobs in STEM-related occupations will be available, but with only twenty percent of college graduates earning bachelor's degrees in STEM fields, the pipeline problem persists. Research has demonstrated that students' career awareness significantly influences consideration of STEM careers. According to cognitive and career development theory, career awareness (knowledge of the requisites, routines, and rewards of jobs) develops primarily during the elementary school years. Because early detection of low-level career awareness can facilitate programming changes that will minimize premature circumscription of STEM career choices, an instrument that measures a student's level of career awareness at the early adolescent stage of development is warranted. Building on the conceptual framework of the Career Awareness Inventory developed in 1973, the new Early Adolescent Career Awareness Inventory (EA-CAI) was developed to reflect the contemporary context and constructs for measuring the career awareness of early adolescent learners. The viability of the EA-CAI instrument for use in contemporary educational settings was examined in this research. Results from the research showed that the EA-CAI instrument demonstrated correct terminology, content and construct validity, readability, and reliability. Moreover, the research results showed that early adolescent learners could demonstrate aspects of career awareness in response to EA-CAI items, and that the EA-CAI instrument could measure the career awareness of early adolescent learners on a continuum.



Career Awareness, Measurement Inventory