Career maturity and learning disabilities at the secondary level

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was to produce a portrait of career maturity in an LD secondary population described along multiple dimensions. The Career Development Inventory-Part 1 (CDI) was administered to the 7 females and 68 males who formed the LD population in grades 8, 10 and 12 of a Southwestern Virginia school system who had IQs of 85 or above and no serious emotional or behavioral problems.

Research questions considered the reliability and item appropriateness of the CDI for this population, the contribution of variables related to career maturity and/or learning disabilities to the variance on five CDI scales and the CDI profiles for the total population and 11 subsets of the population. Internal consistency reliabilities of .88, .65, .58 and .71 respectively were found for Career Planning (CP), Decision Making (DM), World of Work (WW) and Career Development-Knowledge and Skills (CDK). A minimum of six items on the latter three cognitive scales were deemed inappropriate in terms of item-scale correlations. Grade, WISC-R Verbal and Performance IQs, WRAT Arithmetic and Reading scores, ACD profile and father's occupational level were found to contribute descriptively to explaining 19% of the variance for CP, 26% for CDA (Career Development-Attitudes), 43% for WW, 55% for CDK and 45% for COT (Career Orientation Total). Beyond Grade which made the highest contribution to all five scales (p<.01), the intelligence variables contributed significantly to the attitudinal scales (p<.05) and the achievement variables to the cognitive scales (p<.05 or .01). Father's occupational level and the ACD profile contributed insignificantly.

This LD population at all grade levels scored higher than the norm group of students in grades 9-12. Although very small subgroups made any inference to even similar populations tenuous, scores increased as degree of disability went down, when students had less than two years of vocational training or parents in low occupational levels or their greatest dysfunction in Spelling. Discrepancies between attitudinal and cognitive scale scores existed in some subgroups. Scores decreased with primary dysfunction in Arithmetic.