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Self-Efficacy and Career Decision-Making: The Interplay on African-American College Students

Dissertation
Author: Markel DeAndrus Quarles
Abstract:
This study examined the effects of the MDUE admissions policy on African-American student Career Decision-Making and how these effects might be mediated by Self-Efficacy. The study's impetus is African-Americans' historical struggle for higher educational achievement, standard of living, and career goals (California Legislative Black Caucus, 2007; Lease, 2004). With education being considered "the great equalizer", having a college degree is a key requisite for success (Kneram, 2009; Judd & Flynn, 2007). A series of voluntary and mandated interventions were identified as important correlates for academic success. Because of limited research on the role admission policies play in student success, university admissions policies, career decision-making, and self-efficacy served as the constructs for this study. Using a two-treatment (two-group), one-shot case study, quasi-experimental design (Campbell & Stanley, 1963), self-identified African-American students were surveyed at two comparable UE and MDUE universities in the CSU system to investigate the following hypotheses: Career Decision-Making 1. The MDUE policy positively affects the Career Decision-Making of African-American students in the areas of Occupational Information, Goal Selection, and Planning. Scores for MDUE students on the Occupational Information, Goal Selection, and Planning subscales of the CDSE-SF should be statistically higher than the comparable scores for UE students. 2. The MDUE policy negatively affects the Problem-Solving skills of African-American students. Scores for MDUE students on the Problem-Solving subscale of the CDSE-SF should be statistically lower than the comparable scores for UE students. Self-Efficacy 3. The MDUE policy's effect on African-American student Career Decision-Making is mediated by the students' Self-Efficacy. Scores for MDUE students on the subscales of the CDSE-SF should be statistically different from the comparable scores for UE students when MDUE and UE scores on the Self-Appraisal subscale are taken into account. While the study's findings show that the UE policy might be superior to the MDUE policy in terms of African-American student Career Decision-Making and that students' Self-Efficacy might mediate these policies' Career Decision-Making effects, serious flaws in the study's design compromised the study's internal and external validity.

xi TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ....................................................................... 1 A. Statement of the Problem ............................................................................ 1 1. Voluntary Interventions ................................................................... 2 a. Individual Support Systems .................................................. 2 b. Peer Mentoring ..................................................................... 3 c. Campus Involvement ............................................................ 5 d. Resource Utilization ............................................................. 7 2. Mandated Interventions .................................................................... 8 a. Faculty Mentoring ................................................................ 8 b. Career Development Courses ............................................. 10 c. Admissions Policies ........................................................... 11 II. CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ......................................... 13 A. Admissions Policies ................................................................................. 13 1. Undeclared Option (UE) ............................................................... 13 a. History ............................................................................... 13 b. Application Process ........................................................... 15 2. Major Declared Upon Entry (MDUE) .......................................... 15 a. History ............................................................................... 15 b. Application Process ........................................................... 16

xii B. University Admissions Career Decision Model ....................................... 17 1. Occupational Information ............................................................. 17 2. Goal Selection ............................................................................... 18 3. Planning ......................................................................................... 19 4. Problem-Solving ........................................................................... 19 5. Self-Appraisal ............................................................................... 19 C. Career Decision-Making .......................................................................... 19 1. Occupational Information ............................................................. 20 a. Hypothesis 1 ...................................................................... 20 i. Undeclared Option (UE) ........................................ 20 ii. Major Declared Upon Entry (MDUE) .................. 21 2. Goal Selection ............................................................................... 21 a. Hypothesis 2 ...................................................................... 22 i. Undeclared Option (UE) ........................................ 22 ii. Major Declared Upon Entry (MDUE) .................. 22 3. Planning ......................................................................................... 23 a. Hypothesis 3 ...................................................................... 23 i. Undeclared Option (UE) ........................................ 23 ii. Major Declared Upon Entry (MDUE) .................. 24 4. Problem-Solving ........................................................................... 24 a. Hypothesis 4 ...................................................................... 25 i. Undeclared Option (UE) ........................................ 25

xiii ii. Major Declared Upon Entry (MDUE) .................. 26 D. Self-Efficacy ............................................................................................. 26 1. History ........................................................................................... 27 2. Application of Self-Efficacy ......................................................... 29 a. Hypothesis 5 ...................................................................... 31 i. Undeclared Option (UE) ........................................ 31 ii. Major Declared Upon Entry (MDUE) .................. 32 E. Hypothesis Summary ................................................................................ 32 III. CHAPTER THREE: METHODS ....................................................................... 34 A. Design ........................................................................................................ 34 B. Dependent Design Variables ..................................................................... 35 C. Independent Design Variables ................................................................... 37 D. The MDUE Institution - Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo ................................. 38 1. Admissions Policies ...................................................................... 39 2. Changing Majors ........................................................................... 39 3. Faculty Advisement ...................................................................... 41 E. The UE Institution - CSULB. .................................................................... 41 1. Admissions Policies ...................................................................... 43 2. Changing Majors ........................................................................... 43 3. Faculty Advisement ...................................................................... 44 F. Samples ...................................................................................................... 44 G. Data Gathering Procedures ........................................................................ 50

xiv 1. Protection of Human Subjects ....................................................... 50 H. Survey Administration .............................................................................. 50 1. Coding Data .................................................................................. 52 I. Data Analysis .............................................................................................. 52 J. Summary ..................................................................................................... 53 IV. CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS ............................................................ 55 A. Introduction ............................................................................................... 55 B. Design ........................................................................................................ 56 1. Dependent Design Variables .......................................................... 56 2. Intervening/Mediating Variable ..................................................... 57 3. Independent Design Variables ....................................................... 57 C. Data Analysis ............................................................................................. 57 1. Raw Scores, Descriptive, and Inferential Statistics ....................... 57 2. Item Scores, Descriptive, and Inferential Statistics ....................... 67 D. Conclusion ................................................................................................ 78 V. CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION ........................................................................ 81 A. Précis ......................................................................................................... 81 B. Validity ...................................................................................................... 86 1. Internal Validity ............................................................................. 86 a. Bias ..................................................................................... 86 b. History ................................................................................ 87 c. Maturation .......................................................................... 87

xv d. Testing ................................................................................ 88 2. External Validity ............................................................................ 88 C. Discussion .................................................................................................. 91 D. Future Research ......................................................................................... 93 1. Research Design ............................................................................ 94 2. Research Sites ............................................................................... 95 3. Data Gathering .............................................................................. 95 4. Survey Instrument .......................................................................... 98 E. Conclusion .............................................................................................. 100 VI. REFERENCES ................................................................................................ 102 VII. APPENDICES ................................................................................................. 121 A. Career Decision Self-Efficacy Short Form ............................................ 122 B. Solicitation of Author’s Permission to Administer Career Decision Self- Efficacy Short .............................................................................................. 123 C. Author’s Permission to Administer Career Decision Self-Efficacy Short Form ............................................................................................................ 125 D. Recruitment Email .................................................................................. 126 E. Informed Consent Form .......................................................................... 127 F. Institutional Review Board Application - Cal Poly ................................ 130 G. Institutional Review Board Exemption - CSULB .................................. 135 H. Institutional Review Board Application - University of California ....... 136 I. Script for Oral Directions to Subjects ...................................................... 148

xvi LIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Sample Comparison. ................................................................................ 151 Table 2. Cal Poly Sample Demographics by Undergraduate Academic College ... 152 Table 3. CSULB Sample Demographics by Undergraduate Academic College ..... 154 Table 4. Participant Demographics .......................................................................... 156 Table 5. Mean Dependent and Intervening/Mediating Variable Subscale Scores by University Type ................................................................................................ 157 Table 6. Analysis of Variance Tests by Subscale and University Type .................. 158 Table 7. Linear Regression Measuring the Mediating Effects of Self-Efficacy ...... 160 Table 8: Difference in Variance Explained by Self-Appraisal ................................ 161 Table 9. Residual Regression for Self-Appraisal Holding Age and Gender Constant .......................................................................................................................... 162 Table 10. Item Mean Scores and Standard Deviations ............................................ 163 Table 11. Item Summary of Canonical Discriminant Functions .............................. 166 Table 12. Item Discriminant Analysis ..................................................................... 167 Table 13. Descriptive Statistics for Discriminating Variables ................................. 168 Table 14. Item Correlations for Discriminating Variables ....................................... 169 Table 15. Exploratory Factor Analysis .................................................................... 172 Table 16. Test of Homogeneity of Variances .......................................................... 174 Table 17. Linear Regression for Occupational Information Without the Mediating Effects of Self-Efficacy .................................................................................... 175

xvii Table 18. Linear Regression for Occupational Information Measuring the Mediating Effects of Self-Efficacy .................................................................................... 176 Table 19. Linear Regression for Goal Selection Without the Mediating Effects of Self-Efficacy .................................................................................................... 177 Table 20. Linear Regression for Goal Selection Measuring the Mediating Effects of Self-Efficacy .................................................................................................... 178 Table 21. Linear Regression for Planning Without the Mediating Effects of Self- Efficacy ............................................................................................................ 179 Table 22. Linear Regression for Planning Measuring the Mediating Effects of Self- Efficacy ............................................................................................................ 180 Table 23. Linear Regression for Problem-Solving Without the Mediating Effects of Self-Efficacy .................................................................................................... 181 Table 24. Linear Regression for Problem-Solving Measuring the Mediating Effects of Self-Efficacy ................................................................................................ 182

xviii LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1. University Admissions Career Decision Model Figure 2. Cal Poly: 1-Year Retention Chart Figure 3. CSULB: 1-Year Retention Chart and Time to Degree Figure 4. Cal Poly and CSULB: Comparison Data

1 CHAPTER ONE Introduction Statement of the Problem A person without a college degree is likely to have a lower standard of living, fewer job opportunities, and less training for today’s jobs than a college graduate (California Legislative Black Caucus, 2007; Judd & Flynn, 2007; Friedman, 2005). According to the University of North Texas (2009), the annual income for a person with a college degree is nearly twice that of a person with only a high school diploma. While income potential varies based on job skills, market demand and training, a college degree provides an advantage in the job market (Kneram, 2009; Judd & Flynn, 2007). As a group, African-Americans continue to struggle for academic achievement as well as struggling for a higher standard of living and better jobs (Constantine, Wallace, & Kindaichi, 2005; California Legislative Black Caucus, 2007; Lease, 2004; Milner & Howard, 2004; Clark, 2003; Hayes & Way, 2003; Troyer & Rasmussen, 2003; Folson, Peterson, Reardon, & Mann, 2001; Paul, 1998; Fouad & Bingham, 1995; Brown & Butty, 1999; Potts, 1997; Brown, 2004; Allen, 1992; Thomas, 1984; Irvine & Irvine, 1983; Suen, 1983; Nobles, 1976). For example, according to the California Legislative Black Caucus (2007), 11% of African- Americans have a bachelor’s degree compared to 21% of whites; 22.4% live in poverty compared to 8% of whites; and 12% are unemployed compared to 5% of whites. If more African-Americans graduated from college, one could also expect

2 lower poverty and unemployment rates (California Legislative Black Caucus, 2007; California Postsecondary Education Commission, 2007; Constantine, et al., 2005; Milner & Howard, 2004; Paul, 1998; Allen, 1992; Thomas, 1984; Irvine & Irvine, 1983; Suen, 1983). However, according to the California Postsecondary Education Commission (2007), in 2005, only 36.7% of California’s Black high school graduates enrolled in college (6.6% enrolled in the University of California or California State University (CSU) system and 30.1% in the California Community College system). Retaining enrolled African-American students is another challenge (Noldon, 1988; Allen, 1992; Antonio, 2002; Austin, Carter, & Vaux, 1990; Balenger & Sedlacek, 1993; Beckham, 1988; Chung, 2002; Clark, 2003; Crain & Weisman, 1972; Delphin & Rollock, 1995; Elligan & Utsey, 1999; Elmore, 2004; Flowers, 2003; Gloria, Robinson Kurpius, Hamilton, & Willson, 1999; Frank, 2003; Suen, 1983). According to Brown (2009, July), only 45% of African-American students enrolling as freshmen actually graduate from college.

1. Voluntary Interventions Several voluntary interventions have been shown to increase the graduation rates of African-American college students. Voluntary interventions are those initiated by the student and are not institutionally mandated. Examples include: individual support systems, peer mentoring, campus involvement, and resource utilization. a. Individual Support Systems

3 Seeking help from family and friends is common in African-American culture and has been proven to be an important factor in academic success. Continued support and encouragement is vital in student retention (Noldon, 1998; Hughes, 1987; Atkinson, Morten, & Sue, 1998; Vivero & Jenkins, 1999; Brown & Pinterits, 2001). Relying on family and friends are a source of strength and survival is not perceived by African-American students to compromise their independence (Atkinson, et al., 1998). Rather, such support signifies an interdependence that ensures continuing contact with family and friends and demonstrates respect for parental authority, previous generations, and the African-American community (Hughes, 1987; Atkinson, et al., 1998; Vivero & Jenkins, 1999; Brown & Pinterits, 2001). Constantine, et al., (2005) and Brown and Pinterits (2001) agree that parental support is positively associated with career certainty. In other words, having support from parents is important in career decision-making. Gloria, et al. (1999) reported that support from family (as well as friends) and perceived mentoring was a strong predictor of academic persistence and the student’s belief in his or her own academic abilities (self-efficacy).

b. Peer Mentoring African-American college students also benefit from mentoring one another. Many universities and organizations (both corporate and academic) maintain formal mentoring programs where more-experienced students mentor their less-experienced peers. Such mentoring relationships are mutually beneficial, encouraging the mentor

4 to achieve their own personal and professional goals while supporting newer students. University-recognized student organizations typically have a student-governed hierarchical structure in place. In this structure, student leaders identify and mentor other potential student leaders in an effort to prepare them for upcoming leadership opportunities. At many universities, these potential student leaders are formally indoctrinated in an organization-defined culminating experience of events and projects. For example, Black Commencement ceremonies, celebrations for graduating African-American students and their families, are typically planned and executed entirely by new student leaders Lee, 2009; Harris, 2008). University faculty and staff members who oversee student organizations also become part of the mentoring process, often assisting students both academically and professionally (Honea, 2007; Longoria, 1998). Usually the faculty or staff advisor has an interest in the organization based on demographics, field of study, or professional discipline. The advisor works closely with the student leadership, both organizationally and personally. These mentoring relationships have also expanded to include the business community. Often initiated by student organizations, these relationships often lead to potential academic or corporate partnerships with the university and local community (Honea, 2007; Lee, 2009; Polinsky, 2005; Longoria, 1998). In one such example was discussed by Longoria (1998), the Houston business community played a key role in helping improve the academic achievement in its underperforming

5 school district. In addition to improving students’ academic performance, the alliance resulted in strategic partnerships, in-kind donations, increased sense of purpose, and improved employee, community and student morale..

c. Campus Involvement As African-American students become more involved in campus organizations, they are more likely to identify with the institution and stay in school. This is a more important factor in the retention of African-American students than for students of other ethnic backgrounds (Sedlacek, 1987; Mallinckrodt & Sedlacek, 1987; Balenger & Sedlacek, 1993; Noldon, 1998). Such integration allows African-American students the opportunity to work “within the system” and “work the system” to make it more responsive to their educational and social needs (Erwin, 2002). Specialized programs, activities, courses, and organizations that reflect the African-American experience encourage student involvement and support. This is imperative for African-American students because they are often not as assimilated into the university environment as other ethnic groups (Balenger & Sedlacek, 1993; DeSousa & King, 1992; Livingston & Stewart, 1987; Noldon, 1998). Flowers (2006) studied African-American male students attending two- and four- year institutions, examining the academic and social integration experiences of their first year of college. Though the study was unable to confirm which type of integrative experience improved persistence and retention, Flowers (2006) determined that high school counselors play a positive role in preparing African- American males for various types of social and academic college experiences.

6 According to Williams & Williams (2006), these same principles applied to their own study of African-American junior faculty in their quest for promotion or tenure. They reported that not knowing the ‘unspoken rules’—processes involved that were often unknown to non-white faculty— made the process of receiving a promotion or tenure more difficult. African-American students are traditionally reluctant to become involved in campus organizations and activities, often as a result of being an underrepresented group (California Postsecondary Education Commission, 2007; California Legislative Black Caucus, 2007; California Polytechnic State University, 2006; Potts, 1997; Schwitzer, Griffin, Ancis, & Thomas, 1999; Sedlacek, 1987; Suen, 1983; Thomas, 1984; Walters & Smith, 1999; Flowers, 2003). According to Johnson-Bailey and Cervero (1996), Henderson (1988), Noldon (1998), and Thompson, Anderson, & Bakeman (2000), African-American students are often reluctant to get involved because they often “stick out like a sore thumb” at social events and end up being the spokesperson or representative of their culture. Thus, organizations and activities that support aggregation (the act of coming together on the basis of commonalities) are essential for African-American students (Delphin & Rollock, 1995; Elligan & Utsey, 1999; Erwin, 2002; Flowers, 2004-2005). These include organizations, such as the Black Student Union and the National Society of Black Engineers, and activities, such as Black Family Weekend, Black Commencement, Black Love, Another Type of Groove, Allensworth Mentoring Program, and Culture Fest (Harris, 2008; Lee, 2009).

7

d. Resource Utilization Use of campus resources is another important factor in African-American student success (Vivero & Jenkins, 1999; Tinto, 1993; Thompson, et al, 2000; Suen, 1983; Schwitzer, et al., 1999; Allen, 1992; Austin, et al., 1990; Balenger & Sedlacek, 1993; Beckham, 1988; Burrell & Trombley, 1983). Unfamiliarity with the university environment may limit students’ likelihood of using university resources (Delphin & Rollock, 1995; Noldon, 1998; Austin, et al., 1990). This lack of information (or sometimes misinformation) can be a result of the alienation of African-American students from campus programs and activities. Alienation may also make students reluctant to take advantage of appropriate or needed services. Gender is also a factor in the likely use of and satisfaction with academic resources. African-American women typically make greater use of campus resources (specifically financial aid) than African-American men. Lower resource utilization by African-American males may be attributed to male socialization. African-American males’ do not perceive these services as relevant or accessible (Hughes, 1987; Gratto, 1997). Students with disabilities may also be hesitant to use university resources. Ball-Brown and Frank (1993) reported that the double stigma of being a student of color and having a disability may keep students from using disability services. According to Folson, et al. (2001), Burrell & Trombley (1983), and June, Curry, & Gear (1990), academic advising is the most important voluntary support service for African-American freshman and sophomore students. Though career planning and placement is reported as the most important support service for upper-division

8 and older students, freshmen and sophomore students do not view career planning as an immediate concern. Freshmen and sophomore students also use academic advising more often because they likely do not have as firm a grasp on the academic planning process as upper-division students (Harris, 2008; Conn, 2008; Lee, 2009).

1. Mandated Interventions While voluntary interventions on the part of students, faculty, and even the business community have been effective in increaing the academic performance and graduation rates of African-American students, voluntary interventions have a major limitation: not everyone participates. Some institutions have decided to mandate faculty mentoring, career development courses, or admissions policies.

a. Faculty Mentoring Faculty mentoring is a significant predictor of academic success for African- American students. Mentoring often happens through a series of interactions and discussions about academic and career goals (Cuyjet, 1997; Galloway Burke, 1997; Sedlacek, 1987; Gratto, 1997; Nettles, Thoeny, and Gosman, 1986; Antonio, 2002; Gloria, et al., 1999; Allen, 1992; Noldon, 1998; Vivero & Jenkins, 1999; Hughes, 1987; Guthrie, 1998). In this faculty mentoring capacity, Antonio (2002) likened faculty of color to “precious gems” in higher education due to their ability to serve as role models and provide effective mentoring to students, particularly to those students from underrepresented groups. At some universities, students are assigned a faculty mentor/advisor in their

9 major before beginning coursework. The purpose of the faculty advisor is to mentor the student and provide more intentional advising on potential areas of emphasis in the academic major. This relationship is particularly advantageous to the student because the faculty advisor already possesses the terminal degree in the field of study, often has professional experience in industry, and has specific expertise. At some campuses, students are mandated by university policy to meet with their faculty advisor at least once before graduation. At minimum, students must get approval from their faculty advisor to declare their concentration (area of emphasis) or permission as to take electives under their major. The faculty advisor is often the only person on campus who has the authority to approve matters that effect a student’s concentration or advisor-approved electives (Roldan, 2009; Stephens, 2006; Conn, 2008; Harris, 2008). There are characteristics that can augment or impede the effectiveness of this faculty advising relationship for African-American students. There must be a balance in positive and negative reinforcement from the faculty advisor to the student. In other words, reinforcement that is too negative (Foster, 1997; Galloway Burke, 1997; Guthrie, 1998; Brown & Inouye, 1978) or overly positive (Antonio, 2002; Allen 1992; Sedlacek, 1987; Nettles, et al., 1986) can have damaging effects for African-American students trying to make realistic self-appraisals. According to Flowers (2003) and Schwitzer, et al. (1999), African-American students are often reluctant to approach faculty, particularly those faculty with whom they do not share common characteristics (i.e. race, sex, or similar areas of interest and study). Due to

10 this ambivalence about approaching faculty, these students are sometimes less likely to receive the classroom information and career guidance they need. This is why mandated faculty mentorship and advising benefits African-American students (Sedlacek, 1987). However, African-American students also benefit from mentorship by other campus personnel (staff or administration), particularly from those also of African- American descent. According to Constantine, et al. (2005) and Milner and Howard (2004), African-American teachers and counselors represent surrogate parental figures and act as disciplinarians, counselors, role models, and advocates for the academic, sociocultural, and psychosocial development of African-American students. One such example is a nationwide campus program called the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) that has been known to be quite effective in supporting, retaining, and graduating students through its mandated interventions. In the EOP program, participants are mandated to have at least one quarterly visit with their EOP advisor in order to continue receiving program support (Harris, 2008; Lee, 2009). King (1993) and Brown and Butty (1999) went on to add that African- American students benefit most from relationships with African-American teachers and staff.

b. Career Development Courses African-American students who take a career development course are more likely to have academic success and less likely to have difficulty making career decisions (Reese & Miller, 2006; Smith, Myers, & Hensley, 2002; Moore, Flowers,

11 Guion, Zhang, & Staten, 2004; Folson, et al., 2001; Troyer & Rasmussen, 2003; Levine, 1994). Several studies offer methodological success strategies for reducing career decision-making difficulties and improving students’ career decision-making self-efficacy. In Erwin’s (2002) study, over half of the respondents reported that early exposure to African-American scholars in medicine and other science fields positively influenced their decision to pursue a career in medicine. Another example is in the research by Betz, Klein, and Taylor (1996), who reported the demonstrated effectiveness of career development courses on the career decision-making self- efficacy at the high school level. According to Smith, et al., (2002), courses that promote student career development on college campuses have been increasingly popular for the last 25- plus years due to their known effectiveness. These courses are most effective when taught by a faculty member, with professional expertise and knowledge about career options associated with a particular academic major.

c. Admissions Policies With regard to declaring a major, there are two types of college admission policies. In one, applicants can be admitted as ‘undeclared’ if they are unsure of the academic major they would like to pursue (also known as Undeclared Option, hereafter, UE). Under the other, less common policy applicants are required to choose an academic major during the application process (MDUE). While the UE policy is more common, some universities ascribe to the MDUE policy due to its career-focused emphasis. UE students have flexibility to explore their academic and

12 career interests and are not required to take courses in a specified academic major until closer to graduation. Under the MDUE policy, students take courses in their academic major throughout their enrollment at the university. The point is that the earlier they are able to begin studying their subject area of interest, the more connected they remain to their major and the university (Harris, 2008; Conn, 2008; Lee, 2009). MDUE universities are often more successful than UE universities in terms of student retention (Hannah, 2006; Harris, 2008; Lee, 2009; Dominguez, 2008). In the California State University (CSU) system, there are only two MDUE campuses. At one of the MDUE campuses , African-American undergraduate students have an annual retention rate of 93.8%, exceeding the university’s aggregate retention rate by 2.5%. However, their 6-year graduation rate of 47.4% lags behind the university’s 6- year graduation rate by 21.5% (California Polytechnic State University, 2007; Goodman, Dalton, & Henricks, 2006). We have seen that voluntary interventions (individual support systems, peer mentoring, campus involvement, and the utilization of campus resources) are effective in helping African-American students achieve academic success. We have also seen that mandated interventions (faculty mentoring, career development courses, and admissions policies) have also been effective. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the effectiveness of the MDUE policy on the Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy of African-American students.

13 CHAPTER TWO Review of the Literature

Admissions Policies As stated in the previous chapter, there are two types of university policies regarding the choice of an academic major and the timeframe during which students must declare that major. The more common ‘Undeclared Option’ (UE) does not require students to declare an academic major during the admissions process. The less common ‘Major Declared Upon Entry’ (MDUE) policy requires students to declare their academic major during the admissions process.

Full document contains 214 pages
Abstract: This study examined the effects of the MDUE admissions policy on African-American student Career Decision-Making and how these effects might be mediated by Self-Efficacy. The study's impetus is African-Americans' historical struggle for higher educational achievement, standard of living, and career goals (California Legislative Black Caucus, 2007; Lease, 2004). With education being considered "the great equalizer", having a college degree is a key requisite for success (Kneram, 2009; Judd & Flynn, 2007). A series of voluntary and mandated interventions were identified as important correlates for academic success. Because of limited research on the role admission policies play in student success, university admissions policies, career decision-making, and self-efficacy served as the constructs for this study. Using a two-treatment (two-group), one-shot case study, quasi-experimental design (Campbell & Stanley, 1963), self-identified African-American students were surveyed at two comparable UE and MDUE universities in the CSU system to investigate the following hypotheses: Career Decision-Making 1. The MDUE policy positively affects the Career Decision-Making of African-American students in the areas of Occupational Information, Goal Selection, and Planning. Scores for MDUE students on the Occupational Information, Goal Selection, and Planning subscales of the CDSE-SF should be statistically higher than the comparable scores for UE students. 2. The MDUE policy negatively affects the Problem-Solving skills of African-American students. Scores for MDUE students on the Problem-Solving subscale of the CDSE-SF should be statistically lower than the comparable scores for UE students. Self-Efficacy 3. The MDUE policy's effect on African-American student Career Decision-Making is mediated by the students' Self-Efficacy. Scores for MDUE students on the subscales of the CDSE-SF should be statistically different from the comparable scores for UE students when MDUE and UE scores on the Self-Appraisal subscale are taken into account. While the study's findings show that the UE policy might be superior to the MDUE policy in terms of African-American student Career Decision-Making and that students' Self-Efficacy might mediate these policies' Career Decision-Making effects, serious flaws in the study's design compromised the study's internal and external validity.