An exploratory study of the effects of a history-based intervention on the career development and self-concept of middle school students and the ethnic identity of African American middle school students
Durham, Lori L
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This study attempted to: (a) evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention designed to increase the level of career attitude maturity of sixth grade middle-school students (N = 113) by increasing their awareness of career options and assisting them in developing realistic career choices and aspirations, (b) improve the academic, competence, and social self-concepts of sixth grade middle school students by exposing them to an intensive three-week, history-based career development intervention, and (c) increase the ethnic identity awareness of African American sixth grade middle-school students by sharing knowledge about and contributions of Africans and African Americans and the Nguzo Saba principles. Data were collected through two group administrations. The intervention consisted of six lessons delivered twice a week for three weeks. Utilizing a two-group, pretest-posttest design and paired samples t-test, results indicated differences between scores on the measure of career attitude maturity for all sixth grade students. Findings also demonstrated pretest-posttest differences for White students in the intervention and control conditions on: (a) the developmental and cognitive component and, (b) the affective component of ethnic identity. Although pretest-posttest scores of ethnic identity awareness for African American students in the intervention decreased, their overall mean scores were higher than their White peers. There were no significant differences found across conditions on scores of academic, competence, or social self-concepts. Lastly, with regard to gender on pretest and posttest scores, females in the intervention and control conditions exhibited significant differences on career attitude maturity, whereas females and males in the intervention condition showed similar results on the developmental and cognitive components of ethnic identity. Differences between pretest and posttest scores were also indicated for females in the control condition for feelings of competence. Overall, the intervention had a positive affect on students and revealed that when guided, sixth grade middle school students are able to think about their interests and abilities in relation to their goals and make realistic career decisions. Implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.