What is best practice in careers education? An outline of the evidence.

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I recently published this article on LinkedIn. It’s an excerpt of some of the literature review work that I’ve been doing for my doctorate and formed the basis of my presentation at this year’s Career Development Association of Australia conference. 

An important pillar of the evidence base of careers education practice is formed by a series of meta-analyses of career intervention studies, published over the last 30 years. These studies have measured the impact of career interventions and explored the influence of different intervention methods and approaches (Baker & Taylor, 1998; Brown & Roche, 2016; Brown & Ryan Krane, 2000; Brown et al., 2003; Oliver & Spokane, 1988; Whiston, Brecheisen, & Stephens, 2003; Whiston et al., 2017; Whiston, Sexton, & Lasoff, 1998).

In these studies, what makes a “career intervention” is defined broadly, as any effort made to improve clients’ career development, which is most often measured as career maturity, career decision-making, vocational identity, or perceptions of environmental factors. Career interventions can be individual or group counselling, workshops, career development classes, the provision of career information and self-help resources, or computer-based or -assisted activities.

These meta-analyses have consistently found that career interventions do indeed help people, to a moderate but statistically significant degree. In the most recent study, Whiston et al. (2017) reported that on average, participants in a career intervention had a 60% chance of attaining a higher outcome measure than members of the control group who didn’t participate in the intervention, a finding consistent with those of previous studies. These studies have also found that repeated interventions are more effective than one-off interventions, group interventions are as effective as individual interventions, and interventions that are facilitated by an expert career development practitioner are more effective than those that are not.

Critical ingredients of career interventions

In a particularly influential study, Brown and Ryan Krane (2000) identified five critical ingredients that had a significant impact on the effectiveness of career interventions:

  • written exercises
  • individualised interpretations and feedback
  •  information on the world of work
  • modelling by more competent others
  •  support from social networks

They found that critical ingredients are most effective when combined, so that interventions that included three or more ingredients were much more effective than those that included only one or two.

Whiston et al. (2017) partially replicated Brown and Ryan Krane’s (2000) findings, supporting the importance of written workbooks, personalised feedback, and world of work information but adding three new critical ingredients that were found to have a greater impact than the original five:

  • counsellor support
  • values clarification
  • psychoeducation (exploring the process of making and working toward decisions).

It is impossible to compare the critical ingredients of Brown and Ryan Krane (2000) with those of Whiston et al. (2017) directly, because they focused on different outcome measures (career maturity and career decision-making self-efficacy, respectively) and Brown and Ryan Krane’s (2000) study did not report the effect sizes or statistical significance of each critical ingredient. This limited replication does not show that critical ingredients are not valid as signposts toward career intervention best practice. Rather, it enriches the value of critical ingredients as key approaches to career interventions, while also highlighting that practitioners and researchers need to treat them critical caution.

Career education best practices

These studies aggregate decades of research and hundreds of career intervention program evaluations. Taken together, they can be used to inform a model of evidence-based best practice in the provision of career education:

●    Repeated interventions are more effective than one-off interventions (Brown & Ryan Krane, 2000; Oliver & Spokane, 1988; Whiston et al., 2017).

●    Interventions facilitated by a career development expert are more effective than self-directed or computer-mediated interventions (Brown & Ryan Krane, 2000 ; Whiston et al., 2003; Whiston & James, 2013; Whiston et al., 2017).

●    Group interventions are at least as effective as individual interventions (Brown & Ryan Krane, 2000 ; Oliver & Spokane, 1988; Whiston et al., 2003; Whiston et al., 2017).

●    Structured group interventions, such as workshops, are more effective than unstructured group interventions, such as group counselling (Whiston et al., 2003).

●    Interventions that include critical ingredients (written exercises, individualised interpretations and feedback, labour market information, modelling from experts, and support from social networks (Brown & Ryan Krane, 2000); counsellor support, values clarification, and psychoeducation (Whiston et al., 2017)) are more effective, particularly in combination with each other, than those that do not.

●    Interventions should be targeted to the needs of specific client groups and incorporate relevant career development theories in full (Hughes, Mann, Barnes, Baldauf, & McKeown, 2016; Miller & Brown, 2004; Whiston & James, 2013).

Putting it to work

Obviously, this evidence base should be used by reflexive career education practitioners as they design, implement, and evaluate their own projects. It can contribute to a “curricular vision” (Bransford, Darling-Hammond, & LePage, 2005, p. 35) of career education which guides decisions about what kinds of transformative career learning outcomes we want for our students and how we can best facilitate them.

But just as importantly, this evidence-base should also be used by career educators to advocate for our profession and support efforts to assert our expertise in our collaborative and consultative roles. It can be used to justify the space we need to take in the curriculum, to have repeated exposure to students, and the time we need to develop relationships with students, promote social learning, and give effective feedback.

Careers and employability educators owe it to their students and themselves to base their work on, and evaluate it against, evidence such as this, and to let their institutional colleagues and communities know all about it.

References

Bransford, J., Darling-Hammond, L., & LePage, P. (2012). Introduction. In L. Darling-Hammond & J. Bransford (Eds.), Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do (pp. 1–39). Somerset, England: Wiley.

Brown, S. D., & Roche, M. (2016). The Outcomes of Vocational Interventions: Thirty (Some) Years Later. Journal of Career Assessment24(1), 26–41. doi:10.1177/106907271557966

Brown, S. D., & Ryan Krane, N. E. (2000). Four (or five) sessions and a cloud of dust: Old assumptions and new observations about career counseling. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counseling psychology (pp. 740–766). New York, NY: Wiley.

Brown, S. D., Ryan Krane, N. E., Brecheisen, J., Castelino, P., Budisin, I., Miller, M., & Edens, L. (2003). Critical ingredients of career choice interventions: More analyses and new hypotheses. Journal of Vocational Behavior62(3), 411–428. doi:10.1016/S0001-8791(02)00052-0

Hughes, D., Mann, A., Barnes, S.-A., Baldauf, B., & McKeown, R. (2016). Careers education: International literature review. Warwick, England: Warwick Institute for Employment Research. Retrieved from http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/80474/

Miller, M. J., & Brown, S. D. (2004). Counseling for career choice: Implications for improving interventions and working with diverse populations. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (1st ed., pp. 441–465). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Oliver, L. W., & Spokane, A. R. (1988). Career-intervention outcome: What contributes to client gain? Journal of Counseling Psychology35(4), 447. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/cou/35/4/447/

Whiston, S. C., & James, B. N. (2013). Promotion of career choices. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work (2nd ed., pp. 565–594). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Whiston, S. C., Brecheisen, B. K., & Stephens, J. (2003). Does treatment modality affect career counseling effectiveness? Journal of Vocational Behavior62(3), 390–410. doi:10.1016/S0001-8791(02)00050-7

Whiston, S. C., Li, Y., Goodrich Mitts, N., & Wright, L. (2017). Effectiveness of career choice interventions: A meta-analytic replication and extension. Journal of Vocational Behavior100, 175–184. doi:10.1016/j.jvb.2017.03.010

Whiston, S. C., Sexton, T. L., & Lasoff, D. L. (1998). Career-intervention outcome: A replication and extension of Oliver and Spokane (1988). Journal of Counseling Psychology45(2), 150–165. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.45.2.150

Reading, writing, reps: 20/02/17

Reading

With a bit of time before I start work on the final coursework component of my doctorate, I’ve been taking it easy on the reading. I’m reading around a couple of key areas:

  • Dialogical self, to make sure I’m up to speed for the rewrite of the chapter I’m co-authoring
  • Threshold concepts, which I have a feeling will form a cornerstone of my research.

Writing

Writing. At the same time, it’s one of my strongest strengths and weakest weaknesses. Once I get going I do well, but the getting going isn’t always easy. I’ve been making good progress in changing my habits and making small improvements. A couple of things I’ve been doing to help:

  • The 30 minute time periods of #readingwritingreps help by letting make incremental progress without feeling the need to sit down and write a whole paper in one sprint.
  • Similarly, the pomodoro technique helps me stay focused and mindful of how I’m spending my time.
  • I’m learning the value of generating text: reading notes, emails to my supervisor and peers, scribbles in my notebooks, these blog posts, and so on. Any text that can be used to contribute to papers and therefore save me time and effort later one. I’ve described it to someone as like making regular savings. Not to mention the value it has for consolidation of learning.
  • It’s occured to me several times that this blog could be used to much better effect for generating text, if I were to blog some key ideas or problems, share my essays, and just generally get more of my thoughts out on this platform.

REPS

Where the reading and writing can be a struggle, my exercise regime has become a real pleasure and I’m having no problems with compliance. It’s a rare day that I miss my daily goal of 30 minutes of exercise. I hit the gym about three days each week, bike to work about the same, hoist my kettlebell once or twice a week, swim once a week (just playing with my son, mostly, but occasionally I do a few laps), and use my stretchy bands every so often. The image above is my workout this evening with my 20kg kettlebell, and yesterday in the gym I did:

  • Barbell back squats: 80kg, 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3
  • Bench press: 52.5kg, 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3
  • Dumbbell row: 26kg, 5×10
  • Squats again, 60kg, 3×10
  • Incline bench, 40kg, 8/8/7

I’m really enjoying the lifting, I think because I’m not trying to follow a strict routine, such as Starting Strength. Rather, I’m following a set of principles that keeps me on a certain path and keeps me moving forward (putting more weight on the bar), while allowing me some freedom and variety.

I’m enjoying it so much, I’ve been toying with the idea of entering a powerlifting meet, as a challenge to myself and to give me motivation to train hard.

 

Reading, re-writing, reps: 12/02/17

READing and Writing

I’ve drafted my first ever academic publication and had my first ever experience of peer-review. The feedback was that we have some work to do. Not that our manuscript was bad, just that it’s focus wasn’t well matched with the intent of the book. After reading the feedback and considering how I’d go about revising our manuscript, which I think turned our pretty well and has something useful to say. I actually felt that it might be a better use of my time to rewrite the chapter from scratch and submit the manuscript for publication elsewhere. So while this is, on the face of it, a knock-back that entails a bit of work, I feel pretty positive about it.

REps

While reading and writing sides of this scheme are ebbing and flowing, I’ve been pretty consistent in getting my reps in. I’m riding my bike to work fairly regularly, hitting the gym three or four times a week, and getting in brief workouts at home with my kettle-bell. Not to mention visits to the pool or playground with my energetic three year old. Today’s workout:

  • Barbell squats: 72.5kg, 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3
  • Bench press: 52.5kg, 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3
  • Dumbell rows (superset with bench): 25kg, 10/10/10
  • Farmers walk: 30kg each hand, 5 trips of about 40 paces.

Reading, writing, reps: Waitangi Day edition

It’s both Waitangi Day and Bob Marley’s birthday. If I were in New Zealand I’d be enjoying a day off and hopefully getting some writing done. But here I am in Melbourne, so I’m at work. Nonetheless, I’ve made some good progress on a key project.

REading and writing

My supervisor and I a co-writing a chapter on Dialogical Self Theory in Career Education. My contribution is basically a potted-history of key approaches to career education: Cognitive Information Processing, DOTS, career-learning theory, and what I’ve termed dialogical career-learning theory. This last one is where Frans Meijers, Reinekke Lengelle and others have integrated Dialogical Self Theory into Laws’s career-learning theory, arguing that “the development of a career story must be understood not only as a cognitive learning process but as a dialogical learning process as well” (Meijers & Lengelle, 2012, p. 169).

We’ve completed a first draft and are now editing for cohesion. The last step will be an introduction and conclusion and then we’re done. All going well, this will be the first publication for me in this doctoral project.

REps

I enjoyed a morning in the gym yesterday. I have been trying a new rep scheme from this article by Dan John:

Do a single, rest a bit, do a double, rest a bit, then do a triple. That is six total reps and the quality should all be excellent. For a solid workout, run through this three times: 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3.

Yesterday I did this with:

  • BB squats: 1,2,3 for 3 times around
  • Bench: 1,2,3 for 3 times around
  • Bent over barbell rows, 1,2,3 for 3 times around
  • Single arm landmine rows: 3×10

I also had a short ride on my new bike.

Read, write, reps: crisis writing edition

 

Reading and Writing

So a deadline sailed past me and I’m riding pretty high on the terror curve. I’m ostensibly coauthoring a chapter with my doctoral supervisor, but my imposter syndrome and procrastination monkey are ganging up on me.

I’m confident about my cognitive abilities; I know I can read and write well. It’s the doing it, or not, that is doing me in. It’s something I have to address, and soon. With a full-time job and a family that I want to be present for, I need to build some more sustainable habits.

REPS

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as I’ve been pretty good on this side of the ledger. I had a good workout on the weekend:

  • Barbell squats: 72.5kg, 5/5/8
  • Bench press: 47.5kg, 5/5/12
  • Seated cable rows: a bunch
  • Close-grip bench press: 40kg, 12/12/10
  • Face pulls: a bunch

I’ve also been enjoying riding my new bike. The single speed can be hard work sometimes but somehow it’s a lot more fun than a geared bike. I got a pair of clipless pedals and some snazzy shoes to go with them, which has made my pedaling a little more efficient.

 

 

Reading, Writing, Reps; 24/01/17

My gym. 

I’ve been chugging along since my last post, but haven’t felt the need to blog every day as that would get awfully repetitive (more so than it is already).

REading and Writing

I’ve been continuing to edit a literature review of career education, alongside migrating my reference management from Paperpile to Zotero and then again to Citavi. I’m exploring Citavi and like what I see so far. It’s as much a knowledge manager as it is a reference manager. It seems to me to do in one app what I have been using two or three apps to do:

  • organise PDFs
  • maintain references
  • take notes on readings, including exporting highlights and notes from PDFs
  • organise and collate these notes into essay and article skeletons

It’s not perfect, particularly the citation download feature, but not so much as to be a deal breaker. I’m going to use it to read and draft an entire project so see how it goes.

Reps

In addition to gym visits and some kettlebell slinging, I’ve gone out and bought a new bike. I sold my comfortable but dorky and slow commuter on Gumtree and replaced it with a sporty single speed. I was a little unsure about getting a single speed, but a few test rides had me sold. I actually find it easier to ride than my old 8 speed, although hills can be work. Nonetheless, I see it as a good example of what Josh Hillis and Dan John call inefficient exercise, which they claim is fundamental for fat loss.

Today I was in the gym:

  • Barbell back squat: 70kg, 5/5/10
  • Standing barbell press: 32.5kg, 5/5/6; 20kg, 2×10

And that was it. Did I mention I follow a minimalist approach to strength training?

 

Reading, Writing, Reps: 09 to 13 Jan, 2017

Ricky Bruch

I’m not going to log my Reading, Writing, and Reps for each day, but rather write a summary of my week’s career education study and exercise efforts.

Reading and writing

I exceeded my 30 minute daily targets this week, by several hours each day. That’s actually kind of the point of having such a small target: if I’m able to sit down and commit to 30 minutes, I’m likely to continue beyond it if I get into the flow.

My reading and writing went together this week, as I’m revising a literature review on the pedagogy of career education that I wrote for one of the taught courses preceeding my candidature. While I’m reasonably happy with it, there were a couple of gaps and flaws because parts were quite rushed. So I’ve been going back and re-reading a few sources that I glossed over a little and re-writing the a few sections. In particular, I’ve been:

  • shoring up my discussion of the statistical findings in the career intervention effectiveness literature, (such as Oliver & Spokane, 1988; Whiston, Sexton, & Lassof, 1998; Brown & Ryan Krane, 2000; and Brown et al., 2003). Stats isn’t my strong suit so I need to take extra care when writing about quantitative research.
  • going into more depth about the “post-DOTS” career learning theory of Bill Law (1996a, 1999), particularly how it represented a development of the DOTS model.
  • linking Bill Law’s career learning to the more recent career learning theories of Frans Miejers and his colleagues (Miejers & Lengelle, 2015; Winters, Miejers, Lengelle, & Baert, 2011), particularly with regard to their incorporation of Hubert Herman’s Dialogical Self Theory (Hermans & Kempen, 1993).

Reps

Here are my workouts since starting this resolution:

  • 05/01/17: Barbell squats, bench press, dumbbell rows
  • 06/01/17: Severe DOMS after first day back, so just playing in the pool  with my wee boy and lots of stretching throughout the day
  • 07/01/17: Barbell press, deadlift, ring rows, dumbbell clean and press
  • 08/01/17: Bike ride
  • 09/01/17: Kettlebell swings, band pull-aparts
  • 10/01/17: Barbell squats, bench press, dumbell rows, push-up position planks, and cycling to and from work
  • 11/01/17: Kettlebell swings, push ups
  • 12/01/17: Didn’t meet the goal today
  • 13/01/17: Barbell press, deadlift, dumbbell clean and press

 

Reading, Writing, and Reps

As is the tradition at the beginning of a new year, I’ve made a set of resolutions to help me live life a little better this year than I did last year.

The rules are simple. Each day, 30 minutes each of Reading, Writing, and Reps.

Reading

This will be mostly academic articles, chapters, and books related to my doctoral studies, with a good complement of blog posts and books on academic writing, research. I hope to get a little recreational reading in there somewhere.

Writing

The biggest challenge for me in my doctoral studies so far has been building and maintaining healthy writing habits. Academically, I’ve been a lifelong crisis writer and really need to make a change if I’m to survive the next few years.

Reps

I spent more time out of the gym than in it in 2016 and want to get back to some exercise habits. I’ll be basing my workouts on Dan John’s writing, particularly Easy Strength, with its focus on consistent, moderate effort with barbells, kettlebells, and bodyweight, rather than screaming intensity. For the purpose of this resolution, “reps” refers to any kind of physical exercise, not just weights.

I’ve also been trying to figure out what to do with this blog. A Reading, Writing, and Reps journal might be the way for me to ease back into it.