An exploration of career decision making abilities of undergraduate students within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech University
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As institutions of higher education prepare students for future endeavors and compete for prospective students, they are encouraged to recognize whether students are engaging in scholastic pursuits that are preparing them to enter the vigorous workforce and for engagement in a progressively diverse world (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, and Paris, 2004; Pascarella, Edison, Nora, Hagedorn & Terezini, 1996). With an increased focus within CASNR and Texas Tech University to produce curriculum that provides components to better prepare students for their future professional endeavors, it is important to understand how effective internships and study abroad opportunities are for undergraduate students with regards to career-decision making. The purpose of this study is to measure the career decision-making ability of the students at Texas Tech University specifically within CASNR. This study also seeks to identify if there are any significant differences amongst study abroad and/or internship participants with regards to career decision-making difficulties. Gati, Krausz, and Osipow’s (1996) taxonomy of career decision-making difficulties served as the theoretical outline for this study. The taxonomy identifies three broad focal categories that could result in a student making incompetent or undesirable career decisions. These three difficulties are lack of readiness, lack of information and inconsistent information. For this study, students were categorized into four groups; those who have completed in an internship program, those who have studied abroad, those who have completed both, and those who have done neither. Using a Likert-type scale designed by Gati, Krausz, and Osipow’s (1996) Career Decision-Making Difficulties Questionnaire (CDDQ), this study found that there were differences is decision-making abilities among CASNR students. The lack of readiness score within the CDDQ was significantly different between those who have done an internship and those who have done neither. The lack of information score within the CDDQ was significantly different between those who have participated in a study abroad experience to those who have participated in neither. There was also a significant difference between those who participated in both an internship and studied abroad and those who participated in neither. Recommendations include continued promotions of internship and study abroad programs within CASNR to help alleviate difficulties that obstruct students’ abilities to make career decisions.