Date of Award

Summer 2013

Access Restriction

Campus Access only dissertations

Degree Name

Doctorate in Education

Department

Education

School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Karen K. Huchting, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael Gottfried, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Reilly, Ed.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of an experiential program on the occupational identity, access, and career maturity of Black and Latino students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Data shows these students to be underrepresented in STEM fields. Student interest and access are noted in the literature to be amongst the reasons minorities do not pursue a career in STEM related fields. Jobs within the STEM industry pay considerably more than non-STEM related jobs, access to these jobs can help individuals transform their socioeconomic status. Lack of access and exposure to these fields for low socioeconomic minorities then becomes a social justice issue. A mixed methods approach was applied which included surveys and interviews of junior students currently in an experiential careers program with a STEM emphasis. Composites and subscales were created and checked for internal reliability and consistency. Interview responses were recorded and coded based on theories of occupational identity and emergent themes. Findings suggest that most students within the experiential careers program exhibited high levels of occupational identity. The experiential learning model works well to support continuous learning and the identity development of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

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