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Title:Investigating identifiers of vocational identity in animal science undergraduates through two types of reflective assignments
Author(s):Schneider, Alicia
Advisor(s):Rosch, David M
Department / Program:Agricultural Education Program
Discipline:Agricultural Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
vocational identity
Abstract:With a high percentage of career indecision among undergraduates, it is beneficial to understand what influences them to make vocational decisions. Students are misinterpreting or not fully developing their own vocational identities, which can lead to career decisions that do not correlate with their strengths, desires, and goals necessary for success in the work force. As a result, college students may struggle to establish their overall self-identity during a crucial stage of psychosocial development. A thematic analysis was used in this qualitative study to explore, specifically, what identifiers thirty animal science students at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign used to describe their identities on a professional level. The identifiers were grouped into five themes that reflected twenty subcategories of identifiers that contribute to the development of vocational identity. The frequency of identifiers was calculated to determine which identifiers and corresponding themes were most commonly used in each of the assignments. Two types of reflective assignments were analyzed from ANSC 298, a required undergraduate seminar, in order to explore what identifiers animal science students used to establish their vocational identities: The “Draw Your Life” assignment and “Autobiography” assignment. Both assignments were distributed during the spring semester of 2013 to the same group of students with each student completing both assignments. The results concluded that the Occupational theme was the most commonly identified theme in both the “Draw Your Life” and “Autobiography” assignments. Within that theme, students focused on Animals as the main subcategory of identifiers followed by Future Job in both assignments. Interests/Strengths was the 2nd most prevalent theme in the “Draw Your Life” opposed to the Institutional theme ranked as number 2 in the “Autobiography” assignments. The third most common theme differed between Institutional in the “Draw Your Life” assignments and Social in the “Autobiography” assignment. The drawings ranked Social as the 4th place theme compared to Interests/Strengths as 4th place in the autobiographies. The Other theme was contributed to the least by the students in both assignments, but contained uncategorized identifiers that were unexpected discoveries. With this knowledge, educators in animal science, as well as other areas of study, will have a better understanding of what their students find important in developing what kind of professionals they hope to become. Instructors will also have a better idea as to which type of the two reflective assignments can be used to reveal certain identifiers of their students. Educators can then tailor their teaching accordingly to help students fully develop their vocational identities and guide them towards professional opportunities that better complement who they are as novice animal scientists. This can help students pursue a career path that corresponds to their vocational identity and can decrease the likelihood of career indecision and unsatisfactory career experiences in the future.
Issue Date:2015-02-10
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Alicia Schneider
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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