Evaluation of an intervention to foster time perspective and career decidedness in a group of Italian adolescents.

Author:Ferrari, Lea
Position:Global Visions
 
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A structured 10-didactic unit intervention was devised to foster adolescents' time perspective and career decidedness. The study was conducted with 50 adolescents who were selected from a group of 624; 25 of rite participants were randomly as signed 10 the control group and 25 were assigned to the experimental group. They were selected according to their level of career indecision and poor propensity to look to the future. A series of repeated measure analyses of 'variance were carried out to evaluate pre And posttest differences between the experimental and control groups regarding time perspective and career decidedness. At posttest, the experimental group showed higher levels of continuity, hope, and career decidedness than did the control group. Implications for future practice and research are discussed.

Keywords: time perspective, career decidedness, career adaptability

The aim of this study was to describe and evaluate the efficacy of an intervention that was devised to enhance young adolescents' time perspective and career decidedness. These two dimensions are components of career adaptability and have a crucial role in career designing, (Savikas et al., 2009).

Time perspective is defined by sense of continuity, optimism, and future orientation (Savickas, 1997). Carstensen (2006) asserted that time perspective has a positive impact on motivation, cognition, and emotion, and it is linked to goal selection and goal pursuit. Savickas (1991) and Ringle and Savickas (1983) considered a sense of continuity among past, present, and future a more cognitive component of time perspective, and optimism a more affective component. Continuity sustains planning skills and optimism refers to a sense of confidence in the achievability of goals. Creed, Patron, and Bartrum (2002) reported that Australian students with a higher level of optimism had more career goals, were more decided about their career choice, and showed higher levels of career planning and exploration. Students with high pessimism showed lower career and decision-making knowledge, higher career indecision, and lower school achievement.

For Savickas (1997), time perspective is a core component of career adaptability, which is defined as "the readiness to cope with the predictable tasks of preparing for and participating in the work role and with the unpredictable adjustments prompted by the changes in work and work conditions" (p. 254). The propensity to look to the future, acknowledging the right to make decisions to build one's own future, looking around to explore career opportunities, and building up a sense of self-efficacy in problem solving contribute to forming the critical dimensions of vocational development over the life span (Hartung, Porfeli, & Vondracek, 2008; Savickas, 2005). These aspects, which begin developing in childhood and then consolidate in adolescence, are an integral part of career adaptability. According to Savickas, career adaptability can be also described as a development of the concept of career maturity. If the latter can be seen as a predictable and linear continuum of developmental tasks, career adaptability underscores the ability to see the signs of change and adjust to respond to new requests from the environment (Savickas, 1997). Hirschi (2009) showed that career adaptability was related to positive youth development, including higher levels of well-being and quality of life.

Propensity to look to the future in an optimistic way was studied in relation to career maturity. Janeiro and Marques (2010) found that propensity to look to the future was positively correlated with career maturity, operationalized as career planning and exploration in Portuguese adolescents. Janeiro (2010) also observed the impact of time perspective on career maturity in ninth and 12th graders.

Being oriented toward the future, sensing a connection between present activities and future outcomes, and adopting an optimistic attitude seem particularly significant in today's world of work, which, as Fouad and Bynner (2008) highlighted, requires people to face transition periods more often than in the past and to be ready for future requests. However, many individuals in our complex society unfortunately do not orient themselves toward the future and seldom, if at all, think about how their careers could evolve (Creed & Patton, 2003; Nota, Soresi, Solberg, & Ferrari, 2005). Peetsma, Hascher, van der Veen, and Roede (2005) emphasized that older adolescents focused more on their personal development and leisure time than they focused on their school or career choices. Recently, Ferrari, Nota, and Soresi (2010) showed that Italian adolescents, particularly around the ages of 16 and 17 years, rarely thought of how their professional life could develop. Many of them were often engaged in exploring the self and the reality surrounding them but seemed especially concerned about the here and now, neglecting to determine the consequences that such a focus may have on their future. Among these adolescents, the undecided and those with low-efficacy beliefs in their own decisional abilities showed even lower levels of future orientation, continuity, and optimism.

Another variable that we considered was career indecision, which is the inability to select a professional option and the inability to engage in choice (Tokar, Withrow, Hall, & Moradi, 2003). Indecision has long been linked to career maturity; in 1994, Rojewski reported that more-decided youth were also more mature. In studying change over time in career planning and exploration among high school students, Creed, Patton, and Prideaux (2007) found significant associations with career decision status: Students with higher levels of career indecision reported engaging in more career planning and exploration over time. Creed, Fallon, and Hood (2009) found that career decision making together with career planning, career exploration, and self-regulation represented a second-order factor of career adaptability.

More recently, Savickas et al. (2009) suggested a life-designing model in which youth are assisted in building their lives by positively considering their future. People should be helped to strengthen ability to find points of connections between past experiences, present life, and future expectations. This implies thinking of themselves as persons involved in processes of professional development and career advancement, to understand professional enhancement and progress, and to be aware of the social and relational aspects that may affect professional development (Marko & Savickas, 1998; Savickas, 2005).

Savickas (2002), in particular, maintained that to increase optimism and ability to project into the future, the following should be done by counselors: (a) work on strengthening individuals' abilities to make new-experiences and grasp any opportunities offered by their setting; (b) develop decisional abilities and abilities to set educational and career goals that can allow the acquisition of increasingly greater control on school-career choices; (c) increase vocational knowledge and aspirations by exploring the school-career options one is interested in; and (d) encourage agency and persistence behaviors by increasing self-efficacy, problem-solving abilities, and abilities to cope with barriers.

With these suggestions in mind, we devised the training called "Hopes and Expectations for the Future," the goal of which is to encourage adolescents to look toward the future, increase their perception of alternative options and scenarios, and acquire decision-making and planning strategies. The intervention was devised for students with low levels of time perspective and career decidedness who were randomly assigned either to the experimental or to the control group. At posttest, the experimental group was expected to show higher levels of continuity, optimism, and hope and higher career decidedness than the control group.

Method

Participants

During the first phase of the intervention, 624 adolescents participated; 264 were boys and 360 were girls (M age = 16.26 years, SD = 0.55) who were attending vocational guidance activities organized by the school. As part of the activities, students voluntarily completed a battery of measures in group testing sessions. We considered this to be a convenience sample.

The activities included (a) administration of a battery of instruments, which were the Long-Term Personal Direction Scale (LTPD; Wessman, 1973), the Achievability of Future Goals Scale (AFG; Heimberg, 1961), the Hope Scale (Snyder et al., 1991), Ideas and Attitudes on School-Career Future: High School version (IASCF; Soresi & Nota, 2003); (b) issuing a personalized printout that would explain to each student his or her profile and provide suggestions and possible options; and (c) individual counseling for students who requested it.

The data collected with these adolescents...

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