Decision style, ability and the effectiveness of a careers intervention : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
This study aimed to evaluate the impact of a career decision-making exercise on decision-making skills in groups with different academic ability and career decision style. The study was conducted in a single sex female school using four classes (90 students in total) of Fourth Formers. Three separate phases were carried out within a two week period as part of the careers program. Phase one involved pretesting students using measures of knowledge of sources of careers information and actions to be used when making a careers decision. Career decision style, logical reasoning and demographic details were also obtained at this stage. During phase two students were either taught a specific decision-making exercise (Experimental intervention) or an exercise on women in the workforce (Placebo intervention). The final phase involved a post test and follow up career exercises. Results were analysed using 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 (type of intervention, career decision style, academic ability and pre/post test) way ANOVAs for each dependent measure. The group exposed to the career decision-making exercise did not show the predicted improved performance over those exposed to the placebo intervention. Gains were evident in the knowledge of career information sources but this was the same for both interventions. Academic ability and career decision style did influence the intervention outcomes but not in the predicted directions. Results are discussed in terms of the adequacy of the measures of career decision-making skills and the unexpected impact of the placebo activity. The importance of taking into account decision style and academic ability in designing careers interventions is high-lighted.