Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense

12-13-2016

Graduate Advisor

Shawn Woodhouse, Ph.D.

Committee

Nathan Muchhala

Gutweiler, John

Wilkinson, Gayle

Abstract

Extensive research exists on female, African American, and Hispanic students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field disciplines. However, little research evaluates students with disabilities and career decision-making relating to STEM field disciplines. This study explored the career decision-making experiences and self-efficacy for students with disabilities. The purpose of this research study was to document experiences and perceptions of students with disabilities who pursue, and may consider pursuing, careers in the STEM field disciplines by exploring the career decision-making self-efficacy of students with disabilities. This study documented the level of influence that the students with disabilities had or may not have had encountered from parents, friends, advisors, counselors, and instructors as they managed their decision-making choice relating to their academic major/career in the STEM or non-STEM field disciplines. A total of 85 respondents of approximately 340 students with disabilities at one Midwestern public university completed a quantitatively designed survey instrument. The Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy Scale-Short Form by Betz and Hackett was the instrument used, and additional questions were included in the survey. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and analysis of variance. Based upon the results, college students with disabilities are not currently being influenced by individuals and groups of individuals to pursue the STEM field disciplines. This is a cohort of individuals who can be marketed to increase enrollment in STEM programs at academic institutions. This research further found that gender differences at the institution under study did not affect the career decision-making self-efficacy scores. The men did not score any higher in confidence in career decision-making than the women. Disability type did not significantly affect the relationship between the Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy Total Scores or college major choice. Of the three disability types represented more frequently, the Mental Health disability was found to be a growing disability at the institution under study. This research was found to be beneficial in the documentation of specific levels of influence perceived by students with disabilities from parents, friends, advisors, counselors, and instructors that related to their career decision-making and academic major choices.

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