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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

Year Degree Awarded

Fall 2014

First Advisor

Dr. Benita Barnes

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Williams

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Briggs

Subject Categories

Educational Leadership | Higher Education

Abstract

Over the past two decades, funding to liberal arts programs has significantly declined (Donoghue, 2010; Mangan, 2003; Nussbaum, 2010; Smith 2011). Donoghue (2010) credits the overall decline to changes in the funding structure within higher education, as reliance on private money increases, professional and specialized majors in the business of “practical” value capture the majority of corporate dollars. Brooks (2009a) encourages liberal arts faculty and staff to spend more time and resources working with incoming and enrolled students to assist them in understanding the practicality of their majors, and subsequently how to market their majors to employers. However, thus far, liberal arts educators have missed the mark in finding a model of career development that works for liberal arts students (Brooks, 2009a; Nell, 2003). This exploratory study examines the use of constructivist career development with students who have chosen liberal arts majors and its ability to demonstrate to students the “practical” value of their education while still respecting the unique skills, interests, and values associated with liberal arts education.

Utilizing a phenomenological approach, the researcher interviewed ten liberal arts majors at a public research university in the Northeast who were also enrolled in a constructivist career development (CCD) course. The study examined the process CCD from the perspectives of the participants and found that 1) liberal arts majors need/desire opportunities to deconstruct negative external messages about their academic majors in a structured and supportive environment; 2) CCD has the ability to increase career self-efficacy in regards to career decision-making and the completion of career development tasks; 3) as a career development model, CCD respects the values of liberal arts education and empowers students with liberal arts majors to leverage their broad academic skills/knowledge in the “real world”; and 4) the process of CCD urges students to develop and trust their internal voice, ultimately assisting in the development of self-authorship.

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