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Dream Chasers: An Exploration of How Role Identity is related to Career Development Attitudes among African American Male Collegiate Athletes

Small, Charles (2013) Dream Chasers: An Exploration of How Role Identity is related to Career Development Attitudes among African American Male Collegiate Athletes. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In order to develop an identity, individuals undergo the process of role-taking. During this process, they slowly develop an identity as they gain greater comprehension of social meanings in the culture. The individual is able to assume the group culture or perspective as they interact with others and better understand their role in those interactions (Johnson & Migliaccio, 2009). In particular for collegiate student-athletes, sport may play a tremendous role in shaping identity. For African American males, there may be a unique relationship between identity and participation in basketball. In 2010, sixty percent of male student-athletes participating in Division I basketball were African American (Zgonc, 2010).

Since there are a high percentage of African Americans participating in college basketball, it is vital for college administrators to explore their experiences and attitudes to create appropriate career programming. Studies have demonstrated that people who have achieved a stable identity tend to use rational and systematic career decision strategies. In contrast, those with foreclosed identity status tend to rely on dependent strategies (Schultheiss, 2000). Donald Super’s original developmental approach to career choice and attitudes focuses on the life span-life space approach to careers. This perspective characterizes career development as an attempt to implement a person’s self-concept in educational and occupational decisions (Hartung & Niles, 2000).

Researching role identity can help college administrators identify possible strengths of African American male college student-athletes, which may promote empowerment. This study was designed to explore how role identity is related to career development attitudes among African American male collegiate student-athletes. I implemented a mixed methods case study design to gather data. The underlying worldview driving this study is a constructivist theoretical approach. Data was collected from African American males who were student-athletes on a NCAA Division I basketball team. Qualitative interviews were dominant, while scales such as the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS), Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI), and the Career Development Inventory (CDI) were used as descriptive data. The qualitative and quantitative data collection occurred in a parallel form.

The findings of study indicate that there are a range of influences that shape the role identity of the participants in the study. The student-athletes were introduced and had access to sport at an early age. They were influenced by recognition from family and community members. Direct and indirect role models helped shape their worldview. Many of the student-athletes completed tasks associated with the growth and exploration stages of career development, while others exhibited career immaturity. Some of the student-athletes exhibited foreclosed athletic identities, which hindered their career aspirations for professions outside of playing basketball.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Small, Charlescls12@pitt.eduCLS12
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGunzenhauser , MGUNZEN
Committee MemberWeidman , WEIDMAN
Committee MemberRuck , RUCCO
Committee MemberTaylor, TAYLOR
Committee MemberBrooks, SBROOKS
Date: 13 May 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 8 April 2013
Approval Date: 13 May 2013
Submission Date: 7 May 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 498
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: African American, male, collegiate athletes, role identity, career development attitudes
Date Deposited: 13 May 2013 17:58
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:12


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