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Utilizing Cognitive Information Processing Theory to Assess the Effectiveness of DISCOVER on College Students' Career Development

Hornyak, David A. (2007) Utilizing Cognitive Information Processing Theory to Assess the Effectiveness of DISCOVER on College Students' Career Development. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study explored outcomes of using the Internet version of the DISCOVER career guidance system by college students who are unsure of their career direction. Previous research indicated mixed results concerning DISCOVER's effectiveness. A review of these studies showed that measures of foundational components of career development (i.e., individuals' knowledge of their skills, interests, and values) consistently improved after DISCOVER use, while more advanced areas of career development (e.g., actual occupational choice) showed mixed results. This study proposed that the Cognitive Information Processing (CIP) theory of career development can be used to assess these different levels under a unifying model. Sixty-three undergraduate students participated in a pretest/posttest study where they were assessed on various measures, including need for cognition, vocational identity, and dysfunctional career thinking before and after using DISCOVER. Participants were found to have increased levels of vocational identity and lower levels of dysfunctional career thinking after DISCOVER use. Of particular note, individuals with higher levels of vocational identity prior to using DISCOVER showed greater decreases in dysfunctional career thinking after using DISCOVER than those with lower initial levels of vocational identity. These results offer support to the proposal that an understanding of one's interests, skills, and values must be achieved before an individual can make additional gains on more advanced levels of career decision making. Additionally, patterns of DISCOVER use among college students in this study indicate that individuals did not plan a strategy prior to using the program, suggesting that college students could benefit from additional instruction prior to using DISCOVER. Also, participants did not express an interest in discussing their DISCOVER results with others while they were using the program, implying that college students believe using a computer-assisted career guidance system is a solitary endeavor. This study recommends that a "one size fits all" approach to using DISCOVER should not be taken by college career counselors; rather, counselors should make an initial assessment of a client's stage within the career development process and then offer suggestions to the individual regarding how best to use the program.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hornyak, David A.hornyak@pitt.eduHORNYAK
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKlein, Roger Drklein@education.pitt.eduRKLEIN
Committee MemberSchunn, Christian
Committee MemberNess, Erik
Committee MemberPizzolato, Jane Epizzolat@pitt.eduPIZZOLAT
Date: 27 June 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 4 April 2007
Approval Date: 27 June 2007
Submission Date: 19 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Psychology in Education
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: career counseling; career development; Cognitive Information Processing theory; college students; computer-assisted career guidance; DISCOVER; need for cognition; vocational identity
Other ID:, etd-04192007-131902
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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