An exploratory investigation of the interrelationships of experiential learning, outcome expectations, self -efficacy, and goals in clinical practica students

Jason F Mathers, Purdue University


Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) is a model of career development that delineates how individuals' thoughts and beliefs, along with personal and environmental factors, impact their interests, choices, and varying levels of success in educational and occupational endeavors both during training and throughout their careers. SCCT includes experiential learning, outcome expectations, self-efficacy, and career goals as salient and meaningful aspects of career development. The primary purpose of this study was to use SCCT as a framework for exploring the relationships between these four constructs within a sample of 268 clinical trainees (220 females and 48 males) enrolled in doctoral psychology programs (i.e., counseling, clinical, and professional psychology) and engaging in or having recently completed practicum courses. Specifically, this study examined (a) whether Lent et al.'s SCCT model was applicable to clinical trainees; (b) the relation of four types of practica learning experiences (e.g., performance accomplishments, emotional/physiological arousal, vicarious learning, and social persuasion) to counseling role outcome expectations and counseling self-efficacy; and (c) the relation of outcome expectations and self-efficacy to trainees' career goals. The research findings provided mixed but promising results for SCCT's application to clinical trainees' development. Several but not all of the direct relationships posited within the SCCT model were supported by the present study. Specifically, practica learning experiences significantly influenced the counseling self-efficacy of clinical trainees, and both outcome expectations and self-efficacy influenced trainees' career goals. However, neither practica learning experiences nor counseling self-efficacy influenced the trainees' beliefs that becoming a counselor or psychotherapist would result in positive outcomes. Regarding the specific types of experiential learning, all four types were significantly related to self-efficacy, but only two (i.e., vicarious learning and social persuasion) were related to outcome expectations. Finally, both counseling role outcome expectations and counseling self-efficacy were significantly related to the trainees' professional career goals. These results were discussed in terms of their implications for clinical trainees' development and future research.




Pistole, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Health education

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