Influence of social cognitive variables on the career exploratory behaviors of African American undergraduate STEM-intensive agricultural sciences majors at Historically Black Land-Grant Institutions
Without question, racial and ethnic minority groups are playing more significant roles in American society. However, there still remains a lack of diversity within the STEM workforce, especially within agricultural sciences disciplines. More problematic is the fact that low numbers of African Americans are employed in the agricultural sciences workforce. This study extends the use of Social Cognitive Career Theory by exploring how person, contextual and cognitive factors interplay to influence the career goals and career exploratory behaviors of African American college students pursuing STEM-intensive agricultural sciences majors. Instruments were selected to measure various components of the SCCT framework, focusing primarily on person, cognitive and contextual variables. Data were collected from African American undergraduate students (N = 314) enrolled in STEM-intensive agricultural sciences majors at five Historically Black Land-Grant Institutions. A Structural Equation Modeling technique was utilized to test three research hypotheses. An additional research question was included to identify additional factors influencing students’ pursuit of STEM-intensive agricultural sciences majors. Overall, the structural models indicated good model fit with significant paths being identified among several of the SCCT variables. There are four conclusions of this study. First, African American college students who were enrolled in STEM-intensive agricultural sciences majors with masculine gender personality attributes are more likely to engage in career exploratory behaviors if they feel more confidence in making career decisions. Second, African American students who were enrolled in STEM-intensive agricultural sciences majors who faced career barriers were more likely to engage in career exploratory behaviors. Third, African American college students who were enrolled in STEM-intensive agricultural sciences majors who were confident in their ability in making career decisions and coping with career barriers were more likely to engage in more career exploratory behaviors. Fourth, African American college students who were enrolled in STEM-intensive agricultural sciences majors reported mentoring as the most helpful factor regarding their career pursuits, and academic difficulties as the most hindering factor regarding their career pursuits. Future directions for research are provided as well as implications for the theory, research and practice.
Esters, Purdue University.
African American Studies|Agricultural education|Higher education
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