Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Career development and career planning are important for the transition of college students to the workforce. College students with disabilities encounter more challenges regardless of the education and career processes. These career development challenges include societal attitudes toward persons with disabilities, inaccessible accommodations, lack of social support, and ambivalent identities. These attributions may cause college students with disabilities to have lower career self-efficacy and outcome expectations, which in turn may lessen one’s motivation to engage in academia and career development (Gibbons, Justina, Cihak, Wright, & Mynatt, 2015). Hence, this study examined the influences of disability identity, ethnic identity, perceptions of career barriers, and social supports in career decision self-efficacy and outcome expectations of college students with disabilities. This study utilized a cross-sectional survey design and included a valid sample of 312 college students with disabilities at two universities, one Midwestern and one Southeastern. The most important predictor was social support, which uniquely explained 8.5% of the variation in career decision self-efficacy, β = .327, t(302) = 5.730, p < .001, controlling for other variables in the same regression model. The other significant predictors were ethnicity identity (β = .232, t(302) = 4.162, p < .001), disability identity (β = .158, t(302) = 2.897, p = .004), and male gender (β = -.098, t(302) = -1.994, p = .047). Accounting for 57.2% of the variance, career outcome expectation was explained by all seven predictor variables, disability identity, ethnicity identity, social support, perceived career barriers, career self-efficacy, ethnicity and gender. The most important predictor was career decision self-efficacy which uniquely explained 24.1% of the variation in career outcome expectation, β = .595, t(302) = 13.054, p < .001, controlling for other variables in the same regression model. The other significant predictors were ethnicity identity (β = .167, t(302) = 3.721, p < .001), and perceived career barriers (β = -.104, t(302) = -2.411, p = .017), controlling for other variables respectively. A significant relationship was found between career decision self-efficacy, ethnicity identity, and perceived career barriers with career outcome expectation of college students with disabilities. Moreover, Hispanic college students with disabilities reported positive ethnicity identity compared to European students. African and Asian college students with disabilities perceived more career barriers than their European counterparts. Finally, college students with acquired disabilities reported higher career outcome expectations than those with congenital disabilities. The results of this study provide faculty, administrators, disability support specialists, and career counselors in postsecondary institutions with the ability to recognize the needs and expectations of college students with disabilities. Also, constructing effective career services, fostering multicultural competencies, and promoting an inclusive campus climate would benefit college students with disabilities’ academic retention and career transitions to competitive employment.
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