Guidance Supervisor’s Research Demonstrates Value of Kuder® Navigator
Dr. Allison Crerar, supervisor of guidance for the Edison Township Public School System in New Jersey, has spent much of her professional career researching the impact that education and career planning can have on a person’s ability to find a satisfying, lasting career. In her previous district in Northern New Jersey, as a school counselor and graduate student, she conducted a study that used Kuder® Navigator to make a connection between student career interests and their problem-solving styles. In her position as supervisor of guidance for the Edison Public School System, Dr. Crerar will be implementing Navigator in her district during the 2011-2012 school year to guide students through their career planning process. The following interview details how Navigator was effectively used in her dissertation project.
Dr. Allison Crerar
How did you begin your career in educational psychology?
I began my professional career as a full-time doctoral student in a counseling psychology Ph.D. program at Fordham University. After completing two years of the program, I earned my master’s in counseling and personnel services en route, and decided to switch my Ph.D. from counseling psychology to educational psychology. Studying educational psychology was ideal for me because it enabled me to still study the areas of psychology that I was passionate about, career development and developmental psychology, while working as a high school counselor fulltime. Upon completion of my dissertation and supervisor certificate, I began the next stage of my career as a supervisor of guidance in the Edison Township Public School System.
How did you become familiar with Kuder Navigator?
Prior to beginning my research, I knew that I wanted my dissertation to be connected to the career development process. When researching career development, a theory that was extremely influential was Holland’s theory of vocational personalities and work environments. After determining that I wanted to use this theory as part of my dissertation, I consulted with one of my professors at Fordham, who is an expert in career development. She recommended that I look into Kuder Navigator for my research. She had experience with the system in the New York City Public Schools, and stated that it was very reliable and the students really enjoyed using it.
Describe your dissertation process.
As a pilot dissertation, I had 50 students from my previous school district take the assessments through Navigator, while also taking VIEW: An Assessment of Problem Solving Style. After running analyses and writing up my residency project, my advisor and I determined that there were significant relationships between the students’ career interests and problem-solving styles. Based on these results, I was able to gain superintendent approval for the inclusion of Navigator as part of a newly implemented Career Development Program at the school. During the 2009-2010 academic school year, I gave all three of the Kuder® Assessments to all students in grades 8-11 (about 450). In addition, VIEW: An Assessment of Problem Solving Style was also given. For the purpose of both the residency and the dissertation project, the Kuder® Career Search with Person Match (KCS) was used. Correlational analyses, as well as multivariate analyses of variance, were conducted to determine the relationships between career interest and problem-solving style, which are highlighted in my dissertation titled “Predicting Career Interests from Problem-Solving Style in High School Students.”
From your research, were the KCS and Navigator proven to be effective?
The KCS was an excellent assessment to measure the students’ career interest preferences. It was effective for my research because it was grounded on Holland’s theory of vocational personalities and work environments. My thorough literature review provided background information of this theory, and the KCS was an ideal assessment to use when measuring students’ career interests in grades 8-11. Using Navigator was also extremely beneficial because the students were able to take the skills assessment as well as the Super’s Work Values Inventory revised. The online e-Portfolio was extremely user-friendly and a great resource for students to use when researching careers, jobs, colleges, financial aid, and even preparing for the world of work. By using Navigator, the students were able to benefit with a great deal of added resources. It was also the most cost-effective choice to use for my school district.
Edison Township Public Schools recently chose Navigator for use in their district. What are the goals of your district’s career planning program, and how will Navigator help meet these goals?
The goals of the district’s career planning program will be to help students gain insight into the fields that they are most interested in, while also learning about the necessary skills and education that they need to obtain to reach their career goals. Counselors must help the students to gain competency in the following areas: developing career awareness, developing employment readiness, identifying career goals and gaining the necessary information, acquiring knowledge to achieve these career goals, and learning how to obtain the skills that are necessary to achieve the career goals. Navigator is an ideal program to help students gain all of these competencies and reach their career goals. We also plan on using the career curriculum and the personalized student learning plans (Education Planner) to help prepare the district for a more integrated approach to career development across all content areas.
What do you find are the most important aspects of the system for your students?
The most important aspect of the system is the occupation descriptions based on educational level that could be found within each of the 16 Career Clusters. By seeing how many more jobs were available with an increased educational level, the students became motivated to go to the college and even pursue a graduate degree. Within this section, students can learn about the education needed to reach the career goal, what schools offer the programs of study, what the average salary is per state, the career outlook, a description of the career, and short videos shadowing a person who actually works in the field. Another important feature was the overlap between their skills and their interest results. This helped the students to visualize what they were interested in while also seeing how high their skills level was in the same given field. If the interest was high, but the skill level was low, the student realized that he or she needed to gain more knowledge of the field through a college degree.
How does Navigator help fulfill your ultimate goals for high school students?
I feel passionate about increasing the levels of career development self-efficacy in students and to placing a strong emphasis on career development and education. With changes such as an increase in information technology, globalization, increased diversity in the workforce, and a change to the service sector, students must learn how to understand the relationship between their own personal qualities, the proper education and training that is required, and the world of work outside of school. By using Navigator, the students are given insight into what they are interested in, what they are good at, and what is important to them. This information coupled with the valuable resources and tools within the e-portfolio, ensures that students will be able to achieve their greatest career goals. More importantly, the students that I have worked with have loved the program and have had fun learning about themselves and about all of the careers out there that they can one day pursue.