In a study conducted by Eagan et al. (2016), approximately 85% of undergraduate students reported that getting a good job was one of their main deciding factors for attending college. Researchers at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) showed an increase in the average number of job offers among students who utilized at least one type of career service versus students who did not; job offer averages increased for each additional service used (VanDerziel, 2022). This study demonstrates how effective and vital career services are within higher education when it comes to post-graduation career plans. However, higher education career development professionals often have high caseloads and cannot deliver individual, ongoing support to every student (NACE, 2022).
During the NCDA Career Teaching Academy in 2022, career development professionals in attendance voiced a strong desire to collaborate with faculty members at their colleges. Yet, they were struggling to find a way to engage with them and embed career development into the curriculum. To better understand faculty perceptions of career development, practitioners at Penn State University collected information from a randomly selected group of faculty.
The goals of this study were to understand the following:
Survey Creation and Results
To help faculty understand more specifically the purpose and context of the questions, the survey defined career development/planning at the beginning of the survey as the following:
The survey comprised an Institutional Research Board (IRB) statement that signaled consent to research, 13 multiple choice, 5-point Likert scale questions (including branch questions), and two short answer questions. Researchers emailed the survey to 1,000 faculty in the College of the Liberal Arts and the College of Health & Human Development at the University Park campus of Penn State University. After emailing two reminders, they received a 15% response rate. The median completion time of the survey was three minutes and four seconds.
The survey was sent to those identified as full-time faculty: tenure track, teaching, research, and clinical; 48% of respondents identified themselves as tenured faculty and 75% of all responding faculty had ten or more years of teaching experience. The survey also asked faculty to focus their responses on their non-career development courses. The results were as follows:
Through open-ended questions, faculty identified barriers to effectively incorporate career development into their courses. The top five barriers are summarized as follows:
The last section of the survey asked faculty how they would like to be assisted as they integrated career development into their courses. Some faculty made suggestions that most career offices already provide assistance, including handouts specific to majors, presenting workshops to classes, a monthly career newsletter, and assigning a career staff liaison to departments as a resource. A few even outright stated that they do not need or want help. The top recommendations included faculty/staff training, resources to source speakers, and an activity bank (i.e., assignments that can be integrated into Canvas).
Author Recommendations and Strategies
Based on the survey results, as well as current practices in both The College of Health and Human Development and The College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State, the career services professionals identified the following actions to initiate or current strategies to engage faculty with career development in the curriculum:
Understanding faculty perceptions and recognizing perceived barriers can help career development professionals thoughtfully strategize the best ways to collaborate with faculty and advocate for career development within the curriculum. This will allow faculty and career development professionals to meet on common ground, allowing for well-rounded career development services with student success and career readiness in mind. While many faculty believe in this goal, they also rate their confidence in achieving this in a range that indicates the necessity of career development professional assistance.
Eagan, K., Stolzenber, E. B., Ramierz, J. J., Aragon, M. C., Suchard, M. R., & Rios-Aguilar, C. (2016). The American freshman: Fifty-year trends, 1966-2015. Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.
National Association of Colleges and Employers. (2022). NACE 2021-2022 career services benchmarks survey report. https://www.naceweb.org/store/2022/nace-career-services-benchmark-report
VanDerziel, S. (2022, November 8). The value of career services. National Association of Colleges and Employers. https://www.naceweb.org/career-development/organizational-structure/the-value-of-career-services/
Terry Cummins is an Assistant Teaching Professor and Internship Director at the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at The Pennsylvania State University (World Campus). She holds a MEd in Counselor Education (with an emphasis in Career Counseling) from Penn State University and provides career counseling at Penn State Career Services (University Park). She co-led the inaugural NCDA Career Teaching Academy in 2022. She can be reached at email@example.com
Lauren Granese is the Assistant Director of the College of the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network at The Pennsylvania State University. She holds a M.Ed. in Counselor Education, with an emphasis in Career Counseling, from Penn State, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). She provides career counseling and coaching for Liberal Arts and exploratory students at Penn State. She co-led the inaugural NCDA Career Teaching Academy in 2022. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org