Decision-making, Gender and Field of Academic Major Choice

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Title: Decision-making, Gender and Field of Academic Major Choice
Author: Hambourger, Lynda Horhota
Advisors: George B. Vaughan, Committee Chair
Barbara J. Risman, Committee Member
Carol E. Kasworm, Committee Member
Marilee J. Bresciani, Committee Co-Chair
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to explore the elationship of career decision-making to academic major choice in undeclared, full-time, first-year undergraduate students. The study used career decision-making survey data gathered by the Career Decision Profile (Jones, 1989), as well as major decidedness, bio-demographic, and academic ability data. Bivariate correlations of decision-making variables and gender showed that gender was not significantly related to decision-making, with two exceptions: Men were significantly more decisive than women and women were significantly more career-salient than men. A multiple linear regression predicting major decidedness found career decidedness to be the strongest predictor of major decidedness. Other decision-making variables, SATV, and college GPA were also significant predictors. Differences depending on GPA level were found; differences depending on gender were not found. The equation predicting major decidedness left approximately 60% of the variance in major decidedness unaccounted for. Two descriptive discriminant analyses, one for women and one for men, examined the behavior of students who had chosen a major by the end of the first semester sophomore year. These students were placed into one of six curriculum groups (applied sciences, business, engineering/physical sciences, humanities, life sciences, and social sciences), which comprised the independent variable of the descriptive discriminant analyses; decisionmaking and academic ability variables were the criterion variables in the analyses. For both men and women, differences among curriculum groups were most strongly characterized by differences in academic ability variables, while decision-making variables played significant but weaker roles. The curriculum group most clearly distinguished by the descriptive discriminant analyses for both genders was engineering/physical sciences; the group least clearly distinguished for both genders was business. Greater clarity was found for men than for women. The descriptive discriminant analyses revealed academic major choice to be a complex process involving academic ability, decision-making characteristics, and gender in different ways among students in different curriculum groups. The study's results challenge the assumption of rationalistic models of academic advising that choice of major is based primarily on career decision-making.
Date: 2004-06-07
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Adult and Community College Education

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