Title page for ETD etd-05232011-144510

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Barto, Heather Heinfelden
Author's Email Address hbarto@vt.edu
URN etd-05232011-144510
Title The Career Development of Adolescent Mothers: Research to Practice
Degree PhD
Department Counselor Education
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Brott, Pamelia E. Committee Chair
Lambert, Simone Committee Co-Chair
Belli, Gabriella M. Committee Member
Day-Vines, Norma L. Committee Member
  • Career Development
  • Adolescent Mothers
Date of Defense 2011-05-04
Availability unrestricted
This research endeavor contributes to a better understanding of the career development of adolescent mothers by (a) highlighting the contextual considerations; (b) examining the existing body of literature; (c) contributing to the research on adolescent mothers’ career adaptability, resiliency, and obstacles; and (c) proposing ways to bridge the research to practice gap. An ecological examination of the contextual considerations associated with adolescent pregnancy and motherhood provided pertinent information on which to base a culturally sensitive framework to examine the career development of adolescent mothers using the concepts of career adaptability and resiliency and an assessment of obstacles that may impede their career development.

The culturally sensitive framework was used in two studies conducted to better understand the career development of adolescent mothers. The first was a content analysis designed to provide a better understanding of the published literature and to direct a research study. Content analysis findings revealed the need to develop and implement comprehensive programs for adolescent mothers that are strength-based, responsive to areas of need, and foster career development skills/knowledge and resiliency. Using the results of the content analysis, a study was designed to examine the relationships among career adaptability, resiliency, and perceived obstacles to career development with a convenience sample of adolescent mothers. Results indicated that these adolescent mothers were similar to non-mothering peers in the planning and decision making dimensions of career adaptability but lower in exploration. Traits of personal resiliency and emotional reactivity were comparable to non-mothering peers, but relational resiliency was lower. Obstacles most often cited as impeding career development were pressing immediate needs and educational/career related concerns.

Finally, the need to bridge the research to practice gap is discussed including considerations related to practitioners, organizations, and communication. In an effort to bridge the research to practice gap, the Interactive Systems Framework (ISF) is proposed as a model for communicating with practitioners through Synthesis and Translation, Support, and Delivery systems. The model is presented as an example for sharing with practitioners a culturally sensitive framework on the career adaptability of adolescent mothers supported by dissemination and implementation of research findings.

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