The following was written by Jim Bright, Professor of Career Education and Development at Austrailian Catholic University (ACU), and was published in The Sydney Morning Herald
Imagine if a school or college could offer the promise of moving students from mostly D grades to mostly A grades, could increase their engagement with learning and give them a clearer and more confident sense of their vocational identity. Too good to be true? Well perhaps not, according to a team of Canadian and US researchers who have made and connected the missing links between career counselling and positive psychology.
Recently here I wrote about my concerns that some schools appear to have embraced positive psychology so uncritically that they have all but abandoned properly informed career counselling. I argued that this was an over-reaction. However, what I like about this North American research is the way that key concepts in positive psychology have been employed in the service of career counselling and education, rather than erroneously supplanting it.
Spencer Niles, Norman Amundson and Hyung Joon Yoon from William and Mary College, University of British Columbia and Pennsylvania State University have developed a hope-centred model of career development. The central notions combine hope, self-clarity, vision, planning and adaptability.
What sets this work apart is that they have conducted large-scale studies in educational settings linking these concepts to measures such as a person’s confidence in and clarity of their career interests, talents and personality. They also linked hope to student engagement – for instance, the degree to which a student spontaneously worked harder than they thought to meet a teacher’s expectations. Finally, they linked it to the very tangible measure of grade-point average – the number of As, Bs, Cs or Ds that a student is achieving. Read more