Digital support in the career choice process digibe

Impact of a systematic, digitally supported reflection on young people’s career and education choices

Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Pädagogische Hochschule

Lead researcher:
Dr. Christof Nägele

Duration: 01.11.2020 – 30.09.24

The project "Digital support in the career choice process digibe. Impact of a systematic, digitally supported reflection on young people’s career and education choices" examines the extent to which reflective skills can be stimulated and further developed in young people who are in the process of selecting a profession or education options.

The transition from lower secondary level to upper secondary is a key moment in the lives of young people, especially in times marked by far-reaching technological or socio-economic developments. When undergoing this process, young people have to consider both a labour market perspective (socio-economic aspects) and an individual perspective (lifelong career development). The role of reflection in this process is an important one. For example, it can help the individual to see events experienced during the career choice process, personal convictions or existing constructions of meaning in a new light and thus trigger extensions of meaning. In the research project, such reflection is considered in the context of transformative learning theory. Transformation is understood as the re-learning or re-examination of perspectives, and is stimulated by the four reflexive options "willingness to choose a career", "looking outwards", "looking inwards" and "decision-making behaviour". The main hypotheses – that the intervention firstly leads to a positive development of transformative learning and secondly to an improvement in reflective ability – are tested. In a quasi-experimental approach, the hypotheses are tested in a non-equivalent control group design with varying interventions. The young people participating in the study (N=760), are confronted with reflective tasks from years 7 to 9.
It is planned to set up three intervention groups which differ in terms of the time the first reflection takes place (7th v. 8th school year) and the frequency of the intervention (1x v. 2x per semester). The effects will be measured shortly after each intervention and, in order to assess longer-term effects, at the beginning of upper secondary level education.

It is expected that the findings will be of significance for VET in four ways. Firstly, there is expected to be an effect at the individual level, thus broadening young people’s competence in choosing a career. A second effect is expected on the further development of career options teaching in schools. Thirdly, the findings will be of significance for VET-related educational management, with an additional focus on the use of digital technologies in the complex process of choosing a career. And fourthly, they may impact developments in the field of career choice theory, for example by trying to link existing career choice theories more closely with the transformative learning approach.

The project addresses the concern of VET policy and practice to improve the making of career choices and in particular to make the value and potential of VET even more visible at lower secondary level. Irrespective of whether young people aspire to vocational or general education, everyone should closely consider which educational options are open to them, which networks and resources they can use for their decision-making and how they can make good decisions that are appropriate to the given situation. The project aspires to make digital technologies usable in the complex and individual process of choosing a vocational path or education options.