Adolescents’ Science Career Aspirations Explored Through Identity and Possible Selves



Choosing life and work pathways is a major developmental task for adolescents and young adults. In today’s global information age, there is increasing importance placed on training in what has been termed the SMT disciplines—science, mathematics, and technology, where technology includes computer science and engineering.


Career Development Career Choice Outcome Expectation Financial Security Career Goal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arnett, J. J. (2004). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), 117–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman.Google Scholar
  5. Bieschke, K. J. (1991). A causal model of math/science career aspirations. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.Google Scholar
  6. Burkham, D. T., Lee, V. E., & Smerdon, B. A. (1997). Gender and science learning early in high school: Subject matter and laboratory experiences. American Educational Research Journal, 34(2), 297–331.Google Scholar
  7. Code, M. N., Bernes, K. B., Gunn, T. M., & Bardick, A. D. (2006). Adolescents’ perceptions of career concern: Student discouragement in career development. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 40(3), 160–174.Google Scholar
  8. Correl, S. J. (2004). Constraints into preferences: Gender, status, and emerging career aspirations. American Sociological Review, 69(1), 93–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cross, S., & Markus, H. (1991). Possible selves across the life span. Human Development, 34(4), 230–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fisher, K. (2010). Aboriginal students’ high school mathematics experiences: Stories of opportunities and obstacles. Master’s thesis, University of Victoria. Retrieved from
  11. Guenette, F. L., & Marshall, E. A. (2009). Time line drawings: Enhancing participant voice in narrative interviews on sensitive topics. International Journal of Qualitative Methodology, 8, 85–92.Google Scholar
  12. Guenette, F. L., Morley, T., & Marshall, E. A. (2007). Career experiences and choice processes for secondary school science students. In T. W. Pelton, G. Reis, & K. Moore (Eds.), Proceedings of the University of Victoria Faculty of Education 2007 Connections Conference (pp. 77–84).Google Scholar
  13. Hsu, P.-L. (2008). Understanding high school students’ science internship: At the intersection of secondary school science and university science. Doctoral dissertation, University of Victoria. Retrieved from
  14. Hsu, P.-L., Roth, W.-M., Marshall, E. A., & Guenette, F. L. (2009). To be or not to be? Discursive resources for (dis)identifying with science-related careers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 46, 1114–1136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kraft, D., & Sakofs, M. (Eds.). (1988). The theory of experiential education. Boulder, CO: Association for Experiential Education.Google Scholar
  16. Lee, S. J., & Oyserman, D. (2007). Reaching for the future: The education-focused possible selves of low-income mothers. In M. Rossiter (Ed.), Possible selves and adult learning: Perspectives and potential (pp. 39–49). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  17. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1996). Career development from a social cognitive perspective. In D. Brown & L. Brooks (Eds.), Career choice and development (3rd ed., pp. 373–421). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  18. Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (2000). Contextual supports and barriers to career choice: A social cognitive analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 47, 36–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lent, R. W., Hackett, G., & Brown, S. D. (1999). A social cognitive view of school-to-work transition. Career Development Quarterly, 47, 297–311.Google Scholar
  20. Luzzo, D. A., Hasper, P., Albert, K. A., Bibby, M. A., & Martinelli, E. A. J. (1999). Effects of self-efficacy-enhancing interventions on the math/science self-efficacy and career interests, goals, and actions of career undecided college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 46(2), 233–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lyons, T. (2006). The puzzle of falling enrolments in physics and chemistry courses: Putting some pieces together. Research in Science Education, 36, 285–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mahoney, M. J., & Patterson, K. M. (1992). Changing theories of change: Recent developments in counseling. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counselling psychology (2nd ed., pp. 665–689). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  23. Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41(9), 954–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Marshall, E. A. (2002). Life-career counselling issues for youth in coastal and rural communities. The impact of economic, social and environmental restructuring. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 24, 69–87.Google Scholar
  25. Marshall, E. A. (2009). Mapping approaches to phenomenological and narrative data analysis. Encyclopaedia Journal of Phenomenology and Education, 25(XIII), 9–24.Google Scholar
  26. Marshall, E. A., & Guenette, F. L. (2008a). Possible selves mapping process [Unpublished manuscript & DVD resource]. Victoria, BC, Canada: University of Victoria. (Available from the authors)Google Scholar
  27. Marshall, E. A., & Guenette, F. L. (2008b). Possible selves: Concepts, applications, and implications for career practice and policy. Paper presented at the National Career Development Association Conference, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  28. Martinez, M. E. (1992). Interest enhancements to science experiments: Interactions with student gender. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29, 167–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mau, W. (2003). Factors that influence persistence in science and engineering career aspirations. Career Development Quarterly, 51(3), 234–243.Google Scholar
  30. Mayer-Smith, J., Pedretti, E., & Woodrow, J. (2000). Closing the gender gap in technology enriched science education: A case study. Computers and Education, 25, 51–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Morrow, V., & Richards, M. (1996). The ethics of social research with children: An overview. Children and Society, 10(2), 90–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Neville, A. J. (2008). Problem-based learning and medical education forty years on: A review of its effects on knowledge and clinical performance. Medical Principles and Practice, 18, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Packard, B., & Conway, P. (2006). Methodological choice and its consequences for possible selves research. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 6(3), 251–271.Google Scholar
  34. Powell, K., & Wells, M. (2002). The effectiveness of three experimental teaching approaches on student science learning in fifth-grade public school classrooms. Journal of Environmental Education, 33, 33–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Punch, S. (2002). Interviewing strategies with young people: The ‘secretbox’, stimulus material and task-based activities. Children and Society, 16, 45–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Roth, W.-M., van Eijk, M., Hsu, P.-L., Marshall, E. A., & Mazumder, A. (2009). What high school students learn during internships in biology laboratories. American Biology Teacher, 71, 492–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rottinghaus, P., Larson, L., & Borgen, F. (2003). The relation of self-efficacy and interests: A meta-analysis of 60 samples. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 62, 221–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Seymour, E., Hunter, A., Laursen, S. L., & Deantoni, T. (2004). Establishing the benefits of research experience for undergraduates in the sciences: First findings from a three year study. Science Education, 79(4), 437–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Shepard, B. (1997). Adolescents’ possible selves related to career and life planning decisions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.Google Scholar
  40. Shepard, B., & Marshall, E. A. (1999). Possible selves mapping: Life-career exploration with young adolescents. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 33(1), 37–54.Google Scholar
  41. Tilleczek, K. C., & Lewco, J. H. (2001). Factors influencing the pursuit of health and science careers for Canadian adolescents in transition from school to work. Journal of Youth Studies, 4(4), 415–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Turner, S., & Lapan, R. T. (2002). Career self-efficacy and perceptions of parent support in adolescent career development. Career Development Quarterly, 51(1), 44–55.Google Scholar
  43. Tyler-Wood, T., Mortenson, M., Putney, D., & Cass, M. A. (2000). An effective mathematics and science curriculum option for secondary gifted education. Roeper Review, 22(4), 266–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tytler, R., Symington, D., & Smith, C. (2011). A curriculum innovation framework for science, technology and mathematics education. Research in Science Education, 41(1), 19–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wai-Ling Packard, B., & Nguyen, D. (2003). Science career-related possible selves of adolescent girls: A longitudinal study. Journal of Career Development, 29(40), 251–262.Google Scholar
  46. Wallace-Broscious, A., Serafica, F. C., & Osipow, S. H. (1994). Adolescent career development: Relationships to self-concept and identity status. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 4(1), 127–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Sense Publishers 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Psychology and LeadershipUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations