Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Sandra Linder, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dr. Faiza Jamil, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dr. Julianne A. Wenner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dr. Jacquelyn A. Malloy, Ph.D.


This explanatory sequential mixed methods study examines what influences 7th and 8th grade rural middle school students to consider a potential career trajectory. Phase One of the study includes a demographic and career cluster interest survey of 38 participants. Phase Two of the study focused on 23 of the 38 Phase One participants, who were chosen using random sampling. The Phase Two participants were interviewed using a semi-structured approach. They were asked to discuss their career cluster results from Phase One, how they used their surrounding factors and knowledge to conclude, and if they agreed with their results. Findings indicated that out of the 23 participants in Phase Two, 16 identified students that are passively thinking about potential career trajectories and seven students that are actively thinking about potential career trajectories. When looking at the Person Context, 16 demonstrated the construct of self-efficacy characteristics when thinking of a potential career trajectory while seven did not. Out of the 23 participants, 18 had evidence that supported influential factors from the Microsystem and five from the Exosystem. Lastly, 13 showed evidence of influence from their past experiences, six from their present experiences, and four discussed their future experiences that could shape their future career trajectories. The findings from this research study support the current literature on potential career trajectories within students.



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