SOCIAL COGNITIVE CAREER THEORY (SCCT) AND MEXICAN/MEXICAN-AMERICAN YOUTH CAREER DEVELOPMENT, WITH A SPECIAL FOCUS ON STEM FIELDS
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The purpose of this study was to test core aspects of the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) in an investigation of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, interests, and choice goals for STEM fields (specifically math and science) with Mexican/Mexican-American high school students. Participants were 259 Mexican/Mexican-American freshmen and sophomore high school students in a mid-sized city in eastern Washington state. Students completed a demographic questionnaire, Math/Science Supports and Barriers measure (Lent et al., 2005), Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM; Phinney, 1992), Expanded Skills Confidence Inventory for High School Students (ESCI-HS; Betz & Wolfe, 2005), 10-item math/science outcome expectations scale (Lent et al., 1993), Math/Science Interest Scale (MSIS; Smith & Fouad, 1999), and Math/Science Intentions and Goals Scale (MSIGS; Fouad & Smith, 1996). For hypothesis 1, a path model was tested based on SCCT that also incorporated ethnic identity as a person input variable. In Hypothesis 2, it was predicted that the relationship between math/science interests and choice goals would be stronger for participants who perceive greater support (vs. barriers) in pursuing math/science fields (i.e., support is a moderator variable). In Hypothesis 3, it was predicted that males, as compared to females, would have higher average self-efficacy, outcome expectations, interests, and intentions/goals related to STEM (i.e., math/science) fields. Overall, the results for the final path model for Hypothesis 1 provided strong support for the predicted direct and indirect relationships among self-efficacy, interests, and choice goals predicted by SCCT, but weaker and only partial support for the role of outcome expectations. In addition, the results indicated that ethnic identity is an important factor to include in SCCT models, as it showed both direct and indirect relationships with the SCCT constructs. Hypothesis 2 was not supported, as perceived support did not moderate the relationship between math/science interests and intentions/goals. Results for Hypothesis 3 indicated that females, as compared to males, reported stronger ethnic identity and math/science interests, but did not differ in the other SCCT variables. Overall, the results indicated that SCCT provides a valid and useful theoretical framework for understanding and predicting the career choice goals of Mexican American high school students in STEM fields.