Archive for May, 2011

Positive Aspirations

I would like to thank Vinny Potter from Queen Mary, University of London for contributing this post — David
Spire by Gerry Balding

A spire... (I'll get my coat)

I work in two distinct careers settings. One is with high-achieving students at the University of London and the other is with clients who often have few qualifications (if any) at a small job club where I volunteer in the evenings.

At the job club we try hard to engage with NEETs (those Not in Education, Employment or Training). We have limited success. The biggest issue I have found with this group is not their low economic status nor lack of decent qualifications, but a major lack of aspiration.

There have been quite a few studies into the link between achievement and aspiration. One of the latest has come from researchers at Queen Mary University of London (Rothon et al., 2011) and it demonstrates a clear association between aspiration and achievement.

educational aspirations had a strong association with actual achievement, remaining associated even after controlling for a number of other variables, including prior achievement

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A simpler system

Definitely some feedback in this system

A few weeks ago Katie Dallison wrote a post about the Systems Theory Framework of Career Development — an attempt to combine all the different theoretical strands into one big ‘metatheory’.

Vinny Potter responded to this behemoth of a theory by suggesting that we keep it simple. He proposed his balloon model as a something that practitioners might be able to apply live in the real world.

Perhaps Vinny didn’t need to invent something new (although I’m glad he did). He could have just backtracked to one of the simplest formulations of general systems theory: the open system model.

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Multifinality constraints – ends and means


Lots of ends here

Quite a few of the journal articles I scan in order to generate material for this blog get filed under “Well, duh!”. They usually report studies that have gone to great lengths to prove something that was blindingly obvious to anyone with common sense. To be fair, these studies can be completely valid; they are providing concrete evidence for things we assume to be true. However, they don’t really make for interesting blog posts — ‘Here’s proof of something you knew already’.

The article by Köpetz et al. (2011) could easily fall into that category. The findings are not exactly startling. Here’s the abstract:

In the presence of several objectives, goal conflict may be avoided via multifinal means, which advance all of the active goals at once. Because such means observe multiple constraints, they are fewer in number than the unconstrained means to a single goal. Five experimental studies investigated the process of choosing or generating such means for multiple goals. We found that the simultaneous activation of multiple goals restricted the set of acceptable means to ones that benefitted (or at least, did not harm) the entire set of active goals. Two moderators of this phenomenon were identified: (a) the feasibility of identifying multifinal means, which was dependent on the relations between the different active goals, and (b) the enhanced importance of the focal goal, which resulted in the inhibition of its alternatives and the consequent relaxation of multifinality constraints.

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