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An investigation into my career chapter : a dialogical autobiography

McIlveen, Peter F. (2008) An investigation into my career chapter : a dialogical autobiography. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

This dissertation is a report on research into the development and evaluation of a career assessment and counselling procedure that falls under the aegis of the constructivist, narrative approach: My Career Chapter: A Dialogical Autobiography. My Career Chapter enables an individual to construct a holistic understanding of his or her career. The procedure facilitates an individual writing and reflecting on an autobiographical account of his or her career that is contextualised amidst systems of career influences. The resulting autobiographical text can be used in career counselling, including co-constructive dialogue between client and counsellor. The literature underpinning the research project is described with a wide-ranging discussion of issues that critically pertain to the research endeavour and essentially provide a primary base for the work. Two theoretical frameworks that exemplify constructivism in vocational psychology underpin the research: the Systems Theory Framework and the Theory of Career Construction. From the base of those two theoretical frameworks, narrative career counselling is explicated and exemplars are described. The Theory of Dialogical Self is introduced to inform the design of My Career Chapter and, ultimately, the theory and practice of narrative career counselling. The research is predominantly positioned within a paradigm of constructivism/interpretivism and the results of the studies are collectively interpreted accordingly; but postpositivism and critical ideological paradigms are present in a secondary form due to the mixture of research methods used in the project as a whole. Six empirical studies investigate the experience of My Career Chapter from the perspective of the developer, the counsellor-user, and the client-user; each explicated with two studies respectively. Research methods include autoethnography for the developer's experience, interpretative phenomenological analysis and focus group for the counsellor-users' experience, and quasi-experiment and interpretative phenomenological analysis for the client-users' experience. The studies of the developer's experience of My Career Chapter comprehensively explicate how and why the procedure was developed and emphasise the importance of reflexive science and practice. Crucially, the autoethnographies revealed a nexus of theory-practice-person which underpins the production of My Career Chapter, and critically influences the entire research project. The studies involving counsellor-users affirmed My Career Chapter's alignment with recommendations for the development and application of qualitative career assessment and counselling procedures. These studies also raised questions pertaining to the characteristics of client-users that may mediate the efficacy of the procedure (e.g., age, language ability). Studies of client-users firstly support the conclusion that My Career Chapter is a safe career assessment and counselling procedure, with minimal attendant risk of inducing psychological harm or distress. The procedure was experienced as being helpful as a tool for personal reflection, through its theoretically-derived processes of facilitating clients writing, reading, and hearing and talking their autobiographical manuscripts through in the interpretation phase. There are four dimensions of significance associated with this research project. Firstly, the divide between theory and practice has indeed been much lamented in vocational psychology and counselling psychology. Thus, the overall significance of the research reported upon in this dissertation is significant because it attempts to bring theory and practice together through a reflexive and theoretically informed research process into a career assessment and counselling procedure. Secondly, the research and development process produced a new career assessment and counselling product which will add to the limited range of techniques that fall under the aegis of constructivist career assessment and counselling broadly, and the narrative approach specifically. My Career Chapter complements other procedures. Thirdly, two of the research methods used in the project (viz., autoethnography and interpretative phenomenological analysis) demonstrated their potential as additional qualitative methods for research within vocational psychology. Finally, the research process has enabled the articulation of the Theory of Dialogical Self—from another branch of psychology—into the extant corpus of literature on career development theory and practice.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 17787
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Patton, Wendy
Additional Information: Recipient of 2008 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award
Keywords: vocational psychology, career counselling, career assessment, narrative, constructivism, constructionism, My Career Chapter, Systems Theory Framework, STF, Theory of Career Construction, dialogical self, qualitative research, reflexive practice, autoethnography, interpretative phenomenological analysis, ODTA
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 12 Feb 2009 14:35
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2013 11:31

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