Mission: To show ninth-graders at Boston's Brighton and West Roxbury high schools the connection between school and success in a future career. If students understand the connection between school and work, "they'll be more inclined to do homework, pay attention in class and see school as a means to an end," explains David L. Blustein, PhD, program co-coordinator.
Why it's needed: "Students from poor and working-class families don't have the same opportunities to learn about themselves and the world of work," says Blustein. "And since they often don't have the chance to go right into a four-year college, they are going to have to make career decisions far sooner than would middle-class and affluent students."
What it does: Once a week, students receive the intervention, which is divided into three modules:
Who am I? Students explore their personality, cultural background, family, etc.
Connecting school to career. Students identify and research career paths of interest, including training requirements.
Identifying resources and barriers. Students interview adults to find out what helped the person succeed and what barriers they faced; they then examine the resources and barriers in their own lives. Their final project is to make a "goal map"--a visual representation of how they will get to their goal of, for example, graduating high school.
Findings: Blustein, Elizabeth Sparks, PhD, and Maureen Kenny, PhD, are conducting preliminary analyses of qualitative and quantitative data. "There's been this kind of myth in psychology that if you're doing a service intervention, you can't do research," says Blustein. "My experience is that community services and research are not mutually exclusive. There's a great potential to do community service while also advancing scholarly objectives."