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Journal of Career

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Toward Integrated Career Assessment: Using Story to Appraise Career Dispositions


and Adaptability
Paul J. Hartung and Nicole J. Borges
Journal of Career Assessment 2005; 13; 439
DOI: 10.1177/1069072705277923

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© 2005 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Toward Integrated Career Assessment:
Using Story to Appraise Career
Dispositions and Adaptability
Paul J. Hartung
Nicole J. Borges
Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine

This study examined the validity of using stories to appraise career dispositions and
problems associated with career adaptability. Premedical students (63 women, 37
men) wrote narratives about Thematic Apperception Test cards (TAT) and
responded to the Strong Interest Inventory (SII). Independent raters identified
identical career adaptability dimensions from TAT stories more than 47% of the
time. RIASEC codes derived from TAT responses matched measured codes on at
least one theme 82% of the time. Results provided modest support for the relia-
bility of using TAT card responses to derive a RIASEC personality type consistent
with measured vocational interests. Further study to increase interrater reliability
and hone the scoring scheme for deriving RIASEC codes might bolster the valid-
ity of using story to assess vocational personality dispositions and career problems.
Ultimately, constructivist approaches could augment differential methods for
appraising and fostering career exploration and choice in an integrated career
assessment and counseling approach.

Keywords: constructivist career assessment, Thematic Apperception Test,


Strong Interest Inventory, RIASEC type, vocational interests, career develop-
ment, career assessment, career adaptability, career construction theory

Merging methods that yield quantitative and qualitative data has long been
advocated to enrich the process and outcomes of career assessment (Carter,
1940; Fryer, 1931; Savickas, 1995, 2002; Super, 1983; Watkins & Savickas, 1990;
Wrenn, 1988). In this regard, Walsh (2001) advised that we expand career assess-
ment beyond traditional psychometric methods “to consider idiographic, quali-
tative, and other creative approaches to assessing multiple aspects of both people
and contexts” (p. 271). Similarly, Subich (2001) underscored the need to fuse
assessment methodologies by combining actuarial and constructivist approaches.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Paul J. Hartung, Department of Behavioral
Sciences, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, 4209 S.R. 44, Rootstown, OH 44272-0095;
e-mail: phartung@neoucom.edu.

JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT, Vol. 13 No. 4, November 2005 439–451


DOI: 10.1177/1069072705277923
© 2005 Sage Publications

439
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440 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / November 2005

A tremendous empirical literature exists to support psychometric career assess-


ment approaches (Hackett & Watkins, 1995). By contrast, very few studies exam-
ine the validity of using qualitative assessment methods. The present research
sought to provide some empirical data about using a constructivist technique for
career assessment.
A recent analysis promoted integrated career assessment and counseling mod-
els that combine objective and subjective methods to make matches and con-
struct meaning within the counseling process (Hartung, 2005). Integrated career
assessment and counseling entail using psychometric scales and personally
derived stories to consider four components of career development. Each of
these components reflects a predominant tradition in vocational psychology as
cogently articulated by Savickas (2001): dispositional personality traits in the dif-
ferential tradition, such as RIASEC types; contextualized career adaptability
dimensions, such as developmental tasks, in the developmental tradition; career
narratives in the dynamic tradition, such as life patterns; and mechanisms of
development, such as learning, in the reinforcement-based and developmental
traditions. We examined in this study the validity of using stories to appraise two
of these career development components: namely, career dispositions and career
adaptability. We wanted to determine if a subjective assessment method in the
form of stories could augment a traditional psychometric technique in the form
of an interest inventory. We also examined whether career adaptability dimen-
sions could be reliably identified in stories.

Assessment for Scores and Stories

Quantitative career assessment involves measurement using tests, inventories,


and scales that produce scores to indicate quantity of a particular trait or other
variable (Kapes & Whitfield, 2001). Qualitative career assessment entails sub-
jective appraisals via interviews, life histories, and narratives that yield stories to
indicate life patterns and themes (Cochran, 1997; Jepsen, 1994; Peavy, 1997;
Savickas, 1997; Super, 1954). Melding actuarial and constructivist techniques,
integrated career assessment and counseling approaches purport to add incre-
mental validity by augmenting data derived from inventory scores with data
derived from patterns and themes recognized in personal stories to produce a
more comprehensive and cohesive career narrative (Hartung, 2005).
In the present analysis, we examined data from a projective career assessment,
one type of constructivist technique, to determine if those data would relate
significantly to vocational interest inventory data. Our exploratory study investi-
gated whether vocational personality dispositions and career adaptability dimen-
sions could be reliably identified in narratives. We were also interested in deter-
mining whether dispositions identified from stories would relate significantly to
measured vocational personality style. Toward these ends, we analyzed written
narratives to determine if they could consistently yield identifiable vocational

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Hartung, Borges / INTEGRATED CAREER ASSESSMENT 441

personality types, according to a vocational personality model (Holland, 1997),


and career adaptability dimensions, according to a career adaptability model
(Savickas, 2002). We also examined whether the projective story data would
relate significantly in a consistent way to measured vocational personality style.
The widely familiar vocational personality model identifies six basic vocation-
al personality styles of realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and
conventional (RIASEC; Holland, 1997). The career adaptability model identi-
fies four basic dimensions of vocational development, each dealing with particu-
lar developmental tasks (Savickas, 2002). Career concern deals with issues of
developing a future orientation and feeling optimistic about it. Career control
involves gaining self-direction in career decision making and taking responsibili-
ty for ownership of the future. Career curiosity entails engaging in productive
career exploration and approaching the future realistically. Career confidence
deals with acquiring problem-solving ability and self-efficacy beliefs. In summa-
ry, concern deals with having a future, control deals with owning the future,
curiosity relates to being realistic about the future, and confidence refers to abil-
ity to construct the future and overcome obstacles.

METHOD

Participants

Participants for the present study were 100 students (63 women, 37 men)
enrolled in a 6-year combined BS/MD degree program at a medical school in the
midwestern United States. Participants ranged in age from 16 to 19 years (M =
19.07, SD = .537). Most participants reported their ethnicity as Caucasian (59%),
with other students self-identifying as Indian/Pakistani (24%), Asian/Pacific
Islander (3%), Chinese (3%), Korean (2%), African American (2%), Filipino
(1%), Hispanic (1%), and Other (4%). One participant did not specify ethnicity.
All participants were enrolled in Year 1 (premedical year) of the 6-year program.

Measures

Stories. We used Thematic Apperception Test (TAT; Murray, 1943) cards to


elicit narratives for content analysis, by which we aimed to identify personality
dispositions and career adaptability dimensions. The TAT is a projective assess-
ment technique comprising 29 black-and-white picture cards and one blank
card. Each picture card depicts a unique situation with different people and
events. For each selected picture card presented, respondents write a story relat-
ing what they believe is happening, what the characters think and feel, the events

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442 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / November 2005

that led up to the situation, and the outcome of the story. For the blank card,
respondents are instructed to imagine a picture on the card, describe it, and tell a story
about it.
We used two TAT cards in the present study: cards number 1 and number 2.
Card number 1 depicts a young boy with hands on his chin glancing downward
at a violin that is resting on a table. Card number 2 depicts an expressionless
young woman holding books in the foreground that overlooks a bucolic scene
including a well-muscled, shirtless man, a horse fit with a harness, and another
woman in a long dress with arms folded and leaning against a tree. These two
cards were chosen because they contain settings and situations that tend to elic-
it stories about occupations and career aspirations (Aronow, Weiss, & Reznikoff,
2001).
As used in research and clinical practice, a limited number of cards are pre-
sented to a single respondent, typically no more than 10 cards. Responses purport
to indicate underlying needs, motives, drives, and personality conflicts (Murray,
1943). Various scoring systems have also been devised to examine a wide variety
of other variables ranging from intimacy to fear of success and that generally yield
moderate interrater reliability (Teglasi, 2001). Responses can be evaluated either
quantitatively using rating scales to produce scores measuring intensity, duration,
and frequency of needs or qualitatively to evaluate story themes using examiner
judgment (Groth-Marnat, 2003).
Support for the reliability and validity of quantified TAT scores to measure
needs or other variables has been low to modest at best (Groth-Marnat, 2003).
The subjective nature of the TAT argues against subjecting it to strict tests of psy-
chometric adequacy in favor of holding it up for scrutiny in terms of its useful-
ness in counseling practice. We used the TAT cards with the intent to determine
if a story-based assessment method could be used to reliably indicate vocational
personality types and career adaptability dimensions. If so, they might be useful
to career counselors in practical settings.

Measured vocational personality type. We used the General Occupational


Themes (GOT) scales of the Strong Interest Inventory (SII; Harmon, Hansen,
Borgen, & Hammer, 1994) to operationally define vocational personality type.
The GOT scales provided an index of measured vocational interests. The SII
contains 317 items designed to measure an individual’s preferences for a variety
of occupations, school subjects, and activities. Respondents indicate their like,
dislike, or indifference for most items. Responses produce scores on four cate-
gories of SII scales: 6 GOT scales index degree of resemblance to the RIASEC
personality types (Holland, 1997); 25 Basic Interest scales measure preference for
vocational interest clusters such as art, music/dramatics, and agriculture; 211
Occupational scales measure similarity to men and women satisfied with their
employment in 109 different occupations; and 4 Personal Style scales assess pre-
ferred styles of working, learning, leading, and risk taking. Only the GOT scales
were used in the present study.

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Hartung, Borges / INTEGRATED CAREER ASSESSMENT 443

The SII manual provides extensive evidence for the psychometric adequacy of
the SII scales (Harmon et al., 1994). Internal consistency estimates for the six
GOT scales range from a low of .90 for the social theme to a high of .94 for the
artistic theme. Three- to six-month test-retest reliabilities for a college student
sample have been reported in the range of .77 for the enterprising theme to .91
for the artistic theme. The manual presents extensive evidence for the criterion-
related validity of the SII scales.

Procedure

As part of a longitudinal study of student success, the TAT was administered to


students in group settings during their first year in the combined BS/MD pro-
gram and during regularly scheduled class time. After obtaining consent, stu-
dents were asked to write stories on separate sheets of paper about the two TAT
cards used in the present study. For each of the stories, the students were asked
to identify the person in the picture, describe the events leading up to the situa-
tion in the picture, describe what is currently happening, and indicate what will
happen in the future. Students were also asked to provide a title for their story.
The first card was displayed for 10 seconds and students were allowed 4 minutes
to write a story about it. At the end of the 4 minutes, students were shown the sec-
ond card with the same instructions repeated. After writing their stories, students
responded to the SII. Students’ TAT stories and SII forms were number coded to
preserve participant anonymity.

Data Analysis

Each student produced two TAT responses for a total of 200 stories for content
analysis. The study coauthors, each possessing advanced knowledge of the
RIASEC types and career adaptability dimensions, independently scored all TAT
responses for career disposition and career adaptability dimension. Disposition
score comprised assigning a one-, two-, or three-letter RIASEC code to indicate
personality disposition. The number of letter codes assigned depended on the
richness of the story. Adaptability score constituted assigning each story a pre-
dominant problem type using the four dimensions of the career adaptability
model: concern, control, curiosity, and confidence (Savickas, 2005). Concern
means developing planful attitudes and competencies, which when not devel-
oped lead to a career problem of indifference. Control means developing deci-
siveness and decision-making ability, which when undeveloped prompt a career
problem of indecision. Curiosity deals with acquiring inquisitive attitudes and
exploratory competencies, which when undeveloped lead to a career problem of
unrealism. Confidence deals with acquiring efficacious attitudes and problem-
solving competencies, which when inadequately developed lead to a career prob-
lem of inhibition.

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444 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / November 2005

Sets of two TAT stories per participant collected for a prior separate study of
medical students were used to initially establish interrater reliability. These sto-
ries were not included in the final data analyses but rather were used to assist the
raters to establish reliability. The raters each read 10 sets of TAT stories and iden-
tified RIASEC codes and adaptability dimensions for each story based on
descriptions of the types (Holland, 1997) and adaptability components (Savickas,
2005). A 70% interrater agreement level was reached on disposition dimensions,
with raters identifying one or more of the same RIASEC letters.
From this initial rating, raters added criteria for scoring the stories by RIASEC
type to increase scoring consistency. These criteria included attending to com-
ponents of the stories that fit with specific RIASEC types such as key words or
phrases (e.g., “helping others” scored S), occupations (e.g., “musician” scored A),
location or setting (e.g., “outdoors” scored R), and overall theme (e.g., power and
leadership story theme scored E). Additional TAT scoring criteria for RIASEC
type included roles characters played (e.g., doer scored R, thinker scored I, leader
scored E); involvement with things (R), ideas (I), feelings (A), people (S), opin-
ions (E), or data (C); abilities (e.g., organizing abilities scored C); and interests
(e.g., scientific interests scored I). Raters then scored another set of 10 TAT sto-
ries using these criteria and achieved 90% agreement on disposition dimensions
for one or more RIASEC letter codes. A final interrater reliability was generated
using 20 sets of TAT stories, and raters achieved 80% agreement.

RESULTS

Raters identified disposition using RIASEC codes for all but one set of TAT
stories. Below we present five cases that provide examples in which one-, two-,
and three-letter RIASEC codes were identified from the sets of TAT stories writ-
ten by an individual participant using the criteria described above. In addition to
identifying predominant disposition using RIASEC codes, we also rated the TAT
stories for career adaptability using the dimensions of concern, control, curiosi-
ty, and confidence.

Case 1—Artistic

The following TAT stories were scored artistic because the story described
involvement with feelings and creative abilities. RIASEC code as indicated by
SII GOT scale for this individual case was ASR. The career adaptability dimen-
sion for Story 1 was control because of the character’s career indecision. Control
and curiosity were both identified for Story 2 because of the character’s career
indecision and the desire to explore and answer the question “What do I want to
do with my future?” In short, the story deals with owning one’s future (control)
and being realistic about it (curiosity).

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Hartung, Borges / INTEGRATED CAREER ASSESSMENT 445

Story 1: Boy with violin. “Joe is a boy who envisions things. All his life he has
to cope by living in his dream world. At times, it is difficult to separate the reali-
ty from what his mind shows him. As he goes through his life, he comes to the
realization that the illusions given to him are dreams and that he is forced to
accept who he is.”

Story 2: Woman holding books. “Rachel has been content with her life on the
farm her whole life. It is perfect and pure. However, she dreams of the unknown
and what is beyond the life she is born into. She now must decide whether to stay
in the perfect ‘paradise’ in which her life is ultimately written for her or decide
for herself who she becomes. She eventually leaves the farm in search for what
else is beyond the world she has known. At the end, she abandons her perfect life
for a life of unknown in which she chooses her own destiny. She decides to be
the author of her own story.”

Case 2—Investigative

The following TAT stories were scored investigative because of the role as a
thinker and the characters’ intellectual abilities. RIASEC code as indicated by
SII GOT scale for this individual case was ISA. The career concern for Story 1
was confidence because of the character’s competency in problem solving (i.e.,
deciding to become an author of children’s stories). The character played a sig-
nificant role in constructing the future. Curiosity and confidence were both
identified for Story 2 because of the character’s exploration and problem-solving
competencies. The character expressed realism about the future and constructed
the future by overcoming obstacles.

Story 1: Boy with violin. “There was once a little boy named Jimmy. His par-
ents were very intelligent and were both college professors. They loved knowl-
edge, so they taught their young son how to read when he was only three years
old. Jimmy grew to love reading so much that he would do nothing else. He read
all day long and would often fall asleep while reading an interesting story. He
loved reading these stories so much that he became a children’s author when he
grew up.”

Story 2: Woman holding books. “Nora grew up on a large farm and everyday
while her father was out working in the fields she was made to stay inside. Her
father didn’t want her to be a farmer for the rest of her life so each day she
remained indoors learning about all sorts of things. She read books from all over
the world and decided that she didn’t just want to read about foreign places, she
wanted to go to those places. She one day she left her home and visited all the
wonderful places she had read about.”

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446 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / November 2005

Case 3—Realistic and Social

The following TAT stories were coded realistic because of the character’s role
as a doer (i.e., fixer), involvement with things, and interests in the outdoors.
RIASEC code as indicated by SII GOT scale for this individual case was IR. The
TAT stories were coded social because of the character’s involvement with peo-
ple. No career concern was identified for Story 1, and confidence was identified
for Story 2 because of the character’s efficacious attitude.

Story 1: Boy with violin. “Jacob is a young boy determined to fix his guitar that
he accidentally broke when you dropped it. He is contently staring at it trying to
figure out how to fix it. Eventually, the guitar will be fixed because his determi-
nation will allow him to continue until the problem is resolved. And he is con-
tent with his doings.”

Story 2: Woman holding books. “Susan strolls past her parents’ farm after
school one day while her father, Mark, and her mother, Jane, are contently car-
ing for the newly purchased land. Her father recently inherited new land as a
result of a will. As a result, they will be able to produce more and support their
family.”

Case 4—Artistic and Social

The following TAT stories were coded artistic and social. Artistic was identi-
fied because the story described involvement with feelings and creative abilities,
whereas social was identified because of the character’s involvement with people
and helping. RIASEC code as indicated by SII GOT scale for this individual case
was CIE. The career concern for Story 1 was control because the story deals with
the character owning the future. Confidence was identified for Story 2 because
of the character’s efficacious attitudes and problem-solving competencies. The
character constructs the future and overcomes obstacles.

Story 1: Boy with violin. “In the picture there is a boy named Todd sitting next
to his grandpa’s violin. Todd had taken out the violin and accidentally broke it.
Now his is looking at it and is crying for fear of what his grandpa will do. When
grandpa gets home, he doesn’t get mad. Instead he shows Todd how to play the
violin. Todd grows up to be a concert violin player.”

Story 2: Woman holding books. “The close woman in the picture is Jan and she
is on her way home from school in Holland. The woman in the background is
Mrs. Potts, Jan’s neighbor. The man in the background is Mark, Mrs. Potts’ son.
For years, Mrs. Potts has made Mark work very hard on the farm. Mrs. Potts won’t
let Mark date Jan even though he wants to. They love each other. They run away
from home and get on a boat to America. They live happily in America.”

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Hartung, Borges / INTEGRATED CAREER ASSESSMENT 447

Case 5—Realistic-Investigative-Social

The following TAT stories were coded realistic, investigative, and social. The
character’s interests in the outdoors, involvement with things (i.e., video games),
and physical abilities (i.e., sports) supported a realistic theme. The character’s
involvement with ideas and intellectual abilities supported an investigative
theme. Social interests and involvement with people supported a social theme in
the story. RIASEC code as indicated by SII GOT scale for this individual case
was ESI. The career concern for Story 1 was confidence because of the charac-
ter’s inhibitions and ability to overcome obstacles. Control, curiosity, and confi-
dence were identified for Story 2. Control was identified because of the charac-
ter’s struggle with the career question, “Who owns my future?” whereas curiosity
was identified because of the character’s exploratory competencies and realism
about the future. Confidence was identified because of the character’s problem-
solving competencies and efficacious attitude.

Story 1: Boy with violin. “Sam, the little, 8-year-old boy, was zoning out during
class. For some reason, he could never concentrate. He’d daydream about more
interesting things: sports, video games, and the outdoors. He found comfort in it,
especially since his classmates weren’t very fond of him. He’d sit at his desk and
imagine what it would be like to be able to move things, solely with his mind.
Then his classmates would like him. One day in particular, a hot summer day,
Sam got made fun of horribly. He concentrated as hard as possible and actually
pushed the boy solely with his mind! Now he’d definitely get his way in life.”

Story 2: Woman holding books. “Samantha grew up in Kansas in the 1920s.


Of course, she was expected to get up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to help plow
the fields and take care of the farmland that her father had worked so hard for.
Samantha knew it was her sole duty to help her entire family, but couldn’t help
thinking of herself. She wanted to go places, defy tradition. No one in her fami-
ly had ever gone to school, but Samantha had a burning desire to learn. She
obtained old books laying around and taught herself how to read. Years after, she
wasn’t satisfied. She desired freedom: to leave the good-for-nothing farm and
become an intellectual and she sought out for it.”

Reliability

To supplement the qualitative results, we examined level of consistency


between raters’ scoring of TAT responses for RIASEC theme and career adapt-
ability dimension. For the TAT story 1, raters identified confidence 37% of the
time, followed by control, which was identified 15% of the time. Raters identi-
fied identical adaptability dimensions in 34% of the cases for TAT story 1. Raters’
assessments indicated partial overlap for 11% of the cases. Partial overlap consti-
tuted cases in which one rater identified two career concerns, such as confidence

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448 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / November 2005

Table 1
Frequency of Occurrence of Letter Codes Based on Participants’ Strong
Interest Inventory and Thematic Apperception Test Responses

Personality Theme SII TAT


Realistic 29 29
Investigative 83 42
Artistic 46 63
Social 59 66
Enterprising 46 10
Conventional 27 9

Note. SII = Strong Interest Inventory; TAT = Thematic Apperception Test. Values are percentages.

and concern, whereas the other rater identified only one of the same concerns,
such as confidence. Raters failed to agree or overlap in 54% of the cases. For TAT
story 2, confidence was the most frequently occurring theme identified by one
rater (17%), whereas the other rater identified curiosity most often (28%). Raters
identified the same career concerns 34% of the time. Partial overlap of ratings
was 16% and no overlap occurred 49% of the time. For all TAT responses com-
bined, results indicated identical career adaptability dimensions 34% of the time,
partial overlap 13.5% of the time, and no overlap 51.5% of the time.
Comparisons were also made between measured (SII) and rater-assessed
(TAT) RIASEC codes as seen in Table 1. A frequency count was conducted to
determine how closely the SII- and TAT-derived codes matched. Note that the
frequency of the theme occurring somewhere in the three-letter codes was con-
sidered rather than the order of letters comprising the codes. Investigative was the
most frequently occurring theme identified by the SII, whereas social was the
most frequently identified theme in the TAT stories. Rater and SII codes
matched exactly 3% of the time, matched on two letters 20% of the time, and
matched on one letter 58% of the time. No overlap between rater- and SII-
derived codes occurred in 18% of the cases.

DISCUSSION

The present findings provide modest initial support for using personal stories
in career assessment. Results indicated that it is possible to score TAT cards for
both personality dispositions and career adaptability dimensions. Independent
raters were able to extract RIASEC personality themes from the stories told by
study participants in response to the two TAT cards used. The story-derived
RIASEC themes overlapped at least partially with measured personality types in
the form of SII general occupational theme codes over 80% of the time. These

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Hartung, Borges / INTEGRATED CAREER ASSESSMENT 449

findings suggest that participants seemed to be projecting aspects of their own


personalities into the stories that they wrote. The TAT as a projective technique
appears to be of potential use for indicating vocational personality dimensions of
respondents.
Raters were also able to specify career adaptability dimensions from TAT
responses, with a fair amount of consistency between raters in terms of overlap in
the adaptability dimensions identified reaching a modest 47.5%. This finding
offers encouragement for further study, which should aim to increase interrater
reliability. Future research in this regard should involve refining the schemes for
scoring TAT responses and determining the efficacy of training additional raters
to reliably evaluate stories for RIASEC type and adaptability dimension. By
improving interrater reliability, the technique would show increased validity
for use in career assessment and counseling contexts from a psychometric
standpoint.
By emphasizing normative standards and objective, verifiable realities, psy-
chometric methods may fall short of helping counselors to fully comprehend
clients within the context of their unique life circumstances. Idiographic strate-
gies, such as narratives as used in the present study, and other methods such as
early recollections (Savickas, 1997), life theme analysis (Super, 1954; Super,
Savickas, & Super, 1996), and gathering life-history data can help to compensate
for limitations of normative methods and complement psychometric data.
Perhaps the most important avenue for future research, then, resides in con-
ducting studies that examine the consequential validity of qualitative techniques.
In this regard, research should aim to determine the usefulness of these tech-
niques for promoting client self-understanding and exploration of predominant
personality themes possessed and career problems faced.
The present study aimed as a first step to simply examine whether a projective
technique could be used to assess selected components of career development
based on rater judgments. Although raters were able to identify career adaptabil-
ity dimensions evident within the 200 stories, there was no external criterion
against which to validate the accuracy of those dimensions with regard to partic-
ipants’ actual career problems. Future research should address this fundamental
limitation of the study by including additional appropriate measures.
Conducting assessment process and outcome-oriented research would offer an
additional viable avenue in this regard.
Melding traditional psychometric approaches with alternative qualitative
methods can invigorate and enliven the assessment process. In a counseling con-
text, stories such as those derived from TAT cards provide a potentially rich vehi-
cle for discussing underlying motives and career problems. Stories would not
necessarily replace psychometric methods but would provide an accessible com-
plementary or alternative career assessment method. The results of this study
provide encouragement for career counselors to consider augmenting quantita-
tive approaches with data derived from qualitative assessments. From an applied
perspective relative to vocational interest assessment, it may be useful to use both

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450 JOURNAL OF CAREER ASSESSMENT / November 2005

psychometric inventories and qualitative approaches when conducting career


assessment. The information gained from an interest inventory such as the SII
would assist in identifying vocational personality type and occupational prefer-
ences. Information derived from a qualitative approach such as the TAT would
assist in providing insight into an individual’s career motives and concerns.
Throughout the many stories we read, themes emerged that helped to create a
comprehensive view of the driving forces and dynamics experienced by the indi-
viduals. For example, in some stories it seemed clear that the individual was
struggling with career indecision or issues of control tied to owning one’s future.
In conjunction with the individual’s vocational type and interests from the SII,
the themes that emerge from stories may provide discussion points for the career
counselor and client.

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