Studies that use Social Cognitive Career

The lierature review only includes studies that have addressed the identified research
problem. SCCT has been used as a base for many research studies. Therefore, this one
needs to include research studies that used Social Cognitive Career Theory (Both outside
nursing in other fields [such as engineering, mathematics, and others] & insidet within field
of nursing [dissertation studies by Bond, McGregor, and other studies]. Additionally, must
include studies done on nursing students interest in perioperative nursing. A complete
background of what RESEARCH has been done on the topic and gap in research in this
area to justify need for this study. Will provide Chapter 1 (introduction) so Chapter 2 (lit
review) flows nicely and begins to tie it together.




The literature review chapter discusses a variety of studies that use Social Cognitive Career
Theory (SCCT) to investigate students’ interest in and career choices as well as studies that look
at nursing student interest and career choices in perioperative nursing. This is in addition with
definition and discussion of various aspects of SCCT. The purpose of evaluating these studies is
mainly attributed by the fact that one of the most important challenges facing many university
and medical school students during the recent years is career decision making (Jin, Watkins and
Yuen, 2009). Therefore, in order for students to make sure that they make the appropriate career
choices, it is essential to note that individual students’ career choices are aligned with certain
essential behaviors, which are attributable to some extent of preparation for enabling the student
to apply for selection in their interested academic program eventually leading to a particular

career choice (Jin, Watkins and Yuen, 2009). Therefore, individual students shall always require
certain essential behaviors that prepares them to make career choices such as the acquirement of
skills and abilities of the career itself, determination of career interests and goals, self-
recognition, attendance at the required training and educational activities, and consultancy with
the experts (Paivandy, 2008).
There are various studies that explore interests and career choices of undergraduate students
based on Social Cognitive Career Theory (Schaub & Tokar, 2005; Townsend & Scanlan, 2011;
Rajabi, Papzan & Zahedi, 2012), but only a small number of these studies have specifically
investigated the career choices among nursing students (McGregor, 2007; Bond, 2011).
However, according to Ochs & Roessler (2004) the definition and determination of the goals that
inspire individual students in building the motivation for guiding them towards selecting and
applying for career choices more appropriately are often based on a previously organized
framework which is of crucial importance to the students, career and school counselors as well as
researchers. This implies that a better recognition of the process of career decision-making as
well as the career decision-making intention and parameters that influence the entire process
seems vital for the determination of college and university students’ career choices at higher
education level. Thus, the literature review chapter will discuss various aspects of SCCT and
various studies conducted on students’ interest in and career choice based on SCCT.
Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT)
Social cognitive career theory (SCCT) despite being relatively new aims to explain three career
development aspects that are interrelated such as the development of basic career and academic
interests; the making of career and educational choices; and the obtaining of career and academic

success. However, this theory also incorporates a range of concepts including interests,
environmental factors, abilities, values appearing in earlier theories of career eventually affecting
career development. The SCCT was developed by Lent, Brown, and Hackett (1994), on the basis
of the general social cognitive theory proposed by Bandura (1986), which is an influential theory
of motivational and cognitive processes that are involved in the study of a wide range of
psychosocial functioning areas such as health behavior, academic performance, as well as
organizational development. Therefore, the basic components of SCCT that serves as its building
blocks are three intricately linked variables such as outcome expectations, self-efficacy beliefs,
as well as goals. Since its inception the SCCT has grown out of the social cognitive theory
proposed by Bandura (1986) and nowadays it attempts to address diverse issues concerning
social context, genetic endowment, culture, gender, and life events that are unexpected with the
potential to interact thereby superseding the effects caused by choices that are career-related.
Thus, SCCT mainly focus on the inherent link existing between self-efficacy of individual
students, outcome expectations as well as personal goals capable of influencing career choices of
individual students.

Definitions of SCCT Constructs

Lent et al. (2001) note that the SCCT is concerned with how outcome expectations, self-efficacy,
and goals variables are capable of functioning together with other person aspects as well as their
contexts including support systems, culture, gender, and barriers. As a result of this, the SCCT
acknowledges the crucial impact of cultural and social contexts (environmental and personal
factors) on career development. Therefore, each of the SCCT constructs including (person

inputs, learning experiences, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, career interests, and learning
experiences) are briefly discussed as follows:
Person inputs: These are defined as physical attributes responsible of capturing differences in
peoples’ conceptions of themselves, such as ethnicity, race, and gender serving as social
cognitive mechanisms precursors (Lent et al., 2001). These differences in individual variables
influence career related choice and interest behavior in an indirect manner (Lent, Brown, &
Hackett, 2000).
Self-efficacy: This is one of the Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory core constructs as well as
SCCT core construct. According to Lent & Brown (2006) self-efficacy refers to an individual’s
belief concerning their task performance capabilities or achieving a particular outcome.
Learning experiences: These refer to the personal performance accomplishments, social
persuasion, vicarious learning, as well as affective and physiological states, which include
anxiety (Lent & Brown, 2006). Lent & Brown (2006) note that learning experiences act as the
source of self-efficacy eventually leading to interests and goals.
Outcome expectations: These are the second core construct in SCCT and refer to an
individual’s beliefs concerning the outcomes or consequences of an individual’s behaviors when
a particular career path is pursued (Lent & Brown, 2006). Lent & Brown (2006) indicate that in
SCCT examples of outcome expectations include the financial gains, self fulfillment or benefits
to one’s family upon pursuing a particular career choice.
Career interests: These refer to the pattern of indifference, like, or dislike for activities related
to a career or an interest in a career (Lent et al., 1994). A variety of factors are believed to

influence career interests such as outcome expectations, self-efficacy as well as early childhood
and adult experiences (Lent, 2005).
Goals: In SCCT goals are defined as either the quality of performance an individual aims to
achieve or the goals one wishes to pursue (Lent & Brown, 2006). Lent & Brown (2006) noted
that career choice goals are highly likely to serve as motivators that are helpful in organizing,
directing and sustaining behavior toward achieving an individual’s chosen career.
Lastly, SCCT, includes the regulation of career interests occurs through self-efficacy as well as
an outcome expectation, meaning that people ends up forming lasting interests in particular
activities when there is potential of experiencing positive outcomes and personal competency
(Rajabi et al., 2012). In contrast, a low personal competency belief results to people avoiding
activities. Moreover, SCCT also include choice actions as well as performance attainments/
domains (Lent, 2005). According to Lent (2005) choice actions are the real behaviors displayed
in job seeking following a career choice, which include a specific job application. Performance
attainments and domains are the recognitions, rewards, and skills attained by an individual while
in the chosen career, leading to further development of interests and self-efficacy in a feedback
loop (Lent, 2005). However, perceived barriers especially those that are related to socioeconomic
status, gender, age, ethnicity, or family constraints are capable of creating negative outcome
expectations, irrespective of the fact that an individual have had considerable success previously
in the given area (Lent, Brown, and Hackett, 2002). Therefore, based on SCCT school
counselors are capable of helping students who are prospective college entrants to reconsider a
number of their perceptions of career, which subsequently determines the academic and career
choices they make by providing interventions and activities to increase the options for these

students as well as their success upon entry into college (Betz & Hackett, 2006; Leung, 2008;
Rajabi et al., 2012).
Overview of Studies Using SCCT
There are studies that have used SCCT to investigate the career choices of undergraduate
students in various universities and institutes across the world. However, out of the studies found
in this literature review it has been found that despite the presence of numerous studies that have
used SCCT to investigate students’ career choices, only two were found to apply the SCCT to
student aspirations for interest and career choice in nursing (McGregor, 2007; Bond, 2011).
However, majority of studies found in the literature review testing or applying SCCT were in
career counseling. However, most these studies were found to often use structural equation
modeling (SEM) in testing the SCCT model pathway among undergraduate students for better
informing career counselors in advising students as they engage in making career choices (Lent
et al., 2001; Fouad, Smith & Zao, 2002; Lent, et al., 2003; Rottinghaus et al., 2003; Lent et al.,
2005; Lent, Lopez, Lopez, & Sheu, 2008). In particular, some of the studies that have used
SCCT among college students shall be briefly discussed in this literature review.
For example, Lent et al. (2001) study which is one of the earlier tests of SCCT, the research
findings show that 35 per cent of the choice goals are explainable through the interests in the
science and math field activities, respectively, among the students in colleges taking majors in
these fields. The research also shows that choice and activities interests were predicted by
outcome expectations and self-efficacy where 42 per cent of the variations in choice goals were
explainable through interests in the chosen career activities and outcome expectations. This made
the researchers to conclude that the choice goal was heavily predictable through interests in the

activities of the chosen career. Moreover, the study the limitation of the study is that it was only
carried out in one college. However, studies carried out among students enrolled in engineering
courses (Lent et al., 2003; Lent et al., 2005), general courses in college (Fouad et al., 2002), and
computing courses (Lent, Lopez, Lopez, & Sheu, 2008) found results that were similar.

In addition, a meta-analysis of empirical studies (Rottinghaus et al., 2003) (N = 53) found results
that are in support for a relationship between self-efficacy and interests in the occupation/career.
Study samples were drawn from college students (N=20,687), adolescents (N = 2,932), as well as
working class adults (N = 2,932). Most of the studies in this meta-analysis using SCCT were
examining self-efficacy to investigate Holland’s typology (Rottinghaus et al., 2003).
Furthermore, most of the studies in this meta-analysis, investigating self-efficacy and interests in
the occupation among students in college were carried out amongst science and math major
students. Moreover, in order for the researcher to perform this meta-analysis, all the correlations
were transformed by the researchers to a Fisher’s Z, followed by the calculation of the mean and
subsequently transforming the mean back to a correlations (Rottinghaus et al., 2003). The
researchers concluded that there was an existence of a moderate relationship between self-
efficacy and interests in the occupation/career (Rottinghaus et al., 2003).

Furthermore, numerous quantitative studies found in the literature review of career counseling
found that interests in the activities that are related with a career resulted to the field’s career
choice goal (Lent et al., 2001; Fouad et al., 2002; Lent, Lopez, Lopez, & Sheu, 2008) whereas
the studies also indicate the existence of a significant relationship between career choice goal,
interests in the career activities, outcome expectations and self-efficacy, major constructs in

SCCT (Lent et al., 2001; Fouad et al., 2002; Lent et al., 2003; Lent et al., 2005; Lent, Lopez,
Lopez, & Sheu, 2008).

Moreover, with regards to the significance of SCCT in the investigations that involve students
and even learners’ career behaviors, there are a considerable number of researchers who so far
have taken advantage of the theory in the process of conducting their studies. For instance, Jin,
Watkins and Yuen (2009) carried out a study on the effects of a variety of parameters such as the
self-efficacy belief and personality characteristics on Chinese students’ career decision making.
However, based on the viewpoint of authors, since the considered students don’t have a chance
of getting any experience concerning the process of career decision making or career choices
throughout the entire period of their 4-year education where the graduate levels of students were
proposed to be considered in this study as the researchers’ preferred choice (Jin, Watkins and
Yuen, 2009). This implies that, relying on Jin, Watkins and Yuen (2009) opinion in the
recognition of the parameters that result to the willingness of the students toward career choice
process indicated that it is vital for the students to acquire preparation. The researchers’ main
emphasis in this study was on the DMSE belief as well as personality characteristics such as
agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness (Jin, Watkins and Yuen, 2009).

Lent et al. (2008) conducted a study on the relation among the variables that are crucial in the
determination of career choices such as self-efficacy belief and intentions, interests and outcome
expectation of technical and engineering students by using the path analysis and choice model on
the basis of SCCT. The study found out that constructs of the SCCT such as self-efficacy and
outcome expectation are a significantly important determinant of career choices among the

students pursuing engineering and technical courses (Lent et al., 2008). Moreover, Rogers et al.
(2008) conducted another study that provided an extension of the choice model of social SCCT
for the purpose of broadening the scope of career choices or decision making as well as
examining the role of self-efficacy belief, social support, outcome expectation, personality
characteristics, and intentions in order to give an explanation of the actions’ of career readiness
in making career choices, interests and planning as well as exploration of the students. The
research findings indicate that the above mentioned parameters are significantly important in
determining the students’ career choices (Rogers et al., 2008).

Tang, Fouad, and Smith (1999) also carried out an investigation to determine the effective
factors that influence the career choices amongst students using SCCT where self-efficacy,
personal goals and outcome expectations were found to significantly affect student’s career
choices. Esters and Knobloch (2007) also conducted a study using the SCCT to investigate the
extent of career interests and intention of agriculture students in Korea. The results obtained in
this study showed that self-efficacy belief, gender, and outcome expectation attributes to the
explanation of 45 per cent of the role of career intention variable amongst students. In addition,
Paa (2001) is the other author who used SCCT to carry out an investigation on the career choices
and career decision-making intention amongst students in his thesis. Furthermore, Ochs and
Roessler (2004) also conducted an investigation of the career exploration intentions’ influential
factors using SCCT and eventually concluded that career self-efficacy belief and outcome
expectation play a crucial role in explaining the career choice intention.

Rajabi et al., (2012) conducted a study to determine the factors influencing agriculture students’
career decision-making intention based on SCCT at Kermanshah University, Iran utilizing the
Artificial Neural Network (ANN). The sample size included agriculture students (N = 1,122)
randomly selected using stratified random sampling. This is mainly because this study had the
purpose of determining the factors influencing agriculture students’ career decision-making
intention at Kermanshah University based on SCCT. In this study, questionnaires were used to
collect data and the questionnaires consisted of four sections such as: Career Decision-Making
Outcome Expectation (CDMOE), Career Decision-Making Self-Efficacy (CDMSE), NEO Five
Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI), and Career Exploratory Plans or Intentions (CEPI) in order to make
sure that all the aspects of this study are appropriately covered (Rajabi et al., 2012). However,
the assessment of the validity and reliability of the research findings was done using back
translation on the basis of Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. In addition, the ANN with MATLAB
software and statistical methods were used to conduct the data analysis. Moreover, a network
based on trial and error, and consisting of three layers where one consisted of a hidden layer with
20 neurons, sigmoidal transfer functions, and Levenberg–Marquardt training algorithm was
chosen for the network construction used to evaluate career decision-making intention (Rajabi et
al., 2012). A linear regression (R = .999) was then used to test the validation of the network after
training and simulation. Finally, the comparison of the network output was done using the
analysis of variance (ANOVA). The research results show a significant relationship between
career decision-making intention and the extraversion characteristics, openness, agreeableness
and conscientiousness along with career outcome expectation and self-efficacy belief variables
(Rajabi et al., 2012).

However, considering the studies that have been found through the review of the literature
concerning this research topic, it is undoubtedly evident that only two studies had used the SCCT
to investigate career choices amongst nursing students (McGregor, 2007; Bond, 2011).

For example, the first study which has used SCCT to investigate career choices of students is
(McGregor, 2007). In McGregor’s study, there was correlation of outcome expectations and self-
efficacy to choice of a career in nursing. However, while this is promising, in his study
McGregor (2007) did not undertake an investigation of the choice of the role of their future
faculty in nursing, as observed in studies conducted on other areas. (McGregor, 2007) applied
SCCT to student aspirations for career choices in nursing. Moreover, McGregor (2007) indicate
that a considerable number of nursing students accounting for 32 per cent of pre-licensure
baccalaureate nursing students were in future highly likely to consider nursing faculty role.

Furthermore, another study that used SCCT to determine the pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing
students intent for a future graduate education and faculty role as well as investigating how
derived SCCT constructs are good predictors for the pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing students
intent for a future graduate education and faculty role (Bond, 2011). The adaptation of SCCT to
the nursing profession in this study was guided by the Walker and Avant’s theory derivation
procedures guided (Bond, 2011). In this research a prospective correlational research design was
used a sample size of 1,078 pre-licensure baccalaureate nursing students (N= 1078) was selected
through convenience sampling who subsequently responded to an online survey. The research
results indicate that 25 per cent of the nursing students reported high or very high intent of
pursuing a faculty role in future and 76 per cent of the research participants expressed high or

very high intent for graduate education (Bond, 2011). Moreover, the results analysis revealed
that the eleven independent variables with the full SCCT model were partially supported in
predicting the intent of students’ high intent towards pursuing faculty role in future (Bond,
2011). In addition, it was significantly that the high intent students were highly likely to be
interested in the tasks/activities of a faculty role; to enroll in baccalaureate nursing program
which is accelerated; to perceive the faculty role advantages; to have been encouraged to pursue
a faculty role from faculty. On the other hand, the students’ race/ethnicity, age, gender,
educational background and level, parent occupation and education, barriers and supports, as
well as the faculty role’s self-efficacy did not significantly influence the intent of nursing
students for a faculty role in future (Bond, 2011).
Reliability and validity of SCCT measures used
It is evidently clear that in all the studies considered in this research had satisfactory reliability
and validity of the SCCT measures used as discussed below:
Person inputs: Since these are the physical attributes that capture differences individual
students’ conceptions of themselves, including race, ethnicity, as well as gender to serve as the
precursors of social cognitive mechanisms (Lent et al., 2001). However, the reliability of persons
input was demonstrated through a six-item felt manipulation check which reported a Cronbach
alpha reliability of .73 (Lent et al., 2001; McGregor et al., 2001; McGregor, 2007). This implies
that various person inputs were considered in the studies included where it involves both
proximal and distal background of the participants in those studies. In particular, these include
gender, age, race/ethnicity, educational level as well as educational background (Bond, 2011;
Hakimzadeh et al., 2013).

Learning experiences: Considering that personal performance accomplishments, social
persuasion, and vicarious learning were sufficiently included in all the studies considered in this
literature review. For instance, the validity of results of the performance capability was
demonstrated using the values of slope (m), Y, and linear regression coefficients such as 0.96,
0.0066, and 0.987. This resulted to a very good agreement between the network outputs and the
real outputs as targets implying the great capability of the network performance in the prediction
of students’ career decision-making intention and its generalization power which is widely
acceptable (Rajabi et al., 2012). However, according to (Bond, 2011) the role model scale
demonstrated a good internal reliability among the seven items reported with Cronbach alpha
coefficients that ranged ranging from .85 to .91, while at the same the Cronbach alpha was .83
for unsure/low intent students and .85 for high intent students.
Self-efficacy: These are someone’s belief concerning their achieving a particular outcome or
task performance capabilities, it is evident that its reliability and validity was ensured in course
of the considered studies. However, a number of studies demonstrate the reliability and validity
of self-efficacy through a correlation of the percentage of students’ openness and
conscientiousness and self-efficacy where 18% were found statistically significant while the self-
efficacy belief was found to affect 8% of the mentioned variance (Rajabi et al., 2012). Ochs and
Roessler (2004) and Lent et al., (2005) findings are also in direct agreement with Rajabi et al.
(2012). Furthermore, the Cronbach alpha was calculated for the faculty role items and was .86
for low/unsure intent students and .80 for high intent students (Bond, 2011).
Outcome expectations: The reliability and validity of outcome expectations was ensured in all
the SCCT studies considered in this research since they are regarded as an individual’s beliefs
about the anticipated outcomes or consequences from the career choice to pursue (Lent &

Brown, 2006), thus a number of the considered examples of SCCT studies evaluate the outcome
expectations that students anticipated from their career choices such as financial gains and self
fulfillment. For example, based of the findings of a number of the studies considered in this
study a high degree of relationship between career decision-making intention and career outcome
expectation was at an effect value of .76 meaning most of the included participants agreed that
there career choice was mainly based on the anticipated beneficial outcomes (Ochs and Roessler,
2004; Lent et al., 2005; Rajabi et al., 2012). Moreover, according to Bond (2011) the outcome
expectations in terms of a career choice advantages had an overall mean of 3.71 (n = 930, SD =
0.74, range: 0-5) for all advantages. Furthermore, the advantages of outcome expectations had
15 items in several studies reported to have Cronbach alpha coefficients ranging from .91 to .92
(Lent et al., 2003; Lent et al., 2005; Lent, Lopez, Lopez, & Sheu, 2008). In addition, a .89
Cronbach alpha was reported in this study for high intent students whereas for unsure/low intent
students it was .90. However, the disadvantages of outcome expectations using the original scale
consisting of five items reported an alpha coefficient of .72, but using a revised scale four items,
high intent students had an alpha coefficient of .78 and unsure/low intent students had an alpha
coefficient of .81 (Bond, 2011).
Career interests: Most of the studies using SCCT that were included in this study involved an
evaluation of the pattern of like, dislike, or indifference for activities that relate to their career
choice to determine the extent of their interest. However, the reliability of career interests was
demonstrated using the scale for interests in the tasks/activities of a faculty role that were created
for this study consisting of nine items. The Cronbach alpha was .89 for unsure/low intent
students and .86 for high intent students. In addition, the validity was supported through
structural equation modeling of SCCT (Lent et al., 2003; Lent, Lopez, Lopez, & Sheu, 2008).

This indicates that the career interest is demonstrated through activities or tasks such as faculty
role, research, guiding learners as well as writing and publishing journal articles.
Goals: Since goals refers to either the career choice one wishes to pursue or quality of
performance a person aims to achieve; then it is undoubtedly evident that its reliability and
validity in the considered SCCT studies was succinctly achieved because they all gauged what a
student envisaged to achieve upon their career choices or after completion of their course
training. In a number of studies the goals construct of SCCT was used to demonstrate reliability
in accordance to the major dependent measure where the Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficient
was ranging from .83 to .85 (Lent et al., 2001; McGregor et al., 2001; McGregor, 2007).
Moreover, the validity was demonstrated using linear regression coefficients (McGregor et al.,
2001; Rajabi et al., 2012).
Supports and barriers: These are particularly the factors that promote and hinder the
achievement of students’ career choices and their reliability and validity was ensured by making
sure the considered studies were carried out in varied environments. For instance, in various
studies there was use of the supports and barriers instrument leading to demonstration of
reliability with co-efficient alphas ranging from .82 to .90 for supports
and .77 to .84 for barriers (Lent et al., 2003; Lent et al., 2005; Lent, Lopez, Lopez, &
Sheu, 2008). Validity was supported through structural equation modeling of SCCT
(Lent et al., 2003; Lent et al., 2005; Lent, Lopez, Lopez, & Sheu, 2008). For example, the
reliability and validity of supports and barriers involved a support option in order to get helpful
assistance from the supervisor or advisor whereas an example of a barrier in the studies involved
receiving discouragement or negative comments concerning the career choice from friends, peers
and family members.



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