Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Nadya Fouad

Committee Members

Angela Byars-Winston, Chris Larsen, Bo Zhang


African American male, Anti-deficit, career, college


Awareness of congruence and discrepancies within an individual’s pathway from career interest to occupational choice offers significant insight into the process of conciliation and foreclosure (i.e., psychological disposition toward a circumscription of career options). Given the significant role of careers, understanding the career developmental process is of particular importance. Career interests to occupational choice mediated by self-efficacy are key components in the process of attaining career related goals. Lent, Brown, and Hackett (1994) proposed in the social cognitive career theory (SCCT) that under optimal conditions, career interests give rise to congruent occupational choice goals. Altogether, this leads to goal action planning and achievement (Lent & Brown, 2012; Lent, Hung-Bin, Sheu, & Brown, 2010). Many researchers have identified the anticipatory nature of college as a significant precipitant for desired career outcomes. College has also been identified as a place of afforded opportunity; however, rates of persistence and retention indicate a harbinger of premature career development with greater disparity among marginalized populations. Original hypotheses of SCCT indicated that contextual barriers have a direct relation to interest/occupational choice; however, later research indicated an indirect relation suggesting a greater surrounding milieu of the person. Lent et al. (2000, 2005) later revised the SCCT to include Astin’s (1984) concept of perceived “opportunity structure” and Vondracek, Lerner, and Schulenberg’s (1986) “contextual affordance” construct.

Lent et al. (2000, 2005) conceptualized contextual affordances as two types: distal or earlier than occupational choice and proximal affordances closer to occupational choice (Swanson & Fouad, 2010). It has also been proposed that self-efficacy related to coping with barriers, or coping efficacy, may moderate the barrier-goal relation (Lent et al., 2000). In other words, there may be a direct correlation between barriers and goals only when coping efficacy is low. It has also been suggested that contextual barriers may moderate the relation of interests to goals; the relation of interest to goals will be stronger when perceived barriers are low. As a result, vocational researchers in the area of college persistence and retention have placed more emphasis on the contextual affordances and barriers of college students to improve, especially the greater disparity rates with ethnic minorities. However, the cross-racial research methods employed to examine the disparities have served only to amplify the deficits as global and composite comparisons without consideration of greater within-group variance. Moreover, a counterbalanced approach of disparities and achievement within a self-identified ethnic/racial group would magnify career development process. It is the purpose of this study to extend existing SCCT research on the career development of African American males beyond known deficits into examining contextual factors related to congruence for African American male college students. Therefore, this study examined distal and proximal factors of African American males with high and low congruence of interest/choice in under- and postgraduate full-time studies. Specifically, this study examined (a) to what extent are the within group differences, (b) if barriers moderate the relation of career interests to career goals, and (c) if coping efficacy moderates the relation of barriers to career goals.