Applying social cognitive career theory to college science majors
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Although there has been a substantial amount of research done to examine the applicability of social cognitive career theory (SCCT, Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994), almost none of this has focused on the prediction of science interests or goals. Additionally, this theory has not been applied to a group of individuals focused on studying science. The present study applies social cognitive career theory to a group of 245 college science majors and pre-medical students at a large Midwestern University. Additionally, this study also expands beyond the core of the theory to more peripheral theorized predictors such as learning experiences, aptitude, and parent support. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to assess model fit for the whole sample as well as men and women separately. Results indicated that social cognitive career theory was a good fit for the data with some exceptions; it was also found that background factors such as parent support and aptitude were important contributors to the model. No significant sex differences were found in the models. Discussion emphasizes the good fit of the model as well as the importance of background factors in developing self-efficacy, interests, and goals in science.