Career development is an important task that occurs during high school and is associated with positive post-graduation adjustment. Many adolescents have hopes of completing high school and college, living independently and having satisfying careers. However, adolescents often do not plan effectively in order to achieve these goals, hopes and dreams. A GPS (Getting Plans Started) Tool was developed to help adolescents think about their plans to achieve their goals for future success. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss a study that was conducted to determine the feasibility of using the GPS Tool in the future, in particular the ease of use and engagement of participants in completing the GPS Tool. The perceptions of the participants regarding the effectiveness of the Tool in helping them think about and plan for their future success was also assessed.
Thirty-one adolescents participated in this research. Each wrote the goals they hoped to accomplish within the next four years. Then they each completed GPS Tools which involved constructing personal timelines using labels, preprinted with tasks they hoped to achieve during the next four years. After completing their Tools, participants evaluated the effectiveness of constructing their timelines in helping them think about being successful in the future. They also evaluated their perceived likelihood of accomplishing the tasks they planned. Likert scales were used for both of these evaluations. The participants’ written responses and labeled timelines were analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative measures.
The participants found the GPS Tools effective in helping them think about their future success and they were confident they would accomplish their plans. The most significant goals written by the participants and labels used most often on the GPS Tools indicated strong desires and plans for graduating from college and becoming independent through satisfying employment and moving to apartments or homes of their own. However, analysis of written goals and labels used on the GPS Tools indicated that many of the envisioned plans would be difficult to achieve within the designated timeframes. The amount of time anticipated to achieve the goals planned was frequently unrealistic.
The GPS Tool is feasible to use. The participants were engaged in the process and found constructing their timelines to be effective in helping them think about and plan for their own future success. The GPS Tools were also helpful in identifying ineffective and unrealistic planning. These findings indicate that the GPS Tool could be used to promote more effective planning during career preparation. When combined with other measures, the GPS Tool could help decrease distractions such as risky behaviors that often derail plans for success.