Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

John M. Ritz

Committee Member

Cynthia Tomovic

Committee Member

Suzan Thompson


The purpose of this study was to develop, refine, and validate a conceptual model of career development to enhance the academic motivation of community college students. To achieve this end, a straw model was built from the theoretical and empirical research literature. The model was then refined and validated through three rounds of a Delphi study. The Delphi study solicited the opinions of students who had successfully completed community college programs.

Three research goals guided this study: (1) identify the components of modern motivation theory that apply to the academic motivation of community college students, (2) identify key components of career development theory that could be applied to a comprehensive career development program for college students, and (3) synthesize the findings into a conceptual model for a program that supports students' career development using strategies for enhancing motivation.

The gatekeeper method was used to select participants for the Delphi panel. Fourteen university academic advisors nominated students for the panel based on selection criteria. From this population 33 students agreed to serve on the Delphi panel. Twenty-seven (82%) of the participants completed the final round of the study. The panel participated in three rounds. The first round asked open-ended questions concerning the straw model and provided an opportunity for participants to add to the model. During the second round participants were asked to evaluate the items in the model and respond to the importance of each item. During the third round participants were asked to compare their responses with those of the other participants.

The findings of this study provided a conceptual model which focuses on four important factors identified by the literature as affecting both career development and academic motivation. These four factors are self-efficacy, interest, values, and goals. The Delphi participants added two other additional factors to the model: personal qualities and contextual environment. The model also contains 19 career development objectives and 28 motivational strategies which provide input into model. The purpose of the model is to serve as a guide to practitioners as a foundation to build retention programs.