Date of Award

Winter 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

John M. Ritz

Committee Member

M. Lee Manning

Committee Member

George D. Haber


This study explored middle school parents' perceptions of the contributions career and technical education could make to their child's educational or workforce plans. It also examined what actions parents undertake to influence their child's plans, specifically the impact of the career exploration tool, Coin Career Community©, on their actions. Last, the study explored the correlation between the course choices students made in ninth grade relative to their parents' perceptions.

This study took place at Halifax County Middle School, located in South Boston, Virginia, in spring 2009. This school was the only middle school in the county with a student population of 1,337 students in grades 6-8. Halifax County is located in Southside Virginia. The researcher distributed the survey to the entire population. The participants were parents of the 435 students in the eighth grade at Halifax County Middle School. All parents received a survey at the end of March shortly after the registration process for high school courses.

The researcher extracted pre-existing data of student demographics and course requests from the School Administration Student Information System (SASI®), Halifax County Public Schools' student database. The Coin Career Community© provided pre-existing data on student career interests and skill assessments. The researcher distributed a survey to all parents. The survey covered three major sections of parental influences and actions: (1) career and technical education course support, (2) Coin Career Community© assessments, and (3) school services support.

The researcher performed factor analyses and hierarchical linear regressions to determine the factors and relationships between parental influences, student course selections, and student career and skill assessment in Coin Career Community©. Qualitative univariate analyses were conducted using parent and student demographics.

The study identified parental perception and support factors. Gender and ethnicity were negligible factors for parent support but statistically significant for student career exploration. Further, this study supported the research that parental support of students' choices was instrumental to student engagement in school and career exploration.