A Critical Investigation of the Effectiveness of Career and University Guidance on Secondary Students in the Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The UAE government has made significant investments in education, focusing on improving secondary school careers and university guidance programs. However, research on the effectiveness of these programs in Abu Dhabi is limited. An online survey of 175 students investigated the effectiveness of career and university counselling on students' decision-making and future aspirations in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Guided by the social cognitive career theory, the study measured student engagement in various activities, student knowledge and self-efficacy, student decision on a career choice, student satisfaction with counselling services, and perceived benefits of the career and university counselling program. This study mostly used a cross-sectional exploratory quantitative research design. The online survey was followed by semi-structured email interviews with three professionals in career and university guidance, shed light on the program resources and current challenges and offered recommendations. The study results supported the reliability and construct validity of the latent variables of knowledge, self-efficacy and satisfaction with counselling services. The maximum likelihood common factor PLS-SEM contributed to the nomological validity of these latent variables. The study results were consistent with the published literature. The maximum likelihood common factor (PLS) SEM model revealed that the usage of counselling services, student knowledge and self-efficacy, and student satisfaction with the counselling services explain 46% of the variance in student decisions on career choice. Nevertheless, only 25% of the variance in perceived benefits of the program is explained by these factors, suggesting that there may be room for improvement. The qualitative feedback from the three school experts added rigour, authenticity, and creditability to the online survey results. While the program is moderately effective in influencing student decision-making on career choice, counselling programs can further enhance their impact and perceived benefits by emphasising community engagement and mentorship and ensuring the availability of counselling resources. This includes providing timely information about university application deadlines, enhancing knowledge about diverse working conditions, and ensuring the guidance provided is comprehensive and based on accurate information. Keywords: Career Counselling, Vocational Education, Higher Education, Student Decision, Career Choice, Self-efficacy, Engagement.
career counselling, vocational education, higher education, student decision, career choice, self-efficacy, engagement