Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction


Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Gifford, Charles

Second Advisor

Haggerty, Dorothy

Third Advisor

Reidlinger, Brian

Fourth Advisor

Casbergue, Renee

Fifth Advisor

Speaker, Richard


This phenomenological study documented the influences of a high school career exploration program, Experience-Based Career Education (E.B.C.E.), on the professional lives of nine adults who are former program participants. E.B.C.E. was an experiencebased, student-centered program that helped students develop long-term career goals and then reassessed those goals based on community-based, externship experiences. The findings in this study indicate that the utilization of John Dewey’s experiencebased, student-centered philosophy, the basis for E.B.C.E., effectively enhanced the learning process. The study's data, which was gathered exclusively through an Internet focus group session and follow-up email questions, documented the long-term influence of E.B.C.E. on program participants at Ellen Martin High School, a school that admitted only honors students in a large city in the South. E.B.C.E. participants from Ellen Martin High School participated in the Program for the last two years of high school. Program participants discovered their career interests and researched their career options while learning job skills and life skills during their junior year of E.B.C.E. Their non-paid externships, during their senior year of E.B.C.E., helped students learn how they might fit into the adult work world. Study participants developed life guides/philosophies, such as the importance of responsibility, commitment, dedication, and hard work. Adult mentors played an important role in the lives of the E.B.C.E. students, both personally and professionally and several study participants have maintained contact with their former E.B.C.E. mentors. These mentoring experiences helped E.B.C.E. participants develop a sense of confidence about their abilities in the adult world. They have maintained this sense of confidence in their present profession. Most of the study's participants experienced flow, a condition linking high challenges to feelings of enjoyment, self-worth, and ongoing development, based on their successfully meeting challenges. Some of these challenges were purposely placed in the paths of students to test them while they participated in E.B.C.E. The positive feelings about overcoming challenges, in the adult work world led E.B.C.E. students to seek higher level challenges and this recursively upward pattern of seeking higher challenges has led them to continue seeking higher challenges in their professional lives.


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