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Post-modern career assessment for traditionally disadvantaged South African learners: Moving away from the 'expert opinion'

D Bischof
D Alexander


This article explores the perceptions of learners from a disadvantaged community regarding the limitations and advantages of traditional and post-modern career assessment techniques in the South African context, when conducted in a group context. Through the use of traditional
psychometric instruments, South African professionals are inclined to provide learners from disadvantaged communities with 'expert opinions' regarding their career paths. Evidence suggests that this approach could potentially restrict learners' employment choices. (Maree & Ebersohn, 2002). The article makes a case for the use of a post-modern method of career assessment that could potentially enable and empower learners to make more independent career choices. The approach involves active participation by learners and a more intense journey of self-discovery that could potentially enable better career decision making. Quantitative data were collected through a traditional psychometric career assessment and
post-modern narrative career assessment in the case of eleven traditionally disadvantaged learners, after which learners were interviewed in a focus group interview. These qualitative data were then analysed via the use of thematic content analysis to discover themes relating to the learners' perceptions of the two forms of assessment. The results of the research suggested that learners from disadvantaged communities prefer the structure and standardised conditions in which traditional psychometric career assessment takes place, instead of the unstructured and informal nature of a post-modern narrative career assessment. However, the learners also found value in the narrative assessment. This article explores the implications of these findings in the context of the disempowering environment in which learners from disadvantaged
communities find themselves. The article also explores the potential use of culturally appropriate post-modern narrative career assessment in assisting and empowering learners in disadvantaged communities towards independent career-decision making.

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print ISSN: 0258-2236