Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Counseling and Educational Leadership

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

W. Matthew Shurts

Committee Member

Dana Heller Levitt

Committee Member

Leslie Kooyman

Committee Member

Brian Carolan


There has been limited research that focuses on Division III college student athletes and the career development process. Although previous researchers have studied the relationship between athletic identity and career decision making self-efficacy (CDMSE) among college student athletes, results have been inconsistent, with different researchers finding inverse, positive, or no relationships between variables. In addition, numerous researchers have examined career development among college student athletes. However, there has been no research to date that studies professional development engagement (PDE) and college student athletes. In addition, the majority of career development studies involving college student athletes have focused on either Division I or II schools. To address this gap, the current research project utilized three variables (athletic identity, CDMSE, and PDE) to try to gain an understanding of factors that may impact the career development process for traditional age college students (College Student Non-Athletes; CSNA) and college student-athletes in a Division III school. Chickering’s Identity Development Theory was used as a lens to examine identity development among the populations of interest.

The researcher conducted a quantitative study at an NCAA Division III university in the northeastern region of the United States to examine the relationship between PDE and CDMSE among college student athletes (research question 1). Furthermore, this research was designed to determine if the association between PDE and CDMSE changed when controlling for athletic identity (research question 2). Lastly, the author examined this same set of variables and controls (the association between PDE and CDMSE when controlling for athletic identity) to see if there was a significant difference between college student athletes vs. CNSAs (research question 3). NCAA Division III student athletes and CSNA completed an online survey consisting of three instruments (Athletic Identity Measurement Scale, Career Decision Making Short-Form, and Professional Development Engagement Scale) and a demographic questionnaire.

The results suggest that higher levels of PDE lead to higher level of CDMSE, and that higher levels of athletic identity were related to higher levels of CDMSE when controlling for PDE. Furthermore, in both the student athlete and the CNSA samples, there was no significant relationship difference in the association between PDE and CDMSE when accounting for athletic identity. Additionally, implications for research, practice, and teaching are discussed.

Included in

Counseling Commons