Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education


While scholarly research offers some insight into the career decision-making process, it says little about how individuals discern their callings and how the vocational discernment process affects career choice. Accordingly, this study generated baseline understandings in both of these areas that proved theoretically and practically fruitful and which have the potential to serve as a launching pad for future research. These new understandings are critical because decisions relating to career choice and vocation are of particular importance to college-aged adults.

This study was informed by a conceptual framework identifying seven key domains that were assumed to potentially shape students' understanding of call: 1) faith/spirituality, 2) interpersonal relationships, 3) encounters with others, 4) values, 5) critical life events contributing to self-definition, 6) understanding of passion, gifts, and talents, and 7) developmental issues and one's capacity for self-authorship (Haworth & McCruden, 2001). The following research questions informed this investigation: 1) How do young adults make sense of and construct the theme of vocation or call in their lives?; 2) What and who shapes their understandings of "calling?"; and, 3) How do these influences affect their response to "calling?"

Three semi-structured life story interviews were conducted with the participants over a three year period. Results from this investigation suggest that there are both direct and indirect influences on how young adults make sense of what calling means to them, where the source of a calling originates, who experiences callings, and how these understandings may change over time. Additionally, a learning-centered pedagogical paradigm of practices of vocational discernment was developed focusing on students' lived experiences.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.