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IES Grant

Title: Paths 2 the Future for All: College and Career Readiness Intervention
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Lindstrom, Lauren Awardee: University of California, Riverside
Program: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Context for Teaching and Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/20178/31/2020) Award Amount: $1,399,817
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A170633

Previous Award Number: R305A170025
Previous Institution: University of Oregon

Co-Principal Investigator(s): Lind, John; Gee, Kevin

Purpose: The purpose of the Paths 2 the Future for All: College and Career Readiness Intervention research project was to develop, revise, and evaluate the promise of the Paths 2 the Future for All (P2F4A) curriculum package for underserved youth in grades 9 to 12. P2F4A modified an existing transition curriculum package, Paths 2 the Future-Girls, originally designed for high school girls with high-incidence disabilities. P2F4A expanded on the promising Paths to the Future-Girls curriculum package by developing non-gender-specific lessons and activities focused on increasing educational attainment and post-school opportunities for underserved youth. Academic success and graduation from high school are strong predictors of positive adult outcomes. As such, underserved students who face barriers to educational attainment need targeted support to identify their strengths and develop critical non-cognitive skills (e.g., problem-solving, goal setting, coping skills) that will better prepare them for postsecondary education, career, and life opportunities. The P2F4A curriculum package focuses on teaching attitudes, behaviors, skills, and strategies critical for success in school and post-school career and college options.

Project Activities: The project was conducted across two phases. Phase 1 was an iterative development process resulting in four iterations of the P2F4A curriculum. Activities in phase 1 focused on intervention development and included (a) examining the existing P2F-Girls curriculum package and conducting a thorough literature review; (b) conducting stakeholder focus groups to identify educator, student, and family perceptions and recommendations; (c) developing new lessons and incorporating them into the curriculum; (d) developing teacher training materials; (e) testing curriculum components and measurement package through a design experiment; (f) collecting intervention usability and feasibility data from students and teachers; and (g) incorporating design experiment results to develop a complete curriculum package for pilot testing. Phase 2 examined preliminary efficacy through a pilot study that employed a quasi-experimental pre-/post-treatment design.

Key Outcomes: The main findings of this project are as follows:

  • Providing a broad array of career-related learning activities, coupled with the presence of trusted adults who serve as mentors and guides, can create capacity for young people to expand career options and postsecondary opportunities (Lindstrom et al., 2022).
  • The design experiment detected significant (p < .05) pre-/post-treatment gains in adolescents' knowledge of P2F4A curricular content and selected coping skills, such as relaxing and solving family problems (Gee et al., 2021).
  • The qualitative focus groups and interviews found that P2F4A helped adolescents build stronger interpersonal relationships with peers, and the content was directly applicable to real life (Gee et al., 2021).

Structured Abstract

Setting: The culminating pilot study took place in seven high schools in rural, suburban, and urban locations in Oregon and California.

Sample: Teachers and school counselors were asked to identify and refer youth for participation in the pilot study. The sample included students in grades 9 to 12 who experience one or more of the following individual and family risk factors: (a) low school achievement, (b) retention/over age for grade, (c) poor school attendance, (d) pattern of behavior referrals/suspensions, (e) low family socioeconomic status, or (f) identified with a learning or emotional disability.

Intervention: P2F4A is a semester-length curriculum that addresses the critical educational challenge of providing college and career planning instruction for underserved adolescents. The P2F4A curriculum includes 51 multimodal lessons divided into 3 units designed to be taught within a group or classroom setting in a daily 50-minute class period.

  • Unit One: My Story, My Strengths includes three chapters that introduce the P2F4A curriculum and present concepts designed to build interpersonal skills. The unit includes several team-building and self-awareness activities and lessons focused on critical skills for post-school success, including communication skills and understanding personal strengths.
  • Unit Two: Navigational Tools is divided into three chapters that present concepts designed to enhance coping skills and teach goal setting. It includes mindfulness and stress management activities and lessons focused on setting SMART goals and the importance of mentors, role models, and support networks.
  • Unit Three: My Destinations is also divided into three chapters that present concepts focused on skills and knowledge needed to enter careers or post-secondary education. It includes mock interviews, expert panels, a college campus tour, lessons focused on career mapping, workplace basics, and the college admission process.

Research Design and Methods: A quasi-experimental pre-post treatment difference-in-difference design was employed to evaluate the P2F4A curriculum for the preliminary promise of efficacy.

Control Condition: Students in the control group participated in typical career and college planning services or business-as-usual services offered by their schools (e.g., drop-in career centers, drop-in guidance counselors, drop-in advisory period, career and technical education courses).

Key Measures: The pilot study included six primary outcomes measured through youth self-report. Participant career and college readiness were measured by the Vocational Skills Self-Efficacy scale and Vocational Outcomes Expectations scale. Student engagement in school and learning was measured using the Student Engagement Instrument. Students' self-efficacy was captured using the Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Children. Communication, decision making, and problem-solving were measured by the Skills for Everyday Living instrument. Content knowledge of the P2F4A curriculum was measured by a curriculum-based instrument designed to measure students' confidence in their understanding of the content covered in the curriculum. Fidelity was assessed through classroom observations of the P2F4A intervention delivery. Additional data was collected through focus groups with intervention group teachers and students to assess stakeholder perceptions of satisfaction and usability.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers conducted an intent-to-treat analysis with the 146 students who completed either the pretest or posttest survey in addition to a complier analysis for the 108 students who completed the pretest and the posttest surveys. They evaluated the promise of the efficacy of the P2F4A curriculum with fixed-effects change models that included a two-level condition variable, a time variable, a condition x time interaction term, and covariate adjustment for all baseline non-equivalency greater than a standardized effect of .25. The condition time term reflects the difference-in-difference change in the outcome from pretest to posttest for the P2F4A students relative to the control students, adjusted for baseline non-equivalency. Researchers concluded with an examination of the change in pretest to posttest outcomes within schools that implemented the P2F4A curriculum and compared results to those obtained in the design experiment.

Related IES Projects: Project: PATHS (Postschool Achievement Through Higher Skills) (R324B070038), Paths 2 the Future: Testing the Efficacy of a Career Development Intervention for High School Girls with Disabilities (R324A150046), Paths 2 the Future for Young Men (R324A190104)


ERIC Citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Additional online resources and information:

Select Publications:

Book chapters

Lindstrom, L., Lind, J., & Gee, K. A. (2019). Transitions Into Employment. In S.Hupp & J. Jewell (Eds) The Encyclopedia of Child and Adolescent Development, 1–12. Wiley Blackwell, Hoboken, New Jersey.

Journal articles

Gee, K. A., Beno, C., Lindstrom, L., Lind, J., Post, C., Hirano, K. (2020). Enhancing college and career readiness programs for underserved adolescents. Journal of Youth Development. 15(6): 222–251.

Gee, K. A., Beno, C., Lindstrom, L., Lind, J., Gau, J., & Post, C. (2021). Promoting college and career readiness among underserved adolescents: A mixed methods pilot study. Journal of Adolescence, 90: 79–90.

Lindstrom, L., Lind, J., Beno, C., Gee, K. A., & Hirano, K. (2022). Career and college readiness for underserved youth: Educator and youth perspectives. Youth & Society, 54(2): 221–239.