Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-30-2017


Twenty years ago, in an article entitled “Assigning Grades in Career Planning Courses: A Neglected issue”[1], Rex Filer posed several important questions in terms of the practicalities of how we design and grade career planning courses. The challenge, he suggested, is that while teaching pedagogy often relies on Bloom’s traditional taxonomy where information and understanding act as an ‘anchor’ while synthesis and evaluation are goals achieved later, career course activities are naturally geared to the top of the pyramid – regardless of when the class is taught. This, he argues, poses particular issues in terms of career course objectives and outcomes.

Even a cursory examination of the literature on career course assessment may offer some insight as to why Filer’s individual instructor/student level concerns have been ‘neglected’: most of the mainstream work in this area is based on various types of exams or pre and post test scores. One of the most common tools, the Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI) based on Cognitive Information Processing Theory, helps researchers determine ‘dysfunctional thinking’ in career problems and identify issues for specific populations as well as general ‘progress’ made in the course.

While such tools are invaluable and have provided many crucial insights in terms of the value and impact of career courses, the suggestion here is that, for smaller schools and programs, there is a largely unmet need to discuss grading systems used for career courses and the assessment of career education at any given institution.

This paper will examine the course design and assessment process, including specific rubrics and tools, used by an interdisciplinary program at our small liberal arts school in a remote, rural California campus of Humboldt State University (HSU). The goal, with Filer, will be to address (another) neglected issue of how we go about creating career development interventions, design specific courses, and assess career education at the level of the individual student, instructor/course and program.

[1] Filer, Rex (1986) “Assigning Grades in Career Planning Courses: A Neglected issue”. The Career Development Quarterly. December. Vol 35. pp. 141-147.