The development of a scale to measure career attitudes of allied health students



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This study was concerned with the measurement of allied health students' career attitudes. Since attitudes are generally assumed to influence behavior, the development of an attitude scale was undertaken to assist allied health educators in analyzing possible causes of attrition, measuring student attainment of broad affective educational objectives and counseling individual students. The purposes of this research were to: (a) develop a scale to measure the construct of allied health students' attitudes toward their own profession, (b) test the scale by using allied health students enrolled in the senior year of baccalaureate education, (c) analyze factors of the obtained scale results, (d) develop subscales which will increase the utility of the scale, and (e) establish descriptive norms on the revised scale. The population for the study was senior students enrolled in accredited baccalaureate allied health programs for (a) assistant to the primary care physician, (b) medical record administration, (c) medical technology, (d) occupational therapy, and (e) physical therapy. Seniors in the randomly selected programs were asked to volunteer for participation in the study. Copies of the scales were mailed to participants in the pilot and dissertation studies. A theoretical model was developed which hypothesized the following attitude dimensions: 1. Motivation to Participate in Professional Organizations. 2. Satisfaction with the Professional Role and Tasks. 3. Regulation by Peers Within the Profession. 4. Calling to the Field Based on the Value to Society. 5. Commitment to Lifelong Practice in the Profession. In a pilot study, the scale, consisting of 75 statements was administered to 201 allied health senior students in four professions. These data were analyzed using alpha factor analysis with varimax rotation procedure. A total of 25 factors were recovered and only two factors from the theoretical model were supported as a result of this analysis: 1. Motivation to Participate in Professional Organizations, and, 2. Satisfaction with Professional Role and Tasks. This factor was renamed Satisfaction with Career Choice. The Allied Health Career Attitude Scale was revised to consist of 30 items which supported these hypothesized two factors. The scale was administered to 556 subjects in four disciplines. No students from assistant to the primary care physician programs participated in this phase of the study. The data were factor analyzed by the alpha and incomplete principal components solutions rotated to the varimax criterion. The hypothesized two factor structure did not emerge. Five factors were isolated. Agreement was shown in the alpha and incomplete principal components analyses on factors one, two, four, and five. Factors one and two were those which had been hypothesized. A one-way analysis of variance was calculated to show differences between the four subgroups on the five factors. The F ratios for factors one, two and three differed at the .0001 level of significance. The incomplete principal components solution was used to calculate factor scores for scoring the scale, using a multi-variate scaling model. Percentile rank norms for the 556 subjects as a group and the four subgroups were developed. As a result of the findings in this study, it was recommended that in future research the Allied Health Career Attitude Scale be revised to seek support for the factors (subscales) by eliminating items with high loadings on factors three, four, and five. If another factor analysis confirmed these factors as independent and discrete, a simplified scoring method could be developed to allow use of the scale by classroom teachers who have no access to a computer. Further research needs to be conducted to explain and confirm the differences between attitudes of allied health students on the first three factors: Satisfaction with Career Choice, Motivation to Participate in Professional Organizations, and Commitment to Lifelong Practice in the Profession.