Comparison of vocational interests and attitudes of learning-impaired high school students with different cognitive patterns

William Francis Ivory, Fordham University


Research has shown that individuals with learning impairments often have a difficult time finding and maintaining appropriate employment. They may limit their career options and fail to make vocational choices which reflect their cognitive strengths. The population of individuals with learning impairments is cognitively heterogeneous, and their career choices should reflect a fair degree of vocational heterogeneity. Students with learning impairments (N = 134) in a vocational high school were assigned to groups according to their patterns of cognitive abilities on the WISC-R. Three groups reflected cognitive factors identified by Kaufman (1975): Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Organization, and Freedom from Distractibility. A fourth group was comprised of subjects whose Verbal and Performance IQ Scores on the WISC-R were statistically equivalent. All subjects were administered the Wide Range Interest Opinion Test to determine vocational interest and attitude scores. Three groups underwent MANOVA to determine if they differed significantly on a set of vocational interest and attitude variables. The Verbal Comprehension group was excluded from the MANOVA procedures due to poor subject representation. This likely reflected the limits of cognitive heterogeneity among students with learning impairments in a vocational/technical high school. The WRIOT interest and attitude scores, and the individual WISC-R subtest scores of all subjects, underwent cluster analysis to determine if an analysis of correlations among cognitive and vocational variables would support the validity of cognitive subgroups among high school students with learning impairments, and also provide support for the viability of vocational subtypes of individuals with learning impairments. MANOVA failed to find differences among three cognitive subgroups on a set of vocational interest and attitude variables. Cluster analysis produced several factors which reflected cognitive, or vocational, subtypes of students with learning impairments. Cluster analysis failed to yield high correlations among both cognitive and vocational variables on any one factor. Many students with learning impairments considered vocational goals which reflected a high degree of ambition. Others selected vocations which appeared unrealistic. The "vocational conformist" favored occupations commonly chosen by same-sex peers. Students with learning impairments require transition services which address the cognitive and vocational heterogeneity of this population.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Vocational education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Ivory, William Francis, "Comparison of vocational interests and attitudes of learning-impaired high school students with different cognitive patterns" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9631041.