Pathways into Careers in Information Technology: Community College Student Decision-Making about Academic Programs and Jobs

Graduates of technician programs have opportunities to enter well-paying, high-demand careers. However, only 20% of community college students complete their programs of study within six years. Prior research highlights the challenges facing students at community colleges. However, the career development literature includes little research on community college students and their decision-making processes. The literature is even more lacking about community college students in technician fields. The goal of this research project is to increase understanding of the decisions students make in pursuing credentials (e.g., degrees and certificates) at two-year institutions, and in pursuing careers in information technology. The research focuses on Information Technology (IT) because it offers students a wide-array of opportunities and specialties. In addition, many two-year institutions have developed IT programs to address the growing need for IT professionals. Relying on multiple sources of data, the project brings together a multidisciplinary team to investigate student decision-making. 

This quantitative and qualitative mixed methods research project will examine how students' experiences and information resources influence their decision making, particularly early in their enrollment in college, and how that process evolves over time. The longitudinal and cross-sectional mixed methods study takes a multidisciplinary theoretical approach, drawing on literature from career development, psychology, sociology, and economics. The study employs a variety of research methods, including student surveys, in-depth longitudinal student interviews, point-in-time interviews with faculty and administrators, secondary data analysis of administrative records, site visits, and document analysis. The quantitative and qualitative data collection and analyses are designed to investigate, triangulate, test, and confirm findings. The research project is designed to generate knowledge useful to students, the public, community college/technician education professionals, and policy-makers committed to increasing student success in advanced technological programs and to meeting the demand for a middle skills workforce.

ATE Award Metadata

Award Number
Funding Status
ATE Start Date
June 15th, 2018
ATE Expiration Date
December 31st, 2023
ATE Principal Investigator
Michelle Van Noy
Primary Institution
Rutgers University New Brunswick
Record Type
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