One of the benefits of using the complete COPSystem VIA is that you have full access to all of your scores to use in comprehensive career exploration. The results page of the COPSystem allows students to review their top three career matches to pursue based on their highest rated values, interests, and abilities. Additionally, students are shown the abilities where their strengths would be useful in a career if they wanted to explore that path, even if it was not one of their highest interest scores based on the completed survey. This can be especially beneficial for students exploring career paths as it gives them more options to research. It can be the case that students don’t realize their interest in an area until they discover that they are good at it. The CAPS results help students discover how high school classes can help them reach their career goals. While it is certainly helpful to identify the top two or three areas of interests and strengths for a student, it is not ideal to limit them to those career paths when there are more areas that can be pursued.
Furthermore, measuring values provides students with a more complete picture of the type of career that they think will be the best fit for them. The COPSystem is the optimal tool for career exploration as it provides students with a comprehensive and clear picture of career exploration possibilities all within the same easy to use and interpret online platform.
In a recent study, data were collected from 611 high school students in the Midwest who were participants in the college and careers program. Scores from another company’s interest assessment (similar to the Interest assessment offered in the COPsystem VIA) and the CAPS ability battery were compared to evaluate the effectiveness of matching abilities and interests using the two tests as a tool for career guidance. Only the top two scores from the other inventory were available, whereas the CAPS reports ability scores for all 14 career clusters. The CAPS provides probability of success cut-off scores for each career cluster. Any score above the cut-off score results in a plus, or ability match for a student, which indicates that the student would be able to complete job related tasks adequately based on their current ability level. The advantage of the CAPS is that students look at both their strengths and weaknesses in terms of ability and decide whether they would like more training to improve some of their lower scores or if they would like to pursue a career aligned with their strengths. It is of great help in planning for high school courses and future career pathways.
Interest clusters from the other inventory were compared to the COPS interest clusters so that scores could be matched on like scales (See Appendix for a comparison of U.S.O.E. and COPS interest clusters). Once similar clusters were identified from each assessment, CAPS ability scores were used to evaluate whether the students’ abilities and interests were considered a match. A “Professional” match is for students who would be encouraged to pursue a college degree, and “Skilled” match is for students who would be encouraged to enter the workforce or pursue trade schools.
Data from the 611 students were analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the CAPS battery in matching interests and abilities. In the current sample, 100% of students had a match between their first ranked career interest, and their CAPS ability score. Of the 611 students, 135 had matches falling within the Service Skilled, Outdoor, or Technology skilled clusters which all contain job tasks that can be performed at relatively low ability levels, so the cutoff for these clusters is generous. For further analysis the 135 students from these matches were not included. Of the remaining sample of 476 students, 262 (55%) had a match between their first highest rated interest and abilities associated with a “Professional” career cluster; meaning they would be encouraged to pursue a college degree or post high school education.
The remaining 214 students (45%) had a match on their first highest rated interest with a “Skilled” level cluster; meaning they would be encouraged to pursue careers in career and technical education (See Figure 1).
Figure 1. Pie chart depicting percentage of students who would be encouraged to pursue college vs. enter the workforce based on CAPS Career Cluster match.
For the second highest interest match, 258 students were excluded because either the interest scores were missing, or they were part of the group previously discussed. Of the remaining sample of 353 students, 251 (71%) had a “Professional” match on their second highest interest score, and 102 (29%) had a “Skilled” match (See Figure 2).
Figure 2. Pie chart depicting percentage of students who would be encouraged to pursue college vs. enter the workforce based on CAPS Career Cluster match.
It should also be noted that there is some overlap between the 1st and 2nd highest interest match and students encouraged to pursue college, such that the highest performing students in the ability battery scored on average higher across all career clusters in ability levels. There were 184 students that had “Professional” matches on their 1st and 2nd career clusters, but they were not singled out in this analysis because we were interested in the assessing the CAPS at an aggregate level instead of on an individual level.
The CAPS ability battery when used in conjunction with an interest inventory from another company does provide students with career guidance that can be used to determine a path forward. Research shows that career satisfaction is related not only interests and abilities, but values as well (Knapp-Lee, 1996), which is included in the COPSystem VIA. This creates a more comprehensive and clearer picture of where students can focus their career exploration.
Combined with the Career Briefs, the COPSystem VIA is a comprehensive career exploration package that allows students and counselors to explore more career options and find the best fit for them. This easy to use platform gives students access to their full data including values, interests, and abilities and allows them a complete and more wide-ranging career exploration which leads to greater success in finding the ideal person-job fit.
Knapp-Lee, L. (1996). Use of the COPES, A Measure of Work Values, in Career Assessment. Journal of Career Assessment, 4, 429-443.