By Annelise Welde

Career education and student engagement have been linked in existing research (i.e., Orthner, Jones-Sanpei, & Akos, 2013; Sutherland, Levine, & Barth, 2005). Student engagement can be conceptualized as the interaction between the resources that are invested by students and institutions to enhance students’ experiences, learning outcomes and development (Trowler, 2010). Kuh (2009) writes that increased levels of student engagement are linked to more opportunities for students of all educational and social backgrounds to:

  • Reach their educational and personal goals;
  • Gain the skills and competencies demanded by the challenges of modern society; and
  • Experience intellectual and monetary advantages to attaining an education.

Career education, which seeks to inform students about potential career opportunities and provides students with skills to shape their lifelong career development (Super, 1975), offers a unique opportunity to capitalize on students’ levels of engagement and encourage them to think about their futures. Based on definitions of engagement (i.e., Alberta Learning, n.d.; Trowler, 2010), career education may foster student engagement if students are encouraged to:

  • Critically reflect on their experiences, abilities and personal attributes;
  • Conduct research to explore potential career options;
  • Make meaningful connections between academic pursuits and the world of work;
  • Interact with their peers and genuinely participate in career-related activities; and
  • Participate in activities that are purposefully designed to foster self- and career exploration.

If teachers and career practitioners expose students to career education using strategies such as those described above, students may experience enhanced engagement with school and thereby recognize and achieve more meaningful career and life outcomes.


Annelise Welde is currently completing a Master’s in Education with a specialization in Counselling Psychology at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, AB. Welde recently defended a thesis on the topic of integrated career education, and aspires to become a Registered Psychologist in Alberta.


Alberta Education. (n.d.). Student engagement. Retrieved from

Kuh, G.D. (2009). What student affairs professionals need to know about student engagement. Journal of College Student Development, 50, 683-706. doi:10.1353/csd.0.0099

Orthner, D.K., Jones-Sanpei, H., Akos, P., & Rose, R.A. (2013). Improving middle school student engagement through career-relevant instruction in the core curriculum. The Journal of Educational Research, 106, 27-38. doi: 10.1080/00220671.2012.658454

Super, D.E. (1975). Career education and career guidance for the life span and for life roles. Journal of Career education, 2, 27-42.

Sutherland, D., Levine, K., & Barth, B. (2005). Investigating the impact of a career education program on school engagement. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 14, 131-157.

Trowler, V. (2010). Student engagement literature review. Heslington, York: The Higher Education Academy.