Domain 6: Career Development

Career Development consists of three phases: Awareness, Career Exploration and Career Preparation.  Awareness consists of developing values, work habits and attitude, self-awareness and confidence of strengths and areas of support, and becoming aware of different types of careers (Palmer & Hotchkiss, 2014). 

According to Larson (2012): “Career exploration activities are experiences at school and in the community that help young people to (a) identify how their interests, values, and skills relate to careers of interest; (b) describe the skills and activities associated with those careers; and, (c) identify the post-secondary training, two-year, four-year, or graduate degree programs needed to successfully pursue those careers” (Larson, 2012, p. 1). 

Career placement focuses on authentic work experience and coursework or skill development in a field of interest.  National Technical Assistance Center on Transitions (NTACT) identifies Work Based Learning experiences as a research-based practice that leads to improved post-school outcomes in employment and education.  Work Based Learning teaches students skills for a specific job as well as how to work with others and their workplace preferences and values. According to Fabian (2007), paid employment experience during high school leads to improved opportunities for post-secondary employment, self-efficacy, social and independent living skills, and better paying jobs. Kerka (2003) recommends that career experiences should be considered individualized based on a person’s unique set of factors (culture, gender, social and external influences, etc.)  and their interests in order for them to be most meaningful for the student.   

As explained in Larson (2012),  schools should also provide training in workplace soft skills like communication, professional attitude, teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking.  These are all skills that employers want all entry-level employees to have according to Ju, Zhang & Pacha  (2012) along with honesty, respect, timeliness, ability to follow instructions and safety guidelines, and basic reading and math skills.    In order to successfully connect students to their future career, it is critical to make sure career development activities are based on a collaboration of all stakeholders: students, family, schools, and local business community.  

The Logic Model of Transitions below provides a blueprint of how to build career development through skill development and activities throughout a student's K-12 education. The Logic Model underscores that transitions is an ongoing process and that the earlier someone is exposed to career development, the more opportunities they will have post-school. 



These artifacts are a collection of coursework completed in SPED 857 and 862 as well as resources that I have used within my district.  These artifacts are aligned to the following transitions competencies:


6.1 Respond to employment trends and needs in the community

Work-Based Learning Evidenced Best Practices

Supports 6.5, 6.6, 6.11

This Prezi was completed for SPED 862 and explains the rationale, logic model and importance of work based learning for students.  The Prezi talks about the three stages of career development: career awareness, career exposure and career preparation.  It also discusses the importance of individualized planning, authentic experiences, and collaboration between all stakeholders.  The Prezi also demonstrates how work based learning helps students improve in the transition areas of employment, post-secondary education and independent living. The Prezi emphasizes the point made by Carter, Trainor, Cakiroglu, Cole, Swedeen, Ditchman & Owens (2009) that  gaining work experience in high school is the way to connect students to their future career.  Overall, this Prezi provides a good introduction and explanation to instructing on the career development phases and coordinating work-based learning programs.

Career Development Activities & Services

Supports 6.4, 6.5, 6.9, 6.10

This Prezi was completed for SPED 857 and outline current practices at my school, Guadalupe Centers (also known as Alta Vista), in regards to the career development phases. The Prezi includes activities across the district and information about the curriculum used at the High School. These activities include those outlined by Larson (2012) such as workplace tours, career fairs, guest speakers, and soft skills training in the classroom. The Prezi also identifies specific programming opportunities available for students in regards to the career exploration and career preparation phases of career development. This Prezi also includes a reflection about the strengths of my district, areas needing improvement, and recommendations for improving career development district-wide.

Career Development Resource Padlet

Supports 6.1, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6

This Padlet completed for SPED 857 is a collection of video resources addressing the three phases of career development: career awareness, career exploration, and career preparation.  This provides good examples of what multiple communities across the nation are doing to promote career development for students with disabilities.  This also provides models for how to instruct on workplace skills and the career development phases.

Positive Personal Profile (Running Project Part 1)

Supports 6.3

As discussed in Domain 1, the Positive Personal Profile, developed by Luecking (2009), is a tool to collect information about a student's strengths, preferences, interests, and needs as it pertains to post-secondary planning. Larson (2012) indicates that it is important to link activities to a students’ interests and preferences.  The Positive Personal Profile ensures that work placements are based on a student's strengths, interests, needs and preferences.  This Positive Personal Profile was done for a different student than Domain 1, Veronica, and serves as the basis for Running Project of SPED 862 including the Informational Interview, Work Experience/Job Search Plan and Work Support Plan outlined below.

Informational Interview Debrief (Running Project Part 2)

Supports 6.1, 6.7

The informational interview was based on Veronica's interest in technology on her Positive Personal Profile.  It was conducted with Veriship a local technology company.  This artifact is a debrief completed after the informational interview and an effective way to capture information learned as well as identifying potential tasks for a student during Work-Based Learning. The informational interview provided an opportunity as discussed in Carter et al (2009),  to partner with a local business to establish a work-based learning program and for the business to talk to youth about their work experience. This informational interview helped me learn about current trends in the technology industry and different training paths students can take to work in a company like Veriship.

Work Experience/Job Search Plan (Running Project Part 3)

Supports 6.2, 6.3, 6.8

The work experience/job search plan, developed by Luecking (2009), is a great tool for organizing information about the student as well as potential employers for work based learning.  This artifact is a completed version for Veronica.  The document addresses different factors related to work experience such as transportation, student's schedule, accommodations needed, and supports the student has to be successful.  This artifact also includes a reflection of the process of identifying a work-based learning opportunity for Veronica.

Workplace Supports Plan (Running Project Part 4)

Supports 6.2, 6.3, 6.7, 6.8

The Workplace Supports Plan defines roles and responsibilities to ensure a positive work-based learning experience for a student.  The Workplace Support Plan template was designed by Luecking (2009).  This artifact includes the completed form for Veronica including who will be involved and what they are expected to do.  These roles include job responsibilities as well as providing accommodations or meeting Veronica's preferences for the workplace. The plan also identifies how frequently the school and business will communicate as well as how often the school will coach and observe Veronica.  These are all important factors that need to be considered to ensure the student has on-the-job support through accommodations or natural supports.

Work-Based Learning Training Agreement

Supports 6.7, 6.11

This artifact is the Work-Based Learning Training Agreement I created for the district. It outlines the terms of the work experience program and establishes the responsibilities for the student, employer, coordinating teacher, and parents.  This artifact emphasizes regular communication with the employer and school as well as how the work experience will be coordinated.


Prep KC Industry-Informed Instruction Connector

The Nepris Connector is a web-based tool that allows teachers to connect with industry professionals (6.1).  Through video-conferencing technology, industry professionals share their experiences on content selected by the teacher.  In my district, this has been used for all students in the Freshmen and Junior Seminar classes and Advisory, as well as during Transitions services for students with disabilities.  Sessions have been career specific such as construction, technology, or OBGYN or more focused on soft skills and employability skills such as financial planning, time management, and math needed for real life (6.4). This has been a great tool for the career awareness and career exploration phases (6.5, 6.6)

Informative Interview
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Mock Interviews

The students participate in mock interviews in the following classes: Transitions, Speech, Intro to Business.  Mock interviews help students practice their communication, professionalism, and work attitude (6.4). Interviews are done with either teachers or local business professionals.

Disability Mentoring Day

Each year, students with disabilities aged 16+ participate in Disability Mentoring Day.  Students have the opportunity to have mock interviews, resume assistance, application assistance, talk with employers, and learn about employability skills. This helps to address work-related skills and career awareness (6.4, 6.5).

Prep KC Career Fair & more

Prep KC partners with our district and hosts an annual Freshman Career Jumping event, Sophomore College Options Fair, and organizes industry field trips for our students to participate in.  Prep KC is a great asset for career awareness and career exploration (6.1, 6.5, 6.6)


Employer Elevator Pitch

This video is an example of how to introduce yourself to a local business employer when wanting to establish a partnership for a Work-Based Learning opportunity.  The video includes an introduction of who I am, how I work with students, as well as a foundation for how a work-based learning opportunity not only helps the students learn essential employability skills, but also benefits the employers.  This is an effective way of building partnerships with local business communities as Carter et al (2009) emphasize for developing high-quality career development experiences.  This also establishes a connection to the employer to keep up with current trends and needs (6.1) and to communicate regularly with employers (6.7).



Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Cakiroglu, O., Cole, O., Swedeen, B., Ditchman, N., & Owens, L. (2009). Exploring school-                              employer partnerships to expand career development and early work experiences for youth with                                           disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 32, 145-159. 
Disability Mentoring Day KC. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved November 29, 2019 from
Fabian, E.S. (2007). Urban youth with disabilities: Factors affecting transition employment.  Rehabilitation Counseling                          Bulletin, 50(3), 130-138.
Guadalupe Centers Charter School District. (2016). Mock Interview Rubric. [PDF File].
Guideposts for Success [PDF]. (n.d). National Collaboration of Workforce and Disability.
Ju, S., Zhang, D., Pacha, J. (2012) Employability Skills Valued by Employers as Important for Entry Level Employees With                    and Without Disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals. 35(1), 29-38.
Kerka, S. (2003). Career development of diverse populations.  ERIC Digest. Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult                   Career and Vocational Education. 
Kotowski, J. (2018, October 8). Career Technology Education/Career Pathways. Career Development for Youth. SPED 857.                University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. 
Kotowski, J. (2019, March 13). Work-Based Learning: Rationale & Evidence-Based Practices. Work-Based Learning. SPED                   862. University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. 
Kotowski, J. (2019, April 8). Developing an Employer Pitch Voice Thread. Work-Based Learning. SPED 862. University of                      Kansas, Lawrence, KS. 
Kotowski, J. (2019, May 4). Running Project. Work-Based Learning. SPED 862. University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. 
Kotowski, J., Chapman, C., Clark, K., Farmer, C. Matschiner, J. & Samonisky, J. (2018, September). Career Development and              Work-Based Learning (Group Padlet) Career Development for Youth. SPED 857. University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Kotowski, J. & Guadalupe Centers Charter School District. (2019). Work-Based Learning Training Agreement. [PDF File].
Larson, M. (2012). Career exploration in action. Practice Brief, (3), 1-8.
Luecking, R. G. (2009). The Way to Work: How to facilitate work experiences for youth in transition. Baltimore, MD: Paul H.                Brookes Publishing Co.
National Technical Assistance Center on Transitions (NTACT). (n.d.). Effective Practices and Predictors. Retrieved from            
Nepris. (n.d.). Connecting Industry to Classrooms. [Video File].  Retrieved November 29, 2019, from                                              
Palmer & Hotchkiss. (2014). Career Development. Colorado Department of Education-Exceptional Student Services Unit,                1-3. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
Prep-KC. (2019). Prep-KC. Retrieved November 29, 2019, from
Tilson, G. (2015). Logic Model for Transition in Delaware. [PDF File].  Delaware Department of Education.
Trainor, A. A., Smith, S. A., Kim, S. (2012). Four supportive pillars in career exploration and development for adolescents                   with LD and EBD. Intervention in School and Clinic, 48, 15–21.


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