Eds. Note - this book review originally appeared in the web magazine in Oct 2012. Because of its significance to today's readers, we are re-running the book review.
Book reference: Lara, T. M., Pope, M., & Minor, C. A. (Eds.) (2011). Experiential activities for teaching career counseling classes and for facilitating career groups, Volume III. Broken Arrow, OK; National Career Development Association. (349 pages)
Experiential Activities for Teaching Career Counseling Classes and for Facilitating Career Groups is the third volume published by NCDA providing career counselors, practitioners, and teachers with activities to help persons in groups and classrooms with their career development. Every activity attempts to engage the participants while sparking discussion and reflection on how they can use the activity to move forward in their personal career growth. The book develops National Career Development Association Career Counselor Competencies by introducing activities for group interventions based on theory. Many activities utilize technology and provide options to use with diverse populations. Theory and application is grounded in research which is cited within each entry.
Layout and Source Details
The book provides 74 different experiential activities for career services providers working with persons ranging from Pre-K to college students, graduate counseling students, and adults in career transitions. The book contains a variety of activities appealing to practitioners who prefer both creative and systematic approaches. Each activity explains the purpose, learning objectives, and includes the theory base. It also provides the information fundamental to conducting the activity such as the needed space, group size, materials, and time. Rich discussion questions assist the reader with in debriefing the activity. Many activities provide references and suggested background material for the reader to gain the most from teaching towards the learning objective and implementation.
The book’s chapters are broken down into nine broad topics: Self-Knowledge and Career Decisions, Theory, Assessment, Occupational Information, Job Search, Career Program Design, Multicultural Career Counseling, Technology and Media, and Comprehensive Culminating Activities. This allows readers to make a quick search for the area relevant to their practice, and decide whether the activity is appropriate and will achieve the intended learning objectives for their participants. The book also provides a Topic Index with a more specific breakdown of the activity’s purpose, population, theory, or framework. The book was created by soliciting activities from a variety of career practitioners across the country and gives the biographies of all these authors. It also references the handouts that are provided in a PDF version on the supplemental CD.
Comments and Critique
Each activity can be utilized in a career development process; however, readers should be aware of their teaching preferences and the nature of the participants to determine if the activity is appropriate. There are varied populations and settings suitable for many of these career activities. However, some activities take a more creative approach while others process the information systematically. The practitioner should consider the clientele served, and critically evaluate through professional judgment if the style of the activity is appropriate for the leader’s teaching method and participant’s learning style. The time needed for the activity should be adjusted to take into consideration the practitioner’s teaching style. Some of the learning objectives and activities seem intense for the amount of time suggested. Nevertheless, the book provides a vast array of different activities and a practitioner would be hard-pressed not to find a few lessons that would be adaptable for their clientele, timeframes, and setting.
Some activities provide an extensive Purpose section including the basis for the activity. Some require the reader to have a basic knowledge of the theory and may mention the need for a lecture or explanation but not present information regarding that framework. However, all the activities deliver References and Suggested Background Material to provide resources for the practitioner to become educated about the theory while putting the activity into practice. Each entry presents a valuable Discussion section with a list of open-ended questions to deliberate. For many of the book’s activities, handouts and Internet links add to the potential success of the activity.
The book is designed in an organized format, with a number of appendixes that can be used to cross-reference while searching for an appropriate activity. The topic and target population are listed so the reader can easily synthesize which activities to use. The writing style for the Instructions for Conducting Activity sections vary in format, because the activities are compiled from contributions by different practitioners. Some activities are explained in a narrative manner, and some in a more structured format. Nevertheless, the instructions are communicated well enough for the reader to duplicate the activity.
The supplemental CD provides the book in PDF version, so the handouts are easily accessed. However, the Foreword makes mention of Power Points, which are not on the CD but are on the NCDA website listing for the book. Many of the activities provide addresses to specific web links. A digital version with direct links embedded into the document would also be helpful on the CD, so readers could avoid manually typing long URLs into a browser.
Valuable Addition to the Counselor's Bookshelf
Experiential Activities for Teaching Career Counseling Classes and for Facilitating Career Groups: Volume III would make a great addition to a career counselor’s bookshelf. The variety of activities presented can serve a wide array of audiences and include methods suitable for many different teaching and learning styles.
Readers will gain from the ideas presented in this book and can use it to learn and adapt new activities for their own creative and experiential interventions within their practice. The cost will be worth the benefit. I will use many of the activities in this book in my career groups and classes—it is an essential addition to my professional library.
Erin Harvey Bennett is a Career Counselor at The University of Tennessee in the Career Planning unit providing assistance to primarily exploratory students through counseling, workshops, and teaching. She received her Masters and Education Specialist Degree in Counseling and Human Systems from Florida State University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.