Predicting Undergraduate Music Majors’ Academic Adjustment and Persistence Intentions

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The vocational/counseling psychology literature has devoted limited attention to factors thatpromote or hinder the career development of musicians. To address this gap, the current study adopted social cognitive career theory (SCCT) as a framework to examine the experiences of musicians at a formative point in their development – the first few years of college, during which many would-be musicians either confirm or abandon their career plans. This study combines features of SCCT’s well-being and choice models to explore social cognitive and personality factors that might predict satisfaction with, and intended persistence in, undergraduate music majors. In the current study, I tested a number of the models’ central predictions in the context of music major education. In particular, I hypothesized that academic adjustment, as indexed by academic domain satisfaction and stress, would be predicted by favorable levels of music major- relevant self-efficacy, outcome expectations, social support, goal progress, and trait affect. I also hypothesized that academic adjustment would, in turn, predict intentions to persist in the music curriculum beyond the first two years of college. In addition to their indirect links through satisfaction, self-efficacy and outcome expectations were posited to produce direct links to persistence intentions. Participants were 260 first- and second-year undergraduate music majors. The hypothesized model produced excellent fit to the data and accounted well for variation in both music major satisfaction and persistence intentions. With a few exceptions (e.g., a non- significant direct path from outcome expectations to persistence intentions), most of the path coefficients were statistically significant and in the expected direction. These findings suggest that this adaptation of the SCCT well-being and choice models offers a useful framework from which to study the academic satisfaction and persistence intentions of music majors.