Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career and Higher Education

Major Professor

Victor M. Hernandez-Gantes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Oscar A. Aliaga, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric S. Davis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


digital badges, motivation, school counselors, Youth career exploration


The purpose of the study was to determine whether a youth’s career development, as defined by the Career Maturity Inventory (CMI Form C), is associated with motivation, student grade level, and number of merit badges earned as a result of participation as Boy Scouts. For close to three decades there has been a call to improve career counseling for middle and high school youth. However, due to a shortage of school counselors in middle and high schools, counselors are inundated with heavy workloads of various responsibilities and do not always have the ability to focus on youth career development. Thus, the inadequate career exploration and development can lead to high school graduates experiencing issues with their college and career readiness. The Boy Scouts of America (Scouts BSA) merit badge program exposes youth to a variety of hobbies, sciences, and vocations and could be a model for future career development interventions using a digital badging program.

The Career Maturity Inventory (CMI Form C) was used to measure the dependent variable career development. The instrument measured three scales consisting of concern, confidence, and curiosity, signifying career adaptability and a fourth scale, consultation, indicating relational style in making career choices. A composite score, career choice readiness, was also assessed using the instrument. The Aspiration Index (AI) instrument was used to determine the independent variable motivation by assessing the priority scouts placed on intrinsic versus extrinsic goals. The CMI Form C and AI were distributed to a large sample of Boy Scout youth from the Greater Sunshine Bay Area Council and scouts attending a Scouts BSA summer camp.

The results showed scouts with greater numbers of merit badges had higher mean scores on the CMI career choice readiness composite and the individual scales of curiosity and confidence than those with lower numbers of merit badges. While there was a moderate degree of correlation between the number of merit badges earned by a scout and the CMI career choice readiness, confidence, and curiosity scale scores, no relationship was found with the CMI concern scale. Despite having no relationship with merit badges, overall, scouts scored higher on this scale than the others.

Moreover, there was no relationship between the CMI scale score of consultation and the number of merit badges earned. Further, grade level and motivation were not associated with a scout’s level of career development. There was, however, a correlation between motivation and career consultation style. More research is needed to ascertain the reasons for these findings. Overall, the results from the study support the Scouts BSA merit badge program as a viable extracurricular option to aid in youth career development. To this end, similar badge programs can be created and modeled off the format of the Scouts BSA program for extracurricular use during and after school, thereby aiding school counselors with the task of youth career counseling and development.