Teaching Career Development: A Primer for Instructors and Presenters

Book Review by Emily E. Bullock and Kanwarjit Arora

[Editor's Note: This book review originally appeared in Career Convergence Web Magazine in March 2009. A second edition of this monograph was published in 2016.]


Debra S. Osborn, Teaching Career Development: A Primer for Instructors and Presenters, NCDA, 2008.

If you have ever heard or voiced complaints about poor instruction in career counseling courses, this monograph is a sure-fire remedy for that problem. Teaching Career Development: A Primer for Instructors and Presenters provides a fresh and detailed look at teaching and presenting on career development topics. In a motivating, personable, and easy-to-read style, Dr. Debra Osborn's monograph provides information for anyone interested in instructing or presenting on career development.

Dr. Osborn takes the reader through a journey as she uses the monograph's outlined teaching techniques to help the reader integrate her suggestions into his or her own teaching style. Throughout the monograph, Dr. Osborn presents ideas such as "what are some of the characteristics of effective teachers you have had?"  She then encourages the reader to write down their ideas in a box provided in the text. She makes statements such as "instructor lecturing ≠ student thinking or learning." The author expounds on such statements to help the reader clarify his or her purpose of using particular activities in class and translating that purpose to help students understand why they have been given that assignment.

The reader cannot separate the substance of this monograph from its author. One of the most powerful aspects of Dr. Osborn's writing style is her balance of self-disclosure with the technical information she shares. While helping the reader apply the monograph's information to his or her own presentation style and situation, she provides examples from her own experiences to make the information clearer and give credence to the advice she shares. Even without face-to-face interaction, the reader feels as if they get to know this author and experience her style of presenting information. Somehow Dr. Osborn achieves a lofty goal of serving as a model on how to present information to others.

Several chapters in the monograph cover general topics relevant to teaching a career development course and are applicable to any teacher or aspiring presenter:

The reviewers found the chapter on active learning strategies (ALS) to be particularly applicable to any teacher or presenter. The chapter covers specific ALS for any presentation situation (e.g., use of case studies, think-pair-share activity). It also covers the benefits of ALS, such as increasing students' learning and trying fresh approaches to sharing information.

Other chapters apply these general ideas to specific settings in which one may provide career development information:

These chapters cover information on teaching career development so comprehensively that they are a sure time saver and invaluable resource. The introduction to each chapter is thorough enough for the reader to determine how relevant this chapter may be for his or her situation. Woven throughout each chapter are techniques and activities described in detail (with associated graphs, charts and figures) that one could implement with the chapter's focus population. All of the suggestions allow new and veteran instructors to fill their teaching tool box with new and exciting ideas (e.g., course wiki). Each chapter is supplemented with discussion questions that prompt the reader to think about his or her specific situation and application of the suggestions from each chapter. Although the number and complexity of the questions may prove daunting for some, they are challenging and applicable. In addition, each chapter offers a population-specific look at everything one could consider before or when redesigning teaching or presenting on career development:

The chapter on teaching online is an invaluable resource for anyone planning or contemplating teaching a course online. As with many of the chapters in this monograph, this one could serve as a stand alone resource. The chapter begins by walking the reader through the decision to teach an online course. Dr. Osborn is very frank about the positives and risks associated with teaching courses online. She also debunks some myths associated with online teaching, such as e-teaching is easier than teaching face-to-face. Dr. Osborn presents methods on how to create connections with learners online, as this is a common concern for students and teachers of online courses. Some of her suggestions may be beyond the comfort zone of some instructors (e.g., posting pictures of you and your family). Yet, overall, she provides excellent suggestions for how to create a connection with students without having a personal meeting with each student in the course. She ends this chapter with a step-by-step approach to translating a face-to-face course into an online format as well as some specific activities and strategies for making online learning effective.

The first author of this review has taught undergraduate and graduate career courses over several semesters, as well as presented on career-related topics at professional conferences. The second author of this review has not yet had the experience of teaching or presenting. The authors see this monograph meeting the needs of both the experienced and inexperienced teacher. It provides information to help revitalize the approach of veteran teachers, prepare those who plan to teach and present in the future, and is applicable to multicultural settings.

For a college or university faculty member looking for assistance as they prepare a career development course for undergraduate or graduate students, this monograph is likely to be the most helpful resource available with regards to career development course preparation and teaching in general. Ultimately, we could review this monograph in one sentence: We recommend this monograph to any new teacher or presenter and would buy it as a gift for a teacher of a career development course!


This book is no longer available - however the Second Edition is in the Career Resource Store.

Emily E. Bullock, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology at The University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Bullock teaches undergraduate and graduate vocational psychology and career development courses.  She has presented at the local, state, and national levels on career-related topics and research.  Her research program at USM focuses on vocational psychology theories, career development and counseling, workplace issues, and assessment with a concentration on Holland's RIASEC theory and the cognitive information processing approach (http://ocean.otr.usm.edu/~w313873/index.html). She can be contacted at Emily.Bullock@usm.edu.


Kanwarjit Arora Kanwarjit Arora is a Counseling Psychology doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi. She is an international student from India with a background in clinical psychology. Her research area is vocational psychology and she is a member of Emily Bullock's research team. She is a beginner in career assessment and counseling research. She is in the process of preparing for teaching classes and presenting papers at conferences. She can be contacted at kanwarjit.kanwarjit@usm.edu .