Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

E. Ayn Welleford

Second Advisor

Barbara Myers


Professional identity is a complex construct that describes how an individual develops a sense of self-concept within a chosen profession. Professional identity refers to a self definition within a professional role based on attributes, beliefs, values, motives, and experiences (Ibarra, 1999). This study explored the relationships between the professional identity of gerontology graduates and age, career stage, student typology, occupation, and value of experiential learning both quantitatively and qualitatively. Survey results indicate that experiential learning opportunities provide a framework for all gerontology students to gain and apply the skills and knowledge necessary for professional identity development in the field of aging. Findings indicate that experiential learning and mentorship represent important, but different outcomes for students who are new to the field of gerontology vs. students who are already employed in an aging-related profession prior to enrollment in a graduate gerontology program.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

July 2011

Included in

Psychology Commons