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Career decision-making and exploration are important activities for graduating undergraduates, yet previous studies reveal many students have not initiated this process in part due to lack of identity formation at this stage of development. A life story review exercise has been identified as one possible strategy for solidifying identity formation and increasing career decision-making and exploration. The Life Story exercise is a writing project that prompts students to write about key experiences that shape their identity. Previous research has demonstrated that these stories often revolve around themes of agency and communion. A recent study indicated that students that completed the Life Story exercise demonstrated significant increases in career decision-making and trend toward increased identity formation as well. This current study seeks to further understand the relationship of these variables. Further analysis for the presence of life stories themes (agency and communion) revealed that students who included themes of agency (the agency theme achievement in “High Point” stories, t=6.59, p<.05, and status/victory themes in “Turning Point” stories, t=4.39, p<.05), but not communion, in their stories were related to higher scores on career decision making and exploration. As such, students who wrote about these themes indicated greater career decision-making and exploration than students who did not; differences in communion themes were not related to career decision-making or exploration scores. Inadequate power may explain the lack of additional thematic statistical findings.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)


Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Jennifer Wartella


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

Is Part Of

VCU Undergraduate Research Posters


© The Author(s)

A Review of Life Stories for Themes of Agency and Communion Within an Undergraduate Population