What Helps and Hinders the Hopefulness of Post-Secondary Students Who Have Experienced Significant Barriers


  • Barbara A. Smith University of British Columbia
  • Lauri Mills University of British Columbia
  • Norman E. Amundson University of British Columbia
  • Spencer Niles The College of William & Mary
  • Hyoyeon In Pennsylvania State University


post-secondary, students, barriers, hopefulness


This study investigated how undergraduate students in Canada and the United States experience high levels of hope in the face of challenges, specifically, what helps and hinders their hopefulness. Enhanced Critical Incident Technique was used, consisting of in-depth, semi-structured interviews allowing for open-ended, clarifying questions. Fifteen students self-reporting high levels of both hope and barriers were interviewed to ascertain their definitions of hope and the factors that helped and hindered hopefulness. Participants defined hope as a multidimensional concept involving affective, cognitive, behavioural, affiliative, contextual and temporal factors. 281 incidents revealed internal and environmental factors that influenced hope. Internal factors included future goals, attitude, passion, self-efficacy, social and professional contribution, refocusing activities, negative emotions and cognitions, and health. Environmental factors included support, role models, possibilities and opportunities, school, negative/ unsupportive people, situations outside one’s control, and economic/financial challenges. Spirituality emerged as an internal and environmental factor. Relationships emerged as having the most significant positive and negative impact on hope. Findings suggest that hope and the factors influencing it can play an integral role in students’ personal and career development, and that there is need for career counsellors in post-secondary Career Services departments.


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How to Cite

Smith, B. A. ., Mills, L., Amundson, N. E., Niles, S., & In, H. (2014). What Helps and Hinders the Hopefulness of Post-Secondary Students Who Have Experienced Significant Barriers. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 13(2), 59–74. Retrieved from https://cjcd-rcdc.ceric.ca/index.php/cjcd/article/view/183




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