Work values of Generation X students

Date of Completion

January 1998


Education, Administration|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Higher




This study examined work values of Generation X. This generation has been the subject of lively debate in recent years with observers such as Coupland (1991) and Howe and Strauss (1993) contending that members of this generation are "slackers" and unmotivated workers and writers such as Burke (1994) and Tulgan (1995) contending just the opposite.^ The sample for the study consisted of 300 incoming freshmen at a private, New England comprehensive college. Selection was random and adjusted to assure gender balance.^ The subjects were administered The Values Scale (Super & Nevill, 1985). The scores obtained from the sample were compared to the normative data for first-year university students developed by the authors of the scale, and first published in 1985.^ Rank ordering of means of the sample as well as a comparison between the sample and the norm group via T-Tests revealed that unlike the norm group, Generation X students were very practical and career-minded. Values such as Achievement, Economic Security and Economic Rewards led the list for the sample, while more esoteric values such as Altruism and Ability Utilization led the list for the norm group.^ This study also examined the influence of gender, proposed major and parental career history. The data were subjected to a 2 x 3 x 4 factorial ANOVA and significant differences were found in 10 of the 21 scales. The data indicated that gender and proposed major had less influence on work values than past research suggested. Parental career history was found to have no significant influence.^ The researcher concluded that the portrait emerging from this data is one of very practical students, regardless of sex or proposed major, who see the need for hard work and focus in order to obtain a sense of economic and individual security in their lives, especially in recent economic times.^ The investigator suggested that further research of this nature be conducted so comparisons across sub-groups can occur. This is especially important as two-thirds of the sample for this study came from either dual-career families or single parent families and similar findings may not hold true for students from different backgrounds. ^