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"Fit" matters: The role of interests and interest congruence in predicting career choice, performance, and persistence

Event Date: October 6, 2016
Speaker: Rong Su
Speaker Affiliation: Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University
Time: 3:30 - 4:20 PM
Location: Armstrong B071
Priority: No
School or Program: Engineering Education
Rong Su
Rong Su

Interests have been widely studied in social sciences as predictors of career choice and success in the work setting. In education, interest has been associated with motivation, learning, and academic achievement. Most existing work uses a univariate approach. In this talk, I will discuss the usefulness of a multivariate approach to studying interests, and more importantly, the “fit” between individual interests and their environments (e.g., an academic major, an occupation). Data will be presented from a meta-analysis of studies spanning 70 years and a longitudinal study with about 377,000 participants to demonstrate the advantage of considering interest profiles over individual interest scores. I will end the talk by reviewing methods for modeling interest congruence, or “fit”, and discuss implications of studying interest congruence in STEM research and engineering education.


BIO | Dr. Rong Su is an Assistant Professor in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University. She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research centers on the role of personality and interests in explaining and predicting workplace outcomes, including work attitudes, performance, career success, as well as gender and diversity in organizations. Dr. Su is particularly experienced in analyzing and modeling large-scale data sets and employs a variety of quantitative methods in her research. Her work has appeared in high-impact journals such as Psychological Bulletin, Perspectives on Psychological Science, and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and has been featured in major media outlets including Time and The New York Times.

Dr. Su currently serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Counseling Psychology and as a reviewer for over a dozen other journals. Outside of her academic appointment, Dr. Su is actively involved in the dissemination and application of research to make a broader impact. She has served as a research consultant for the U.S. Department of Labor, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and Educational Testing Service (ETS). She has concluded eight grant-funded research projects to date in the role of PI or Co-PI totaling $1.2 million.