The System of Interactive Guidance Information (SIGI) is a computer-assisted career guidance system (CACGS) for university students and adults. It is a computer program designed to help people make informed career decisions via self-assessments and in-depth, current educational and job information. The program also has an educational aspect that teaches users about the career decision-making process. SIGI provides users with realistic choices for educational and career options that are likely to best suit them based on self-assessment results that are matched to fields of study and occupations that are held in databases that are accessed by the program. SIGI is a career exploration tool students may use to determine how their interests, values, and skills relate to a wide variety of career fields, as well as the education, skills, and background required for these fields.
Donald Super, David Tiedeman, and Martin Katz explored early ideas about computer use in career development in the 1950s and 1960s. SIGI is a computer program that was developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) based on Martin Katz’s career decision-making theory and was originally released in 1970. SIGI was one of the first computer products of its kind. When ETS introduced SIGI in 1970, the company offered computerized career information and guidance to community colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities across the United States.
During the mid-1980s, SIGI became SIGI PLUS when it was reprogrammed for microcomputers and other enhancements were added. The program was modified for use with Microsoft Windows in 1996, and in 2001 ETS developed the first Web-based version. ETS upgraded and enhanced SIGI over the years, and SIGI PLUS operated both on the Internet and on personal computers.
Valpar International has been creating and marketing vocational assessment instruments since 1973. In July of 2004, Valpar acquired SIGI PLUS from ETS in order to expand its selection of career exploration software. On May 30, 2005, Valpar replaced the Internet version of SIGI PLUS with SIGI3, which is a revision of SIGI PLUS that has been updated and expanded. SIGI3 is a Web-based version of SIGI PLUS that maintains the content and philosophy of the older version, but it provides a more updated and efficient interface. Features of SIGI PLUS remain or have been enhanced, and navigating the software has been made easier. Valpar will be adding features such as a new look to the screens, a more intuitive user interface, improved navigation, expanded occupational database, enhanced student portfolio, management reports, additional assessments such as a personality trait survey, video library, publicity kit, and other changes, but Valpar will not change the values-based career exploration foundation of SIGI PLUS.
Review of the SIGI Literature
SIGI PLUS quickly became one of the leading three career guidance systems on the market in terms of sales and popularity. However, research supporting the effectiveness of SIGI, SIGI PLUS, SIGI3, and other CACGSs is relatively scant. These interventions have been utilized with numerous career clients, despite having relatively little research support for their efficacy. Approximately 22 citations related to either SIGI or SIGI PLUS can be found. No recent or research articles on SIGI3 were found on Valpar’s Web site or elsewhere.
Satisfaction with SIGI
Over the years, a number of researchers have attempted to compare user satisfaction with SIGI to satisfaction with other CACGSs and career counseling methods such as individual and group career counseling.
Comparison of SIGI with Other CACGSs
When compared with other CACGSs, students and counselors have rated SIGI highly in terms of satisfaction, specifically regarding the program’s helpfulness and appeal. Users have expressed satisfaction with both SIGI and SIGI PLUS programs, which in their times have historically been popular and were commonly used CACGSs.
Stand-Alone SIGI versus SIGI and Individual Career Counseling
There has been a long-term debate in the literature about how SIGI and other CACGSs should be utilized. Some authors suggest that SIGI can be used as a stand-alone career exploration tool; others argue that career counseling in addition to use of the program enhances outcomes. Some authors have examined whether or not traditional counseling intervention is required to maximize the effectiveness of SIGI use. Multiple studies have indicated that students prefer using SIGI when individual counseling is available as a follow-up to their experience with the program. Counselors thus seem to be a vital and desired component of the computer-assisted guidance process.
A separate question is whether or not SIGI affects changes in career development and decision making. It is this issue to which this entry will now turn.
Effectiveness of SIGI
A number of studies have examined the effectiveness of SIGI. Overall, SIGI has demonstrated significant positive changes. For example, SIGI users have shown significant positive changes on measures of decision-making stage related to occupation. Brief exposure to SIGI can also have positive effects related to choice of a college major. SIGI’s approach to career exploration might create the excitement and motivation needed to facilitate concentration and attention of new users. SIGI also is an individualized approach that is adaptable to user needs, providing personal attention and information to the user.
SIGI versus SIGI PLUS
Students have found SIGI and SIGI PLUS to be equally helpful for obtaining information about themselves and the world of work, effectiveness in suggesting career options, and appeal of using a computer for career exploration. Students tend to prefer using SIGI PLUS to SIGI. However, no differences in impact have been found, even when potential moderator variables have been taken into account. Users rated the systems comparably in terms of self- and occupational assessment, generation of options, and general helpfulness, regardless of other factors such as their scores on career decidedness, vocational identity, perceived barriers, information needs, or year in school.
SIGI versus Group Career Counseling
Multiple studies have compared the effects of SIGI with group career counseling, with mixed results. At times, both interventions have been found to be effective; at others, only SIGI produced positive results. Regardless, SIGI appears to have a consistently positive impact on career development of users.
SIGI and Individual Career Counseling
SIGI alone has been found to be somewhat effective in enhancing career outcomes. However, many individuals using SIGI desire access to the combination of SIGI and individual career counseling. There is also some indication that users find that a combination of SIGI and counseling is more beneficial in meeting their needs than SIGI alone.
The Future of SIGI
More than 30 CACGSs have been developed in the past few decades. However, many of these systems have become obsolete or are simply not commonly used. SIGI seems to have stood the test of time by going through multiple revisions and further enhancements and adaptations for use with current computer technologies. Given its long history and apparent revitalization by Valpar, there appears to be a place for SIGI in the career development of university students and adults in future years to come. SIGI will need to be kept up to date and relevant to remain a competitive product. This seems likely given that Valpar has committed to revising the program regularly, rather than just once a year as it has been in the past.
- Cairo, P. C. (1983). Evaluating the effects of computer-assisted counseling systems: A selected review. The Counseling Psychologist, 11(4), 55-59.
- Chapman, W. (1975). Counselor’s handbook for SIGI. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
- Cochran, D., Hoffman, S., Strand, K., & Warren, P. (1977). Effects of client/computer on career decision-making processes. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 24, 308-312.
- Crites, J. O. (1973). The Career Maturity Inventory. Monterey, CA: McGraw-Hill.
- Hinkelman, J. M. (1998). The effects of DISCOVER on the career maturity and career indecision of rural high school students: A randomized field experiment. Dissertation Abstracts International, 59, 8A, 2868. (University Microforms No. AAG9904847)
- Kapes, J. T., Borman, C. A., & Frazier, N. (1989). An evaluation of the SIGI and Discover microcomputer-based career guidance systems. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 22(3), 126-136.
- Pyle, K. R., & Stripling, R. O. (1976). The counselor, the computer, and career development. Vocational Guidance Quarterly, 3, 137-144.
- Pyle, K. R., & Stripling, R. O. (1977). Counselor vs. computer in career development. NASPA Journal, 14, 38-40.
- Reardon, R. C., Peterson, G. W., Sampson, J. P., Ryan-Jones, R. E., & Shahnasarian, M. (1992). A comparative analysis of the impact of SIGI and SIGI PLUS. Journal of Career Development, 18(4), 315-322.
- Sampson, J. P., Jr. (1979). User guide for SIGI. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
- Sampson, J. P., Jr. (1983). An integrated approach to computer applications in counseling psychology. The Counseling Psychologist, 11(4), 65-74.
- Sampson, J. P., Jr., & Stripling, R. O. (1979). Strategies for counselor intervention with a computer-assisted career guidance system. Vocational Guidance Quarterly, 27, 230-238.
- SIGI [Computer software]. (1970). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. SIGI PLUS [Computer software]. (1997). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.