Rural and regional students' perceptions of schooling and factors that influence their aspirations

  • Jane Watson University of Tasmania
  • Suzie Wright University of Tasmania
  • Ian Hay University of Tasmania
  • Kim Beswick University of Tasmania
  • Jeanne Allen Deakin University
  • Neil Cranston University of Tasmania
Keywords: aspiration, attendance, friends, rural, school completion, teacher support

Abstract

Based on a sample of over 3000 primary and secondary school students located in regional and rural schools in Tasmania (Australia) this research had three aims: to identify (1) students' self-perceptions of schooling with a focus on high school completion (referred to as school retention); (2) if gender, socio-economic factors, level of school absenteeism, and school setting (primary or secondary) influenced the students' responses; and (3) which factors had the greatest influence on the students' aspirations to continue their schooling. A 42-item survey produced eight factors: (1) Teacher Support, (2) Aspirations, (3) School Organisation, (4) English Ability, (5) Maths Ability, (6) Friends, (7) Other Activities, and (8) Career Goals. Higher levels of absenteeism, lower socio-economic status, and transitioning to secondary school reduced scores on the factors. Girls had higher scores for three factors: (1) Teacher Support, (2) English Ability, and (3) Aspirations. Regression analysis identified Friends, English and Mathematics Ability, Other Activities, and Teacher Support as the 'best predictors' of students' aspiration to continue schooling. The implications of the significant findings for school practice are discussed with recommendations for interventions.

Author Biographies

Jane Watson, University of Tasmania
Professor Emerita of Mathematics Education
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania
Suzie Wright, University of Tasmania
Project Manager and Research Assistant Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania
Ian Hay, University of Tasmania
Professor Emeritus of Education
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania
Kim Beswick, University of Tasmania
Professor in Mathematics Education
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania
Jeanne Allen, Deakin University
Associate Professor of Education
School of Education
Deakin University
Neil Cranston, University of Tasmania
Adjunct Professor of Education
Faculty of Education
University of Tasmania

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Published
2016-11-15
Section
JOURNAL PAPERS