News & Events

Choosing university: The impact of schools and schooling

Taking into account socioeconomic status, Aboriginality, rurality, and gender, a new NCSEHE-funded research project is investigating the impact of schools on educational aspirations and university entry.

Professor Jenny Gore, Director of the Teachers and Teaching Research Program at the University of Newcastle, working alongside colleagues Dr Kathryn Holmes, Professor Max Smith, and PhD students Andrew Lyell and Hywel Ellis, is exploring factors associated with schools and schooling that impact on students’ aspirations to attend university. The project team seeks to better understand the barriers and enabling conditions over which schools have some control, with the resulting data forming the basis of a set of case studies and resources designed specifically to assist in preparing students for post-compulsory education.

Discussing the project, Professor Gore said:

“There are two major research questions that will be addressed through the design of this project:

1. To what extent and in what ways do schools support students’ aspirations for entry to, and experience of, university?


2. What aspects of schooling are likely to have the greatest impact in terms of improving the higher education participation and success of low SES and other marginalised students?

To answer these questions, we are drawing from and building on a project we’re simultaneously working on – a 2012-2015 ARC Linkage study (LP120100013)* of students’ educational and career aspirations from Year 3 to Year 12. For this supplementary study we’re focusing on the 2014 Year 11 cohort of approximately 1200 students because it’s at this point in schooling that planning for the transition to tertiary education typically solidifies. In addition, we have the students’ Year 9 and 10 survey data available, which will provide valuable insight into the development of their plans.

In keeping with the NCSEHE’s focus on improving higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people, we are selecting low SES and other marginalised students for interview based on their reported aspirations, school achievement and demographic data. Our semi-structured interviews will again build on extant data by capturing narratives of students’ lived experiences as they move into their senior secondary years.”

Professor Gore’s project is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2015, after which time her team’s final report will be made available here on the NCSEHE website.

*Titled “Targeting educational and career aspirations in the middle years of schooling: Understanding complexity for increased equity.”

Professor Jenny Gore recently completed a six year term as Dean and Head of the School of Education at the University of Newcastle. Having taugh tsecondary physical education in South Australia and completed a Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia and PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor Gore has held executive roles for the Australian Association for Research in Education, the Australian Council of Deans of Education, and the NSW Teacher Education Council. Jenny has been a Chief Investigator on ARC grants since 1992, including three Linkage projects. She has sat on Advisory Boards for other research programs, is an ARC grant assessor, and has assessed research grant applications for key schemes in Portugal and the United States. Professor Gore’s research work, particularly in the reform of teaching and teacher education, has had significant impact across government, Catholic and independent school systems.

Posted 16 June 2014 Posted in General, Indigenous, Low SES, Regional, rural and remote