Power of Perceptions
Lead University: University of New South Wales
Lead Researcher: Franz Carillo
Research Team: Franz Carillo and Ann Jardine
Year Funded: 2016
Funding Received: $156,465
This project identified key elements shaping regional and remote low socioeconomic status (SES) students’ aspirations to attend university; measured their perceptions about these elements; and quantified the impacts on student progression. A literature review was complemented by input from UNSW Aspire staff, and data was collected through student interviews. Outcomes from the research will provide widening participation practitioners with evidence on which to base decisions on program design.
- The objective of the project was to identify key elements that shape regional and remote low SES students’ aspirations to attend university; measure their perceptions about these elements; and quantify their impact on student progression.
- Elements that shape regional and remote students’ aspiration to progress to university were identified through a literature review, complemented by input from UNSW Aspire’s outreach staff, both practitioners and researchers.
- The research followed a theory of planned behavior model to categorise:
- students’ attitudes towards university
- their perceptions of control towards the decision of progressing towards university
- the way “significant others’” opinions and support were perceived by these students.
- 620 students in Year 12 from regional and remote areas of New South Wales were surveyed and asked to assess these elements according to their perceived importance.
- The results of this survey allowed quantification of the impact of the elements and obstacles previously identified.
- The data collected was modeled using statistical techniques, notably structural equation modeling.
- Students’ knowledge about university was positively related to their attitudes towards progressing to university and their perceptions of control about this decision.
- Students’ knowledge about university—study programs, university life and careers—proved to be a very relevant predictor of attitudes towards university and perceptions of control. That is, students with more knowledge about university tended to have more positive attitudes towards university and better perceptions of control over the decision of progressing towards it.
- The outcomes of this study will assist in providing widening participation practitioners with empirical research on which to base decisions on program design. It is hoped this will assist in addressing the underrepresentation of low SES regional students in Australian universities.
Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.