Helping or hindering: The influences on decisions

Year: 1994

Author: Johnson, Stephen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Decisions about what options to undertake after leaving high school are a result of complex psychological and sociological influences- direct and indirect, deliberate and fortuitous, self-knowledge, educational and occupational opportunities, genetic and early childhood influences are part of the complex system that shapes career development, choice behaviour, self-identity, and career identity.

Often the process of decision-making by youth is regarded by counsellors, teachers and researchers within the framework of the home and the school. More recently the influence of the peer group has become an important consideration. Changes within the post-compulsory education system and the economic system beyond school have resulted in a more diverse student body. Little attention is paid to those who do not see "work" as central to their lifestyle or aspirations or those for whom it is not a matter of choosing what they want to do but what they don't want to do. The heterogeneity of youth is often forgotten.

This study examines the post-high school intentions of final-year students and their perceptions of the influences that have helped or hindered their decision-making. The research details a complex model that integrates psychological and sociological influences, such as peer relationships and access.

The research reported details the results of interviews with 48 final- year students (24 male and 24 female) from six selected government- funded senior high schools. A group interview and two individual interviews were conducted for each school. The students interviewed were predominantly of North European descent. Chinese Malay, South European, recent immigrants and children of immigrants formed part of the interview group.