Career aspirations of science students in rural and urban schools

Year: 1994

Author: Young, Deidra, Tims, Joanne, Montgomery, Carolyn, Fraser, Barry J.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The original purpose of this study was to compare Year 12 science and physics students, from both rural and urban schools in Western Australia, for their career aspirations. While we were particularly inquiring about why students chose science and engineering careers, we found that career aspirations were different for rural and urban students. However, as the research study progressed, many important findings became apparent. Summarily, this study found significant cultural differences between rural and urban students and these are discussed in this report. However, in many ways students were very similar in their reasons for choosing to become a scientist or engineer.

During 1993 and 1994, 729 Year 12 science and physics students were surveyed in 20 Western Australia high schools. Many students who indicated that they planned to continue their studies in the field of engineering were interviewed, along with principals and teachers. Further, this study encompassed many different communities and these are described as part of the overall context.

People living in rural Western Australia range widely in social, cultural, and economic aspects and types of occupations. These rural schools were situated in mining, fishing, farming and other industrial communities. This study was not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather to make a start at looking into schools located in both rural locations. These schools ranged markedly in demographic terms, and we have only begun to understand how the community influences these schools. We hope that we will be able to continue to research and understand rural education in Western Australia over the following years.