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Student motivation: Study identifies what influences students’ desires to pursue higher education

If you want to motivate your child to seek higher education, then read on to know the factors that help motivate a student


Student motivation: Study identifies what influences students' desires to pursue higher education
Bengaluru, First Published Nov 18, 2019, 5:13 PM IST
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Washington DC: What are the factors that motivate or push a child to seek higher education? Is it their elementary education or their parent's aspirations or support, researchers have found the answer to it.

Elementary school that a student attends has almost no influence on their likeliness to go into higher education. But factors like parental aspirations, academic support from their mother and having a desk to work on are much more essential in motivating a child. These findings were published in the journal Educational Studies. The study, which looked at 1,000 pupils, showed that school and class size, the grade point average of the school and property prices, had little influence on the desire to pursue higher education.

To find out children's aspirations, researchers asked just over 1,000 pupils at 23 elementary schools in Zagreb to complete three separate questionnaires during their last two years at elementary school.

These questionnaires asked them whether they would like to continue to higher education, as well as about their parents and home life.

The questions also enquired about their parents' aspirations for them, the level of academic support they received from each of their parents, whether they had their own room, computer and desk, and whether they enjoyed school.

Researchers also obtained information on the pupils' academic grades, as well as on the size of each school and its classes, the grade point average for each school, and property prices in the area around each school as a measure of socioeconomic status.

Finally, they performed statistical analyses on these responses to determine which factors were most closely related with a desire to continue on to higher education.

This revealed that none of the school-level factors, including school and class size, grade point average of the school and property prices, had any influence on the desire to continue to higher education.

In contrast, several factors related to parents and home life, such as parental educational aspirations, maternal academic support and having a desk to work on, did have an influence, as did gender. Girls were more likely than boys to want to continue to higher education. And while school-level factors didn't have any influence, performance at school did: high academic grades were the single strongest predictor of a pupil's desire to continue to higher education while enjoying school was also an important factor.

"The major finding arising from the present study is that none of the school level variables used in our analysis contributes to the explanation of pupils' aspirations for higher education," said Josip Sabi, who carried the study.

"In other words, pupils who have similar individual characteristics but attend different schools will likely hold similar aspirations for higher education," Sabi added.

"Another important finding is that parents can influence their child's aspirations by expressing their expectations regarding the child's educational path and by providing the basic conditions for completing homework and learning (i.e. a desk to work on)," the researcher continued. 

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