Cambodian State Education System Education Essay

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In the Cambodian state education system, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has reformed the curriculum several times as the education system has evolved and regional and international forces have been recognized and incorporated in the national educational priorities. For example, the development of a national policy on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) policy in 2004 was the government's response to the increasing recognition of the role of computer technology and the internet in the capacity building and education of Cambodian students.In 2004 theMoEYS reformed the educational system by developing the school curriculum in general education (Grade 1-12). There were changes with time allocation and subject choice. The MoEYS policy stated that:

Key features of the 1996 Core Curriculum have been upgraded and improved.

For example, the curriculum policy establishes teaching time allocation,

provide time in a curriculum for a Local Life Skill Program (LLSP) and offers

subject choice selection for Grades 11 and 12 students by adding learning

hours for each subject and students learn less subjects than before (2004, p. ii).

The curriculum policy in 1996 had 13 subjects: Khmer Literature, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Earth Science, Morals-Civics, Home Economics, Sports and Art/Computer which were all compulsory for students in upper secondary school level (Grade 10 to 12). Since 2008, the MoEYS reformed the curriculum by offering the elective subjects for students in grade 10 to choose for their senior year in grade 11 and 12. This new curriculum policy development allows grade 11 and 12 students to study only 7-8 subjects. It has 4 subjects that are compulsory and another 3 or 4 subjects that are elective subjects (see Table 1).

Table 1

Students choose their program of study following the time allocation indicated from the subjects areas listed below.


Khmer Literature 6 hours

Physical and health education, and sport2 hours

Foreign Language

Must choose one

English 4 hours

French 4 hours


Must choose one

Basic 4 hours

Advanced 8 hours

ELECTIVES Each subject is taught for 4 hours per work


May choose none, one or two or three




Earth and Environmental Studies


May choose none, one, or two or three






May choose none, one or two or three


Accounting/Business Management

Local Vocation Technical Subjects


Art Education (and other subjects)

Students who choose Math (Basic) must choose 4 subjects from the Electives

Total 16 h + (4 x 4) = 32 hours per week

Students who choose Math ( Advanced ) must choose 3 subjects from the Electives

Total 20 h + (3 x 4) = 32 hours per week

( MoEYS, 2004, p. 12)

The purpose for the curriculum for grade 11 and 12 is described:

The Grade 11-12 curriculum is to provide students with the opportunity for increased specialization through subject choice to develop a depth of knowledge in particular subjects or to take training-based vocational subjects or to participate in social life (MoEYS, 2004, p.12).

The national curriculum policy development in 2004 also included the incorporation of a structure of study where students were required to choose a subject major, either sciences or social studies at the end of grade 10. This was, in a part, intended to allow the students to focus their studies in the senior years (Grade 11 and 12) as they looked to opportunities for future education and training or employment after completion of high school.

Increasingly, students are aspiring to attend a university after completing their senior years at high school and from my observations and discussion with other teaching staff the students appear to be making the choice of their subject major based on which is most likely to result in a high mark in the Grade 12 exam rather than on what subjects might best prepare them for university or further study after school. A student's result in the national grade 12 examis the only factor that is considered when determining if a young person may qualify to enroll in university. Anecdotally it appears that increasing numbers of students are electing to study the science major in high school in the belief they can achieve a high mark allowing university entry however only a small percentage have been found to go on to further study in the sciences fields.In higher education, most students enrolled in the social study fields74% in which Business administration 47%, Foreign Language 12%, Law 6%, Tourism 2%, and Social Science and Art 7% morethan science programs 18% with Health 5%, Agriculture 4% and Engineering 3%(Mak, 2012).

With little or no career education included in the formal education program of Cambodian secondary and high school for the students it is not known how young people make their selection in grade 10 of which subject major to focus on in their final two years of high school.

Problem Statement

High school students confront many decisions about their future when choosing a direction after completing high school. For example, if they want to attend university or technical education, what their life's goals might be, which career field would they like to work in, and what pathways do they need to take to achieve their goals? Some high school graduates often do not feel confident in looking for employment. Accessing accurate information about higher education and further education pathways, careers, and employment opportunities in Cambodia are a challenge for a young person trying to make an informed decision about their future direction. Many adolescents do not understand what decisions they needed to make about their future. The recent creation of the National Employment Agency is one attempt to try to fill in some of the missing information gap by providing a great deal of labor market information through two convenient options: (a) the online service at and (b) job centers services such as job net service, library service, and advisory and labor market information service.

Literature in the field of career development and career education stressed the important role of schools in providing good quality and timely career education to young people in the 13 - 17 year age groups. It was found that when young people in this age group were provided with quality career education their confidence in their ability to make informed choices for their direction after school was significantly improved (Bardick, Bernes, Magnusson & Witko, 2004). Students were often not clear when asked what their subject choice and future career would be and this is as a result of a fairly short-term and narrow view of their lives, they rarely had a view of a future much beyond the end of school (Siann, Lightbody, Nicholson, Tait & Walsh, 1998). Most adolescents were at a disadvantage when it came to opportunities for developing their career identities because they had limited access to role models offering of different career options. Thus, school career educators or career counselors were challenged to do as much as possible in educating students about career options and exposing them to a wide variety of occupations. In addition, the American National Career Development Association's (NCDA) guidelines (1994) were instrumental in providing more effective career development programs for school career centers in the United States of America. Most adolescents were unable to make intelligent career decisions based only on life experiences. Consequently, they required support and exploration in the form of curriculum offerings and guidance programs to help guide them towards a career direction (Gysbers as cited in Rowland).

Grade 10 students in Cambodian high schools are required to select their subject major for their final two years of high school and it is unclear why they make the choice they do. It has also been observed that a number of students in grade 11 will change their subject major for their final year and it is not understood why some students make such a change at such a late stage in their schooling.

In light of the lack of career education available for students in Cambodian schools, the lack of accurate information for making informed decisions about post-high school pathways available to students, their teachers and their families and in view of the trends I have observed of students making subject major selections apparently based on the goal of getting the highest score in the grade 12 national examination the following questions will be explored.

Research Questions

1. What are the reasons identified by grade 10 students in high school X for their senior school subject major choice? What influences on their decision making can the students identify when making their subject major choice at grade 10?

2. Why do many grade 11 students at high schoolX change to a different subject major for their final grade at school?

Significance of Study

This study will inform the curriculum developers with details on how important career education is in helping students with decision-making for their future career.It may also give some insight into the thinking and decision making skills of students which can inform the development of career planning sessions at high school X.

Chapter 2

Literature Review

This chapter discusses the literature which has described some of the research conducted on school subject choice and students' decision making on future career pathways. It also discusses some of the literature that has exploredreasons that students may change their subject major in the last grade in high school.

The literature in this review was found by using the websites of Google, google scholar, the Hun Sen free journal databases and, an overseas university e-journal collection. Key words used to identify articles included: subject choice, subject major, career development, career education, major choice, and career planning.

Other international literature was identified by the use of references in articles found. Several well- known scholars such as Elsworth, Beavis, Ainley, Fabris, Krumboltz, Holland have written many articles on career theory and career decision making.However there are not any studies conducted on students changing their subject major for the final year in high school.

This chapter has been structured following several themes that emerged as literature was reviewed. It will describe the relevant literature focused on the issues surrounding the research objective. This chapter has been classified into several sub sections based on

themes. The following sections will first started with national education system of Cambodia, next with career decision making theories, and importance of career education, then students' decision making, and finally factors related to students' career decision making.

National Education System of Cambodia

The national education system collapsed during the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-79). However, since 1979 it has been re-established. The Cambodia education system has been continuously reformed to meet the society's needs. Since 1996, the education system has consisted of 12 years of general education (Primary and Secondary education). The medium of instruction is Khmer language and the academic year runs from October to June.

Primary education.

Primary Education is the first level of the education system in Cambodia. It lasts 6 years (Grade 1 to 6). Children from the age of six are eligible this level of education.

Secondary education.

Secondary education lasts 6 years. It is divided into lower secondary (Grade 7 to 9) and upper secondary (Grade 10 to 12). At the end of Grade 9 students take a national examination leading to a Diploma of lower secondary education. In the grade 9 exam there are 10 subjects: Khmer Literature, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Earth Science, Morals-Civics, and a foreign language (either English or French). Students are graded in A, B, or C for the national exam result. Individual subject results are not announced for the grade 9 exam. In the grade 12 exam, students sit 10 compulsory subjects such as Khmer Literature, Mathematics, Physics, Foreign Language (English or French), Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Earth Science, and Morals-Civics. Students are awarded an overall pass (grade A, B, C, D or E). Individual subject results (grade A-E) are also shown (MoEYS, 2004).

Career Decision Making Theories

Career decision making is an important issue in the life of any individual. Matchinga person's work to their interests and skills could contribute towards an individual living a life of meaning and purpose as well as meeting their material goals. However, choosing a career most suitable for an individual is not easy thing and is something that has been the focus of a number of writers and researchers in the last 100 years. Numerous researchers havesought to explain how and why people make career choices and they have developed theories as an aid in explaining the career decision making process. I have selected two major theories for my review based on a scan of the extensive literature in the field of career education and decision making because these theories help people with career decision making and career development.

Krumboltz's theory.

According to Krumboltz's social-learning theory (as cited in Isaacson & Brown, 2000)apersonmakes their career choices through the perspective of behaviors he or she had been able to learn. Just as individuals had been able to learn the behaviors and skills they possess, and they were capable to learning new ones. In his theory on people's career decision making and career development,Krumboltz argued that people are influenced by four factors " (a) genetic endowment and special abilities, (b) environmental conditions and events, (c) learning experiences and (d) task approach skills"(pp. 38-39).

Genetic endowment and special abilities: refer to those aspects of the individual that

are inherited or innate rather than learned. These include physical appearance, physical illness and other characteristics. In addition, some individuals are born with special abilities in the writing, art, music, athletics, and so on. In general, people born with innate genetic abilities can help them with their learning and teaching.

Environmental conditions and events: refer to social factors, educational and

occupational condition affect individuals' career decision making.

Learning experiences: refer to one's career preferences are a result of her or his

learning experience that will influence his or her career decision.

Task- approach skills: is interactions among genetic endowment, environmental

conditions and learning experiences contribute to skills in doing a variety of tasks which individuals will approach is important to career decision ( as cited in Sharf, 2006).

Krumboltz's social-learning theory is theory that is used to assist students with their career choices and development. It is a theory that can help teachers develop curriculum that allow students to explore their genetic heritage, and the social economic situation in which they live and will be working. Using Krumboltz's theory schools can also develop work experience and internship programs that will provide experiential learning opportunities which can expand a student's self understanding and where they have opportunities to meet people working in fields that may previously not been consciously considered as possibly career options.

Holland's theory.

Holland's theory (as cited in Gibson & Mitchell, 2006) revealed that an individual expressed their personality through their career choice based on the following assumptions:

Most persons can be categorized as one of six types:realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional.

There are six kinds of environments: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, and conventional.

People search for environments that will let them exercise their skills and abilities, express their attitudes and values, and take on agreeable problems and roles.

A person's behavior is determined by an interaction between his personality and characteristics of his environment (p. 64).

A brief explanation of Holland's personality styles and occupational environments (as cited in Osborn &Zunker, 2006, p.11)(see Table 2).

Table 2

Holland personal style


Personal Style

Occupational Environment

Realistic (R)

R types prefer concrete versus abstract work tasks, work outdoors in manual activities, and like to work alone or with other realistic people.

Most occupations are blue-collar ones, such as plumber, electrician, and service occupations.

Investigative (I)

I types prefer to work in an environment where one is required to use abstract and analytical skills, are somewhat independent, and are strongly oriented to accomplishing tasks.

Many scientific professions require high levels of education and are intellectually oriented, such as chemist, biologist, and researcher. Examples of other investigative occupations are laboratory technician, computer programmer, and electronics worker.

Artistic (A)

A types include imaginative and creative individuals who value aesthetics, prefer self-expression through the arts, and are rather independent and extroverted.

Some occupations included in this category are sculptor, artist, designer, music teacher, orchestra leader, editor, write, and critic.

Social (S)

S types are very concerned with social problems, prefer social interaction, are religious, participate in community service, are interested in educational activities, and prefer working with people. There is a strong orientation toward working with others and using interpersonal skills.

Occupational categories in this group include those in education, such as teacher, school, administrators, and college professional nurse.

Enterprising (E)

E types are extroverted, aggressive, adventurous, dominant, and persuasive prefer leadership roles. Their behavior is also characterized as goal-directed, and they like to coordinate others' work.

Occupational categories are managerial and including workers in charge of production and in various sales positions.

Conventional (C)

C types are practical, well controlled, sociable, and rather conservative. They prefer structured tasks and are comfortable when working with details.

Occupations include office and clerical workers, accountant, bookkeeper, receptionist, teller, and key-punch operator.

Holland's RIASEC model is illustrated in Figure 1 below

Figure 1

Holland's RIASEC Model



Holland's theory is a trait-factor theory and is widely used in school education and

career planning activities in countries where the curriculum includes career development programs or services for students. A variety of instruments have been developed that are easy for students to use, for example, the Career Explorer for middle grades and the SDS-Form R for senior grades. There are also instruments available online for students to use as they explore their career options and preference, see for example there are several Holland based self-tests freely available for use.

Importance of Career Education

Career education is defined as "encompasses the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes through a planned program of learning experiences in education and training, settings that will assist students to make informed decisions about their study and/or work options and enable them to participate effectively in working life". (

In Canada, a research project was conducted by Bardick, Bernes, Magnusson andWitko (2004) that revealed that junior high students perceived career planning to be important for them when they reached high school or when they made a decision about a career, or when they looked for a job. The researchers argued that introducing the process of career planning to students at the junior high level would serve to increase students' awareness of the relevance of career decision-making and influenced their willingness to explore possible options, rather than wait until the students were forced to make a decision in senior high school.

Likewise, another study that focused on middle grades students by Schaefer, Rivera andOphals reported that:

During the critical middle grades years, students need opportunities to gain greater self-awareness, access information about their educational and career options, and develop the skills and competencies they will need to make important decisions about their future (2010, p. 31).

And according to Arrington, Trusty, Niles & Carney (as cited in Schaefer, Rivera &Ophals, 2010) the middle school grades (ages 12-15) were important times to students' career development, here students started to make decision that would impact not only their high school educational opportunities and experiences but also their post-high school educational and career options.

A similar study by Trusty and Niles (2004) on high school variables had strong effects on degree completion and implications for helping young people in their educational career development. They revealed the importance of individual education, career planning to long-term career development because systematic planning would help students construct learning experiences and develop necessary skills that lead to complete a bachelor's degree. Students could realize their potential or lost talent in educational career. Furthermore, students really needed help with individual planning in middle school and earlier, because middle school courses are involved in high school.

In Canada, a study by Bardic, Bernes, Magnusson and Witko (2006) on junior high school students with career plans for the future. Many questions related to their career plan were asked to find out the career goals. The results of the study indicated that junior high school students were ready, willing and able to consider their future plans seriously because they were involved in a career program planning that leaded them to greater insight and interest in career exploration, and also helped them to make positive career decision. Furthermore, engaging students in career planning program would allow students to meet more effectively meet adolescents' career development needs.

In an Australian study by Watson, Creed and Patton (2003) on the influence of contextual factors on the career decision states of 429 South African and 623 Australian male and female students in grades 8 to 12. Their findings found that there was different career decision behavior of nations. Both schools provided students with career education program in a part of curricular activities from grades 8 to 12 and the content of examination program emphasized on cognitive exploration concerning subject and career choice information. However, the South African career education program provided students with uncertainty and indecision compared to those of Australian because it provided career information, but failed to address deeper issues concerning individuals' feelings about their capacities to make decisions.

All of the studies described above stressed the importance of career program planning which assisted students to explore their potential and make right decision to develop their career development to complete their degree in order to achieve their career goals (Bardick, Bernes, Magnusson & Witko,2004; Arrington,2000, Trusty, Niles & Carney,2005; Trusty & Niles, 2004; Bardick, Bernes, Magnusson &Witko, 2006; Watson, Creed & Patton,2003; Scaefer, Rivera & Ophals, 2010). Researchers also claimed that career planning would be introduced to school from middle school (Scaefer, Rivera & Ophals, 2010), and from junior school (Bardick, Bernes, Magnusson &Witko, 2004).

Students' Decision Making

In Australia, a study on generic interests and school subject choice was conducted by Elsworth, Beavis, Ainley, and Fabris (1999). Their findings revealed that there were strong and persistent associations between the gender and social background of students and their subject participation. Males were more likely to be enrolled in Agriculture, Computing, Mathematics, Physical Education, Physical Science and Technology, whilst females were more likely to be enrolled in Biology and Other Science, Creative Arts, Health, Home Science and Languages other than English. Higher socio-economic status students were apparently enrolled in greater numbers in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences; while more lower socio-economic status students were enrolled in Computing, Economics and Business, Health, Home Science, Physical Education, and Technology.

Similarly, Smyth and Hannan (2006) researched school effects and subject choice with a focus on the uptake of scientific subjects in Ireland. In their research, the analysis drew on detailed information of almost 4000 students in 100 secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland. It was found that students were seen to take subjects that were useful for their future careers, subjects they found interesting, and those in which they performed better academically.

Likewise, the reason for students choosing their major was that they liked the subjects found the most influencing (YEP, 2008).

In Britain, Francis, Hutchings, Archer and Melling (2003) also conducted a study on subject choice and occupational aspirations among pupils at girls' schools. In this study, they found that females chose their preferred subject in terms of the quality of teaching, or the skill of teacher, and studying with inspiring teachers rather than boring ones. They enjoyed teachers who were encouraging, motivating and could make the subject and lesson interesting. Furthermore, the nature of the subject could be part of their subject choice.

However, in a Chinese study by Siann, Lightbody, Nicholson, Tait and Walsh (1998) argued that Chinese students chose their subject choice not based on their interest, but on the school framework imposed by the school for students' choices. They also stressed that students made choices in the context of a fairly short-term and narrow view of their lives; they rarely had a view of a future much beyond the end of school.

Through the review of literature, studies revealed that the reasons contributing to students making decision were generic subject interest and family socio-economic status( Elsworth, Beavis, Ainley, & Fabris,1999 ), useful for their future career, they performed well in a subject (Smyth &Hannan, 2006), and the quality of teaching often described as teachers' passion for subject(Francis, Hutchings, Archer &Melling, 2003). While YEP argued that students chose their major with only their interest, but in another study, students chose subject major not for their interest but it was a school requirement (Siann, Lightbody, Nicholson, Tait& Walsh,1998).

Factors Related to Students' Career Decision Making

The literature reviewed identified several factors that were identified as influencing a student's choice of further study or work. The following section described the major themes found in the survey of the international literature such as family, teacher, friend, gender and school factor.


In a Kenyan study by Kithyo (2002) it was reported that students were under pressure from their parents in certain careers. There seemed to be an opposite idea between what the parents wanted and what the students wanted. Some parents threatened not to provide the students with financial support if they did not choose what they desired. Some students did not discuss careers with their parents because the students thought the parents themselves not having any or a lot of formal education and being uninformed about career, could not help their children because they could not understand the requirement of various careers. However, the students depended on their parents' abilities to help them choose careers in terms of their relationship and confidence. Similarly, in the United States other research conducted by Constantine, Wallace and Kindaichi (2005) found that family support could assist many African American adolescents in making decisions about their educational and vocational future.

According to the work of Simpon (as cited in Sharf, 2006) mothers were found to have influenced the career choice of their children in nontechnical college majors, whereas the father supported technical college majors. Mothers often did this by being emotionally supportive of their children. A mother's emotional and occupational status had an important influence on the child's occupational choice. Another study ( Morgan, 2009) found that amongst young people aged 15-24 years ,parents were an importance influence in encouraging students to complete their education, and they were the main influence on students' plans for the future, with mothers more influential than fathers.

Through a review of literature, studies revealed that parents were viewed as an important influence in choosing their child's career (Kithyo, 2002), and making decision about their educational and vocational future ( Constantine, Wallace & Kindaichi ,2005), and mothers were more influential than fathers in help their child's to plan for the future (Simpon as cited in Sharf, 2006; Morgan, 2009 ).


In the study by Smyth and Hannan (2006) described earlier, they found that teachers may influence in students when they were faced with making decision about their subject major. Similarly, another study by Osoro et al. (2000) found that teachers in the rural school played an important role in guiding students in career decision making.

Whilst teachers were reported in several studies as being important influences on their career decision making of students, it was not a universal finding. Smyth and Hannan (2006) reported that teachers may be an influence on students when making subject choice decisions, whether the students enjoys the style of teaching in a subject (which is an indirect form of influence) or whether it was a more direct form of influence is unclear. In a national survey of Australian high school students (Alloway, Dalley, Patterson, Walker &Lenoy, 2004) students' parents were identified as an important influence of what the students would study in senior grades in high school and post-school option. Similarly, in Kenya, a Canadian study by Osoro, Amundso, and Borgen (2000) claimed that the rural students tended to seek help from parents and teacher more than urban students, and parents more than the career teachers played a vital role in the career decision-making.

The Cambodia-based YEP (2008) study reported that the teachers were less influential on a student's choice of whether to continue to higher education than that of their parents and friends. Evidently teachers in Cambodia have less influence than those in countries in other studies.


In the Canadian study by Bardick et al. (2004) on junior high career planning they found that students were more likely to rely on friends rather than their teachers or school counselors for help with career planning. Their study also found the students expressing the need for help with career decision-making, obtaining relevant information and support, and choosing appropriate courses. Similarly, in a study by Patton and McMahon (1997) found that friend factor is a one of powerful influence on decisions which were made, not made, or even considered. Consequently,if friends showed little interest in planning for careers beyond school; in working to achieve academically, or in choosing subjects carefully, or even in completing secondary education. They were suffered from their friends. Whilst friends were less influenced than parents on students in making decision on higher education, but the same in making decision in choosing the subject major or skill (YEB, 2008).


In a study by Paa and Mc Whirter (as cited in Wilgosh, 2002) found that three factors influencing both female and male high school students on career expectations and development were role models, media and ethnicity. Particularly, for female students there were strong influences from same-sex role models such as mothers, teachers and friends.

Another study in England by Francis et al. (2003) who found that gender played an important role than ability in students' choices of future occupation on school subject major.


In a Bahamidan study by Rowland (2004) on the confident level and factor influencing in career decision-making of Bahamian adolescents in the high schools in Nassau and Bahamas. The findings revealed that students visiting their school guidance counselor to discuss career or college plans would more confidence in their career decision-making skills than those students who did not visit their school guidance counselor. The researcher also recommended that visiting the school guidance counselor to discuss future plans was significant influence on adolescents' confidence level in career decision-making, particularly in the area of career certainty.

A similar study by Jepsen (as cited in Patton & McMahon, 1997) stated that "School is an important influence on the career decision making of adolescents" (p.131). In Australia, Patton and McMahon argued that one important way in which the career development of all young people can be intentionally influenced by school is through the provision of systematic development career education programs (1997, p. 132). Australian Education Council (as cited in Patton & McMahon, 1997) found that:

career education in Australia schools is concerned with the development of knowledge, skills and attitudes through a planned program of learning experiences, which will assist students to make informed decision about school and post-school options and enable effective participation in working life and recommend that career education be embedded in the curriculum from kindergarten to year 12 (p. 132).

Through a review of literature, the studies argued that students were influenced by many factors such as family, friends, genders, and schools, especially schools providing career education.Among above factors family and school are the most frequently reported in studies, following by friends and teachers (YEP, 2008), and students perceived their parents as having more influence on their career choice and decision making than their teachers (Osoro et al., 2000), and the least genders in career decision making. Meanwhile, schools offer students with career education to help them make informed decision about school and post-school so as to keep students on career development in further education toward career pathways. As mentioned in the literature, career education is important for students in making right decision; therefore, it is needed to engage in school curriculum (Patton & McMahon, 1997).

Chapter 3


In this chapter I have described the sampling methods, and data collection methods. I intend to use in conducting this small research project. It will include a description of some strengths and limitations of the various methods and a discussion of ethical issues that may arise in conducting the study.

The study will be conducted in one high school in a regional town. The study will use a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data collection approaches and is essentially exploratory.

Sampling Methods

Location sampling method.

Convenience sampling is the sampling method selected for identifying the location of the school in this study, because the school to be used will be the one where I work as a grade 10 teacher,and it is easy for me to gain permission to have access to the students because I am a teacher in this school.

A strength of this kind of sampling method is that the researcher can choose any location where there is easy access to respondents without needing to travel distances. However, a limitationfor this sampling method is that the findings cannot be generalized to other schools (Cohen, Manion& Morrison, 2007).

Focus group participant sampling method.

Self-selection sampling will be used to recruit focus group student participants. This approach is also needed because the grade 11 students changing their subject major are in all classes. Thus, I have to access to all the classes and can ask them to participate in the study voluntarily.

Focus group interviews will be conducted with volunteer grade 11 students from the 16 classes. The data will be collected using audio recorded focus group interviews with some of the students from grade 11 who are changing their subject major for grade 12. I will explain the purpose of the group interview and that it is voluntary to all the students in each grade 11 class during a brief presentation in each classroom. All those planning to change their subject major for grade 12 will be invited to participate and if they are willing to join to give me their contact details and I will contact them to arrange a time and location for discussion.

Self selection is a sampling method where participants select themselves to participate after hearing about the research project and they have not been directly approached by the researcher to participate. I will speak to all grade 11 classes about the small research I am doing and will provide a written invitation for those who are changing their subject major which they can return to me via a box I have placed in the school library.

The strengths of this sampling method are that the researchers spend less time to search for appropriate units (an individual or organization)and participants are willing to participate in the study voluntarily. However, limitations of this sampling method are decision to participate in the study may reflect some inherent bias in the characteristics or traits of participants because the researcher and participants can be teachers with students or employers with employees, and it cannot be representative of the population being studied, or exaggerating some particular finding from the study (

Questionnaire participant sampling method.

The number of students in each class is approximately 60 students, so with a large number of population random sampling will be used to select the students in each class with males and females that there are the same percentage to that of an original population. I will select 10 students from each class, so the total of complete surveys will be 140-grade 10 students. They will be asked to complete the questionnaire during a lesson time. I will explain that the questionnaire is anonymous and they are free to not complete it if they choose not to.

According to Berg (2009) random sampling is the process where every individual has equal opportunity to be selected and participate in the study. It must represent a whole population.

Strengths of random sampling method are unbiased statistic and when a sample is done randomly, and thenevery item in the population has an equal chance of being selected.Nevertheless,the limitation of random sampling method is that a complete list of all the members of the population is needed and the list of population must be up-to-date. This list is usually not available for a large population (

Data Collection Methods

For this study, the researcher will use a researcher-designed questionnaire to identify the reasons and factors influencing grade 10 students' decisions about their senior high school subject major. The questionnaire will be used to collect data from grade 10 students in the 14 classes. Focus group interviews will also be conducted with grade 11 students who are changing their subject major for grade 12.The number of students in each class is approximately 60 students, so with a large number of population the random sampling will be used to select the student in each class with males and females that there are the same percentage to that of an original population.The selected students will be asked to complete the questionnaire during a lesson time. I will explain that the questionnaire is anonymous and they are free to not complete it if they choose it if they choose not to.

Focus group interview will be conducted with grade 11 students from the 16 classes. The data will be collected using recorded focus group interviews with the students from grade 11 who are changing their subject major for grade 12.


Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2007) stressed that there were many methods for data collection "Questionnaires, interviews, accounts, observation, tests, personal constructs and role-play " (pp. 317-456). Other the techniques selected are determined by the type of research being taken- whether qualitative or quantitative in design. Two techniques used to collect data in this study will bequestionnaires (pen and pencil survey) and focus group interviews method.

A questionnaire is a data collection approach in which the researcher is be able to use a large number of questions, and provides the respondents an opportunity to express their own perspectives and comments. Furthermore, the researcher can collect a large amount of data in less time with a great population of participants compared to that of interview (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998).

Anderson and Arsenault (1998) stated that there arelimitationsto the use of questionnaire as a data collection method if the participantdoesnot understand the questions, they cannot answer questions. Moreover, the participants can only respond based on the set questions.

Focus group interviews.

The focus group is used in qualitative research and is the most common method used

to collect data. According to Downs, Adrian, Edumunds, Marshall, Rossman and Salkindthe

(as cited in Berg, 2009) the researcher could gather much information from the participants in

ashort period of time, and it can provide vital insight into the particular topic that researcher

doesnot understand in a previous time. In addition, it is highly flexible with a large number

ofparticipant group, costs and duration.

The limitations of the focus group are that the researcher may acquire the results as

group opinion, not an individual one, and the time is limited in group discussion

approximatelybetween 30 to 60 minutes ( Berg, 2009). In addition, when using the focus

group it is impossible to guarantee confidentially (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998).

Ethical Considerations

To collect the data, ethical issues have been considered when developing the sample.

This study aims to collect data from students who are currently studying in a state school in

Cambodiawhere I am also a teacher. The issue of my role as a teacher with possible

perception of my position being used to influence a student's grades if they do not participate


Consent to use the school as the base for my research will be gained from the school


Information will be clear and given to participants explaining about the purpose of

the study, and how they could assist to participate, and the information included who am I, why I do this research, and the topic of the study.

The data collection procedure will also be explained to students who have studied Grade 10 and 11. However, in the process of collecting data, participants will not be given any rewards to complete the questionnaires or participate in group discussion.