Training By Majors In Bachelor Degree Education Essay

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Through my observation, most upper secondary school students chose Sciences as their subject choice whilst a few of them selected Social Studies. More surprisingly, although a majority of upper secondary school students chose Sciences for their last two years of study, yet they changed to choose Social Studies at universities. Moreover, there was only a few students still kept their subject choice of Social Studies from Upper Secondary schools to universities. Consequently, there is a big contrast in the number of students selected Sciences at Upper Secondary schools and the number of students selected Social Studies major at universities. See the following figure:

Figure 1

A Chart about Training by Majors in Bachelor Degree

Note. Adapted from "The challenges at higher education: quantity and quality," by N. Mak, 2012

This pie chart about training by majors in bachelor degree which presented by Mak (2012) showed that 74 % of students studied Social Studies at the bachelor degree. This included 47% in Business Administration, Law 6%, Foreign Language 12%, Tourism 2%, and Social Science and Art 7%. However, there were only 18% of students who studied in Sciences which included Health 5%, Agriculture 4%, Engineering 3% and Basic Science 6% (Mak, 2012). Therefore, there is a mismatch between subject choices selected by upper-secondary students and subject major chose by university students.

Remarkably, a percentage of upper secondary students passed the National Examination increased less than 1 % from 2009 to 2012. For instance, grade 12 students passed the NE in academic year 2009-2010 were total 81.90 %, female 87.68 % (MoEYS, 2011). Conversely, there were 82.88 % of grade 12 students, female 88.51 % in academic year 2011-2012 passed the NE (MoEYS, 2012). For this statistics, I cannot find a division as the number or percentages of upper secondary students chose Sciences or Social Studies passed the NE.

In fact, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport divides the major options of Upper Secondary schools into two subject majors-Sciences and Social Studies to improve the quality and efficiency of education while Cambodia is moving a head for all aspects-economic, social, and cultural. Moreover, the option division of the new curriculum development policy also responses to students' needs and interests. In the implementation process, students are required to make choice from these two options at the beginning of new academic year of grade 11. In accordance with the Policy for Curriculum Development 2005-2009, subject choices in Grades 11 to12 curriculum provides students the specializations of particular subjects or training-based vocational subjects in order to pursue to higher education, vocational programs and social-life participation (MoEYS, 2004). See for more details in the following table:

Table 1

Grade 11-12 Curriculum

Note. Adapted from "Policy for curriculum development 2005-2009," by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport, 2004.

All students in Upper Secondary schools must take the compulsory subjects such as: Mathematics (Basic or Advanced), Khmer Literature, Foreign languages (English or French) and Physical and Health Education and Sport. However, students who choose the Basic Mathematics must select four other subjects from Elective subjects while the other three are for those who choose Advanced Mathematics. Alternatively, students may choose none, one or two or three of the Elective subjects from subject areas of Sciences, Social Studies and the Elective Vocational Education Programs (EVEP), comprised of ICT and Technology, Accountant and Business Management, Local Vocational Technical Subjects, Tourism, Art Education and other subjects. The maximum number of subjects choose by students is eight for students who choose Basic Mathematics and seven for those who choose Advanced Mathematics (MoEYS, 2004).

Inevitably, I need to research more documents from the regional and international studies for broad understanding about what subject choice is and how it is made. Since subject choice (or major) is appreciated as an important opportunity for senior secondary and tertiary students, they have to carefully choose it. As in the discussion of five Australian independent studies about subject preferences, subject choices and generic interest themes, the result showed that vocational interest themes were relevant to the subject choice of secondary school students for their last 2 years of study. Moreover, school subject areas had a strong connection with vocational interests, preferences and choices (Elsworth, Beavis; Ainley & Fabris, 1999).

However, the subject choice needs to be made carefully and be right to students' interest as long as schools provide a wide-range of subjects within the curriculum. As a study on school curriculum as cultural commodity in the construction of young people's post-school aspirations, Atweh, Taylor, and Singh (2005) found that Australian senior student population had increased largely and were more diverse during the last three decades. In response to this, Atweh et al. suggested that school curriculum were required to be expanded with wide-range of subjects in order to make subject choice flexible for facilitating students' decision-making.

It is the same as Atweh et al. (2005), Smyth and Hannan (2006) conducted a study on 4,000 Irish students and found that providing wide-range of subjects could facilitate students' subject-choice selection. However, Smyth and Hannan asserted that there were commonalities with other cross-national contexts about subject choices made by students but also certain key differences. First, gender differences in taking science in Ireland where Physics was mostly chosen by boys while Biology was taken by girls were also considered as gender neutral for Chemistry subject. Second, scientific subject choice was based on students' different ability levels and backgrounds as it was seen that boys took Chemistry, Physics and Biology while girls chose any science subjects as a selective group with the inequality of high abilities and from professional backgrounds. Third, the selection of science subjects depended on students' perception of the subject whether they saw it as interesting or uninteresting. Forth, for the limitation of science subject areas, there was only Biology provided for upper secondary level for the certificate exams whereas other European countries and the United Sates provided Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Finally, school structures could also shape students' subject choices within the systematically longitudinal process from lower secondary to upper secondary levels (Smyth & Hannan, 2006).

Likewise, according to a study on 100 Pakistani high-school students' attitude towards Science subjects, perceptions of science and scientists, and their views about majoring in science, Iqbala, Shahzada, & Sohail (2010) found that high-school female students liked mathematics more than male students. Additionally, the females planned to take a major in science in college, especially in the areas of biological sciences. Furthermore, Iqbala et al. suggested that female students needed to be taught scientific subjects as males did, so that science was no more a male dominant area. The authors concluded that interest rather than ability, gender or self concept influenced on Pakistani students when choosing a major (Iqbala et al., 2010).

Like Iqbala et al. (2010), Francis, Hutchings, Archer, and Melling (2003) found that female students at Upper Secondary schools preferred to learn Math. More than this, Francis et al. reported that single-sex British schoolgirls' subject preferences are similar to mixed-sex secondary schoolgirls' in terms of more diverse and less gender-stereotypical in comparison to the case twenty years ago. On the other hands, the single-sex schoolgirls were more likely to study math and science than mixed-sex schoolgirls. In addition, they focused more on academic study and had high ambition for their future employment than they did twenty years ago (Francis et al., 2003).

Interestingly, according to the studies on school subject choices within the Australian context, British context and Ireland context, they all reported that the senior students chose their subject choice based on their subject preferences and future career aspirations. Noticeably, one study conducted with Chinese students to determine how they made subject choice for their secondary school and career aspirations found that Chinese students selected their subject choice on their liking of subjects and teacher, school subjects and career connection and institutional framework (Siann, Lightbody, Nicholson, Tait, & Walsh, 1998). Fensham (as cited in Goodrum, Druhan, & Abbs, 2012) suggested that demand of science education about scientific literacy and preparation of scientists could cause conflict and tension within the school science; thus, the senior science courses needed to be established for student preparation for further university science study. However, in a tracer study of 90 terminating Beirut upper secondary students in Lebanon, the result showed that even without information or guidance about higher education and career options, almost all of the students desired to transit to university, and about half of them to science and technology programs (Barend, Kamel, George, & Jihan, 2007).

Directing students to reach their career goal, career guidance and counseling are required effective approaches to be used. That is the reason why, with the intention to guarantee students' personal, academic, and career development, Malaysian schools supplied school career counselors to provide information and guidance to students (Rashid, & Bakar, 2010). However, Cambodian education system, especially in general education does not provide career education or career guidance and counseling for students. This will be discussed in more detailed in the literature review part.

Problem Statement

From personal observation at institute X, most of first-year students who chose Sciences as their subject choice at the Upper Secondary schools now study Social Studies as their subject major at this institute. Surprisingly, the presentation slides about the challenges of higher education: quantity and quality presented by Mak (2012) at the National Institute of Education (NIE), there were approximately 18% of students chose Sciences at universities. However, a website of the MoEYS published that 25% of students chose Sciences like Physics, Chemistry, Biology and so on as their subject majors (MoEYS, 2012). This rouses a number of questions that would benefit from a research to find out the reason why Upper secondary students change their subject choice when they pursue higher education.

Research Question

What factors influence first-year students at Institute X change their subject major from Sciences at Upper Secondary schools to Social Studies at the institute?

Significance of the Research

This research will be beneficial to teachers, principals, and students of Upper Secondary schools, students' parents and other relevant stakeholders who are concerned with the quality of education. To guarantee educational quality, we inevitably consider critically of the students' needs and interest in terms of their subject choice, transition from Upper Secondary school to university, and career decision-making. Moreover, the research will also be valuable for all Upper Secondary schools to consider and improve the curriculum of both options, Sciences and Social Studies, especially the Social Studies. Furthermore, it will provide an alert to all upper secondary teachers and principals to reflect on the implementing processes of selecting and placing students into each option by referring to their needs, interests, academic achievement, or the result of entrance exam. Finally, it is a message for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to reconsider the programs, especially the Science major, and the selection processes in order to place students in courses where they have the prior knowledge.

Chapter Two

Literature Review

The literature review covers two main parts which are influential factors on first-year students' subject choice and first-year students' career decision-making. In fact, the topic about influential factors which affect on first-year students' decision-making of subject-choice from Sciences at Upper Secondary schools to Social Studies at universities is new for the social research in Cambodia's educational contexts. Therefore, understanding broadly about the influential factors on Upper Secondary students' subject-choice change, I did the research through the regional and international studies. However, I was able to find one Cambodian-focused research paper on the topic. This will be incorporated into the review of literature. In addition, students' career decision-making which has a very close connection with the last outcome of every educational institution and future employment is considered as a central to individual student's subject choice. Most of the documents of literature reviews were retrieved from James Cook University, Google scholar website, and Taylor and Francis. The key words used to locate literature were: Influential factors, Career Decision-making, Subject Choice (major), Sciences and Social Studies.

Influential Factors on First-year Students' Subject Choice

The subject choice made by the individual student should be critically considered and purposefully chosen by the learners' perspectives. Inevitably, the choice must be made by various factors which reflect the aspirations of personal learners and the influential people on the learners' decision-making. Beharman, Kletzer, McPherson and Schapiro (as cited in Roushdy, 2012) found that individual learners made their choice based on their personal characteristics, which functioned partly in the past and partly for their future opportunities and alternatives. However, Boatwright, Ching, and Parr stated that many factors such as economic, academic, geographic, cultural, and even political factors influenced students and their parents on choosing the most suitable and desired university to attend (Roushdy, 2012).

These two findings provide an overall theme of understanding that first-year students' decision-making of subject choice can be influenced by various factors such as personal interest, economic, academic, cultural, geographic, and political. Therefore, it is important to see some following factors.

Personal interest factor.

A study on science choices among 1628 Norwegian upper secondary students, Boe (2012) claimed that students selected Science by their identity reasons which were interests, self-realization and personal beliefs. In addition, Boe also found that students made Science major for strategic utility reasons-thinking of the usefulness of science for future employment, which were more important to Science girls than to Science boys. This revealed that girls put more weight on utility than on their interests (Boe, 2012).

Likewise, a report about year 12 student choices in Australia on factors influencing year 12 students' decision-making on post-school destination, choice of university and preferred subject, personal interests found the dominant factors for underlying course preferences. These dominant factors consisted of opportunities for an interesting and rewarding career 96%; personal talents and abilities 95%; and an area of interest 93%. The results also indicated that tuition fee was not a major influence in decision-making about subject choice (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations & Roy Morgan Research, 2009, June).

Similarly, a study on undergraduate students' choice of major at business school, Malgwi, Howe, and Burnaby (2005) showed that without regarding of gender, subject interest was considered as the most important factor for first-year students. Likewise, academic self-concept and perceived challenge of their high school curriculum had no effect on the college selectivity (Wilson & Adelson, 2012). Additionally, Malgwi et al. also found that the most influential factor for women was aptitude in the subject whereas men were significantly more influenced by the major's potential for career advancement and job opportunities and the level of payment in the field (Malgwi et al., 2005).

In contrast to Malgwi et al. (2005), Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and Roy Morgan Research (2009, June), and Boe (2012), Calkins and Welki (2006) found that the most important factors for selecting choice of major were not only personal interest on subject, but also career concerns, student's performance, and teaching reputation and approachability of the faculty.

A study conducted in Finland and Portugal on the reasons why International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program (DP) students chose particular Experimental Science subjects. The findings showed that interest as well as enjoyment, career requirements and university course had a strong influence on students' choices. In addition, there were significant differences within the influence of certain factors on subject choice were found between nationalities, host countries, and the sexes, as well as in the choices of Chemistry, Design Technology and Physics (James, 2007).

There are some similar findings between the study by James (2007) and the study by Calkins and Welki (2006) in terms of interest and career choice. However, James found enjoyment and university course factors which were contrast to students' performance, teaching reputation and faculty approachability which were found by Calkins and Welki. Importantly, their findings explicitly provide a broad understanding of what factors influence on students when they make their subject choice.

More interestingly, students' interest of subject choice can be different among various racial and ethnic groups. An empirical study conducted to assess factors, motivations, and nonacademic influences that affected the choice of major among pharmacy and nonpharmacy undergraduate students (freshman and sophomore) in the United States found that African-American and Hispanic students were less likely to choose pharmacy as a major than Caucasians whereas Asian-Americans were more likely to choose pharmacy as a major. According to the study, pharmacy students made decisions based on their interests in science and math than nonpharmacy students. Moreover, the authors concluded that students' self-reported, racial and ethnic backgrounds influenced their decision-making of choosing pharmacy as their academic major (Keshishian, Brocavich, Boone, & Pal, 2010).

In conclusion, several previous researches from different contexts showed that students' personal interest is the most influential factor on their decision-making of subject choice. On the other hands, the above studies also revealed that the interest is not the only factor to determine what influential factors on students' decision-making of subject choice, so that other factors need to be looked.

Parental factors.

Parental education level and decision.

Beside the personal interest, first-year students' decision-making of subject choice could be influenced by their parents' educational backgrounds. According to the study of the reasons why students in North Cyprus chose to be nurses, the findings showed that parents' education level had an influence on students' decision-making of choosing nursing. Moreover, there were two other influencing factors such as students' living places and socioeconomic status which affected their nursing major. These students were keen to help people and provide them with maintenance, high employment possibility and the nursing value in the society (Dala, Arifoglu, & Razi, 2009).

Chung, Loeb, and Gonzo; Keillor, Bush, and Bush; and Newell, Titus, and West (as cited in Beggs et al., 2008) stated that parent had a strong influence on children's major choice while Adams, Pryor and Adams reported that only 4% of students indicated parental pressure and 10% indicated their parent's occupation had strong influences on their decision-making. Similarly, Dustmann (2004) found that in Germany, both male and female students' secondary track choice as well as career choice was influenced by their parents' background-educational and professional when they were in primary school.

Similarly, Youth and Employment found that among 2414 samples, 59% of the respondents made decision of their subject choice for higher education with their parents while only 20% of respondents made decision based on their understanding of job market. Moreover, there were only 11% of respondents based on their parents' decision and 8% from their family member's experience; however, the percentage was very low for teacher's opinion and friend's opinion 1% and other 4% (YEP, 2008).

Parental incomes and family's economics.

Domino, Libraire, Lutwiller, Superczynski and Tian (2006) conducted a study on higher education marketing concerns: factors influence students' choice of colleges and found that there were two factors which influenced students' subject choice. First, economic factors consisted of the cost of college tuition, scholarships and grants, room and board. Second, none economic factors were college size, location and athletics.

The same as Domino et al. (2006), a study about factors which influenced student's choice of universities in Egypt contended that students' subject choice could be influenced by both economic factors which were the cost of university tuition, scholarships and grants, and accommodation (room and board) and non-economic factors which included university size and location. The author further claimed that economic reasons played the most important and the largest role in choosing a university (Roushdy, 2012).

According to Briles (2009), academic concerns and financial issues were the most influential factors on high school seniors' college selection process while some less important factors were found such as social and environmental. Similarly, the decision-making process of talented students when making the transition to college was found that students selected colleges by their higher SAT scores, higher achievement, and far colleges (Wilson & Adelson, 2012).

The results of the studies by Domino et al. (2006), Briles (2009) and Roushdy (2012) are consistent with each other. They asserted that economic or financial factors had a significant influence on high school students. Although Domino et al. and Roushdy demonstrated university size and location as a influential factor on students, Briles claimed that senior students perceived academic factor as their concern.

Gender factor.

According to a study about the influential factors on students' choice of major, Calkins and Welki (2006) found that there were significant gender differences. Calkins and Welki also asserted that female students emphasized on subject interests, good class performance, high school exposure and teacher's encouragement while male students were more concerned with the perceived marketability and expected income associated with the subject. However, the subject interest was the key factor for the choice of major because 95% of students satisfied with their given choice of major though most female students never considered economics as a major in terms of difficulty and overly math (Calkins & Welki, 2006).

However, Fullarton and Ainley (2000) found that gender factor was the greatest proportion on students' decision-making of subject choice and enrolment in Sciences, especially mathematics. The study found that male students predominated in the areas such as: mathematics, physical sciences, technical studies, computer studies, and physical education (Fullarton & Ainley, 2000).

Career Decision-making of First-year Students

Career decision-making concept and theory.

Holland's theory of personality.

Andersen and Vandehey (2006) stated that "John Holland presents a career theory that is exceptionally useful for career counselors" (p. 47). Moreover, Holland's theory of person-environment fit concerned with individual's personalities which grew through exposure to experiences. The personality growth came from individual choices, parents and others (Andersen & Vandehey, 2006). Furthermore, Andersen and Vandehey provided that Holland's theory of individual personalities could be divided into six types such as: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional, the combination of the first letter of the six types was called RIASEC mnemonic, which were categorized as follow:

Realistic technically and athletically inclined people prefer to work with their hands and tools, objects, machines, or animals. Traits: stable, materialistic, frank, practical and self-reliant.

Investigate abstract problem solvers prefer to work on their own-observing, learning, investigating, and solving problems, frequently in a scientifically related area. Traits: analytical, independent, curious, and precise.

Artistic idea creators prefer to work with their minds-innovating, imagining, and creating. Traits: imaginative, idealistic, original, intuitive and expressive.

Social people helpers like to work with people-informing, enlightening, helping, training, developing, or curing them. Traits: cooperative, understanding, helpful, tactful, sociable and ethical.

Enterprising people influencers like to work with people-influencing, leading, or managing them. Traits: persuasive, domineering, energetic, ambitious and flirtatious.

Conventional data and detail people prefer to work with words and numbers-carrying out detailed instructions. Traits: conscientious, orderly and self-controlled (p. 51).

Within this theory, Holland divided two types of personality characteristics which were consistent and differentiated. Firstly, individuals had the consistent personality type when the letters of the two or three letter code fell next to each other while, secondly, differentiated personality happened when there was a clear preference for one letter as indicated by a higher score (Andersen &Vandehey, 2006).

Holland's theory of occupational environments.

Andersen and Vandehey (2006), Holland categorized six types of occupational environment, namely:

Realistic occupations involve in building or repairing things. Typical realistic settings include a filling station, a machine shop, a farm, a construction site and a barbershop.

Investigative occupations involve in scientific and medical fields. Typical settings include a research laboratory, a library, or a work group of scientists, mathematicians, or research engineers.

Artistic occupation involve in using creative talents. Typical settings include a theatre, a concert hall, a dance studio, a library and art or music studio.

Social occupations involve in dealing with people. Typical work situations include school and college classrooms, counseling offices, mental hospitals, churches, educational offices and recreational centers.

Enterprising occupations involve in directing, controlling, or planning activities or sale of products or management of people. Typical settings include a car lot, a real estate office, a political rally and an advertising agency.

Conventional occupations involve in record-keeping, computation, typing, and computer operation. Typical settings include a bank, an accounting firm, a post office, a file room and a business office (p. 52).

Andersen and Vandehey (2006) stated that "the more individual's personality matches his occupational environment, the more congruent the match" (p. 50).

Gottfredson's theory of career development.

Gottfredson (as cited in Isaacson and Brown, 2000) stated that individuals develop their cognitive maps of occupations and choosing their careers by using three dimensions such as: masculinity and femininity of the occupation, the prestige of the occupation, and fields of work (p. 37).

Krumboltz's theory of decision-making.

Krumboltz (as cited in Andersen & Vandehey, 2006) career decision-making could be affected by several characteristics of faulty reasoning, as follow:


Self-evaluations with an unreasonable or single standard.

Exaggerating the impact of an outcome which is sometimes marked as failure.

Overemphasizing a single or narrow focus.

Undue weight given to a low probability outcome (pp. 77-78).

Related research in career decision-making of first-year students.

Isaacson and Brown (2000) asserted that high school and college students needed to make initiative career choices by putting an emphasis on developing self-awareness, exploring career options, acquiring employability skills and matching educational options to career choices. However, Edwards and Quinter (2011) found that the most influential factors affecting students' career choices were the availability of advancement opportunities and learning experiences. Moreover, learning experiences and career flexibility were the most influential factors among male students while availability of advancement opportunity and opportunity to apply skills were the most influential factors for female students.

Career decision-making of the upper secondary students is important because it is considered as a definite guidance to show up the pathway for students to make decision before selecting their career choice. Gottfredson (as cited in Andersen and Vandehey, 2006) stated that students needed to be aware of career development and career choice since the pre-school years and at the end in adolescence. Arrington (2000) contended that the decision-making of students in middle grades had a great effect on their future education and career paths. The author demonstrated that students did not have adequate information or assistance to help them make decisions for success in education and career paths. Generally, however, thinking deeply of the career choice, students had to have a foundation of career awareness and career exploration experiences. These experiences can be applied to a consideration of the career interest to form realistic career plans.

To see how high school students make education and career decision, it is better to see one main study which was conducted to investigate five key themes which were education and career decision-making processes; career advisers and career information services in schools; vocational education and training in schools; traditional trades as a career; and teaching as a career. This study broadly focused on Australian students in Year 10 and Year 12 from 9 schools located in various parts of Australia. The findings of the first theme about education and career decision-making processes showed that there were five key findings such as: schoolboys and schoolgirls' highly ambitious career satisfaction; thought and time investments for their future development; ready career planning during their junior secondary school years; school and career advising services, parents and family members and students themselves; and the level of academic achievement. These key findings were the influential factors for students to make their career planning (Alloway, Dalley, Patterson, Walker, & Lenoy, 2004).

Seeing more specifically of adolescences' choice making and career decision-making, the longitudinal study conducted on 281students within the beginning, middle, and end of grade 12 found that higher percentage of students perceived security with mother, but not with father. This led to higher level of coping with the career decisional tasks of orientation, broad and in-depth environmental exploration and self-exploration in the future. However, students' perceived security did not relate to the degree of change in decisional tasks during grade 12. The association between perceived security with mother and the decisional tasks of orientation, broad and in-depth environmental exploration and self-exploration was mediated by adolescents' career decision-making and self-efficacy (Germeijs & Verschueren, 2009).

However, Germeijs and Verschueren (2009) found that students' career education and career decision-making were affected by their mothers. This finding is a compliment to the first-theme findings of the study by Alloway et al. (2004).

Another study investigated the reasons that influenced students' career choices in accounting. The findings divided into two categories. First, students who had a desire to work in accounting field because of good job opportunities and a match of their abilities and interests. Second, students who had no desire to work in the field of accounting assumed that other fields provided wider job opportunities and were less stressful, tiring and boring (Uyar, Güngörmüs, & Kuzey, 2011).

However, a career in medicine was extremely attractive amongst second level students in Ireland led to huge competition obtained a university place in undergraduate medicine. This study demonstrated that a factor of interest in surgery presented in pre-college students and therefore was not acquired through undergraduate or postgraduate experience. Moreover, the results indicated that over-dramatization and romanticizing of the lifestyle of surgical trainee and consultant surgeons through popular television shows significantly influenced students in choosing to study medicine and responded for high levels of interest in surgery as an ultimate career choice (McHugh, Corrigan, Sheikh, Lehane, Broe, & Hill, 2011).

Similar to McHugh et al. (2011), Law and Arthur (2003) showed that the high potential group of Hong Kong high school students was female who studied a biology subject at F.5 and A-level, who possessed a positive perception of nursing and had a good Career Guidance Personnel (CGP) in Hong Kong Certificate Educational Exams (HKCEE). Law and Arthur affirmed that the majority of students perceived nursing career-opportunity to care people and a financially rewarding career with job security. Furthermore, the finding also showed that more than 50% of students had negative perceptions of the nursing profession, the high cost of nursing programs in university, difficulty of the study program and female-orientation occupation of nursing (Law & Arthur, 2003).

Remarkably, decision is not easy to be made by individual students. Recently, a study to examine career decision statuses among a sample of 362 grade 12 Portuguese students. Santos and Ferreira (2012) found that there were 39.1% of the respondents scored high on self-esteem and vocational identity. These individuals had a clear self-perception of their interests and talents and generally had a positive attitude about themselves. They felt confident about their decision-making capacity. Second, 40.3% of the respondents lacked of vocational identity and were more indecisive, while their levels of self-esteem, anxiety and internal control were average. Individuals belonging to this group went through a normal and temporary phase of career decision-making. They had probably experienced a process of exploration before they made a career commitment. Third, only 20.6% were career undecided by their lack of vocational identity, high anxiety, indecisiveness and low self-esteem. This group was named indecisive or chronically undecided. Making decisions, including careers choices, was a difficult task for these individuals (Santos & Ferreira, 2012).

A study on Portuguese students for the reasons of pursuing higher education, Tavares and Ferreira (2012) suggested that attractive career preparation, degree obtainment and personal life-direction relatively depended on the social and symbolic representations which were constructed in different environments and social circumstances. In addition, the most important factor for which students chose a HE was a good academic reputation which consisted of two reasons, the best institution for the study subject and near-home location. The first reason was the most important in public universities and in most study areas. The second was the most important in public polytechnics and in the areas of Educational Sciences and Teaching, Economics, Management and Accountancy (Tavares & Ferreira, 2012).

Like Tavares and Ferreira (2012), a study of the motives for career intentions of 645 students from two German universities found that the motives which were grouped into the main components such as: status orientation, self-realization and self-determination were relevant to self-employment, but less for dependent employment alternatives (Haase, 2011).

However, Domene, Shapka and Keating (2006) found that students in grades 11-12 avoided seeking help from school counselor to assist their career planning issues. Male students who had lower educational aspirations and who their parents attained higher educational level were less likely to see counselors for career planning while male students who had lower occupational aspirations were more likely to avoid counselors for career planning help. Yet these students sought help from their family members for career planning instead.

In a study conducted on 400 Canadian adolescents to determine about their information seeking for career decision-making, Julien (1999) found that many adolescents never understood of how and what to make decisions for their futures. Julien also stated that students did not know what questions to ask when they were offered an assistant service for their future career decision. The result of this study suggested that adolescents needed to be prepared for their readiness to conducting information seeking and making career decision (Julien, 1999).

Likewise, a study on Australian school leavers' career aspirations and the implications for career development practice by Walker (2006), she stated that the structure and adequate information about career planning could help young people develop and aspire their future career plans. Therefore, the school career counselors needed to be skillful in searching and providing essential information of the availability of career in the professions for school leavers (Walker, 2006).

Therefore, career decision-making is vital important for individual student. They need to think in advance for what kinds of career they prefer to take for their future prospects.

Chapter Three


Conducting research on this particular topic, the researcher needs to select the appropriate methods for collecting data. The most appropriate methods will lead to well-organized sampling methods and data collection methods. To do this, the data collected will generate the accurate and reliable information. Therefore, I will use sampling method and data collection methods in this small research project. In addition, using the appropriate method within this chapter will be responsive to the research question: what factors influence first-year students at Institute X to change their subject major from Sciences at Upper Secondary schools to Social Studies at the institute? This chapter will cover research design, sampling method, data collection methods (survey and interview) and ethical consideration.

Research Design

For this study, I will apply mixed data collection methods. Creswell (2009), "a mixed method is an approach to inquiry that combines or associates both qualitative and quantitative forms of research" (p. 4). Moreover, this method has been becoming more popular for the social research field, especially for the educational research (Creswell, 2009). For this research topic, I inevitably need to apply mixed methods because the data collection will be based on survey and interview methods.

Sampling Method

The sampling method for identifying the research location which will be used by the researcher in this research project is a convenience sampling. The researcher will use this sampling method because this research project will be conducted within an institute where the researcher works as a teacher with first-year students. Particularly, the participants who are the first-year students are known to the researcher. Therefore, they are easy to access for information. Inevitably, some ethic concerns which may arise in the conducting process will be discussed below.

For selecting sample, 80 students will be collected from two first-year Social Studies classes in the institute X. The number of students in each class is approximately 40, so that a random sampling will be used as a tool to collect data from each class. Male and female students will be equally selected from the original populations. Therefore, the whole sample of two classes of first-year students will be randomly selected for the study.

Data Collection Methods

For this study, the researcher will use a survey which is designed by the researcher to collect data for identifying the influential factors on first-year students' subject major from Sciences at upper secondary school to Social Studies at university. In addition, the researcher will also use focus group interview to discuss about the reasons why they change their subject major at higher education.


For data collection, the survey method is appropriate to be used to gather data at a particular point in time with the intention of describing the nature of existing conditions, or identifying standards against which existing conditions​​ can be compared, or determining the relationships that exist between specific events (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2007). Likewise, Lodico, Spaulding, Voegtle (2010) stated that a survey or questionnaire is not easy to create, but requires a significant amount of knowledge, planning, and skill to execute correctly. Babbie (as cited in Creswell, 2009) stated that the purpose of survey is to generalize from a sample to a population for the inferences of some characteristics, attitude, or behaviour of that population. Conversely, Cohen et al. (2007) asserted that small-sized sample or population of the survey will result in slight generalizability or universality.

The survey of this research is established with an easy and clear instruction for the participants to answer accurately. The purpose is aimed to collect information which is related to only the factors of major choice of what the participants are taking contemporarily.

The researcher will use a set of questionnaire in which consists of two parts. The first part is about first-year students' personal information such as: gender, age, class of academic year and present major. The second part will be about factors affecting firs-year students' major choice. This part consists of personal interest, parental education background, parental income, gender, teacher, school fee, difficulty of subject major and popularity of future career. This questionnaire will be changed if it does not really response to the research question or lacks of adequate information for determining the factors.

This survey will be conducted within a short and reasonable time around 5 to 10 minutes. The time of surveying is out of the teaching and learning time, but at any time when the participants are free. Anyway, each of the participants feel free to participate or nonparticipate in completing the questionnaire.

For this survey, it will cost less and process within a short time. Additionally, it will be easy for the researcher to observe the participants because it will be conducted in classroom settings. Moreover, survey research is the best means for general observations and data; also, the survey allows for operation definitions to be assumed from actual observations opposed to experimental research usually done prior to the research; and it has flexibility. However, this survey method has limitations. First, when the survey is conducted in the classroom and on participants' free time, participants will feel tough and pressured like a learning class. Second, a generalization can be done only back to the population and the institute. Third, because a survey needs to have the same definitions for the questions asked, crucial data can be neglected due to vagueness. Fourth, when conducting research, a survey usually avoids contexts of social life as well as maintains unchanged throughout the research. This can be unfavorable when new findings are observed in the initial survey and very little can be done until the research is concluded.


Data will be collected by means of an interview which can be an individual, a face-to-face interview, focus group interview, or group interview. The researcher will be randomly selected 8 students (4 males and 4 females) from the whole sample. Like the survey method, the interview method of collecting data also has its strengths and limitations. According to Creswell (2009), the interview has strengths such as: a researcher is able to control over the line of questioning by being flexible, motivational and comprehensive and participants can provide historical information. On the other hand, the interview has some limitations which are first it provides indirect information filtered through the views of interviewees and information in a designated place rather than the natural field setting; second, face-to-face interview is time-consuming to administer, to summarize, and to analyze data and experience depending on how large or small samples.

Ethical Consideration

Research ethics is considered as a critical consideration for the researcher and the research's findings to be valued. The ethical issues are concerned because the questionnaire's an intrusion into the life of respondents and the real problems of one particular institution. Cohen et al. (2007) stated that the respondents' lives are interfered by questionnaire by means of time-consuming, threat or sensitive questions and invasion of privacy.

For this research project, the researcher has to avoid these ethical issues. First, the researcher uses a written letter to seek permission from the institute X. Therefore, before conducting the data collection, the researcher needs to have the informed consent from the institute's managers and deputy manager. Second, the survey and interview data collections need to be allowed and agreed by participants in terms of volunteerism from students as participants. The participants have right to participate or nonparticipate in the data collection processes. Moreover, they can withdraw at any stage or refuse to complete the particular items in the questionnaire. Third, the researcher who has to guarantee that this research will not be harmful to them in any way is to build confidentiality with respondents, to protect anonymity of respondents and to avoid coercing respondents.

The findings of this research will not be shared and published unless there is a benefit for respondents and the institute. Thus, the ethical considerations of this research will be guaranteed for safety and security and for reliability and validity of the research findings.