Date of Award

1995

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Thomas J. Durant, Jr

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to identify the determinants of Ghanaian senior secondary school students' intentions to choose their college majors from the physical and applied sciences. The specific objectives were, first, to find out if males and females are equally likely to major in the physical and applied sciences, and second, to find out if the sex composition of the school a student attends can have an influence on his or her inclination toward the subjects in question. Through paper-and-pencil questionnaires, data for the study were collected in summer 1994, from a sample of 624 12th graders drawn from single-sex and mixed-sex senior secondary schools in a Ghanaian education district. Consistent with previous research, the results of this study show that males are more likely than females to choose their college majors from the physical and applied sciences. A more important finding is that though males are more likely than females to choose physical and applied science majors, being a male in an all-male school tends to increase this likelihood. Contrary to previous research, however, the results of this study show that females in single-sex schools are less likely than females in mixed-sex schools to choose physical and applied science majors. The results show further that the effect of the sex composition of the school the student attends, on his or her intention to choose a physical or an applied science major, is mediated through the effect of self-concept of ability in the physical sciences. One important finding also is that previous grades in mathematics and the physical sciences are strongly predictive of the intention to choose a physical or an applied science major. Mother's education, parents', teachers', and peers' support for the student's subject choice are also predictive of the intention. Finally, the student's appraisal of actual job opportunities available, and how this influences his or her decision to choose a physical or an applied science major, a factor which has not been included in previous studies, did emerge in this study as a predictor of the intention.

Pages

129

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