Why do students pursue tertiary computing degrees?: a social cognitive perspective

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Permanent URL for this page: http://hdl.voced.edu.au/10707/238814.


Author: Alhazmi, Maher Atyatallah I.

Abstract:

The sharp decline in the number of students pursuing computing disciplines and the high need for graduates with computing skills is a concern both for universities and for companies seeking graduates in computing disciplines. This research develops a theoretical model, based on social cognitive career theory, to study factors that may influence secondary school students' decisions to pursue computing majors at the tertiary level. The factors include personality traits, gender, four measures of learning experiences, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and interest in computing majors. A multi-section questionnaire measuring the factors was distributed to Year 13 students at eight secondary schools in Dunedin, New Zealand. The research model was tested using path analysis. The analysis of the responses from 326 students found that secondary school students with high interest in computing majors and high outcome expectations had a greater intention to undertake computing majors. The analysis also found positive links between (a) self-efficacy and interest in computing majors, and (b) outcome expectations and interest in computing majors. Contrary to the contention of social cognitive career theory, this study did not find support for the posited paths from self-efficacy to outcome expectations and choice goals (intention to study computing majors). Three learning experiences (mastery experience, vicarious learning, and emotional arousal) were related to self-efficacy and outcome expectations. Gender was related to self-efficacy and interest in computing majors, with males reporting significantly higher scores on the two measures. An exploratory path analysis was performed to identify whether all the Big Five personality traits can play roles in the model. The results suggest that extraversion is negatively related to interest in computing majors and agreeableness is negatively related to choice goals.

Published abstract.

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The sharp decline in the number of students pursuing computing disciplines and the high need for graduates with computing skills is a concern both for universities and for companies seeking graduates in computing disciplines. This research develops a theoretical model, based on social cognitive career theory, to study factors that may influence secondary school students' decisions to pursue computing majors at the tertiary level. The factors include personality traits, gender, four measures of learning experiences, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and interest in computing ...  [+] Show more

Subjects: Students; Skills and knowledge; Career development; Gender; Higher education

Keywords: Decision making; Student interests; Graduates; Career choice; Tertiary education

Geographic subjects: New Zealand; Oceania

Published: Dunedin, New Zealand: University of Otago, 2012

Physical description: 187 p.

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Notes:
Master of Science Thesis

Resource type: Thesis

Call Number:
TD/TNC 111.165



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