400-word Reflection

This wasn’t the first time I did a project like this. I actually studied Community and Family Studies in years eleven and twelve. For one of the HSC assessment tasks, we had to do an independent research project on a topic related to the subject. 

Even though a lot of the topics regarding ethics, methodology, sampling wasn’t new to me, I still learned a lot. When conducting research, it is always important to consider the ethics in order to ensure participants are safe and secure from harm. Accuracy and reliability of research is also vital so therefore ensuring the research is ethical is key. I did not force any participant to take my survey, circumvented from asking leading questions, respected privacies and many more. 

The type of methodology the researcher conducts is up to them but should also suit their topic. If the researcher wants in-depth comprehensive information, then interviews or case studies are the best. This will permit the researcher to gain qualitative data and while this can be lengthy or complex to analyse, it’ll provide sufficient data. If the researcher wants quantitative and objective-based information, then surveys/questionnaires are best-suited. I wanted to create a survey so that I could see in charts or pie graphs the responses based on my questions. 

Although I was hoping that the sample size for my project would be at least eighty, it was going to be nearly impossible to receive that many responses. Twenty-one is still a reasonable sample size, even though it is a little small. Having a large sample size accounts for reliability of research. However, since only students enrolled in the BCM212 could only take the survey and that it was voluntary, twenty-one is a fine sample size in this circumstance. 

Researching about student university success and career choices enabled me to learn the extent to which students were satisfied with their courses and how much they were making the most out of university. I also learned which factors influence students to choose the majors/degrees they study and whether university is right for everyone. 

If I could change anything I did, I could have had the survey questions checked by my tutor just to ensure they made sense and were suitable. Although I’m generally happy with them, maybe with one of the questions I could have re-worded it. I think the ‘yes’, no’ and ‘neutral’ multiple choice options were fine but I’m wondering if I could have provided more options. 

Opinion Piece

Vasyl Dolmatov 2018, Students in university, online image, Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/au/photo/students-in-university-gm942952664-257679870
 [Accessed 9 June 2019].

Research on Australian student university success has been conducted and discovered that a large amount of first-year on-campus students were not prepared for tertiary education to a significant extent. In addition, they were unsure about what was in stall for them and lacked motivation to achieve their studies. 

Current university cohorts vary to a large degree in comparison to ones from previous years. The modern student cohort is certain to be much more diverse on a range of measures, which include: age, culture, educational experience, intellectual ability, work experience and socioeconomic status. 

It is vital for tertiary educators, especially those teaching commencing students, to consider the learning environment they give and how it accommodates for large differences in backgrounds, abilities, skills and learning styles.

They also require a deeper understanding of the factors that affect learning at the faculty or school level to prevent making a superficial response to student diversity. How can university students make the most out of their studies at university and how can they succeed in their respective degrees/majors? 

kali9 2017, Young man graduating from high school or university, online image, Available at: https://www.istockphoto.com/au/photo/young-man-graduating-from-high-school-or-university-gm896458302-247551525
 [Accessed 7 June 2019].

A survey created on Survey Monkey was conducted where twenty-one students in the BCM212 cohort responded. It gathered quantitative data and aimed to determine if studying at university will be beneficial and whether universities assist students with regards to their career pathways.  

A key, surprising finding was discovered in which 42.86% of the participants did and did not have a clear idea as to what they wanted to study at the university. Students often don’t take the time to consider what subjects interest or inspire them, which hinders them from knowing what they want to study at university. 

On this matter, David Fairhurst states: “The most important thing about studying for a degree is that the subject should inspire you. If a student is enthusiastic, engaged, and driven then their future is secure..” (Tobin 2014), which implies that students should brainstorm during their final years of high school as to what they want to study. 

FatCamera n.d., Group of students study diligently in university library, online image,Available at: https://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/photo/group-of-students-study-diligently-in-university-royalty-free-image/846555706?adppopup=true
 [Accessed 7 June 2019].

However, 95.24% of participants researched about the degree/major they undertook or are currently studying. Once students identify courses that interest them, they then research about information such as: course length; range of majors and subjects; quality of teaching staff; class sizes; opportunities for internships or work experience; course costs and employment outcomes for graduates.

However, an unsurprising figure was found in the study conduced. Even when students do brainstorm, research and figure out what they want to study at university, they will eventually switch majors and/or degrees. 

57.14% of respondents stated they had either changed majors or degrees, with one respondent saying: “…it wasn’t what I expected”. There are a multitude of reasons as to why students switch majors and/or degrees. These include: an interesting career possibilities of the new major, courses were more interesting, more job openings, faculty in their new major seem interested in students.

The difficulty level of majors or degrees can be a strong factor, as well as to amount of interest a student has with it. One participant in the survey stated: “I found business difficult and did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would”. 

When students undertake a particular major or degree, several factors affect the choices they make. According to Social Cognitive Career Theory, personal inputs (e.g., gender, race, and personality), contextual factors (e.g., social/academic status, culture, and family), and learning experiences (e.g., work experiences) sway career behaviours in significant ways as well as what to study at university. 

DNY59 n.d., Gold tassel and rolled diploma with red ribbon, online image, Available at: https://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/photo/gold-tassel-and-rolled-diploma-with-red-ribbon-royalty-free-image/182670281?adppopup=true
 [Accessed 1 June 2019].

Career choices are created through various processes and can be affected by many factors or linked with many variables. It might be that universities can give one of the most sufficient environments for such assistance in students’ career development and in elevating their cognitive competence in career decision-making skills, exploration, and planning. 

Unsurprisingly, zero respondents elected ‘gender’ as a factor influencing the major/degree they undertook. This may be so because traditional gender norms have been dismantled and the society we live in is socially progressive. 85.71% of participants said that personal interest was a key factor in affecting the choice they made, making it the most common answer, unsurprisingly. 

fotosipsak, n.d., graduation, online image, Available at: https://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/photo/graduation-royalty-free-image/165088090?adppopup=true
 [Accessed 4 June 2019].

Regarding personal factors, Josephine Nyamwange states: “Studies have shown that the main intrinsic factors responsible for influencing career choice decisions include an individual’s personality, interests, self concept, attitudes and cultural identity” (2016, p. 96). This implies that personal factors will be the most prominent factor in choosing careers and degrees/majors. 

In Australia, approximately 20% of domestic students and 10% of international students who commence university do not continue to their second year. On the extent university can provide students with success, Hamish Coates says: “If students feel that their university supports them, not only academically but also socially and personally…they will be more likely to gain academic competence…” (2010, p. 2). This shows that students can remain at university for longer periods of time and acquire success if universities assist them well enough. 

On the contrary, 90.48% of the respondents said that the university is assisting them in gaining the skills they require for their future career and degrees. None selected ‘no’ as the answer. This is a surprising figure as there could have been a few respondents who selected ‘no’. 

Yuri_Arcurs 2019, When I grow up, I want to be…, online image, Available at: https://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/photo/when-i-grow-up-i-want-to-be-royalty-free-image/504365895?adppopup=true
 [Accessed 10 June 2019].

Should or should not university be compulsory can be subjective. Student performance is affected by different factors such as: learning abilities, gender and race. Family income level, attending full time, receiving grant aid and completing advanced level classes in high school having statistically high impact levels on university persistence among first generation college students. 

So, depending on the factors listed above can allow a student to decide if university is best for them.  Unexpectedly, zero respondents said that university shouldn’t be an option for everyone and therefore didn’t take certain factors inso consideration which can affect student performance at university. 85.71% of participants stated university should be an option for everyone. 

baona 2019, group of graduates, online image, Available at: https://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/photo/group-of-graduates-royalty-free-image/155033354?adppopup=true
 [Accessed 10 June 2019].

In recapitulation, student university success and the selection of career choices depend generally on how the university offers support as well as personal factors students have. Primarily, the participants in the survey are exceeding well in their current degrees/majors due to the university offering support tools and services. Students researching about the career and degrees/majors can impact how well they perform in they studies likewise. 

References

Brown, C. 2014, Eight tips for choosing the right university course, [ebook] p.2, Available at: http://icscareers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/eight-tips-for-choosing-the-right-university-course.pdf [Accessed 1 Jun. 2019].

Chuang, N., Walker, K. & Caine-Bish, N 2009, Student Perceptions of Career Choices: The Impact of Academic Major. Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences Education, [online] 27(2), pp.18-29, Available at: https://natefacs.org/Pages/v27no2/v27no2Chuang.pdf [Accessed 1 Jun. 2019].

Coates, H 2010, Getting first-year students engaged, Australian Council for Educational Research, [online] 6, p.2, Available at: https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=ausse [Accessed 1 Jun. 2019].

Koech, J., Bitok, J., Rutto, D., Koech, S., Okoth, J., Korir, B. and Ngala, H 2016, FACTORS INFLUENCING CAREER CHOICES AMONG UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN KENYA: A CASE STUDY OF UNIVERSITY OF ELDORET, International Journal of Contemporary Applied Sciences, [online] 3(2), p., Available at: http://ijcar.net/assets/pdf/Vol3-No2-February2016/03.pdf [Accessed 15 May 2019].

Nyamwange, J 2016, Influence of Student’s Interest on Career Choice among First Year University Students in Public and Private Universities in Kisii County, Kenya, Journal of Education and Practice, [online] 7(4), p.96, Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1092415.pdf [Accessed 4 May 2019].

Rodgers, M., Creed, P. & Glendon, A 2008, The role of personality in adolescent career planning and exploration: A social cognitive perspective, Journal of Vocational Behavior, [online] 73(1), pp.132-142, Available at: https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/21669/51364_1.pdf?sequence=1 [Accessed 20 May 2019].

Shahzadi, E & Ahmad, Z 2011, A STUDY ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS, 10.13140/2.1.3949.3126, pp. 255-268, available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266736633_A_STUDY_ON_ACADEMIC_PERFORMANCE_OF_UNIVERSITY_STUDENTS [Accessed 8 June, 2019].

Tobin, L 2014, Don’t know what subject to study at university? Don’t panic!, [online] The Guardian, Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/oct/09/dont-know-what-subject-to-study-dont-panic [Accessed 1 Jun. 2019].


Project Design and Management

Aims and significance

The aim of the project is to determine if studying at university will be beneficial for a student. It also aims to find out whether universities assist students with regards to their career pathways. Career choice is a compound decision for undergraduate students as it shapes the type of occupation that a student aims to pursue in life. As students formulate career choices, they face issues of matching their career preferences with their skills and abilities in academic performance. There are various factors that influence career choices among students and these are: peer influence, gender, parental influence, job opportunities and personal interest. The project has extensive value to it because university students are constantly brainstorming and thinking about their career, particularly first-year students. Before making career choices, students are, a lot of the time, given with a list of careers from which they are supposed to make decisions. However, many students lack proper information with regards to various careers. Hence, the choices they make are embedded in their idea of the quintessential job and the subjects they study in high school. The key stakeholders for the project are first-year students but university students in general can be.

Method and Justification

For researchers, primary data is critical when collecting research which demonstrates validity. The method of surveying will be employed to collect primary data required for the protect. With regards to surveys, both qualitative and quantitative data can be gathered, which implies that open-ended and closed-ended questions can be taken into account. To collect information for the project, the convenience sampling method will be utilised. The BCM212 students will be reached out as it is the sole and necessary sample group required for the project. Convenience sampling is an easy method of sampling as participants are chosen based on availability and willingness to take part. The quota sampling method will also be employed as students taking the BCM212 subject will only be surveyed.  

The survey is planning on being created on Survey Monkey, which is an online website where users create surveys on. For research to be accurate as well as reliable, a large sample size should be obtained. The aim is to receive at least eighty survey responses, which is a reasonable amount. Individuals can be reached at through the BCM212 Twitter hashtag and the link to the survey can be attached to the message. 

Two secondary sources, both of which are academic journals, have been found which relate to the project’s topic. Both of the sources are research papers which conducted research on university students with regards to career choices and the success universities can bring. Although both are non-Australian sources, they provide relevant and accurate information regarding the chosen research topic. 

The method of surveying is a good fit with the topic as a wide demographic of students in the BCM212 subject can be reached. Large and significant data can be obtained, which can lead to validity and reliability of research. It would be beneficial to be able to reach the as many students in the subject as possible and the surveying method can assist me in attaining this. 

Ethical Risks and Consideration

There is an abundance of ethical guidelines that need to be taken into consideration before sending the survey as well as writing up the questions. Before the participants will take the survey, they will be informed by a disclaimer at the start that their responses will remain anonymous and confidential. This relates to the concept of respecting the privacy of the participants. Integrity is critical when it comes to research. It is vital that the data is recorded wth honesty and is based on accurately recorded data. The information received from the participants must not be altered, otherwise the research data will be unreliable. The research results should be presented clearly which is easy for the viewer to observe and analyse. To avoid bias, leading or sensitive questions must be avoided as this is not demonstrating respect towards the participants. Asking questions which may harm or hurt the participant is not exemplifying beneficence as it’s not beneficial for them. Participation in the survey must be voluntary and it is vital that individuals should not be forced to partake in the survey as it’s not a sign of respect. Consent is a critical ethical guideline researchers must abide by. Participants are to give consent to the researcher in order to be involved in the survey even though their responses will remain anonymous and confidential. All participants should be treated with justice regardless of their identity and background and should be treated equally especially with regards to their needs. 

Ethical Research Practice

The way individuals will be recruited is through Twitter and the BCM212 hashtag. An announcement with regards to the survey as a message will be put up on Twitter, attaching the link to the survey and kindly asking them to fill it out if they wish to. A disclaimer regarding anonymity and confidentially of survey results will be placed at the top before the start of the survey questions. Twitter updates can be made regarding the project (e.g what will be done with the participant’s data, and how it will be represented) as it’s a participant’s right to know about the research project and the nature of it. There is a template on ‘Participant information and consent: survey’ which will be filled out and placed at the start of the survey, also known as the disclaimer. It is vital to consider that participation in the survey should be voluntary and any means of force imposed on the individual is unethical. After the results are finalised, they will be displayed in a pie graph as it’s the clearest and easiest way to showcase results from a mainly quantitative survey. As with the qualitative-based questions, they will be in written form. The participants should understand that there is no risk of harm to them in their relationship to me, my tutor or the BCM212 subject coordinator, or to their assessment in the subject, or to their relationship to the University of Wollongong, if they choose not to participate, or to withdraw later from participation. At the beginning of the survey,a question will be created that confirms the participant has read the participant information, is a member of the research population, and indicates their consent to continue. At the end of the survey, there will be another question that confirms that by submitting their survey, the participant is satisfied to take part in the research, and that they have my contact details.

RESEARCH PROPOSAL

Can universities assist students in helping decide on careers and account for their success?

The topic that I have selected for the student university experience project is determining whether universities account for student success and assist students in helping to decide on their career choices. I am curious to find out whether or not universities can allow students to be successful and guide them in the right direction. 

Career choice is a compound decision for undergraduate students as it shapes the type of occupation that a student aims to pursue in life. As students formulate career choices, they face issues of matching their career preferences with their skills and abilities in academic performance. There are various factors that influence career choices among students and these are: peer influence, gender, parental influence, job opportunities and personal interest.

Selecting a career is an essential decision that affects an individual‘s entire future. Career exploration is defined as the degree to which possible careers are researched and considered. These days, one has to not only to make due career planning but also extensive research on careers prior making a career choice so as to adjust with the evolving socio-economic conditions. 

Choosing the right career is vital in making sure that individuals lead rewarding lives, are persuaded at their jobs and can attain remarkable productivity. This sets the stage for organisational success and favourable outcome. Given the importance of making the right career choice, it is critical that individuals are aware of the factors that influence such significant decisions and do so from a point of knowledge.

Many students in their first year don’t have a clear idea as to what career they would like to specialise in. A considerable amount switch majors or even change their degree. However, career days, certain subjects/courses, tutors and lecturers may influence students in deciding their career choices. Just a few weeks ago, I myself sought assistance regarding my major and overheard a few issues that some students were unsure of what major they wanted to study. They, like me, were questioning with regards to their pattern of study. 

The topic is achievable as there are always career expos/days which can assist university students in helping to decide their career choices. Various students seek for support at help desks regarding their course and major, which determine the career choice of a student. I am confident that there will be plenty of evidence that students in the same subject struggled with issues regarding their careers and studies. 

The reason as to why I think this topic is relevant is because university students are constantly brainstorming and thinking about their career, particularly first-year students. Before making career choices, students are, a lot of the time, given with a list of careers from which they are supposed to make decisions. However, many students lack proper information with regards to various careers. Hence, the choices they make are embedded in their idea of the quintessential job and the subjects they study in high school. And finally, the topic is timely as socio-economic conditions are always shifting which affects career choices and planning. Many research studies are conducted worldwide of this issue which demonstrates that it’s a current issue and topic of concern. 

There is extensive evidence that the project is worth doing. I have found two academic sources indicating that there is an issue to be explored. Since academic sources are credible as well as provide quality information, I decided to use them for my project. In an attempt to work out the mystery on career choices amongst students, a study conducted to survey factors that sway career choices among students was undertaken by Koech et al. in 2016. The target population was second, third and fourth year undergraduate students at the University of Eldoret in Kenya. While the source is not Australian, it is highly useful and relevant to my topic and is a research study. 

With regards to the other academic journal I found, a study was conducted by Josephine Nyamwange from Masai Mara University in Kenya. Published in 2016, it attempted to find the influence of interest on career choice decisions among first-year university students. To address this objective, the study used two hundred and ninety-six first-year students chosen from six universities, which is a large high sample size. Likewise, this source is not Australian yet is it demonstrates relevance, currency and significance to my topic and is also a research study. 

Reference List

Koech, J., Bitok, J., Rutto, D., Koech, S., Okoth, J., Korir, B. and Ngala, H. (2016). FACTORS INFLUENCING CAREER CHOICES AMONG UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN KENYA: A CASE STUDY OF UNIVERSITY OF ELDORET. [ebook] Eldoret: International Journal of Contemporary Applied Sciences, pp.50-51. Available at: http://ijcar.net/assets/pdf/Vol3-No2-February2016/03.pdf [Accessed 15 Mar. 2019].

Nyamwange J. (2016). Influence of Student’s Interest on Career Choice among First Year University Students in Public and Private Universities in Kisii County, Kenya. [ebook] Nairobi: Academic Hosting & Event Management Solutions, p.96. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1092415.pdf [Accessed 15 Mar. 2019].