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Paths on life’s way : destinations, determinants, and decisions in the transition from high school Andres, Lesley 1992

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PATHS ON LIFE’S WAY: DESTINATIONS, DETERMINANTS, ANDDECISIONS IN THE TRANSITION FROM HIGH SCHOOLbyLESLEY ANDRES BELLAMYB.Sc.N. Lakehead University, 1976B.Ed. Lakehead University, 1984M.Ed. Lakehead University, 1985A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF EDUCATIONinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of Administrative, Adult, and Higher EducationWe accept this thesis as conformingTHE UNIVERSI OF BRITISH COLUMBIAMarch 1992required standard© Lesley Andres Bellamy, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission./ — — / 1 114 /jDepartment ofThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, Canada/ , / ttDate 1/DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThis study investigated how and why individuals chose various post-highschool destinations. Theoretical frameworks based on Härnqvists (1978)conceptualization of the determinants of educational choice, rational choice theoryas depicted by Elster (1986, 1989a, 1989b), and Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice (1977c,1979, 1986, 1990b) were used to examine 1) the complex of individual andinstitutional influences of educational choice, 2) the processes underlying thedecisions people made in choosing whether or not to pursue a post-secondaryeducation, and 3) how students in the midst of the transition from high school tovarious post-high school destinations perceived these processes. Central to theseanalyses are the concepts of cultural capital, primary and secondary social capital,beliefs about and dispositions toward post-secondary education, academic capital,and enabling capital in relation to post-high school status.This research, conducted in British Columbia, has undertaken two kinds ofexamination: 1) the exploration of choices made by a large sample of recent highschool graduates (n5345), as reported on a survey questionnaire and enriched bycorresponding Ministry of Education linked data and 2) two sets of intensive,focused interviews conducted with a sample of Grade 12 students (n51) who werein the process of making choices about post-high school destinations.Three different types of analyses were conducted to explore the choiceprocess. First, discrirninant function analyses were carried out to determine whichindividual and institutional determinants of educational choice, as depicted byHärnqvist, best predicted post-high school group membership (non-participant,non-university participant, university participant). Second, structural equationmodelling using LISREL VI was employed to unravel the processes, as depicted ina model of Post-high School Status, that led to differential group membership.11111Finally, interviews with Grade 12 students were carried out to explore studentsperceptions of these processes.In the first discrirninant analysis, non-participants and participants in post-secondary education comprised the dichotomous grouping variable. Employing thevariables included in Härnqvists framework, 74% of the non-participants and 79%of the participants could be correctly classified into their respective groups. Themost powerful predictor was curricular differentiation, followed by level ofeducation expected, total number of awards received, and primary social capital(parental influence variables). In a second discriminant analysis with non-university and university participants as the grouping variable, and based on thesame set of predictors, the type of post-secondary institution attended was correctlypredicted for 81% of university participants and 75% of non-university participants.High school grade point average most strongly predicted group membership,followed by curricular differentiation and level of education expected. Primarysocial capital (parental influence variables) or secondary social capital (influence ofschool personnel and peers) were not useful predictors in this analysis. In a threegroup discriminant analysis (non-participant, non-university participant, anduniversity participant), the first function distinguished among these three groupson academic capital variables, disposition variables, and parents as sources ofcultural capital, and the second discriminant function distinguished among thegroups on primary and secondary social capital variables and number of academicawards received. Based on Härnqvist’s schema, 81% of university participants, 50%of non-university participants, and 67% of non-participants were correctlyclassified. Analyses by gender were also reported for each discriminant analysis.In the second type of analysis, a theoretical model of Post-high School Statuswas tested using LISREL VI. Strong positive relationships were demonstrated toexist between academic capital and post-high school status, and betweenivdispositions toward post-secondary education and academic capital, for both malesand females. The effect of parents as sources of cultural capital on dispositionstoward post-secondary education was moderate, for both males and females. Thetotal effects of parental transmission of cultural and social capital on post-highschool destinations was significant. In these analyses, 58% of the variance in post-high school destination for the male sample and 54% of the variance for the femalesample was explained.In the third analysis, the processes of educational choice were furtherexplored through interviews with Grade 12 students. Of particular theoreticalinterest were differences in students’ long term dispositions toward post-secondaryeducation, beliefs about post-secondary education, and how parents as sources ofprimary social capital enabled their children to pursue higher education.It was concluded that the treatment of two disparate strands of thinking(rational choice theory and Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice) as complementary ratherthan competing provide a coherent account of how students made choices aboutpost-high school destinations. The theoretical frameworks developed for this studyhold potential as a first step in revitalizing the investigation of equality ofeducational opportunity. Implications for further research, theory development,and policy directions are offered.Table of ContentsChapter PageAbstract iiTable of Contents vList of Tables xiList of Figures xvAcknowledgements xviiDedication xviiiINTRODUCTION 1Research Problem 3Purpose 4Significance of the Study 6Overview of the Dissertation 92. POST-HIGH SCHOOL DESTINATIONS AND THE DECISIONMAKING CONTEXT 11The Canadian Educational System 12The Transition Points 12Junctures During Secondary School 13Decisions Regarding Post- high School Destination 14The Canadian Post-secondary System 15Why Go On? The Choice of A Post-secondary Education 17The Market Effects of Education 18The Non-Market Effects of Education 21Broad Effects of Higher Education 22Transition from high school to work 23Changing Labour Market Requirements 28Education and Credentialism 31Post-secondary Education and Equality of Opportunity 34Non-participants in Post-secondary Education 35Participants and Institutions 38The Pluralistic Nature of Canadian Post-secondaryEducation - Reality or Myth? 39Transfer from College to University 42Summary 463. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE AND THEORETICALPERSPECTIVES 47Factors Affecting Participation 47Social Stratification Perspective 48Status Attainment Research 50VviChapter PageDeterminants of Educational Choice.56Individual determinants of educational choice 58Institutional determinants of educational choice 58Post-high School Destination and Educational Choice 62Individuals as Rational Actors 66Practical Rationality 69Technical Rationality 69Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice 75Cultural Capital 75Social Capital 78Obligations and Expectations 79Information Channels 79Norms and Effective Sanctions 80Habitus 81Field 85A Theory of Practice and Post-high School Destination 87Self-elimination 88Overselection 89Relegation 90Reproduction and Agency 93Destinations, Determinants, and Decisions 94Summary 954. RESEARCH QUESTIONS, CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS,AND HYPOTHESES 96Question 1 97Question 2 99Hypotheses 106Hypothesis One 106Hypothesis Two 106Hypothesis Three 106Hypothesis Four 106Hypothesis Five 107Hypothesis Six 107Question 3 1075. RESEARCH DESIGN 109Link File Data Base 109Grade 12 Graduate Follow-Up Survey Data 110The Sample 111Sampling Strategy 112Post-secondary status 112Geographic region 113Eligibility for university admission 113viiChapter PageSample Selection.115Questionnaire Development and Data Collection 116Response Rate 117Representativeness of the Sample 118Overall Return Rate 119Frame Population and Survey Respondents 120Respondents versus Non-respondents 123Preparation of the Data Set 129Summary 129Interviews with Grade 12 Students 131The Sample 132Selection of Schools 132Metropolitan School (MSS) 132Remote Secondary School (RSS) 133Urban/Rural Secondary School (URSS) 133Student Selection 134MSS 134RSS 134URSS 134Interview Procedure 135Representativeness of the Interview Sample 137Preparation of the Interview Data 138Reliability and Validity of the Interview Data 138Summary 139Delimitations and Limitations 140Delimitations 140Limitations 1406. OBSERVED MEASURES, LATENT CONSTRUCTS, ANDTHEORETICAL MEANING 142Individual Determinants of Educational Choice 144Characteristics of the Individual 145Sex 145Educational Achievement 146Curricular Differentiation 147Interests and Expectations 149Beliefs 150Characteristics of the Personal Environment 152Family Background 153School Environment 156Institutional Determinants of Educational Choice 157Conditions Antecedent to the Choice Situation 157Guidance Organization 157Influence of Teachers and Counsellors 158viiiChapter PageConditions Anticipated in the Choice Situation 160Geographic Availability 161Study Finance 161Dependent Variables 162Participant status 162Post-secondary Institution Status 163Post-secondary Status 163Summary 1647. POST-HIGH SCHOOL DESTINATIONS AND OPPORTUNITYSETS 165Participation or Non-participation in Post-secondary Education 166Evaluation of Assumptions 167Missing data 167Unequal Sample Sizes 167Multivariate Normality 168Homogeneity of Variance-Covariance Matrices 169Direct Analysis 170Interpretation 170Classification 178Cross-validation 180Stepwise Discriminant Function Analysis 181Gender Differences 185Summary 189University or Non-university Participation 190Direct Analysis 191Classification 196Cross-validation 197Stepwise Discrirninant Function Analysis 197Gender Differences 202Summary 205Non-participation, Non-university Participation, orUniversity Participation 206Direct Analysis 207Classification 214Cross-validation 216Stepwise Discrirninant Function Analysis 216Gender Differences 220Summary 225Destinations and Opportunity Sets - A Summary 226ixChapter Page8. A MODEL OF POST-HIGH SCHOOL STATUS.227The LISREL Model of Post-high School Status 228Tests of Model Fit 234Male Sample 235Female Sample 238Adequacy of the Measurement Model 241Analysis of the Structural Model 242Beliefs about Post-secondary Education 242Academic Capital 245Sources of Secondary Social Capital 246Dispositions 246Enabling Capital 247Post-high School Status 247Direct, Indirect, and Total Effects 248Female Sample 249Male Sample 252Discussion 2539. GRADE 12 STUDENTS AND THEIR PERCEPTIONS OF THETRANSITION PROCESS 258Destinations 260Dispositions Toward Post-secondary Education 265Academic Capital 274Beliefs about Post-secondary Education 278Primary and Secondary Sources of Social Capital 289Enabling and Constraining Forces and Post-highSchool Destinations 297Rational Choice and Post-high School Destinations 307Discussion 311Summary 31310. CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSION 314Central Findings of the Study 315Hypothesis One 318Hypothesis Two 318Hypothesis Three 319Hypothesis Four 319Hypothesis Five 319Hypothesis Six 320Significance of the Research 327Implications for Future Research 329Implications for Theory 332Implications for Policy Development 334xChapter PageREFERENCE LIST.340APPENDICESA. Survey Questionnaire 363B. Rates of Response and Non-Response 371C. Interview Data Collection 390D. Comparison of Males and Females. Means andStandard Deviations 400E. Summary of LISREL Parameter Estimates 402List of TablesTable Page1. Distribution of Individuals by Average Income, Educationand Sex, Canada and British Columbia, 1988 202. Unemployment Rates of Population 15 Years and Over byEducation and Sex, Canada and British Columbia,Annual Average 1989 243. Groups Identified as Under-represented in CanadianPost-secondary Education 374. Forms of Exclusion in Relation to Capital and Habitus 915. Frame Population of the 1988 Grade 12 Graduates 1146. Sample Size and Sampling Fractions by Stratum 1167. The Survey Respondents (Response Rate) 1188. Frame Population (A), Sampling Fractions (B), Response Rate (C),Survey Respondents (D), Percent Difference between Frame andSurvey Respondents (E) 1219. Respondents and Non-respondents - Significant Differences byGeographic Region and Eligibility for University Admission 12510. Comparison of Mean Values - Respondents and Non-respondentsby Geographic Region and Eligibility for University Admission.Participants 12711. Comparison of Mean Values - Respondents and Non-respondentsby Geographic Region and Eligibility for University Admission.Non-participants 12812. Interviewees by Sex and Geographic Region 13613. Interviewees by Sex and Post-high School Destination 13714. Determinants of Educational Choice and their Sources 143xixiiTable Page15. Means and Standard Deviations. Non-participants andParticipants 17116. Discriminant Function Analysis Summary Table. Non-participantsand Participants 17217. Pooled Within-Groups Correlations between DiscriminatingVariables and the Canonical Discriminant Functions.Non-participants and Participants 17518. Classification Matrix. Non-participants and Participants 17919. Stepwise Discriminant Function Analysis. Non-participants andParticipants 18220. Stepwise Analysis Classification Matrix. Non-participantsand Participants 18321. Discriminant Function Analysis Summary Table. Non-participantsand Participants - Females and Males 18722. Pooled Within-Groups Correlations between DiscriminatingVariables and the Canonical Discriminant Functions.Non-participants and Participants. Females and Males 18823. Classification Matrix. Non-participants and Participants.Females and Males 18924. Means and Standard Deviations. Non-university and UniversityParticipants 19225. Discriminant Function Analysis Summary Table. Non-university andUniversity Participants 19326. Pooled Within-Groups Correlations between DiscriminatingVariables and the Canonical Discriminant Functions.Non-university and University Participants 19427. Classification Matrix. Non-university and University Participants 19628. Stepwise Discriminant Function Analysis. Non-university andUniversity Participants 199xli’Table Page29. Stepwise Analysis Classification Matrix. Non-university andUniversity Participants 20030. Discrirninant Function Analysis Summary Table. Non-universityand University Participants. Females and Males 20331. Pooled Within-Groups Correlations between Discriminating Variablesand the Canonical Discrirninant Functions. Non-university andUniversity Participants. Females and Males 20432. Classification Matrix. Non-university and UniversityParticipants. Females and Males 20533. Means and Standard Deviations. Non-participants, Non-universityParticipants, and University Participants 20834. Discriminant Function Analysis Summary Table. Non-participants,Non-university Participants, and University Participants 20935. Canonical Discriminant Functions Evaluated at GroupMeans (Centroids) 21036. Pooled Within-Groups Correlations between Discriminating Variablesand the Canonical Discriminant Functions. Non-participants,Non-university Participants, and University Participants 21237. Classification Matrix. Non-participants, Non-participants,Non-university Participants, and University Participants 21538. Stepwise Discrirninant Function Analysis. Non-participants,Non-university Participants, and University Participants 21739. Stepwise Classification Matrix. Non-participants, Non-universityParticipants, and University Participants 21840. Discriminant Function Analysis Summary Table. Non-participants,Non-university Participants, and University Participants.Females and Males 221xivTable Page41. Pooled Within-Groups Correlations between Discriminating Variablesand the Canonical Discriminant Functions. Non-participants,Non-university Participants, and University Participants.Females and Males 22242. Classification Matrix. Non-participants, Non-university Participants,and University Participants. Females and Males 22443. Means, Standard Deviations, Product Moment Correlations, andFactor Loadings of the Indicator Variables - Males and Females 23344. Stages in the Modification of the LISREL Model of Post-high SchoolStatus - Males 23645. Stages in the Modification of the LISREL Model of Post-high SchoolStatus - Females 23946. Path Coefficients in a Model of Post-high School Status. Males andFemales 24447. Direct, Indirect, and Total Effects of Antecedent Variables onPost-high School Status. (Standardized Coefficients) 24948. Post-high School Destination by GPA, Curricular Differentiation,and Geographic Location 275List of FiguresFigure Page1. Post-high School Destinations.22. Decisions during high school 133. Unemployment Rates of Population 15-24 Years and Over,by Education, Canada Annual Averages 1980-1989 254. Unemployment Rates of Population 25-44 Years and Over,by Education, Canada Annual Averages 1980-1989 255. Härnqvist’s Determinants of Educational Choice 576. Adaptation of Elsters Schema of Rational Choice 707. Determinants of Educational Choice 988. Rational Choice Theory and Post-high School Status 999. Cultural Capital and Post-high School Status 10110. Social Capital and Post-high School Status 10311. A Model of Post-high School Status 10512. Populations and Samples Relevant to the Grade 12 GraduateFollow-up Survey 13013. Data Sources 14114. Academic Capital 14815. Dispositions toward Post-secondary Education 15016. Beliefs about Post-secondary Education 15217. Sources of Cultural Capital 15418. Sources of Primary Social Capital 15519. Sources of Secondary Social Capital 159xvxviFigure Page20. Enabling Capital.16221. Post-high School Status 16322. Plot of Group Centroids 21123. Path Diagram for an Hypothesized Model ofPost-high School Status 22924. Parameter Estimates in a Model of Post-highSchool Status 24325. Stated Post-high School Destination (October 1989 and May 1990)and Actual Post-high School Destination (October 1990) 26226. Ameliorated Model of Post-high School Status 330ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI am grateful to the members of my thesis committee for their individualand collective contributions to the improvement of my research. My researchsupervisor, Dr. Neil Guppy, has provided me with solid direction, incisivecomments, and ceaseless encouragement. I extend my thanks also to Dr. JohnDennison for his constant vigilance and guidance, to Dr. Donald Fisher for sharinghis knowledge of both theory and methodology, and to Dr. Robert Schutz forguiding me gently through the statistical analyses.I wish to thank Dr. Grant Fisher at the B.C. Council of Admissions andTransfer, Scott Mclnnis at the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training, andTechnology, and Glen Forrester and David Shea at the British Columbia ResearchCorporation for assisting me to gain access to the data sets employed in this study.Also, I extend my appreciation to the students who enriched my study by sharingtheir experiences of the transition process.I would also like to acknowledge the financial assistance provided by theSocial Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.I thank my friends and the faculty in the Department of Administrative,Adult, and Higher Education for their genuine interest in me and my work. Inparticular, I thank Shauna Bufterwick, Trisha Wilcox, Jay Handel, Graham Kelsey,Jean Hills, Ian and Billie Housego, and Kjell Rubenson.Finally, to my husband, John Bellamy, my sincere thanks and appreciationfor the many years of encouragement, assistance, and patience. His support, alongwith the constant companionship of Aururn and Ali (the cats), has made my life asa graduate student most pleasant.xviixviiiTo the Memory of Sheldon ChumirChapter 1INTRODUCTIONFor every Canadian student, their last year of high school is, by definition,a year of transition. This transition typically involves a separation from theprevious world of high school and family and incorporation into a new world ofadult life. This particular transition point is rather unique, for its occurrence ispredictable but involuntary’. Despite its predictable and inevitable nature, thetransition from high school is far from straightforward. Inherent in thistransition is the decision of whether or not to continue in the educationalsystem. This decision is a major life decision (Sloan, 1987), whether or not it isrecognized as such, for its consequences impact on almost every aspect of anindividuals future. However, the choice is not simply one of selecting onealternative over another. Even at its simplest level, several decisions areinvolved in this transition (see Figure 1).1 These terms are borrowed from Van Gennep (1960) who distinguished three major phases oftransition or rites de passage: separation, transition, and incorporation, and Adams, Hayes, andHopson (1976) who have categorized the forms of transition.12Decisions regarding post-high school destinations are made within thesocial, cultural, historical, and interpersonal contexts of the deciding individual.Constraints and opportunities due to socioeconomic circumstances, geographiclocation, cognitive and non-cognitive personality traits affect the decisionmaking process. Societal conditions of inequality, of cultural and economicresources, and the prevailing employment climate also impinge on decisionmaking.An informed decision requires a long-term planning perspective,crystallized preferences, and recognition of constraints and opportunities.Ironically, such a complex life decision occurs during adolescence, the verystage of human development that tends to be characterized by unstablepreferences, limited past experience, and opaque career goals. As Sloan (1987)suggests, the ability to reach a decision under circumstances such as these is9qure 1: ost-fi.tqfi sclwotclestiiuztions3difficult. Yet, we continue to presume that individuals make optimal decisionsregarding life beyond the confines of high school.Despite a substantial body of evidence to support the claim that educationdoes enhance ones life chances, Canadian national statistics reveal that nearly50% of Grade 12 graduates do not continue directly to some form of post-secondary education (Report of the Standing Senate Committee on NationalFinance, 1987). Given what is known about the benefits of post-secondaryparticipation and the observation that numerous high school graduates do notgo on, some interesting questions arise: Why do some students not continue onto post-secondary education? Why do others decide to pursue it, and what is itthat makes those who do continue choose one type of post-secondary institutionover another? How do students actually make this decision?Research ProblemThe relationship between participation in post-secondary education andthe factors affecting participation is well documented in studies of post-secondary education in Canada. These factors are traditionally cited under thefollowing headings: socio-economic (social class, parents occupation, parentseducation, sex, ethnicity), geographic (urban/rural/remote differences),institutional (admission standards, availability and content of programs),cognitive personality traits (IQ, aptitude), noncognitive personality traits(motivation, aspiration), and financial (costs to the student, financial aid).Various investigations have identified and measured the factors affectingparticipation. These studies include explorations of aspirations and expectationsof high school students (Anisef, 1975; Crysdale, 1975; Gilbert & McRoberts,41977; O’Neill, 1981; Porter, Porter, & Blishen et al., 1982) the characteristics ofthe Canadian post-secondary population (Dennison, Forrester, & Jones, 1982;Pike, 1970; Porter, Porter, & Blishen et a!., 1982); the impact of social origin,present school experience, and relationships with the future on vocationalindecision, educational intentions, and the level of occupational preferences(Breton, 1972); trends over time in Canadian post-secondary enrollment(Guppy, 1988; Harvey, 1977); characteristics of community college students(Dennison, Tunner, Jones, & Forrester, 1975); and experiences of going fromschool to work (Anisef, 1980).Such studies, however, provide little insight into the dynamics of howindividuals actually make decisions about post-high school destinations.Although a considerable body of literature on accessibility to and participationin post-secondary education in Canada exists, very little research effort has beenexpended on elucidating the processes behind the decisions people make inchoosing whether or not to pursue post-secondary education. It is clear thatcertain factors affect the choice to participate in post-secondary education.However, little empirically derived evidence can be found in the literature toexplain how and why individuals make the decisions they do regarding posthigh school destinations. As Hossler, Braxton, and Coopersmith (1989) suggest,a set of theoretical concepts is needed to explain the interrelationships amongthe salient factors of the post-secondary choice process.PurposeThe purpose of my study is to investigate how and why individualschoose various post-high school destinations. Three major research questions5are advanced to explore this problem. First: Given a sample of recent highschool graduates, what factors influence whether and where one participates inpost-secondary education? The second major question is: What processesunderlie the decisions individuals make in choosing whether or not to pursue apost-secondary education? Finally, to further unravel these processes, a thirdquestion is posed: How do students perceive the processes which underlie theirdecisions?The complicated nature of destinations, determinants, and decisions meritsboth theoretical and methodological complexity. Hence, in order to provideanswers to these questions, the research strategy of theoretical andmethodological triangulation is employed. First, in relation to the first question,the macro-processes of post-secondary participation are examined byemploying an analytical framework based on Härnqvist’s (1978)conceptualization of the determinants of educational choice. This framework isused to assess the individual and institutional factors that contribute to orcurtail post-secondary participation in a large sample of the 1988 cohort ofBritish Columbia high school graduates. To answer the second question, this setof macro-level or aggregate data is used to analyse micro-level concepts specificto rational choice theory as explicated primarily by Elster (1986, 1989a, 1989b)and Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice (1977c, 1979, 1986, 1990b). A conceptualmodel of Post-high School Status is developed from the research questions andis used to determine the relationship between the concepts advanced by thesetwo theoretical perspectives. Finally, to further detail the intricacies of decisionmaking in relation to post-high school destinations, this model of Post-highSchool Status is used as a guiding theoretical framework on which to base ananalysis of data collected from two sets of interviews conducted with Grade 12students in 1989 and 1990.6Thus, by examining the choices made by a cohort of recent high schoolgraduates (along with linked secondary and post-secondary institutional database files) and a sample of students who were currently in Grade 12, a range ofparticipants, non-participants and potential participants in the post-secondarysystem was included in this study. The study was conducted within the contextof the British Columbia educational system.Significance of the StudyThere is a paucity of research on the processes behind the decisions peoplemake in choosing whether or not to pursue post-secondary education. TheReport of the Committee to Examine Participation Trends in Alberta concludedthat while the results of their study provided a clear picture of who attendspost-secondary education, it did not provide any information about how thesechoices were made (Alberta Advanced Education, 1984). Härnqvist (1978)commented that because educational choice has very rarely been used as adependent variable in studies of institutional and structural determinants,knowledge in this area is “incomplete and scattered” (p.8O) This study extendsthe current knowledge base by considering the determinants of educationalchoice, the processes behind these actions, and how individuals perceive theseprocesses.In much of the current theoretical debate in the social sciences, a reexamination of two disparate views of action have been called for (Coleman,1986, 1990; Gambetta, 1987; Hindess, 1988). In the first of these two streams ofthought, the actor is treated as a “creative subject, pursuing its interests to thebest of its ability and constituting actions and social relations in the process” and7in the second stream as ‘the picture of the human subject as literally subjected tothe system of social relations in which it internalizes its part and subsequentlyacts out” (Hindess, 1988, p.38) One feature of the theoretical promise of thisstudy is that it treats these two disparate intellectual streams as complementaryrather than competing. Guided by rational choice theory and Bourdieu’s Theoryof Practice, a theoretical model which incorporates the first stream within aframework of the second stream is developed. Insights into the choices thatindividuals make about post-high school destinations, and the processesunderlying these choices are gained by addressing this theoretical debate.Through the use of multiple data sources and a variety of data analyses, thisstudy extends the empirical work of Gambetta (1987) and Rehberg andRosenthal (1978).The significance of this study can also be justified in more general terms. Alimited amount of Canadian research has been conducted on access issues inregard to non-university participation, the use of multivariate and multi-site! multirnethod approaches to data analysis, and studies whichsimultaneously consider the non-participants and participants of post-secondary education (Anisef, 1985). Of the Canadian studies that do exist, mosthave been conducted using data limited to participation in “binary systems” ofpost-secondary education (Campbell, 1975, p.55) in which the university andnon-university sectors do not overlap, but exist independently of each other. Forexample, in Ontario post-secondary education has been classified as a “binarysystem” and university-equivalent courses are not available at the Colleges ofApplied Arts and Technology (CAAT); thus, formal transfer with creditbetween the two types of institutions does not exist. The CAAT’s werespecifically designed to provide training for students who were not eligible foruniversity entrance.8In contrast, the post-secondary system in British Columbia has beendescribed as a “ternary system” (Campbell, 1975, p.57’) or “combineddevelopmental model” (Worth, 1972, p.82). After completion of one or two yearsof university-equivalent courses at one of the fifteen community colleges,students with appropriate prerequisites are able to transfer to one of the threeprovincial universities to complete a bachelor’s degree. Differences in provincialpost-secondary systems, and resulting participation patterns, may enhance ourunderstanding of the effects of the structure of the system on choices regardingpost-secondary participation.The issue of participation in post-secondary education continues to be amajor concern in the development of educational policy. The question of theneed for wider accessibility to the post-secondary system recurred throughoutthe National Forum on Post-Secondary education held in Saskatoon in 1987, andimprovement of accessibility was identified as one of four priorities requiringimmediate federal-provincial cooperation (Department of the Secretary of State,1988). The Report of the British Columbia Provincial Access Committee (1988)states that “increasing accessibility to advanced education and job training hasemerged as a major concern of citizens, educators and government” (p.1) and:the need our province faces, therefore, is not to just improve equality of access for allour citizens, but also to improve the overall rate of transition of students from highschool into advanced education and job training institutions of all kinds .Opportunities for our young people need to be expanded so that they can competewith highly trained and educated people coming from elsewhere. (p.5)This view continues to be reiterated in recent policy documents (Ministry ofAdvanced Education, Training, and Technology, 1991). As well, in a currenthuman resource development initiative in British Columbia, the transition from9school has been identified as one of the nine key policy areas requiring indepthexamination (British Columbia Human Resource Development Project, 1991).An investigation of all aspects of participation in post-secondary educationwould require studies that go beyond the transition from high school to post-secondary education and would include retention, transfer, graduation, andtransition to the work force. Although this study is limited to the transition ofBritish Columbia Grade 12 enrollees and graduates to various post-high schooldestinations, it contributes to an understanding of the decisions made by non-participants, as well as participants at universities, community colleges andother post-secondary institutions. This study reframes current approaches toparticipation, accessibility, and decision making extant in the literature. Suchreframing may contribute to a greater understanding of decision makingprocesses and may help explain existing disparities between the characteristicsof participants and non-participants in post-secondary education.Overview of the DissertationThis chapter has provided the background to this study, an introduction tothe research problem, the purpose, and the significance. Chapter 2 endeavoursto cast the topic of choice regarding post-high school destination into a broadeducational, societal, and cultural context. Literature related to the structure ofthe system, benefits of a post-secondary education, youth and unemployment,and post-secondary education and equality of opportunity are reviewed. InChapter 3 the literature relevant to participation, rational decision making andBourdieu’s Theory of Practice is reviewed. In Chapter 4 the research questionsare developed, and corresponding conceptual frameworks to address these10questions are presented. Specifically, a model of Post-high School Status isadvanced which treats the tenets of rational choice theory and concepts of socialcapital, cultural capital, and dispositions or habitus espoused by Bourdieu ascomplementary constructs. Chapter 5 is concerned with the research design. Inthis chapter, a description of the data sources, instruments and methods of datacollection, and details of the samples is provided. Chapter 6 provides adescription of the manifest variables from survey sample data, formation of thelatent constructs, and the theoretical meaning attributed to these variables. InChapter 7, discriminant function analysis is employed to further delineate theopportunity sets of non-participants, non-university participants, and universityparticipants. In Chapter 8, the model of Post-high School Status is tested usingLISREL VI. Chapter 9 uses interview data to provide an indepth description ofhow students perceive the constructs identified in the model of Post-high SchoolStatus. In Chapter 10 a summary of the findings, conclusions, and implicationsis presented. Directions for research, theory, and policy development aresuggested.Chapter 2POST-HIGH SCHOOL DESTINATIONS AND THE DECISION MAKINGCONTEXTAs indicated in Chapter 1, decisions about post-high school destinations arenot made in isolation. Rather, these decisions are influenced by three interrelatedcontexts: the interpersonal context of the deciding individual, the context of theexisting educational system, and the broad context defined by our society andculture. These interrelationships result in what Saussure refers to assimultaneous complications in many direction&’ (cited in Bourdieu, 1984, p.126).Buchmann (1989) advises that when an analysis focuses on a singletransition period or life stage, it is critical that the life stage be located within thebroader context of that society. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is to reviewthe two larger contexts of the transition under consideration in this study; that is,educational and societal contexts within which decisions regarding post-highschool destinations occur. First, the structures of the elementary, secondary, andpost-secondary systems in British Columbia, and the transition points that occurwithin these structures are reviewed. Second, issues surrounding low transitionrates are discussed under two headings: 1) the benefits of a post-secondaryeducation, and 2) the transition from school to work. Finally, equality ofopportunity in relation to post-secondary education is considered.1112The Canadian Educational SystemGambetta (1987) indicates that a given educational system creates anexternal constraint on individual decision behaviour. It does so by providing theorganization for a given type of education, seffing the rules and procedureswhich regulate admission, selection, promotion, and certification. Individualswithin the system, when making a decision, are required to adjust to and choosefrom the prescribed set of alternatives offered by the system. The possibleeducational trajectories are dependent on the structure of the system and thestreaming and selecting mechanisms within it.In this section, a review of the structures of the elementary, secondary, andpost-secondary systems in British Columbia is outlined, and the transition pointsthat occur within this structure are identified.The Transition PointsDuring the pre-tertiary years, Canadian students face two key decisionsregarding their life trajectories: first, once the age of compulsory attendance hasbeen reached, whether to withdraw from school or continue until graduation;and second, upon high school graduation, whether to continue to postsecondary education or enter the labour force.13Junctures During Secondary SchoolThe first point in which a participation choice may be exercised arises forthe Canadian student only after she or he reaches minimum school leaving age.The choice, depicted in Figure 2, is whether to continue beyond the compulsoryattendance age or to leave the educational system. Until that point, childrenwithin a defined age range are “legal captives of the school system” (Fischer,1987, p.43) and are obligated by law to attend school. The ages of compulsoryattendance vary from province to province between a lower limit of 5 years andan upper limit of 16 years. In British Columbia, Section 3(1) of the the School Actrequires that each child between the fifth and sixteenth birthdays attend schooldaily (School Act, 1989).ageJ tt1ufrawfrom tile1 eucatioim1systemfFWure 2. fDecLcion.c éuthzg fiigfi scfiooLIn Canada, education is also a right. That is, individuals within a specifiedschool age range, which is usually broader than the compulsory age ofattendance, have the right to attend school (Bezeau, 1989). In British Columbia, itis the obligation of the Ministry of Education to ensure that an educationalprogram is provided for every child of school age. School age is specified asbetween 5 and 19 years (School Act, 1989). This right of attendance isaccompanied by an implicit expectation that students will stay in school until14they graduate from high school. In fact, a credential is awarded only uponcompletion of the requirements for high school graduation.The majority of students do remain in school and complete therequirements for Grade 12 graduation. The British Columbia Ministry ofEducation (1990b)2 reports that in September 1989, approximately 87% of thosewho entered Grade 8 in 1985 enrolled in Grade 12 in 1989, even thoughattendance was compulsory only from ages 7 through 14g. Of this cohort, 63%met the requirements for high school graduation4.Decisions Regarding Post- high School DestinationWhile the choice regarding participation in high school is limited towhether or not to stay in the educational system until graduation, optionsregarding post-high school destinations are more diverse. Historically, themajority of high school graduates have not pursued post-secondary studies, andeven as late as the 1950s, attendance at post-secondary institutions wasrestricted to a select few (Harris, 1976). However, changes to the post-secondarysystem over the past thirty years has ensured that access to some form of post-secondary education is open to all high school leavers. These changes and theresulting available options warrant further comment and are discussed in thenext section.2 Throughout this chapter, 1988 and 1989 statistics are cited to complement data sets used in theanalysis chapters of this study.Students who attended school during the 1987/88 year were subject to compulsory attendancerules as stipulated by Section 113(1) of the School Act (1979). Since that time, compulsoryattendance has been redefined in the new School Act (1989).The present study is delimited to an examination of decisions made by grade 12 enrollees andgraduates and does not address the decisions of either dropouts or the 24% of Grade 12 studentswho fail to meet graduation requirements (Ministry of Education, 1990). Early withdrawal andnon-completion of graduation requirements warrant separate consideration; it is beyond thescope of this study.15The Canadian Post-secondary SystemExpansion of the Canadian system of post-secondary education since the1960s has been described as extraordinary (OECD, 1976). In terms of quantitativedevelopment, Canada is considered to be among the educational leaders.Contributing to this expansion were the increase in the number of placesavailable in existing universities, the establishment of new universities, and thedevelopment of a community college system in each province. Canada nowboasts 65 universities, 123 public community colleges, 53 public post-secondaryinstitutions, and an assortment of private post-secondary institutions (Dennison& Gallagher, 1986; Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, 1990). As aresult, over the last three decades significant improvement has occurred in mostforms of post-secondary participation, including the transition from high schoolto post-secondary education. Full-time enrolment in post-secondary institutionshas increased from 91,000 in 1951-52 to 817,000 in 1988-89 (Department of theSecretary of State of Canada, 1990). Transition rates from Grade 12 directly topost-secondary education have increased from 44.5% in 1979/80 to 53.2% in1985/86 (Report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, 1987).Full-time post-secondary enrolment among the 18 to 24 age group in 1986/87totalled 25.5% (Statistics Canada, 1989).The post-secondary system in British Columbia is described as a‘diversified and well-developed structure for advanced education and jobtraining” (Report of the Provincial Access Committee, 1988, p.3). The postsecondary system has expanded over the past three decades to include threepublic universities, one private university, fifteen community colleges, fourpublic institutes, an Open Learning University and an Open Learning College, aswell as many private colleges and trade schools. University degree program16availability has been enhanced recently by the creation of four universitycolleges within the existing community college system. As well, a degreegranting institution for northern British Columbia is currently underconstruction. It is reported that 116,500 full-time and part-time studentsparticipate annually in non-vocational education and over 12,000 students areenrolled in full-time vocational programs (Department of the Secretary of Stateof Canada, 1990; Ministry of Advanced Education and Job Training, 1988). Thetransition rate6 for British Columbia students moving directly from high schoolto college or university, has increased to 45% in 1985-86 from 35% in 1978-79(Report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, 1987).This macroscopic way of viewing participation in post-secondary educationhas been referred to as Type II accessibility (Skolnik, 1984, cited in Anisef, 1985)which pertains to the average probability of participation in post-secondaryeducation by all individuals in a relevantly defined population. The higher theaverage probability, the greater the Type II accessibility. Using Type IIaccessibility as a measure, the number of students making the transition fromhigh school to post-secondary education appears to compare favourably withpast transition figures. A transition rate of 45% is not necessarily problematic if,as Radwanski (1987) points out, the objective is merely to ensure that everyyoung person has the opportunity to obtain as much education as she or hedesires. However, there are several reasons for concern regarding the transitionof British Columbia Grade 12 graduates to post-secondary education.5 This figure includes university transfer, career/technical, general studies, and collegepreparatory programs. Of the full-time students in British Columbia 1988/89, 38,580 attenduniversity and 25,488 are at community colleges. Part-time participants include 17,997 atuniversity and 34,658 at community colleges (Department of the Secretary of State of Canada,1990).6 Transition rate is defined as the percentage of high school graduates proceeding directly toeither college or university following high school graduation (Report of the Standing SenateCommittee on National Finance, 1987).17When transition rates are compared with other provinces, British Columbiaranks sixth (above Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Prince EdwardIsland). Although 63% of Grade 12 enrollees in British Columbia have graduatedfrom high school each year since 1985 (Ministry of Education, 1990), each yearapproximately 45% continue directly on to some form of post-secondaryeducation (Report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, 1987).Whereas the overall transition rate in Canada is 53%, it is 45% in BritishColumbia (Report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, 1987;Report of the Provincial Access Committee, 1988). In other words, for 55% ofGrade 12 graduates, the immediate post-high school destination is not post-secondary education. The issues surrounding low transition rates will bediscussed under the following headings: 1) The choice of a post-secondaryeducation, and 2) The transition from school to work.Why Go On? The Choice of A Post-secondary EducationA basic assumption made in this study is that participation in post-secondary education enhances one’s life chances. According to Dahrendorf(1979), life chances are the “moulds of human life in society; their shapedetermines how and how far people can unfold” (p.ll). Dahrendorf claims thatlife chances are not attributes of individuals, but rather individuals have lifechances in society, and their life chances may “make or break them”. Life chancesare described as “opportunities for individual growth, for the realization oftalents, wishes and hopes, and these opportunities are provided by socialconditions” (p.30). One such opportunity is participation in education, and in18particular post-secondary education; it is an avenue that allows individuals toextend their life chances and to grow in response to them.There is a substantial body of evidence to support the claim that educationdoes enhance one’s life chances. It can be demonstrated that participation in post-secondary education makes a difference in terms of future labour marketexperience, employability, and quality of life. That is, individuals who achievehigher levels of education are more likely to earn higher salaries, hold moreprestigious positions in the work force, are less likely to be unemployed, and aremore likely to both benefit from and contribute to the robustness of society ingeneral (see references below).The benefits of a post-secondary education will be considered under thefollowing headings: the market and non-market effects of education, and thebroad effects of higher education.The Market Effects of EducationOne way of determining the benefits of a post-secondary education is toexamine the private and social payoff of additional education. Over the years,numerous studies have been conducted on the economic returns to investmentsin education and the role of education in national economic growth (Mincer,1989; Murphy & Welch, 1989; Schultz, 1961; Stager, 1972; Vaizey andDebeauvais, 1961; West, 1988). These studies dealing with individual rates ofreturn usually show that there is a positive correlation between economicproductivity and the number of years of formal education.Economists generally agree that, from a market perspective, highereducation is a good investment that on the average produces returns that amplyjustify the cost (Bowen, 1982; Douglass, 1977). For example, Vaillancourt and19Henriques (1986) report that private rates of return for Canadian men in 1981ranged from 10 to 14% for three years of university education, and 8 to 12% forfour years of university education (p.454). They conclude that:the real after-tax private rate of return to a university education is significantly higherthan rates of return associated with other types of investment such as long-termgovernment bonds that usually yield between 3 and 5 percent in real terms (p.454).In other words, compared to other forms of investment, three to four years ofuniversity education will generally yield higher private rates of return. Byinvesting in themselves, Schultz (1961) explains, individuals are able to augmentthe range of choices available to them and thus, enhance their welfare (p.2). Thepositive association between post-secondary education and earnings isdemonstrated in Table 1:20Table 1.Distribution of Individuals by Average Income,Education and Sex, Canada and British Columbia,1988.CANADA BRITISH COLUMBIATotal Male Female Total Male Female$ $ $ $ $ $0-8 years 14,867 19,239 9,970 15,390 20,538 9,691Some high schooland no postsecondary 18,708 24,087 13,128 -Some post-secondary 19,013 23,452 14,297 20,175 25,595 14,689Post-secondarydiploma/certificate 23,765 30,272 17,920 - -University degree 35,237 42,035 26,301 31,727 38,508 22,807(Income Distributions by Size in Canada, 1989. Catalogue 13-207)Murphy and Welch (1989) comment that the evidence demonstrating thepositive association between schooling and earnings is so strong that it is“impossible to ignore the role of education in systematic studies of individualearnings”7 (p.l7) West (1988) also concludes that the higher the level ofeducation, the better the labour market experience.It must be noted, however, that while women attain higher educationallevels than men (Bellamy & Guppy, 1991), the return to their investments ineducation is not as lucrative. Gaskell (1983) comments that an individual womanmay be able to increase her income level relative to other women by furthering7Wh.ile a decline in returns to higher education was reported in the 1970’s (Freeman, 1976), it hasbeen described as a temporary, short-lived cyclical condition rather than the beginning of a longterm trend. Increased returns to schooling in the 1980’s have been described as dramatic (Stager,1989; Murphy and Welch, 1989). Stager (1989) reports that in 1985, the estimated returns havealmost returned to the levels that prevailed in 1960.21her education, but large disparities in earnings continue to exist between menand women with equal educational levels.The Non-Market Effects of EducationEconomists did not deny the existence of nonmonetary values and in factacknowledged that changes in observed earnings and output did not capture allof the relevant economic effects of education. Few, however, concernedthemselves with the wide range of nonmarket impacts of education (Haveman &Wolfe, 1984), but chose to concentrate their attention on human attributes whichyielded outputs measurable in dollars. Douglass (1977) posits:in human capital, economists have fashioned a concept that leaves no room for thetraits of individuals that produce such ineffable outcomes as happiness, love,friendliness, humanitarian impulses, spirituality, knowledge for its own sake, and soon. These are simply left out of any assessment of the value of human capital except tothe extent that they significantly influence the earning capacity of individuals or theproductive capacity of the economy. (p.363)Studies of the nonmarket effects of education have demonstrated thatincreased levels of education are positively related with one’s own health andfamily health status (Fuchs, 1980; Taubman & Rosen, 1980), efficiency ofconsumption choices (Hettich, 1972; Schultz, 1975), attainment of desired familysize (Michael, 1973), lower mortality rates (Grossman & Jacobowitz, 1981),efficiency in labour and marriage market decisions (Haveman & Wolfe, 1984),better matching of jobs with skill requirements and migration decisions(Schwartz, 1984), increased savings (Solomon, 1975), greater levels of charitablegiving (Dye, 1980), and decreased criminal activity (Ehlrich, 1975). Haveman andWolfe (1984) conclude that “one is left with the strong impression thatincremental schooling yields aggregate economic well-being benefits that are22considerably larger than those captured in estimates of the differences in labourmarket earnings associated with differences in the average level of schooling”(p.390).Broad Effects of Higher EducationEconomists have long been preoccupied with measuring the market effectsand, more recently, the non-market effects of education. They also identify theexistence of one type of broad effect of education on society, referred to as anexternality-generating or spillover effect (Havernan & Wolfe, 1984; West, 1988).An externality is said to exist when the self-interested action of an individual orgroup indirectly affects or spills over to another person or group. Examples ofsuch positive external benefits include income gains of individuals other thanthose who have received additional education and also of subsequentgenerations resulting from a better educated work force.Trow (1989) notes that some of the larger effects of higher education are notwell recognized or easily quantified. He suggests that some of the broaderoutcomes (as opposed to intended effects) of higher education of those exposedto it include: 1) attitudinal changes with resulting increased appreciation of andtolerance to cultural differences and weakening of racial prejudices; 2)lengthened temporal perspectives towards public issues, thus allowing andenhancing long-term planning and program development; and 3) cultivation of alife-long learning perspective, and hence, the continued progress toward alearning society. In a longitudinal study of the factors affecting recurrent adulteducation in Sweden, Tuijnman (1990) concluded that higher levels of formalyouth education were positively related to participation in recurrent adult23education and these effects could be demonstrated over three successive ageperiods.While the benefits of continuing on to post-secondary education can beeasily gleaned from the literature, arguments supporting the choice to enter thework force directly from high school are not as readily apparent. In the followingsection, the transition from high school to work is considered.Transition from high school to workThe journey from school to the world of work is one of the importantcomponents of the transition of youth to adulthood. This transition, however, isidentified by many as especially difficult for high school leavers (Coleman &Husén, 1985; Economic Council of Canada, 1990; OECD, 1983). According to theMinister of State [Youth] (1984), while all youth groups face job uncertainty anda high prospect of at least some unemployment, the problem of joblessness isparticularly grave for youth in the 17-22 year age range who leave schoolwithout participating in post-secondary education.Young persons are clearly over-represented in the ranks of theunemployed. The Canadian annual average unemployment rate for 15 to 24year-olds8in1989 was 11.3%, compared with a rate of 6.6% for those aged 25 andover (Statistics Canada, 1989a; 1989d).When educational attainment is introduced as a variable, a more detailedillustration of this association emerges, as depicted in Table 2:8 The unemployment rate is defined by Statistics Canada as the number of unemployed as apercentage of the entire labour force (employed plus unemployed).24Table 2.Unemployment Rates of Population 15 Years and Over byEducation and Sex, Canada and British Columbia,Annual Average 1989.CANADA BRITISH COLUMBIA9Male Female Total 15-24 25-44 Totalyears yearsTOTAL 7.3 7.9 7.5 11.3 7.2 9.10-8 years 10.9 11.4 11.1 23.2 13.1 16.99-13 years 8.6 9.2 8.9 12.7 8.6 10.3Some post-secondary 6.8 7.8 7.3 8.6 7.0 8.5Post-secondarydiploma/certificate 4.7 5.7 5.2 6.6 5.3 6.2University degree 3.4 4.2 3.7 5.9 3.8 4.9he Labour Force Annual Averages, 1989)Myles, Picot, and Wannell (1988) explain that the labour market for youngpeople has always been volatile. Adjustment processes in the labour marketamong industries or occupations, decreases in aggregate demand, anddemographic changes often disproportionately affect young people. Whileunemployment rates have declined considerably from 1981-89 period, Figure 3and Figure 4 demonstrate that those with the least education are most likely tochronically suffer the effects of unemployment.A breakdown by sex is not available for British Columbia.2535302512050YearFigure 3.Unemployment Rates of Population 15-24 Years and Over by Education, Canada AnnualAverages 1980-1989.3530251201050YearFigure 4.Unemployment Rates of Population 25-44 Years and Over by Education, Canada AnnualAverages 1980-1989.—.------— 0-8 years—D-———— 9-13 years—•— Some post-secondary—0-——--— P.S. cert./diplomaUniversity degreeS— O Occ cc cc cc cc cc cc cc cc cc—— 0-8 years—0---—-—— 9-13 years—.— Some post-secondary—0———— P.S. cert/diploma—A— University degreecc - cc O\cc cc cc cc cc cc cc cc cc cc(The Labour Force Annual Averages, 1980-1989)26Pallas (1984) suggests that if educational attainment is considered as acontinuum, the most disadvantaged are those with the least education. Studentswho fail to complete high school are less employable than high school graduates,who in turn fare worse than those entering and completing university. Lack ofeducation has been shown to be a predictor of welfare recipiency, persistentpoverty, and chronic unemployment (Krein & Belier, 1988). When youth do findemployment at all, entry level jobs often prove to be dead ends, providing onlylimited work experience, little in the way of satisfaction or pay, and are seldomthe critical first rung on a career ladder (Akyeampong, 1989; Coleman & Husén1985; Gaskell & Lazerson, 1981; Watchel, 1987).Even within the ranks of the employed, Myles, Picot, and Wannell (1988)report a downward shift in wages in jobs held by younger workers. They state:in jobs held by 16-24 year olds, there was a net shift from higher to lower wage levelsof 21% in jobs held by workers with less than secondary school, 22.1% in the groupwith secondary school completed, and 17.2% in jobs held by post-secondarygraduates. (p.30)Educational credentials may not provide protection against the downward shiftin wages in jobs held by younger workers, but the experience of those with moreeducation is generally less severe.Higher economic returns to education were also more evident in the olderage groups. Myles, Picot, and Wannell report that in jobs held by 35-49 year olds,virtually all of the gains in wages were in jobs held by post-secondary graduates.They state that “in this group, the share of jobs in the top four wage levelsincreased by 7.1% and there was little net shift of any sort in jobs held by thosewith less than a post-secondary degree” (p.30). Employment difficultiesencountered by young school leavers can be profitably juxtaposed to the newlyemerging skill shortages. Cohen (1989) suggests that high unemployment rates27experienced by out-of-school youth could reflect a mismatch between laboursupply and demand. This mismatch is a result of available jobs that requirequalifications not possessed by those seeking employment. Unemploymentresulting from the mismatches of available persons and jobs is commonlyreferred to as “structural unemployment” (Gower, 1989, p.l5) One way ofassessing the prevalence of this type of unemployment is to examine statisticsprovided by the National Job Bank. Employers experiencing difficulties inrecruiting qualified workers may seek assistance from the federal governmentthrough the National Job Bank, an agency which registers the recruitment needsacross the country. In 1988, National Job Bank listings for British Columbiatotalled 2862 - an increase of 64% since 1983 (Jothen, 1989). Structuralunemployment, according to Gera and McMullen (1991) tends to be “relativelypermanent” (p.9).In British Columbia, growing skill shortages have become a major concern.Jothen (1989) reports that 34% of British Columbia members of the CanadianFederation of Independent Business identified skill shortages as a major concernat the end of 1988. Serious shortages are predicted in science and engineering-related occupations, nursing and other health care workers, air traffic controllers,computer specialists, specialized service workers, teachers and highly skilledtrades. Those individuals with the least education are precisely the group leastable to fill these positions.The problem of youth unemployment is not likely to disappear. Accordingto Watchel (1987), there has been a sense over the past few years that high levelsof youth unemployment are not a transient aberration, but a deep, enduringproblem. Coleman and Husén (1985) warn that most of the recent changes inwork institutions imply a increasingly arduous role for youth attempting toenter the full-time labour market, especially young unskilled or semi-skilled28workers, for ‘it is these jobs which, for a variety of reasons, are declining indeveloped countries, and these jobs which are unlikely to be revived” (p.5)There is mounting evidence to support the prediction that changing labourmarket requirements, as outlined in the next section, will further exacerbate analready problematic youth employment situation.Changing Labour Market RequirementsColeman and Husén (1985) indicate that the inevitable changes due to thechanging nature of the labour market will have grim consequences for poorlyprepared youth in developed countries. In the past, virtually anyone who waswilling to work, even those with low levels of education or limited skills, wereable to obtain steady, reasonably well-paid employment. At one time it waspossible for bright, highly motivated people with little in the way of educationalcredentials to be upwardly mobile in their chosen occupation. Today, however,as educational attainment surpasses a willingness to work as the principal jobentry level credential, the “career ladder has been truncated” (Radwanski, 1987,p.15) and those with limited education and few skills are likely to be severelylimited in their choices of employment and advancement.The Economic Council of Canada (1990) summarized the impact of thesefactors on today’s labour force:29The growth of services, along with the information explosion and theinternationalization of business activity, is fuelling the demand for an increasinglywell-educated and skilled work force. Canada’s future economic welfare will bedictated in no small measure by its capacity to develop human resources. The‘education and training’ imperative will also be compelling for individuals, sinceemployment experiences will be less and less favourable for those who have skilldeficiencies. In fact, our analysis suggests that the segmentation into the labourmarket into ‘good-job’ and ‘bad-job’ sectors is likely to raise considerable challengesfor policymakers. (p.18)The Economic Council of Canada (1990) predicts that as global competitionaccelerates, high cost countries such as Canada will be increasingly compelled torely on the excellence of their work force to provide a comparative advantage inthe global marketplace. As the volume of international trade increases, demandfor domestic low-skilled, entry-level labour will continue to decline in developedcountries. Goods and services requiring less skilled labour will be produced incountries with the lowest production costs and then be readily transported tomarkets located anywhere in the world. Youth will find themselves competingnot only with adult workers in their own society, but also with workers fromother countries who are paid at much lower levels (Coleman & Husén, 1985).Effective competition in an internationalized economy requires knowledge-intensive service and manufacturing activities employing an expert and flexiblework force. According to the Economic Council of Canada, all recentemployment growth has occurred in one of two quite distinct ‘growth poles’ -either highly skilled, well-compensated, and secure jobs, or nonstandard,unstable and relatively poorly paid jobs. While it is acknowledged that ‘skill’ is adifficult concept to measure, the Economic Council of Canada asserts that thenature and the level of skills required in the labour market are being transformedby a combination of three factors: growth of the service sector, technologicalinnovation, and changes in the way work is organized. Because of thistransformation, today’s employers are seeking individuals with qualities that30include ‘basic academic competence, creativity and initiative, analytical andproblem-solving abilities, adaptability, and communication and interpersonalskills” (p.13).Psacharopoulos (1986) points out that the pace of technological change maymove at an even more accelerated pace in the future, a pace that will ridicule anyattempts to either predict it or to adapt a school system to it. This would suggestthat rather than the acquisition of qualffications such as job-specific skill trainingand specialization in high technology which carry with them a “built-inobsolescence” (Watts, 1987, p.9), education in the general sense is required,resulting in the development of individuals who are adaptable to changingopportunities, motivated to continually seek new knowledge, and capable ofcritical thinking and decision making (Bowen, 1982; Department of the Secretaryof State of Canada, 1988; Province of British Columbia, 1988; Report of theProvincial Access Committee, 1988; Science Council of Canada, 1988; Watts,1987). Coleman and Husén (1985) refer to those who leave school with the“mandatory minimum” but without the requisite abilities and skills necessary tocope with the demands of the modern work place, as a “new underclass”. Forthis group, there is little chance of becoming meaningfully employed.It is widely acknowledged that Canada, along with other advancedindustrial countries, is undergoing a radical transformation from an industrialsociety to to a society characterized by economic globalization, a labour forceshifting from the goods-producing sector to the service sector, and the rapiddiffusion of technology into the work place. These interrelated factors, accordingto many, account for the transformation of the labour market as fundamental asthe earlier shift from the agrarian to the industrial eras (Economic Council ofCanada, 1990; Radwanski, 1987).31Others, as discussed in the next section, question the relationship amongeducation, skills, and work.Education and CredentialismThe view that increasing levels of education are necessary to contend withan increasingly complex society has generated substantial criticism. Collins(1979) asserts that there is little evidence to support the view that 1) the majorityof jobs in modern society require more sophisticated knowledge and skills thanin previous years and 2) that there is a relationship between formal educationand productivity. He alleges that schools are extremely ineffective institutionsfor the development of cognitive skills and that schooling “has more to do withteaching conventional standards of sociability and propriety than withinstrumental and cognitive skills” (Collins, 1979, p.19). Collins also maintainsthat the “myth of technocracy” is perpetuated by employers and educationalinstitutions who have vested interests in raising levels of educationalqualifications.According to Collins (1979), education has become a form of “culturalcurrency” (p.6O-62), which is used to purchase desirable occupations. Post-secondary education is perceived by students as a means to enter the powersystem, and it is the attainment of a credential rather than the acquisition ofknowledge that is desired (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985; Collins, 1979). Dore (1976)argues that credentials become inflated with rapid educational expansion; thus,competition for desirable occupations then exerts pressure to increase thequantity of credentials required by employers. The resulting “credentialingsociety”, according to Collins, is irrational and wasteful, and is detrimental tominority groups in their struggle for dominance and prestige.32But as Aronowitz and Giroux (1985) point out, ‘credentials are the onlygame in town” (p.166). Credentials have become a rite of passage, an indicationthat a process of educational socialization has occurred. Arrow (1973) suggeststhat higher education acts as a ‘double filter” for the purchasers of labour, firstby selecting entrants, and second by passing or failing them. In this way, highereducation serves as a screening device by sorting individuals of differingabilities. Dore suggests that employers appear to be “unquestioning victims ofthe widespread myth that education improves people” (p.5) and by hiringsomeone with qualifications beyond the requirements of the position, employersbelieve that they are geffing more for their money. Credentials are recognized byemployers and by the larger society as constituting adequate preparation foroccupational status; therefore, credentials rather than knowledge ensure marketsurvival (Aronowitz & Giroux, 1985).Whether one favours a credentialist account or one of changing labourmarket requirements, it would appear that there is an inextricable relationshipbetween what one learns and what one is certified to have learned (Bidwell &Friedkin, 1988). Several recent studies demonstrate this relationship. Bills (1988)found that while approximately 80% of managers making hiring decisionsconsidered credentials to be an important determinant to their ultimate hiringdecision, they were deemed less important than indicators of job performance(e.g. recent work experience). He concludes that overall, credentials do serve toget people “through organizational gates and on organizational ladders” (p.58),but once in, managers use other more direct measures of performance. Shockey(1989), in a study on “mismatched”10 or overeducated workers, found thatworkers who were mismatched for their occupational positions were more10 Shockey defines workers as mismatched or overeducated “if their educational aftainment isgreater than one standard deviation above the mean education among workers in similaroccupations” (p.858).33successful at competing for better jobs and received greater returns to their post-secondary education than those who were correctly matched to their jobs.Hunter (1988) examined the changes in skill requirements of entry level jobs inCanada between 1930 and 1980, and demonstrated that at least for entry-leveljobs, variation in skill requirements across occupations does exist, and thateducation is clearly related to the skill requirements of those jobs. Given thefindings of these studies, it may be more prudent, as Bidwell and Friedkin (1988)suggest, “to regard learning and gaining credentials as tightly linkedmechanisms through which schooling affects employability” (p.454).Whether considered from the viewpoint of the market and nonmarketeffects of education, youth unemployment, changing market requirements, orcredentialism, it can be justifiably concluded that the transition from high schoolto post-high school destinations is indeed a critical juncture. Decisions made bystudents during this period in their lives will have an impact not only on theirown life chances, but also, as some continue to argue, the economic future ofCanada (Economic Council of Canada, 1990; Radwanski, 1987).There is, however, an intimate relationship between social equity and thedevelopment of human resources. As Watts (1988) concludes:policies ensuring wide accessibility to higher education, including its extension togroups not yet served, may be justified not only on grounds of social equity but alsoon the grounds that no nation can afford to lose the human talent that otherwisewould remain undeveloped. (p.5)This sentiment is reflected in the comments of Porter (1965), that “no society inthe modern period can afford to ignore the ability which lies in the lower socialstrata” (p.197) and Bowen (1982), that “the number of persons of all ages in oursociety who are educable and who would be benefited from higher education34vastly exceeds any past or present enrollment” (p.9). Equality of opportunity inrelation to post-secondary education is discussed in the next section.Post-secondary Education and Equality of OpportunityThe principle of equality of opportunity of access to post-secondaryeducation has been described as a major driving force behind the dramaticexpansion of education throughout the western world (Report of the StandingSenate Committee on National Finance, 1987). Growth of and accessibility to thepost-secondary system were based on social and economic changes and on thetheories of human capital and social justice. An equality of opportunityperspective was, and continues to be, founded on the notion that educationalbarriers not rooted in academic considerations, that is, those based on ascriptivecharacteristics or ‘accidents of birth’, are “wasteful of human talent and contraryto the broad social goals of improving educational opportunity” (Alexander,Holupka, & Pallas, 1987a, p.59). The existing objective espoused by the federaland provincial governments is to ensure that higher education is available on anequitable basis to all Canadians who are qualified and want to study(Department of the Secretary of State, 1988; Report of the Provincial AccessCommittee, 1988; Report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance,1987).The relationship between education and equality of opportunity isconsidered under the following headings: 1) non-participants in post-secondaryeducation and 2) participants and institutions.35Non-participants in Post-secondary EducationSeveral recent studies indicate that, despite the expansion and ostensibledemocratization of the Canadian post-secondary system, the existing objective ofequality of educational opportunity for all Canadians who are qualified and whowant to study is not being met (Alberta Advanced Education, 1984; Anisef, 1985;Fortin, 1987; Guppy, 1984). In 1982, the Honourable Bette Stephenson stated“while we have dramatically increased the number of students attending post-secondary institutions, access to post-secondary education remains far fromequal across all social and economic groups in Canada in many areas” (Councilof Ministers of Education, Canada, 1982, p.25O). The Report of the RoyalCommission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects of Canada(1983) found that the likelihood of university attendance of children whoseparents hold bachelors degrees is three times greater than children of parentswithout degrees, and that participation in post-secondary education of youngpeople from high-income families has always been greater than from low-income families. The Report of the British Columbia Provincial AccessCommittee (1988) acknowledges that opportunities for advanced education arenot equal for all people in all parts of the province. Although services to underrepresented groups have vastly improved over the past twenty-five years, thereport indicates that “it is unacceptable that significant groups should remainunder-represented for long in higher learning activities, unless by free choicerather than by lack of opportunity” (p.18).Skolnik’s definition of Type I accessibility provides a second way oflooking at participation:36Type I accessibility pertains to variation among individuals or groups with respect totheir chances of getting into post-secondary education. If the probability of gettinginto post-secondary education is the same for all individuals, then Type I accessibilityis maximized, whether that probability is high or low. (Skolnik (1984) cited in Anisef,1985, p.4)Table 3 highlights groups that have been identified in major (federal and BritishColumbia) reports on post-secondary participation over the past decade asunder-represented in the Canadian post-secondary system. Native Indians, thedisabled, and women are most frequently identified as under-represented in theCanadian post-secondary system. The four most recent reports, however, do notidentify the economically or socially disadvantaged as under-represented inpost-secondary education.Fortin (1987) comments that specified groups of non-participants “havenothing in common except that they do not fit into the segment of the populationthat has traditionally gone on to post-secondary education” (p.12). Is thisstatement tenable? If the answer is yes, what are the differences in thecharacteristics among the groups? Why do some individuals become nonparticipants in post-secondary education? If the way in which members of thevarious groups of non-participants make decisions regarding post-secondaryeducation remains unknown, how effective will policies be which are aimed at 1)increasing the overall transition rate and/or 2) reducing inequities by targetingspecific groups?Table3.GroupsIdentifiedasUnder-representedinCanadianPost-secondaryEducation.EconomicMinorityUnemployand/orOfficialmentNativeRemoteSociallyVisibleMaturePart-LanguageInsuranceIndiansCommunitiesDisabledDisadvantagedWomenMinoritiesImmigrantsStudentstimeGroupRecipientsMinistryofAdvancedEducation,JobTraining, andTechnologyfor theOpenCollegePlanningCouncil (Jothen,•1-a1989)Report oftheProvincialAccessCommittee(1988)ortin(1987)Sa4:TheCommissionontheFutureDevelopment ofUniversitiesofOntario(1984)•aatephenson1982)•tDefinedasunderemployedwomenorwomenre-enteringtheworkforce.4:Fortindescribeswomenasbothwinnersand‘losersinpost-secondaryparticipationoftheStandingSenateCommitteeonNationalFinance(1987)38Participants and InstitutionsLess apparent are the disparities in characteristics among those who doparticipate in the various institutions of post-secondary education. AlthoughGuppys (1984) study revealed reduced socioeconomic disparities amongparticipants in post-secondary education, he concluded that this reduction waslargely due to the expansion of the non-university sector of higher education. Arecent joint study by Statistics Canada and the Department of the Secretary ofState (1987) demonstrates that 1) undergraduate levels of education continue tobe dominated by children of parents who fall in upper-middle and upper classcategories, 2) the rate of over-representation is not rapidly decreasing, and 3)parents of community college students tend to have lower levels of education(cited in Fortin, 1987). Guppy and Pendakur (1989) found that the elimination ofone ascriptive characteristic - gender - which in the past has been related to post-secondary participation, resulted in the exacerbation of another form ofascription - family origin. That is, women participating in post-secondaryeducation in 1983/84 were more likely than males to have beller educatedparents. It appears, as Alexander, Pallas and Holupka (198Th) note, that‘traditional patterns of educational stratification are highly resilient” (p.181).It seems reasonable, at this point, to question whether, in terms of lifechances, access to a community college is equal to access to university.Viewpoints related to this question are discussed under the headings 1) thepluralistic nature of Canadian post-secondary education, and 2) transfer fromcollege to university.39The Pluralistic Nature of Canadian Post-secondary Education - Reality or Myth?In the Report of the Committee to Examine Participation Trends of AlbertaPost-Secondary Students (Alberta Advanced Education, 1984), it is asserted thatwithin a differentiated system of post-secondary education, equality ofopportunity of access should mean that different opportunities are available todifferent students; that is, the post-secondary system should offer different typesand levels of education with varying starting points and outcomes. The reportstates:this orientation presupposes that Canadian society is pluralistic and heterogeneousand that its citizens have a diversity of learning needs. A pluralistic society is wellserved by a pluralistic education system. There appears to be no intrinsic merit inseeking a singular pattern - namely that of university attendance. In fact, this patternof thought could prove detrimental to both potential students and the country’seconomic development. (Alberta Advanced Education, 1984, p.20)The development of the community college system in British Columbia wasdesigned to reflect the needs of a pluralistic and heterogeneous population, for,as Macdonald (1962) emphasized, “to insist that each [institution] .. . train youngmen and women in the same way is to confuse the aims and methods ofeducation” (p.5z1). The introduction of the community college system into thehigher education system in Canada was intended as a democratizing strategy,designed to reflect the needs of a pluralistic and heterogeneous population byproviding alternate types and levels of education for those without the requisiteability to attend university. Community colleges have also enabled those fromless privileged backgrounds to pursue post-secondary studies by offeringuniversity-equivalent courses (as well as vocational, technical, career, academicupgrading and continuing education courses), lower tuition fees, flexibleadmission requirements, and programs located within commuting distance40(Alberta Advanced Education, 1984; Dennison & Gallagher, 1986; Fortin, 1987).Beinder (1983) argues that the community college system in British Columbiawas “a social invention, whole and legitimate in its own right, designed to solvea particular kind of problem created by a highly complex society’ (p.1).Advocates of the community college system claim that these colleges contributeto society by providing the technical skills needed by an increasingly complexeconomy. Community colleges were virtually nonexistent in 196011; by 1988/89these institutions enrolled 317,000 full-time students.In terms of life chances, however, critics allege that attendance at acommunity college is far from democratizing (Karabel, 1986; Pincus, 1986).Scholars who subscribe to the class-reproduction school describe communitycolleges not “as new avenues of opportunity for the previously disenfranchised”(Dennison & Gallagher, 1986, p.162), but largely as dumping grounds forminority and disadvantaged youngsters where aspirations are “cooled out”(Clark, 1960) and dead-end degrees with little economic or social value are doledout. In this way, it is argued that community colleges contribute to thereproduction of the existing structure of inequality by training and socializingindividuals for work in capitalist enterprises (Bowles & Gintes, 1976; Karabel,1986). Karabel (1986) indicates that studies confirming the location of communitycolleges on the lowest track in the interinstitutional stratification system of post-secondary education have “now been replicated so many times that it is nolonger controversial” (p.l6) He observes:In 1960, Lethbridge Community College was the only public community college in existencein Canada (Dennison et al.,1975).41far from embodying the democratization of higher education and a redistribution ofopportunity in the wider society, the expansion of the community college insteadheralded the arrival in higher education of a form of class-linked tracking that servedto reproduce existing social relations. To be sure, some individuals who wouldotherwise have been excluded from higher education have used the communitycollege as a platform for upward mobility; yet, . the overall impact of thecommunity college has been to accentuate rather than reduce prevailing patterns ofsocial and class inequality (Karabel, 1986, p.18)Anisef (1985) argues that what has been referred to in Canada as a ‘pluralisticeducation system’ camouflages the hierarchical relationships that exist amongpost-secondary institutions and serves to obscure and mystify the reality of thechoice situation for students when they are choosing a particular post-secondaryinstitution. Coleman and Husén (1985) detect a trend in OECD countries, that ofan emergence of a new stratification in an era of educational egalitarianism.Has a dual higher educational system evolved in Canada, as Guppy (1984)suggests, where community colleges have become a major post-secondaryalternative for lower socioeconomic groups? Anisef (1985) poses the followingquestions: “What sorts of students enrol in universities? In colleges or technicalinstitutes? What is the impact on students’ ‘life chances’ (e.g. career choices andsatisfaction) of attending university in contrast to other forms of post-secondaryeducation?” (p.l65) Karabel (1986) asks: “What are the effects of attending acommunity college on individual life chances in the labor market, as comparedto not attending a community college at all?” (p.25).Havernan and Wolfe (1984) note that, from an economic perspective,estimations of the contribution of education to economic well-being must reflectthe heterogeneity of the educational system because various incrementalprovisions of educational services yield different impacts. In an analysis usingdata from the National Longitudinal Study of 1972 high school graduates,Breneman and Nelson (1981) found that although attendance at a communitycollege increased former students’ likelihood of subsequent employment relative42to those who had achieved only high school graduation, it did not increase theiroccupational status or their wages. Employment and income differentials ofcommunity college and university graduates are demonstrated earlier in thischapter in Tables 1 and 2, and Figures 3 and 4. Breneman and Nelson concluded:“Since occupational status is generally considered to be highly correlated withadult earnings, the positive relationship between attending university andoccupational status bodes ill for future earnings for students choosing acommunity college instead of a university” (p.72).Transfer from College to UniversityNumerous studies reveal that transfer rates from community colleges touniversities are low and that the probability of degree completion is generallysuperior when post-secondary education is commenced in a degree-grantinginstitution (Alba & Lavin, 1981; Anderson, 1984; Astin, 1982; Medsker & Tillery,1971; Velez, 1985). Karabel (1986) indicates that students who are similar interms of socioeconomic background, academic ability, educational aspirations,and other relevant individual characteristics are more likely to earn a bachelor’sdegree if they initially commence their studies in four-year institutions. In astudy on the distributive effects of public two-year college availability, Tinto(1975b) found that the presence of a public two-year college in a communityacted as a redistributive mechanism and did less to increase rates of collegeattendance than to alter the type of post-secondary institution attended. Hefound that the degree to which the substitution of a public two-year college for afour-year college occurred tended to be inversely related to socioeconomic statusand not measured ability. He concludes that “for persons of the two highestability quarters, in particular, the lower the social-status background the lower43the likelihood that individuals living in a community with a local public two-year college would attend nonlocal public four-year institutions” (p.271).Commenting on Tinto’s findings, Karabel (1986) states that:to the extent that this substitution effect diverts individuals from nonprivilegedbackgrounds away from four-year institutions, the expansion of community collegesmay paradoxically lead to an increase in inequality of educational opportunityattendance at a two-year rather than four-year institution has a negative independenteffect on the likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree. (p.16)Brint and Karabel (1989) maintain that this ‘diversion effect’ that accompaniedthe ‘democratization effect’ of community colleges was an intended outcome,“for part of the junior colleges’ raison d’être was to channel students away frommore selective and expensive four-year colleges and universities” (p.9l)Dougherty (1987) offers a model to explain how community collegeentrance hinders the educational attainment of baccalaureate aspirants. Hedescribes three key processes which act as a funnel-like structure to militateagainst transfer to degree-granting institutions and subsequent degreecompletion: attrition before transfer, difficulty in the transfer process, andattrition after transfer. First, attrition during the first two years of communitycolleges is associated with lack of residential facilities, low academic selectivityand prestige, and lower expectations of instructors. Second, difficulty in thetransfer process is related to the vocational orientation of community colleges,the need to move to a new institution, and difficulty in gaining admission to andobtaining financial aid at four-year institutions. Third, attrition after transfer isassociated with credit loss suffered in the transfer process, drastic declines ingrades, lack of financial aid, and problems becoming socially integrated into thenew institution. Together, Dougherty concludes, these institutional effects44prevent large numbers of students who begin in community colleges fromsuccessfully attaining the goal of completing a baccalaureate.Anderson (1981) maintains that where one commences post-secondarystudies may lead to differences in future occupational status. In her longitudinalstudy of persistence in higher education, she concluded that students enteringtwo-year institutions, despite higher academic performance, were less likely topersist in higher education than their peers who commenced at four-yearinstitutions, and that the attrition rate was particularly high between the secondand third year.Of the Grade 12 graduates12 in British Columbia who entered the post-secondary system in the 1985/86 year, 64% entered community colleges and 36%directly entered universities13 (Report of the Standing Senate Committee onNational Finance, 1987). In 1985, the estimated total transfer rates from BritishColumbia community colleges to universities ranged from 14 to 51% with amedian rate of 29% (Ministry of Advanced Education and Job Training, 1987). Itis estimated that the degree completion rates of students transferring fromcollege to university range from 8 to 32% compared with a degree completionrate of 29 to 56% for those students directly entering university (p.lO). The B.C.Council on Admissions and Transfer (1989) reports that second year enrolmentin the college and institute sector as a percentage of first year decreased to 20%in 1987, a decrease which has affected both university transfer and career12 Of this total cohort, 28.5% continued on to a community college, and 16.7% entered auniversity.13 The Report of the Standing Committee on National Finance (1987) reports that all of theprovinces, British Columbia has the lowest percentage of students entering directly intouniversity. It could be argued that because of the nature of post-secondary education in BritishColumbia, many students have chosen to complete one or two years of university-equivalentcourses at community colleges, thus lowering the numbers entering university. Alberta,however, with a similar post-secondary structure, reports a transition rate of 26.9% for studentsentering directly into university. While Alberta has the second lowest transition rate touniversity, it is much closer than British Columbia to the national average of 29.3%.45programs. Between 1981 and 1987 the percentage had been stable at 22% (p.l).The Ministry of Advanced Education and Job Training (1987) concludes thaton average less than one in four full-time students who begin college academicprograms can expect to end up with a first degree. Looking at it another way, thosewho begin studies at university have twice the chance of completion as those whobegin college. (p.11)The Report of the British Columbia Provincial Access Committee (1988) indicatesthat quotas are being placed on both the number of students admitted touniversities and the number of transfer students accepted from colleges. Thus,those who are currently over-represented in the community college system inBritish Columbia are the most likely to be affected by these policies. Karabel(1986) laments:from the perspective of equality of opportunity, the implications of this pattern ofoverrepresentation- one in which individuals from working-class and minoritybackgrounds tend to be concentrated in the very institutions that offer them the leastchance of obtaining a bachelor’s degree - are sobering. (p.17)Coleman and Husén (1985) comment on the paradoxical nature of educationalopportunity today. They note that there are more available places in post-secondary education than any other time in history; yet, as participation ratesclimb there is a concomitant escalation of competition for these places, and inparticular, university places.Alexander, Holupka, and Pallas (1987b) suggest that it is reasonable toconclude, in terms of life chances, that the type of post-secondary institution oneattends may rival in importance with whether one attends at all. Therefore, itshould be of critical importance whether one’s point of entry to higher educationis a community college or a university.46SummaryThis chapter has examined the educational and societal context withinwhich decisions regarding post-high school destinations occur. The structure ofthe educational system was described, the problem of transition from highschool to post-high school destinations was discussed from an economic andequality of opportunity perspective, and the need for an exploration of thosedecisions made during the period of transition from high school has beenhighlighted. In particular, I have strived to illustrate that: 1) participation in post-secondary education does make a difference in terms of future labour marketexperience and quality of life, and 2) the type of post-secondary institutioninitially attended may affect one’s future ‘life chances’. The significance ofwhether and where an individual attends post-secondary education can bejustified from the viewpoint of unemployment and education, the marketed andnonmarketed effects of education, changing market requirements, orcredentialism.Given what is known about the benefits of participating in post-secondaryeducation, the observation that numerous high school graduates do not go on topost-secondary education, and existence of persistent disparities between groupsof participants and non-participants, further investigation is warranted. That is, itis worth investigating why one “would not want a visa to the bridge-head zone, whenthe alternative is so starkly different?” (Dore, 1976).Chapter 3REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE AND THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVESThe purpose of this chapter is to examine the literature on participation inhigher education as it relates to educational choice. The chapter begins with areview of two dominant bodies of literature on educational attainment andparticipation: the social stratification perspective, and research on statusattainment. Following a critical review of the contributions provided by thesebodies of literature to the research questions of this study, the foundation for analternate model, based primarily on Härnqvists (1978) conceptualization of thedeterminants of educational choice is proposed.In the second section of this chapter, the literature on decision makingprocesses is considered. This section draws primarily on rational choice theoryas developed by Elster (1986, 1989a, 1989b), and a Theory of Practice as depictedby Bourdieu (1977c, 1979, 1986, 1990b).Factors Affecting ParticipationAs indicated in Chapter 1, there are many studies on the factors affectingparticipation in post-secondary education. Of particular interest in this study aretwo approaches, as distinguished by Bidwell and Friedkin (1988) to theparticipation question - the social stratification perspective and statusattainment research.4748Social Stratification PerspectiveOne predominant approach to the analysis of participation in highereducation in the Canadian literature is the adoption of a social stratificationperspective. This approach seeks to explore ‘the degree to which individualseducational attainment is independent of ascriptive characteristics” (Bidwell &Friedkin, 1988, p.453). These ascriptive characteristics, or structural inequalities,are identified as socioeconomic status (most commonly parents’ education,occupation, and income), gender, ethnicity, and geographic location. Studieshave focussed on a single characteristic as the independent variable, for examplethe relationship between gender and participation (Gilbert & Guppy, 1988;Guppy, Vellutini, & Balson, 1987) or socioeconomic status (Guppy, Mikicich, &Pendakur, 1984) or a combination of ascriptive characteristics, such as therelationship of gender and parental education on choice of institution and fieldof study (Guppy & Pendakur, 1989), participation trends among groups basedon gender, socioeconomic background, and rural/urban residency (AlbertaAdvanced Education, 1984; Anisef, Okihiro, and James, 1982), and therelationship between city size and region, family background, and ethnoreligous background on educational transition (Pineo & Goyder, 1988).Several important findings have been revealed in these studies. First,those who enter the post-secondary system historically have and continue tocome from higher socioeconomic origins (Anisef et al., 1982; Pineo & Goyder,1988). Second, women are both “winners” and “losers” in the battle againstascription. That is, enrolment of women in undergraduate programs is nowequal with that of men (Bellamy & Guppy, 1991; Gilbert & Guppy, 1988; Selleck& Breslauer, 1989), but they continue to be underrepresented in certaindisciplines (e.g. engineering) and in graduate studies, and women with lower49socioeconomic backgrounds are overrepresented in the community colleges andunderrepresented in universities (Fortin, 1987; Gaskell, 1981).While studies such as these have greatly contributed to theunderstanding of participation in higher education of various groups inCanadian society by highlighting the existence, persistence, or diminishment ofcertain structural inequalities, they provide little insight into lww individualsmake decisions about participation in post-secondary education and theprocesses behind these decisions.This approach is limited in the following ways. First, as Bidwell andFriedkin (1988) explain, because this perspective only considers factorsexogenous to schooling, characteristics of the individual, institutional aspects ofeducational status allocation, and internal organization and processes ofeducational institutions are not accounted for. Second, this perspective does notallow for a discussion of the processes behind these disparities (Boyd et al.,1981). In their study on the relationship of socioeconomic status on participationin higher education, Guppy, Mikicich, and Pendakur (1984) concluded:we have provided an overall portrait of disparities but we have not endeavoured topinpoint the effects of social origin on each of the many transitions embedded in theeducational system. That is, we have noted that large socioeconomic disparities existat the post-secondary level but we have not examined exactly how this has comeabout. For example, students from blue-collar backgrounds may beunderrepresented at university as a consequence of their failure to complete highschool, their enrolment in high school programs which prevent immediate transitionto university, their decision not to pursue a university education even thougheligible, or some combination of these and other factors. (p.329)Several authors have commented that observed phenomena, such as thecorrelation between socioeconomic status and participation in post-secondaryeducation, are not wholly consistent and do not constitute an explanation (Lane,1972; Giddens, 1984; Porter, Porter, and Blishen, 1982). While it is not unusual to50conclude that a measure such as socioeconomic status is related to theprobability that an individual will continue on to post-secondary education, theusefulness of this type of a measure is incomplete. It remains unclear as to howthese correlations come about. As Lane (1972) observes:even if the correlation were perfect, which it is not, we would still need to seek outand specify the mechanism or mechanisms whereby... [factors operate] to constrainthe educational decisions of its offspring. (p.255)Härnqvist (1978) asserts that research efforts of this type have likely providedmore knowledge about stable and fairly resistant factors behind educationalchoice than about factors that influence change.A second approach to participation, status attainment research, addressessome of the limitations encountered by a social stratification approach.Status Attainment ResearchThe seminal work of Duncan and Hodge (1963) and Blau and Duncan(1967) generated a series of studies which now fall under the rubric of statusattainment models. The original path model of the occupational statusattainment presented by Blau and Duncan (1967) was developed to address twoquestions: How and to what degree do the circumstances of birth conditionsubsequent status? and how does status attained (whether by ascription or byachievement) at one stage of the life cycle affect the prospects for a subsequentstage” (Blau & Duncan, 1967, p.l64) Using an analytical framework whichconsisted of two antecedent structural variables (father’s education and father’soccupation), two intervening behavioural variables (respondents education and51respondent’s first job), and one dependent variable (respondent’s occupationallevel), they attempted to model social mobility. As one part of this work, theydemonstrated the existence of a strong correlation between father’s occupationalstanding and son’s completed years of schooling.The model was subsequently modified by the addition of psychologicaland social-psychological variables which included mental ability, academicperformance, the influence of significant others, and educational andoccupational aspirations (Sewell, Hailer, & Ohlendorf, 1970; Sewell, Hailer, &Portes, 1969). This ameliorated version, known as the ‘Wisconsin’ model ofstatus transmission and status attainment, demonstrated that the effects offamily social status on educational and occupational attainment were mediatedsubstantially by social-psychological variables such as significant others’influence and one’s own educational and occupational aspirations (Jencks,Crouse, & Mueser, 1983; Looker & Pineo, 1983; Sewell, Hailer, & Ohlendorf,1970; Sewell, Hailer, & Portes, 1969; Sewell & Hauser, 1975).Since educational attainment was demonstrated to be a powerfulpredictor of subsequent occupational attainment Gencks, Crouse, & Mueser,1983; Kerckhoff, 1976; Sewell, Hailer, & Ohlendorf, 1970), one group ofresearchers have focused on educational attainment as the dependent variable(Alexander & Cook, 1982; Alexander, Cook, & McDill, 1978; Alexander &McDill, 1976; Sewell & Hauser, 1975). This model was further modified bytreating level of educational aspirations, level of occupational aspirations,and/or educational expectations as the dependent variable(s) (Gilbert, 1977;Gilbert and McRoberts, 1977; Porter, Porter, and Blishen, et al. 1982). Bidwelland Friedkin (1988) provide a concise summary of the range of variables used inthese studies:52Criterion variables include intended or completed years of schooling, achievement testscores, or such measures of educational aspirations as plans for college attendance.Exogenous variables are those of status origins and variously include parents’occupation, education, and income; material and cultural aspects of the home; raceand ethnicity; and gender. The intervening variables variously include academicability and achievement, the students academic and occupational goals, significantothers influence, and school organizational variables. (p.456)Like the findings of studies which use occupational attainment as the dependentvariable, studies of educational attainment have demonstrated that whilesignificant coefficients have been obtained in regressions of educationalattainment on the status origins of students, these effects are mediated by theintervening variables contained in the model. These variables, in diminishingimportance, include academic ability, prior academic performance, educationalaspirations, parental and peer social support, and track placement (Bidwell &Friedkin, 1988).The ‘Wisconsin’ model of status attainment has been described as one ofthe most significant and influential advances in recent sociological research(Kerckhoff, 1976; Marjoribanks, Secombe, & Srnolicz, 1987). Coser (1975)explains that because of the complexity of these models, it is possible to assessthe contributions of social inheritance and individual effort in the statusattainment process.Yet, one major criticism of status attainment models persists. While therange of variables which have been included in various models is extensive,they are comprised almost exclusively of measures of individual characteristics,and thus are interpreted as “individual resources or liabilities” which contributeto the individual attainment process (Campbell, 1983; Coser, 1975; Kerckhoff,1976; Horan, 1978). Extraindividual or structural constraints, such as classbarriers or between-group differences in opportunity structures, have beengiven minimal attention. Coser (1975) remarks that “there is no concern here53with the ways in which differential class power and social advantage operate inpredictable and routine ways, through specifiable social interactions betweenclasses or interest groups, to give shape to determine social structures and tocreate differential life chances11 (p.694).Kerckhoff (1976) explains that the theoretical approach used in theinterpretation of social attainment models is that of social interactionism.According to this perspective, the socialization process is used to elucidate theconnection between status origin and attainment. He continues:significant others are seen as having an influence on the goals of the young person,and these goals are viewed as instrumental in the attainment process. The theoryanticipates that the encouragement by significant others will vary according to thesocial position and demonstrated ability of the child, and that this encouragementwill affect the level to which he aspires. The family and school are seen as theinstitutional settings of this socialization process, and the significant others includeparents, teachers, and peers. (p.368)In an attempt to explain educational and occupational attainment, the focus of asocialization model is on the individual and her or his evolving characteristics. Itis assumed that the agent travels unconstrained through the social system; thus,a persons attainments are determined by what he or she chooses to do and howwell he or she does it (Kerckhoff, 1976). This perspective, Coser (1975) adds, isrooted in the prevailing American ideology of individual achievement.Kerckhoff suggests that an alternate view, which he calls the ‘allocationmodel” of status attainment, can be used to interpret the findings generated bystatus attainment models. In contrast to the socialization model, the locus ofanalysis in an allocation model shifts to an examination of the “mechanisms andcriteria of control of the individual by social agencies” (p.369). The individual, inan allocation model, is viewed as relatively constrained by the social structure,54and her or his attainments are determined by “what he is permitted to do”(Kerckhoff, 1976, p.369). Kerckhoff elaborates:[An allocation model] emphasizes the salience of societal forces which identify,select, process, classify, and assign individuals according to externally imposedcriteria. Rather than differential attainment as being seen as due to variations inlearned motives and skills, as in the socialization model, an allocation model viewsattainment as due to the application of structural limitations and selection criteria.(p.369)Kerckhoff asserts that constraints and limitations exist throughout theattainment process, and are imposed, in the form of providing or withholdingopportunities, by agents in institutional settings.While structural constraints and selection criteria are absent from moststatus attainment models, they have not escaped investigation. Theseinvestigations include the relationship between socioeconomic origins andenrollment in educational tracks (Gaskell, 1985, 1991; Heyns, 1974; Rosenbaum,1976; Vanfossen, Jones, & Spade, 1987), access to school personnel and resources(Anyon, 1981; Orfield & Paul, 1987), and formal and informal track placement(Lee & Eckstrorn, 1987; Page & Valli, 1990). Other studies demonstrate therelationship between track placement and self-direction (Miller, Kohn, &Schooler, 1986), cognitive development (Alexander & Pallas, 1984; Rosenbaum,1976), and educational and occupational aspirations, academic achievement, andpost-secondary participation (Vanfossen, Jones, & Spade, 1987). In general, thesestudies reveal how various components of school life, such as the socialorganization of education and the hidden curriculum, contribute to socialreproduction.Bidwell and Friedkin (1988) conclude that despite the consistent findingsof the status attainment literature that reinforce the notion that individualcharacteristics of students, rather than differential access to educational55resources, are primarily responsible for individual differences in educational lifechances, “it is hard to accept the conclusion that school resources or socialorganization have only minor effects on academic attainment (p.4S6)” Kerckhoff(1976) suggests that the inclusion of measures of the allocation process to currentmodels of status attainment, based on a socialization perspective, wouldincrease the overall power of the models by explaining the relationship betweenorigin and attainment left unexplained in these models. He asserts:the kinds of variables needed can be devised only if we keep before us the idea thatschool as an institution is more than a fixed obstacle course through which studentswith varying levels of skill and motivation are permitted to run. If we recognize theinstitutional necessity for teachers and other officials to differentiate among studentsand to attempt to provide the most suitable kinds of educational experiences todifferent kinds of students, we immediately face the problem of defining the bases ofdifferentiation and the characteristics of the varying kinds of educationalexperiences. (Kerckhoff, 1976, p.377)He maintains that it is impossible to fully differentiate a socialization model andan allocation model, since each perspective provides its own account of how thesocial environment influences the individual actor by highlighting differentkinds of phenomena. Thus, each contributes a unique theoretical interpretationof the same observations.Various models of educational choice have been proposed which claim toaddress both the process (Litten, 1982) and the outcomes of post-secondaryselection (Chapman, 1981). However, these models tend to focus primarily onthe “college oriented” student; that is, those students already committed to postsecondary participation (see Jackson, 1982). Although most of these modelsidentify three stages in the choice process -- predisposition, search, and choice(Hossler, Braxton, & Coopersmith, 1989) it is often assumed in college choicemodels that all students of the traditional college-age group are potential clientsof the post-secondary system. That is, although the predisposition stage is56acknowledged by these models, the emphasis tends to be on which institution astudent chooses, rather than whether one attends and, if so, which type ofinstitution within the hierarchy of post-secondary institutions is chosen.Härnqvist (1978) offers an approach that provides a foundation for theanalysis of educational choice by integrating notions of both socialization andallocation. As such, he concentrates primarily on the predisposition stage of theeducational choice process.Determinants of Educational ChoiceThe work of Härnqvist (1978) provides a comprehensive approach forexploring the relationship between the factors affecting participation andindividual responses to these factors. Grounding his analytical framework in thefindings of a myriad of empirical studies, Härnqvist identifies educationalchoice as the dependent variable, then recasts the factors which are commonlyidentified as influencing participation into ‘determinants of educational choice”.He adopts a distinction originally formulated by Blau, Gustad, Jessor, Parnesand Wilcock (1956), and proposes that entry into the post-compulsory system ofeducation is dependent on both the individual and institutional determinants. Inthe next section, each of these types of determinants, as outlined in Figure 5, isconsidered. -57Individual Determinants of Educational Choice1. Student Characteristics- sex- intellectual abilities- educational achievement- interests- aspirations2. Personal Environment- family background- peer group- school environmentInstitutional Determinants of Educational Choice1. Educational Systema) conditions antecedent to choice- curriculum emphasis- terminal vs. transfer programs- differentiation system- guidance organizationb) conditions anticipated in the choice situation- admission and selection rules- geographic availability- study financec) predicted structural changes in education2. Society Outside the Educational Systema) Demographic Factorsb) Occupation and the Economyc) Social and Cultural ConditionsFigiLre 5: 5[ämqvLct& etenninants ofEt1ucatioiwfC1wice58Individual determinants of educational choiceAccording to Härnqvist, “the process leading up to choice is a dynamicrelationship between the individual and his environment where cause and effectare hard to isolate from the network of continuous interaction” (p.32). He assertsthat the majority of work on educational choice has been done by trait factortheorists (Holland, 1966, 1973; Super, 1957; Super & Crites, 1962) who viewchoices as related to stable characteristics of the individual. They do not,however, provide an explanation of the intermediate processes, that is, thevariables that intervene between the attributes of the individual and the finalchoice. Härnqvist opines that the most interesting developments will arise fromattempts to “weigh individual attributes against other characteristics of theindividual and his situation” (p32).According to Härnqvist, the relevant individual determinants are: 1)characteristics of the individual, and 2) characteristics of the student’s personalenvironment. Characteristics of the individual include sex, intelligence,educational achievement, interests, and aspirations. Characteristics of thestudents’ personal environment include family background, peer group, and theclimate and student composition of the school.Institutional determinants of educational choiceHärnqvist points out that while institutional determinants of educationalchoice appear to be of considerable importance, empirical evidence ofeducational choice in relation to institutional or structural characteristics isscarce and less complete than for individual determinants.59Härnqvist considers institutional determinants of educational choiceunder two headings: 1) characteristics of the educational system itself, and 2)society outside the educational system. Characteristics of the educational systemitself are categorized into: 1) conditions antecedent to choice, 2) conditionsanticipated in the choice situation, and 3) predicted structural changes ineducation. Conditions antecedent to choice refer to ‘factors which operate in theschool to which the student belongs when he makes his plans for the next stage”(p.55). Included under conditions antecedent to choice are curriculum emphasis,terminal vs. transfer programs, differentiation system, and guidanceorganization. Conditions anticipated in the choice situation, which characterizethe stage which the individual is about to enter, are admission and selectionrules, geographic availability, and study finance at the stage of decision.Included under society outside the educational system are demographic factors,occupation and the economy, and social and cultural conditions.This schema captures a range of psychological, sociological, andeconomic factors, that, as Blau et a!. (1956) suggest, are necessary in thedevelopment of an inclusive framework. As such, it includes indicators of thesocialization and the allocation process in educational attainment, as proposedby Kerckhoff (1976).Blau et al. (1956) and Härnqvist (1978) maintain that in order todemonstrate how earlier decisions limit or extend the range of future choices, asystematic analysis of a series of successive choice periods is required. Härnqvistasserts that the importance of early and distant decisions may be greater thanthose that immediately precede what appears to be the educational choice. Headds, however, that while more is known about distant determinants than about60immediate determinants, distant determinants are relevant “only to the extentthat they in turn influence immediate determinants” (p.16)Given one’s decision regarding post-high school destination, Harnqvist’sframework allows for the exploration of how each individuals’ decision makingprocesses have been influenced or shaped by individual and institutionaldeterminants, and what decisions individuals make in response to these forces.Determinants, as enabling and constraining forces may also be investigated. Therelative importance and interrelationships of personal attributes, students’ use ofeducational resources, and formal and informal organization on the secondaryand post-secondary systems of education on educational choice, as suggested byBidwell and Friedkin (1988), may also be assessed. Differences among groups ofnon-participants and participants in colleges, universities and other institutionsmay be revealed by analyzing the differential impact of the determinants onmembers of these groups14.Employment of Härnqvist’s framework to analyse the choices thatindividuals make will illuminate what relationships exist. However, ademonstration of the relationships among a set of relevant individual andinstitutional variables, or macro-processes, will not reveal how and why certain14 This model, does not, of course, take into account all of the variables that have beenconsidered in previous work on educational and participation and attainment. Some of thevariables not included are: birth order and family size (Blake,1981; Lindert,1977; O’Neill,1981;Porter, Porter, & Blishen,1982), the influence of single parent families (Crysdale,1975), religion(Porter, Porter, & Blishen,1982), self-concept (Gilbert, 1977). However, as Allison (1971) explains:in attempting to explain a particular event, the analyst cannot simply describe thefull scale of the world leading up to that event. The logic of explanation requires thathe single out relevant, important determinants of the occurrence. Moreover, as thelogic of prediction underscores, he must summarize the various factors as they bearon the occurrence. Conceptual models not only fix the mesh of the nets that theanalyst drags through the material in order to explain a particular action; they alsodirect him to cast his nets in select ponds, at certain depths, in order to catch the fishhe is after. (Allison,1971, p.4)This model is an attempt to accomplish precisely what Allison suggests - to capture the relevant,important determinants of educational choice.61mechanisms influence choice. As several authors have commented, despite thepreoccupation by researchers on the effect of social origin on educational andoccupational outcomes, there has been little progress in unravelling how theserelationships are created and reproduced (Bielby, 1981; Knorr-Cetina & Cicourel,1981; Lamont & Lareau, 1988; Lareau, 1987).Campbell (1983) maintains that the really interesting and difficultquestions in stratification research, such as “Why is there an unequaldistribution of attainment? In a society which values meritocratic selection, whyare parents so easily able to pass on status to their children?”, remainunaddressed (p.59). While previous studies have demonstrated that an ‘upper-class’ child has a much greater chance of reaching higher education than onefrom a working-class’ background, not all upper-class students go to university,nor are all working-class students non-participants (Keller & Zavalloni, 1964;Lane, 1972). It continues to remain as difficult to explain why ‘working classkids’ let themselves get working class jobs (Willis, 1977), as it is to clarify whyothers escape the social reproductive forces and destinations predicted by theirascribed status (Gambetta, 1987). Härnqvist (1978), commenting on our limitedknowledge of these mechanisms, motives or reasons, states:how this choice is made is largely unknown and cannot be inferred from the morebasic individual characteristics that have dominated the research so far. Neither doesit seem possible to approach this problem with the same tools as have been used formeasuring the influence of individuals, mainly correlational techniques of differentkinds. More important is the close observation of individual decision sequences andthe construction of decision models that can be tested in individual cases. . . . Alongwith more objective variables the individual’s motives and perception of the choicesituation are worth studying. (p.112)Others have suggested that in order to explain the relationship betweeninteraction and structure, both micro and macro levels of analysis are required(Knorr-Cetina, 1981; Larnont & Lareau, 1988). In the next section, theoretical62perspectives for exploring the micro-processes of educational choice areconsidered.Post-high School Destination and Educational ChoiceRegardless of one’s family background, geographic location, educationalachievement, and the other variables identified in the model presented in thefirst section of this chapter, every graduating high school student reaches ajuncture in her or his life path. At this juncture, a route must be taken -- either tocontinue to post-secondary education, or to leave the educational system.Having identified the relevant determinants of educational choice, a secondquestion may now be considered: How does an individual make this decision?Or, to reframe the question in light of Härnqvist’s work, how do individuals makedecisions about post-high school destinations in relation to the individual andinstitutional determinants ofeducational choice?Gambetta (1982, 1987) posed a similar question and applied it toeducational choice. Setting out to determine whether the educational behaviourof a group of Italian youth could best be represented as a “product of intentionalchoice”, or, as the “result of processes which in one way or another minimize thescope for socially meaningful choice at the individual level”, he asked:the theoretical question is whether it is more realistic to think of educationaldecisions as, so to speak, non-decisions, as pure individual manifestations of socialforces that act “behind the back” of agents, or whether it is rather the case that peoplerespond thoughtfully to events and try to act according to what they generally want.(Gambetta, 1982, p.3)63He posits that there are two relevant perspectives of the individual agent whenconsidering decision making processes: the pushed-from-behind view and thepulled-from-the-front view15. The first view, pushed-from-behind, regardseducational decisions as essentially non-decisions. This perspective adopts theviewpoint that reproductive forces are overwhelming; thus, they constrain or actbehind the backs of agents. Since the actions of individuals are ‘propelled’ byforces that are beyond the immediate reach of their conscious states, individualsare pushed into given destinations. Rather than clearly perceiving the availablealternatives and choosing the best alternative among them, individuals areguided by “some inner mechanism” to select a particular course of action,“behaving as if the feasible set were more restricted than it is objectively” (p.12).As such, agents are directed by causes that “act independently of theirawareness” (p.12). These forces which act behind individuals’ backs push themin two different directions: middle- and upper-class children are pushedupward and working class children are pushed downward.The second view, pulled-from-the-front, posits that “people are rationaland jump towards the destinations that attract them most” (Gambetta, 1987, p.2).Gambetta identifies two distinct versions of the pulled-from-the-front view. Ingeneral, both “pull” versions refer to an intentional agent, who is capable ofadapting intelligently to circumstances and to the perceived probability ofsuccess, and thus plans her or his life according to personal preferences. In thefirst version of the pulled-from-the-front view, when individuals make decisions15 In his initial theoretical formulation, Gambetta included a third view, “the structural view”,which he quickly discounted as an unsuitable generalized explanation of behaviour. In thisview, “individuals’ actions are channelled by external constraints, with no provision for choice”.That is, individuals are seen to have no choice or lack of any relevant alternatives. Gambettacomments that this approach treats actors as ‘structural puppets’, and shortcircuits the agent byemphasizing the constraints on behaviour rather than the behaviour itself. It is very difficult toclearly distinguish between these two views, as posed by Gambetta; hence, in my research theyare treated as a single perspective.64about their education, they rationally respond to their past achievement and tolabour market opportunities; in other words, they choose options that maximizeexpected utility. Individual preferences are considered as generally irrelevant.The second version emphasizes that individuals try to act according to whatthey generally want. A rational calculation of personal preferences and futurerewards results in a decision. Economic maximization, however, does notnecessarily drive these decisions. Personal preferences and aspirations make adifference in educational choices irrespective of ones social origin.Gambetta suggests that the first view (pushed) emphasizes causality, andthe second (pulled) intentionality. He points out that most authors haveconcentrated on either the ‘push” or the “pull” perspective when studyingeducational behaviour. He suggests that rather than disregarding or rejectingthe other perspective as irrelevant, it may be more fruitful to ask: “to what extentcan educational behaviour be represented as a product of intentional choice, orconversely, to what extent is it the result of processes which, in one way oranother, minimize the scope for socially meaningful choice at the individuallevel?” (p.7’).These perspectives, as identified by Gambetta, correspond to the twobroad intellectual streams, the sociological versus the economic, that Coleman(1988) indicates are used to describe and explain social action. The first view, thesociological, is that of the socialized actor whose action is governed by socialnorms, rules and obligations. The second view, typical of the work of mosteconomists, views the actor as “having goals independently arrived at, as actingindependently, and as wholly self-interested” (p.S95). According to Coleman,the main strength of the first intellectual stream rests in its ability to “describeaction in social context and to explain the way action is shaped, constrained, and65redirected by the social context’, and the second stream “in having a principle ofaction, that of maximizing utility” (p.S95).However, consistent with Kerkhoff’s assertion regarding the difficulty ofdistinguishing an allocation from a socialization model, Coleman also maintainsthat the two views of action are not separable. He argues that to adopt eitherview of action, independent of the other, is misguided, for as defined by the firststream, the actor is treated as though he or she is without an ‘engine of action’but is completely shaped by the environment, and in the second stream,constraints of the social environment are totally ignored. He suggests that theinvestigation of action should commence from one conceptually coherentframework, and proceed to introduce elements from the other, withoutdestroying the coherence of the first.Giddens (1984) provides a similar criticism. He asserts that even whensevere constraints limit the courses of action that an individual can take, someaccount of purposive action is still implied. Commenting on Gambetta’s study,he states that:structural constraints . . always operate via agents’ motives and reasons,establishing (often in diffuse and convoluted ways) conditions and consequencesaffecting options open to others, and what they want from the options they have.(p.310)He suggests that it would be more profitable to examine, in greater depth, theinfluence of structural constraints over the course of a particular action. Heproposes that topics for further study include how an individual’s motives andprocesses of reasoning have been influenced or shaped by factors in their familybackground and previous experiences, the social forces themselves, andexploration of the limits of agents’ knowledgeability.66Elster (1989a) provides a cogent way of consolidating these two views.According to Elster, action may be explained if it is viewed as the final result oftwo successive filtering operations. All of the abstractly possible actions thatmay be undertaken by an individual pass through each filter. The first filterconsists of all of the constraints faced by the individual. The individualsopportunity set is thus formed by extracting actions that remain possible, aslimited by the existing constraints.The second filter, according to Elster, consists of a mechanism thatdetermines which action, within the existing opportunity set, will actually beimplemented. Of these actions, rational choice is one. Using this perspective,Elster states that “actions are explained by opportunities and desires - by whatpeople can do and by what they want to do” (p.18). It is upon the opportunityset that an individual acts.Elster’s formulation of opportunity set and subsequent action allows for1) an exploration of action based on a given opportunity set, and 2) differencesin opportunity sets, and thus actions, amongst groups (e.g. participants and non-participants in post-secondary education).Given an existing opportunity set, how will an individual act? Rationalchoice theory will be used to consider this question.Individuals as Rational ActorsThe notion of rational action is not foreign to studies of educationalattainment and participation. However, the manner in which rationality istreated in studies of participation is inconstant. In some studies, rational action67is simply assumed, without any explanation as to what is meant. For example, inhis study on post-secondary education choices of high school graduates, Anisef(1975) states:A major assumption which guides our thinking and analysis in this panel survey isthat adolescents make rational choices and decisions. (p19)Porter, Porter, and Blishen (1982) provide an illustration where rationalaction is implied:It is very likely the case that when a student considers the amount of education hewould like to have, he first thinks of the job he would like and then considers theeducation he would need in order to qualify for that job. (p.99)Others provide concrete definitions. Bidwell and Friedkin (1988) assert:We assume that students are rational actors, so that they tend to define theeducational situation by assessing the costs and benefits of schooling, on one hand,and the personal capacity to gain benefits and reduce costs, on the other. (p.460)They continue:First, as students progress through the school grades, they make increasinglyfrequent, realistic calculations about the relationship between schooling and adultsocial destinations (primarily occupational or marital). Given our rational actorassumption, we expect that the higher the value of the material or social goods towhich a student aspires and the stronger the perceived effect of education on theirrealization, the higher the student’s tolerance for education. In other words, we areproposing a reciprocal relationship between academic performance and educationaland postschool aspirations, in which these aspirations reinforce performance just asthey are reinforced by performance via the definition of the educational situation.(Bidwell & Friedkin, 1988, p.463)Härnqvist (1978) suggests that individuals make educational choices as follows:The immediate determinants [of educational choice] result in preferences andexpectations which have to be matched against each other. . .The individual’sinformation set limits not only to the number of possible actions he may take, butalso to the predictive validity of his estimated probability to succeed in and obtainthe rewards from different alternative actions. His expectancy to succeed in a certaineducation depends not only on knowing that he meets the minimum entrance68requirements but also on estimating whether his qualifications are strong enough ina competitive situation before or during the education he is considering. (p.18)Even the tenor of questions on survey instruments often reflects a perspectivethat implies rational action. The following is an example of such a question:Everyone does not end up doing the job he or she likes. Considering your ability,marks, ambitions, and family finances, what job do you think you will actually end updoing ? (Anisef, 1980, Appendix C)Since assumptions of rationality play a central role in studies ofeducational participation, a review of the literature on rational choice isimportant. Such a review is also warranted since most studies of individualchoices (i.e. Gambetta’s “pull’ forces) are premised on one particular version ofrational choice theory.According to rational choice theory, when an individual is confrontedwith several courses of action, the action taken is the one that the individualbelieves is most likely to have the best outcome. That is, rational choice involveschoosing the best means available for achieving a given end. In this sense,rational choice is instrumental, and actions are chosen as efficient means to afurther end. It is a way of optimal adaptation to existing circumstances (Elster,1989a; Harsanyi, 1986; Mortimore, 1976).Aiming to explain human behaviour, rational choice theory proceeds intwo steps. The first step is normative - to determine what a rational personwould do in a given circumstance. The normative or prescriptive componentprescribes how individuals should act in a given situation, and emphasis isplaced on guidelines, procedures, and analytical tools for optimizing decisions.It also predicts that individuals will act in the prescribed way. This is followed69by the second step, descriptive in nature, which sets out to ascertain whether theaction, as described in the first step, is what the individual actually did. Incontrast to the normative model, the descriptive model describes the way thatdecisions are actually made in the real world. The focus of the descriptive modelis to provide an account of decision making behaviour, including each step inthe process (Baird, 1978; Elster, 1989a, 1989b; Harsanyi, 1986; McGrew & Wilson,1982).For the purposes of this study, two types of rational action will beconsidered: practical rationality (or practical reasoning), and technicalrationality.Practical RationalityPractical rationality or reasoning is described as reasoning which isundertaken to determine what to do (Audi, 1982). This is contrasted withtheoretical or epistemic reasoning which is undertaken to determine what is thecase or what to believe (Audi, 1982; Benn & Mortimore, 1976; Coombs, 1986).Benn and Mortimore (1976) state that to explain an act as rational, it is tosay that “a certain kind of relationship holds between the agent’s action, hisbeliefs about his situation and options, and the end-states he wishes to bringabout” (p.3). They state that practical rationality can be best understood as “acomponent of the ordinary notion of rationality in action”. According to Elster,the “central explanada of rational choice theory are actions” (p.4).The notion of practical reasoning embraces three components: beliefs,wants or desires, and evidence (Audi, 1982; Coornbs, 1986; Elster, 1989b). For an70action to be deemed rational, it must be the final result of three optimizingoperations. These operations are:1. It must be the best means of realizing a person’s desire, given his beliefs.2. These beliefs must themselves be optimal, given the evidence available tohim.3. The person must collect an optimal amount of evidence - neither too muchnor too little. That amount depends both on his desires - on the importancehe attaches to the decision and on the beliefs about the costs and benefits ofgathering more information. (Elster, 1989a, p.30)These optimalizing operations are represented by Elster, in Figure 6.Action/Desires ‘< BeliefsEvidence5igure 6. i4ifaptathrn ofE(stercSc1tema ofRgthrna(Cltoice.According to Elster (1989b), an action is explained by first confirmingwhether it is the best way of fulfilling an agents’ desires, given her or his beliefs.Desires and beliefs should be, at minimum internally consistent, but preferablyrational in themselves. As well, beliefs should be optimally related to theevidence or information available to an agent. Also, the beliefs an individualholds must be true.71Rational belief and rational action are contrasted with ‘not rational’, ‘non-rational’ or ‘irrational’ beliefs or action. An ‘irrational’ act is considered to be onethat is done without a reason when it is thought that there should be a reason,doing something for a bad reason, or if there is a good reason for taking analternate course of action that was known or should have been known by theagent. “To say of an act that it is irrational is to evaluate it as failing to come upto some standard of appropriateness. A person who acts irrationally is notacting well from some point of view” (Benn & Mortimore, 1976, p.3). A ‘non-rational’ act is beyond the scope of rationality; that is, the act committed whenthe individual “either could not have a reason for doing it, or that to assess it interms of reason is somehow out of place” (p.3). A ‘not rational’ act is one that issometimes irrational, sometimes non-rational (p.3).Technical RationalityOften, a “technical account of rationality” is used to explain behaviourregarding educational choice. Benn and Mortimore (1976) point out that thisview differs from the former view on two counts: 1) it omits the condition thatagents act on rational beliefs, the epistemic requirement, and 2) it tends tostipulate among the requirements special restrictions on what are admissible asends (p.4).When using a technical account of rationality, the type of decision isimportant to consider. Decisions can be of three types: decisions under certainty,decisions under risk, and decisions under uncertainty. Of these types, the firsttwo are relevant for this discussion.72Rational choice in certainty, or riskiess choice, follows the principle of‘utility maximization’. Utility maximization, according to Elster (1989a), issimply a convenient way of saying that one does what one most prefers. Itassumes that the individual can rank all the alternatives open to him or her inorder of preference and will then select the course of action that yields the mostdesirable consequence. The most preferred alternative is the one which yieldsthe most utility; “to maximize utility is therefore to select the alternative you likebest” (Heath, 1976, p.8).The second type of decision, decision under risk, prescribes thatindividuals should maximize expected utility. This is achieved by calculating theexpected value of available courses of action by weighing the possible gains orlosses [utility value] by the probability of their occurrence. Implicit is the notionthat the better one’s chance of getting something, the more likely one is to try it(Heath, 1976). According to Heath (1976), in order to maximize expected utilitythe individual must:consider each of the possible outcomes of a given course of action, assess the utilityof each, multiply the utility by the probability of the outcome’s occurrence, sum theproducts, and compare this sum of the products with the sum of products of othercourses of action. (p.84)Decision making under risk requires that individuals rely on their‘subjective probabilities’ or informed hunches. According to this version ofrational choice theory, the action to be taken is the one that has associated with itthe highest expected utility (Elster, 1989a, p.28).Choice regarding post-high school destination is generally assumed to bea decision under risk. According to Härnqvist (1978) participation in postsecondary education requires not only the actions of the deciding individual,but also acceptance by the selecting agency (p.l8)73Boudon (1976) provides an elaborate account of what he calls 11rationalitytheory”. Claiming that people behave according to their own interests in thesense that they attempt to maximize the utility of their decisions, Boudonmaintains that specific conclusions on variations in inequality of educationalopportunity may be drawn. He provides the following example:let us assume that two children, one from a middle-class and one from a lower classfamily, are located at the same point of the Cartesian space . . . . Let us furthersuppose that at some stage these children have to choose between, say, a general anda vocational course or between staying in or leaving school. . . . This effect willprobably be reinforced if not only the youngsters but also the family take part in thedecision process. The expected benefit which is perceived as attached to a givencourse will probably be differently evaluated by the families, exactly as the issue islikely to be differently evaluated by the youngsters. Generally, let us assume thatyoungsters and families must at some time choose between alternative a andalternative b - a being more likely to lead to a higher social status. Then we may saythat the expected benefit of choosing a rather than b is an increasing function of thefamily’s social status. The higher the social status, the higher the anticipated benefitassociated with a. . . . In summary, there is considerable empirical evidence tosuggest that given two possible alternatives a and b (where a is associated withhigher social expectations), the anticipated cost of a generally will be greater, thelower the social status of the family. In short, we can reasonably assume that the costof choosing a over b will be a decreasing function of family status (Boudon, 1974,p.29-30)Often in an economic explanation of post-secondary choice, admissibleends are restricted to the expected rate of return on investment. According toStager (1989a; 1989b), one of the strongest influences on the enrolment decisionis the individual’s assessment of the rate of return on educational investment.Investment in higher education depends on the expected rate of return, or theadditional life-time earnings an individual expects to receive followinggraduation when compared with the costs of completing a post-secondaryprogram. This method dictates that all benefits (earnings based on investment inpost-secondary education) and all costs (tuition fees, books and other expenses,forgone earnings) associated with the choice are compared to determinewhether the benefits exceed the costs. The calculation of the expected income74differential between post-secondary and high school graduates with the totalcosts, including forgone earnings leads to economic expectations about thebenefits of attending post-secondary education. Stager (1989b) indicates thatwhen properly applied, the basic logic of this type of cost-benefit analysis is“unassailable1(p.2).Employment of rational choice theory may help explicate the means thatindividuals use to pursue certain goals. It does not, however, explain differencesin preferences and desires, beliefs, reasons offered, amounts of informationused, or costs and benefits considered. Elster (1989a) indicates that while anaction is explained by considering the individual’s desires together with her orhis beliefs about the opportunities, it is unclear how objective and subjectiveelements interact to produce an action. Mistaken beliefs and limited awarenessof certain opportunities may result in the best means of realizing one’s desire notbeing chosen. As well, Elster avows, “at a further remove only opportunitiesmatter since they also shape desires” (p.19). Yet, by employing rational choicetheory to explain action, differences in opportunity sets remain unproblematic.How does a given opportunity set influence wants, desires, beliefs, andthus actions? Do wants, desires, and beliefs differ within and between groups ofparticipants and non-participants? If so, what accounts for these differences? Or,in more general terms, what processes underlie the decisions people make inchoosing whether or not to pursue a post-secondary education?To pursue these questions, the work of Bourdieu, and Bourdieu andPasseron, which focusses on the complex mediating processes in education, willbe utilized.75Bourdieus Theory of PracticeAccording to Bourdieu (1984), practices (action) can only be accounted forby illuminating the series of effects which underlie them. He proposes that thefollowing formula be used to analyse these effects:[(habitus) (capital)] + field = practice (p.101)As specified in this formula, three concepts, capital, habitus, and field are centralto Bourdieus theoretical formulation. In the next section, two forms of capital(cultural and social), habitus, and field are defined.According to Bourdieu (1984), primary differences distinguishing themajor classes of conditions of existence, derive from the overall volume ofcapital possessed by an individual. Capital is defined as, “the set of actuallyusable resources and powers’ and exists as many types - as economic, cultural,social, and symbolic capital16 (p.114). Capital can exist in objectified form, suchas material properties, or in incorporated form as in cultural capital, and thekinds of capital “like trumps in a game of cards, are powers which define thechances of profit in a given field” (Bourdieu, 1991, p.Z3O).Cultural CapitalOf the forms of capital defined by Bourdieu that contribute to thereproduction of the structure of power relationships and symbolic relationshipsbetween classes, cultural capital has received the most attention. Stimulated by16 Symbolic capital is defined as “prestige, reputation, fame, etc., which is the form assumed bythese different kinds of capital when they are perceived and recognized as legitimate” (Bourdieu,1983, p.Z3O).76the observation that discrepancies in ‘educational death rates” between socialclasses were not sufficiently explained by educational obstacles, Bourdieu (1986)states that the notion of cultural capital arose:as a theoretical hypothesis which made it possible to explain unequal scholasticachievement of children originating from different social classes by relatingacademic success, i.e. the specific profits which children from the different socialclasses and class fractions can obtain in the academic market, to the distribution ofcultural capital between the classes and class fractions. (Bourdieu, 1986, p.243)It is Bourdieu’s thesis that educational institutions, rather than beingsocially neutral institutions, are part of a larger universe of symbolic institutionsthat reproduce existing power relationships. The culture that is transmitted andrewarded by the educational system reflects the culture of the dominant class.Schools reinforce particular types of linguistic competence, authority patterns,and types of curricula. Children from higher social backgrounds acquire thesecultural resources (that is, dispositions, behaviour, habits, good taste, savoirfaire, and attitudes) at home, and enter the educational system already familiarwith the dominant culture. Acquisition of the information and training offeredby the school is dependent on the student’s ability to receive and decode it,which in turn depends on previously acquired cultural capital. According toBourdieu and Passeron (1979):all teaching.. . implicitly pressupposes a body of knowledge, skills, and above all,modes of expression which constitute heritage of the cultivated classes. . . Secondaryschooling. . . conveys second-degree significations which takes for granted a wholetreasury of first-degree experiences - books found in the family library, ‘choice’entertainments chosen by others, holidays organized as cultural pilgrimages,allusive conversations which only enlighten those already enlightened. It can onlylead to a fundamental inequality in this game reserved for privileged persons, whichall must enter because it presents itself adorned with universality. (p.22)Schools, however, do not teach the techniques required to receive and decodeculture. For those students who already possess the requisite cultural resources,77adjustment to school is facilitated, and academic achievement is enhanced;children who lack first-degree experiences are handicapped. Thus,comprehension of the second-degree significations, reflected in academicachievement, becomes difficult, if not impossible.Because students with the requisite cultural capital are able to excel inschool, cultural capital becomes objectified in the form of academicqualifications. In this way, cultural capital is converted into academic capitalwhich is academically sanctioned by legally guaranteed qualifications”(Bourdieu, 1986, p.2z18). Over time, cultural capital is eventually converted toeconomic capital through the guarantee of monetary value of a given academiccapital.Bourdieu (1986) explains that maximum appropriation of objectifiedcultural capital in the form of educational (or academic) capital depends onearly transmission by families endowed with strong cultural capital, since “theprecondition for fast, easy accumulation of every kind of useful cultural capital,starts at the outset, without delay, without wasted time, only for the offspring offamilies endowed with strong cultural capital” (Bourdieu, 1986, p.246). Thus, theacquisition of cultural rewards, is determined by the amount of cultural capitalthat is transmitted by the family. Families of higher social status transmit theculture which is the dominant culture. As a result, their children are more easilyable to access academic rewards.Differential academic achievement is usually perceived to be the result ofdifferential ability, rather than as a result of the volume and composition ofcultural capital transmitted by the family; thus, domestic transmission ofcultural capital is recognized as legitimate competence and is unrecognized ascapital. As such, it remains the “best hidden and socially most determinant78educational investment” (Bourdieu, 1986, p.244) In this way, the educationalsystem contributes to the reproduction of the social structure through itssanctioning of the hereditary transmission of cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986).Cultural capital is considered to be a key mechanism in the reproductionof the dominant culture through which background inequalities are convertedinto differential academic attainments and hence rewards. This is accomplishedby producing and distributing a dominant culture that, as Giroux (1983) states,“tacitly confirms what it means to be educated” (p.87).Social CapitalThe second form of capital included in cultural reproduction theory isthat of social capital. According to Bourdieu (1986), social capital is:the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of adurable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutualacquaintance and recognition - in other words, membership in a group - whichprovides each of its members with the backing of the collectively-owned capital, a‘credential’ which entitles them to credit, in the various senses of the word. (p.248)Social capital consists of social obligations or ‘connections’. Two criteriadetermine the volume of the social capital a given agent has at her or hisdisposal: first, the size of the network of connections that the agent caneffectively mobilize, and second, the volume of capital (economic, cultural, orsymbolic) possessed by each of those to whom the agent is connected (Bourdieu,1986).Coleman (1988, 1990) also advances the notion of social capital, andprovides a more complete, albeit somewhat different account. He states that“social capital exists in the relations among persons” (Coleman, 1988, p.S100).That is, it is inherent in the structure of relations between persons and among79persons. It is not conceived as a single entity, but a variety of different entities,each possessing two common characteristics: 1) some aspect of a social structure,and 2) the facilitation of certain actions of individuals who are within thestructure. Social capital, like other forms of capital, is productive; it actuates theachievement of certain ends that would be unattainable in its absence (Coleman,1990).Coleman (1988) maintains that social capital exists in three forms: asobligations and expectations, as information channels, and as social norms.Obligations and Expectations. Obligations are conceptualized as anetwork of outstanding credit slips, which are reciprocally called in, as required,by the holders. Two elements, trustworthiness among group members, and theextent of the obligations held, are necessary for this form of social capital towork. Coleman explains:If A does something for B and trusts B to reciprocate in the future, this establishes anexpectation in A and an obligation on the part of B. This obligation can be conceivedas a credit slip held by A for performance by B. If A holds a large number of theseslips, for a number of persons with whom A has relations, then the analogy tofinancial capital is direct. These credit slips constitute a large body of credit that Acan call in if necessary - unless, of course, the placement of trust has been unwise,and these are bad debts that will not be repaid. (S102)Individual actors differ not only on the number of outstanding credit slips intheir possession, but whether or not they are included in a given network of thisform of social capital. Those ‘in’ the network are more powerful than thoseexcluded.Information Channels. Coleman asserts that the potential for information,inherent in social relations, is an important form of capital, for informationprovides an important basis for action. This is consistent with the requirement ofsufficient information posited in the theory of practical rationality. Information,80however, is expensive and requires vigilance. Coleman suggests that one way ofappropriating information is through the use of social relations which aremaintained for other purposes. He provides an example of an individual,wishing to keep abreast with current events but finds little time to do so,depends on a well-informed spouse or parents to keep her or him informed.According to Bourdieu, one of the most valuable types of informationtransmitted by inherited cultural capital is practical or theoretical knowledge ofcurrent and future worth of academic qualifications. The ‘informed’ individual isthus able to invest wisely, including pulling out of devalued disciplines atpropitious moments, in order to achieve the best return for her or his inheritedcultural and educational capital. Those poorly informed about the diplomamarket lack the social capital to differentiate between the value of various typesof education (e.g. between community college and university). By attributingmore value on educational credentials than that which is objectivelyacknowledged, they continue to participate in education of less worth, and“become, in a sense, accomplices in their own mystification” (Bourdieu, 1984,p.l42)Norms and Effective Sanctions. According to Coleman, the existence ofeffective norms provides a powerful form of social capital. For example,community norms providing effective rewards for academic achievement,greatly facilitate the school’s role. Norms such as these, however, can be bothfacilitating and constraining. Recognition of achievement in academic courses,but neglect of other types of achievement, may stifle actions which deviate fromthe norm but would actually benefit the deviant individual as well as others.This may result in reduction of innovation in a given area.81One or more of these forms of social capital, used in simplex or multiplexrelations (Gluckrnan, 1967), facilitate actions of actors. In a multiplex relationship,linkages among people occur in more than one context, allowing forappropriation of resources among the various relations. An example relevant tothis study would include the interrelated linkage of a student with parents,guidance counsellors, someone in the aspired profession, and a family friendwho is knowledgeable about post-secondary education. While linkages betweenthe student and various individuals may exist in a simplex relationship, theywould not be interrelated.Bourdieu (1986) adds another dimension to social capital. He argues thatmembers of the dominant culture, who tend to increasingly emphasizeeducational investment, are also able to use social capital as a way of “evadingscholastic verdicts”. That is, through the use of social capital in the form of ‘ahelping hand, ‘string-pulling’, and/or the ‘old boy network’, the effect ofacademic sanctions may be corrected.HabitusMost simply, habitus is a system of dispositions which are created andrecreated as objective structures and personal history converge. Disposition, forBourdieu, has a three-fold meaning. First, it is the result of an organizing action,thus similar to the word structure. Second, it implies a way of being, a habitualstate. Third, and most important, it expresses the idea of predisposition,tendency, propensity, or inclination (Bourdieu, 197Th). As such, habitus is“history turned into nature” (Bourdieu, 197Th, p.78) Bourdieu (197Th) providesthe following definition:82the habitus, a product of history, produces individual and collective practices - morehistory - in accordance with the schemes generated by history. It ensures the activepresence of past experiences, which, deposited in each organism in the form ofschemes of perception, thought and action, tend to guarantee the ‘correctness ofpractices and their constancy over time, more reliably than all formal rules andexplicit norms. The habitus is a system of dispositions “a present past that tends toperpetuate itself into the future by reactivation in similarly structured practices, aninternal law through which the law of external necessities, irreducible to immediateconstraints, is constantly exerted. (p.54)andthe habitus is necessity internalized and converted into a disposition that generatesmeaningful practices and meaning-giving perceptions; it is a general, transposabledisposition which carries out a systematic, universal application - beyond the limitsof what has been directly learnt - of the necessity inherent in learning conditions.(Bourdieu, 1984, p.170)The habitus is a practice-unifying and practice-generating principle that iscapable of generating an infinity of practices depending on changing objectivesituations. The habitus, as a generative principle, is limited only by objectivestructures. Structures are portrayed as systems of objective relations which areimparted to individuals which they pre-exist and survive. The structures whichconstitute a particular type of environment produce the habitus, and is thereforea ‘structured structure’, which, in turn, predisposes it to be a ‘structuringstructure’ as the generating principles are inculcated and become “objectively‘regulated’ and ‘regular” (Bourdieu, 197Th, p.72)Kennett (1973) likens the habitus to DNA coding in organisms. Once thehabitus is sufficiently developed, it begins to generate an appropriate inodusoperandi by informing and reproducing that which is deemed ‘appropriate’ innew contexts. Because the habitus is structured, it also possesses a structuringnature. Thus:83the ‘informed’ individual comes to find ‘naturally’ within him the cognitive andexpressive styles that legitimate his eventual place in the social structure. Theforming of the habitus may be regarded as the programming of the individual andthe group to which he ‘belongs’, the handing down of the code which reaps itsharvest in the educational system leading to ‘legitimized’ places in the socialhierarchy. (Kennett, 1973,p.242)According to Bourdieu, actions (or practices) are neither mechanicallydetermined nor the result of creative free will. Rather, practices are “determinedby past conditions which have produced the principle of their production”(Bourdieu, 1977b, p.73). He asserts that when agents’ actions are described as aconscious adjustment of their aspirations to an exact evaluation of their chancesof success, it is assumed that probabilities are calculated based on spontaneousdispositions. He suggests, instead, that unlike scientific estimations ofprobabilities, when an individual undertakes a practical evaluation of thelikelihood of his or her success, “a whole body of wisdom, sayings,commonplaces, ethical precepts (‘that’s not for the likes of us’), and at a deeperlevel, the unconscious principles of ethos17 . . . determines ‘reasonable’ and‘unreasonable’ conduct for every agent subjected to those regularities” isintroduced (Bourdieu, 1977b, p.77). Even when practices appear as therealization of the explicit, and explicitly stated, purposes of a project or plan,these practices are, in reality, produced by the habitus, which is the strategy-generating principle enabling agents to cope with unforseen and ever-changingsituations (Bourdieu, 197Th).Dispositions are durably instilled by objective conditions, and thusgenerate aspirations and practices which are objectively compatible with thoseobjective requirements. In this way, the most improbable aspirations and17 Bourdieu (1974) defines ethos as “a system of implicit and deeply interiorized values which,among other things, helps to define attitudes toward cultural capital and educationalinstitutions” (ph0).84practices are excluded from one’s repertoire of choices. Exclusion results becausepractices are perceived as either unthinkable, and therefore not examined, or as aresult of double negation which “inclines agents to make a virtue of necessity, thatis, refuse what is anyway refused and love the inevitable” (Bourdieu, 1977b,p.77). He adds that it is rather like an example provided by Leibniz, in which“the magnetic needle . . . actually enjoying turning northwards” (p.77). This iswhat Bourdieu calls the hysteresis effect, in which practices are susceptible tonegative sanction when individuals are confronted with an environment whichis too remote from the one to which they are objectively and ‘naturally’ fifted(Bourdieu, 1977b). It is due to the hysteresis of habitus, which he states isinherent in the social conditions of the reproduction of the structures in habitus,that a structural lag exists between opportunities and the dispositions to graspthem, thereby resulting in missed opportunities (p.83). The hysteresis effect issimilar to Elster’s (1983) mechanism of “sour grapes”, a mechanism of cognitivedissonance reduction which acts to ensure that there is no option outside theopportunity set that is preferred to the most preferred option within it.The habitus, as a concept, is relevant both at the individual level andgroup or class level. Group or class habitus exists because individuals of aparticular class or group are exposed to homogeneous conditions of existence,and thus are the product of dispositions because of internalization of the sameobjective structures. This enables practices to be objectively harmonized withoutconscious intention, explicit co-ordination, or direct interaction; in other words itoccurs as “conductorless orchestration”. In this way, the same class is endowedwith an objective meaning that is both unitary and systematic, and transcends“subjective intentions and conscious projects whether individual or collective”(Bourdieu, 1977b, p.Sl). While it is not possible for all members of the same class85to have had the same experiences, in the same sequence, members of the sameclass are more likely than members of another class to have faced situationsmost commonly experienced by members of that class (Bourdieu, 197Th).FieldBourdieu (1991) describes the social world as represented in the form of amulti-dimensional space comprised of intersecting fields. Agents, or groups ofagents, are “defined by their relative positions in this space” (p.23O) Each agent isconfined to one, and only one, position. A set of active properties whichconstitutes this multi-dimensional social space is able to confer force or poweron the agents who occupy it. Since these properties selected in the constructionof this space are active properties, the space can also be described as a field offorces --“as a set of objective power relations imposed on all those who enter thisfield, relations which are not reducible to the intentions of individual agents oreven to direct interactions between agents” (Bourdieu, 1991, p.Z3O). The activeproperties that construct the social space are the different kinds of power orcapital relevant to a given field. Thus, the position occupied by a given agent inthe social space is defined by the position that she or he occupies in the differentfields (of which the educational field is one) and in the distribution of powersthat are active in each field. These powers or capital are economic capital,cultural capital, social capital, and symbolic capital. He summarizes:86the social field can be described as a multi-dimensional space of positions such thateach actual position can be defined in terms of a multi-dimensional system of coordinates whose values correspond to the values of the different pertinent variables.Agents are thus distributed, in the first dimension, according to the overall volumeof the capital they possess, and in the second dimension, according to thecomposition of their capital - in other words according to the relative weight of thedifferent kinds of capital in the total set of their assets. (Bourdieu, 1991, p.Z31)Success at accessing the specific profits offered by a field (for example, theacademic requirements necessary to gain admission to university) depends on 1)the configuration of the various forms of capital which is socially or legallyrecognized as legitimate in a particular field, and 2) the relative positions ofagents (dictated by the volume and composition of capital with which one entersthe game) in the field. Every position, even the most dominant one, is dependenton the other positions which constitute the field. Thus:the structure of the field, i.e. the space of positions, is nothing other than thestructure of the distribution of the capital of specific properties which governssuccess in the field and the winning of the external or specific profits. . . which are atstake in the field. (Bourdieu, 1983, p.312)The social trajectory of a given individual arises from the intersection of thedifferent fields (Robbins, 1991).Harker (1990) explains that in the educational field, agents struggle forcapital in the form of credentials. The educational field may be viewed not onlyas a field of forces, but also as a field of struggles which tends to transform orconserve the field as a field of forces. Occupants of various positions in the fieldare oriented, through the network of objective relations between the positions, tothe strategies which may be implemented in their struggles to either defend orameliorate their positions. The usefulness and eventual success of implementingthese strategies, however, depends on the original position occupied by eachagent (Bourdieu, 1983, p.3t3).87In order to adjust to the demands of a given field requires that onepossess “a feel for the game” (Bourdieu, 1990b, p.66) which he describes as themeeting of the incorporated history of the habitus of an individual and theobjectified history of a particular social field. A “feel for the game” is producedby experience with the game, and thus experience with the “objective structureswithin which it is played out” (p.66). An individual who is born into the gameand born with the game has a natural advantage over those not born into thegame, because:native membership in a field implies a feel for the game in the sense of a capacity forpractical anticipation of the ‘upcoming’ future contained in the present, everythingthat takes place in it seems sensible: full of sense and objectivity directed in ajudicious direction. (Bourdieu, 1990b, p.66)A Theory of Practice and Post-high School DestinationBourdieu (1977a, 1986) claims that as groups and organizations withinsociety purport to adopt policies that support equality of opportunity, dominantgroups increasingly adopt other indirect mechanisms of reproduction. In thecase of equality of opportunity in post-secondary education, the demise of directmechanisms of reproduction (ascriptive forces such as social position, gender,and race) and adoption of selection policies based on meritocratic criteria,results in the emergence of other indirect mechanisms of reproduction, in theform of cultural capital and social capital. These forms of capital originate withinthe family domain, are transmitted via the educational system, and areconverted into educational capital. In this way, social origin, in the guise ofcultural and social capital, is able to “exert its influence throughout the whole88duration of schooling, particularly at the great turning points of a school career’(Bourdieu & Passeron, 1979, p.l3) They assert that:the chances of entering higher education can be seen as the product of a selectionprocess which, throughout the school system, is applied with very unequal severity,depending on the student’s social origin. In fact, for the most disadvantaged classes,it is purely and simply a matter of eliminahon. (p.2)Rather than direct exclusion, however, which is no longer sanctioned,other forms of exclusion occur. Lamont and Lareau (1988) summarize the fourmajor forms of exclusion identified by Bourdieu, and Bourdieu and Passeron:self-elimination, overselection, relegation, and direct elimination. They indicatethat the first three forms of elimination are distinguished from direct eliminationby their ‘elective affinities’ which are based on similarities in taste. The influenceof cultural capital, social capital, and habitus on each of these forms of exclusion,is considered in the next section.Self-eliminationSelf-elimination is the work of the habitus. It occurs when individualsadjust their aspirations to their perceived chances of success. Individuals alsoexclude themselves from specific social situations in which they feeluncomfortable because they lack familiarity with specific cultural norms.In relation to post-high school destinations, self-elimination occurs whenindividuals with credentials to attend post-secondary education choose insteadnot to attend. Reasons provided for non-attendance may be the unlikelyprobability of success or unfamiliarity with post-secondary life. More likely,according to Lamont and Lareau (1988), participation in post-secondaryeducation is described as undesirable, based on beliefs of its questionable value,89thus ‘not for me’. Similar reasons would be provided for choice of communitycollege over university.OverselectionOverselection results when individuals who possess less valued resourcesare subjected to the same selection processes as those who are privileged. Inother words, their handicap, limited capital, is not taken into account, and theyare required to perform equally well as those who possess more valuedresources. Thus, they are required to perform more than others.In the case of overselection, the existence of a relationship betweeneducational levels of parents and academic achievement of children, which inturn affects participation levels of children in higher education is consistent withan explanation of parental transmission of cultural capital. Evidence of theinfluence of social capital is consistent with the existence of disadvantagedindividuals who are less subject to the positive influence of significant others(e.g. parents, guidance counsellors), less well informed, less likely to be inenvironments with strong positive educational norms, and less likely to be inmuliplex relations. A relationship would exist between participation in postsecondary education and some or all of these factors. The influence of economiccapital would be related to the effect of fees and distance from post-secondaryinstitutions on participation.90RelegationIndividuals who possess less valued resources are relegated to lessdesirable positions. Ultimately, they get less out of their educational investment.According to Bourdieu and Passeron (1979):for students from the lower classes who have survived elimination, the initialdisadvantages have evolved: their social past has been transformed into aneducational handicap through relay mechanisms such as early, often ill-informeddecisions, forced choices, or lost time. (p.14)A relationship between curricular differentiation (at both the secondaryand post-secondary level) of the student and the student’s family background isconsistent with an explanation of parental transmission of cultural capital.Possession of social capital would be demonstrated by knowledge of prerequisite courses, and qualitative differences among the various types of postsecondary institutions.Table 4 summarizes the relationship between capital and habitus on thedifferent forms of exclusion:91Table 4.Forms of Exclusion in Relation to Capital and Habitus.Self- Overselection Relegation Directelimination ExclusionCultural • Presence of a • Association • In the form ofCapital relationship between curric- academic capital -between parents’ ular differentiat- either as an unsocial background ion of student and acceptable GPA, orand educational social class of as unrecognizedcapital of child. parent. credentials.Social • Relationship • Knowledge-Capital between inform- ability of studentation channels, about pre‘connections’, requisites,influence of differentsignificant others, institutions.presence of educational norms andparental socialclass.Economic • Ability to afford • Lack of moneyCapital fees, to pay fees.. Distance frompost-secondaryeducation.Habitus • Disposition • Acceptance of • Acceptance oftoward post- the one’s place in thesecondary need to 1) seek educationaleducation e.g. out hierarchy, i.e.“it’s not for me” student loans, satisfaction withor “I always knew 2) go to a conim- curricular choices,I would go’. unity college limitations.. Acceptance of whenacademic ability, desires, beliefsas defined by the anddominant culture. abilities indicatethat universitywould be a betterchoice.Together, these forms of elimination or exclusion, assessed consciously orunconsciously, present an image of higher education as an “impossible,”92‘possible’, or “natural” future. Direct exclusion is no longer necessary, sinceeverything occurs as if those who were eliminated, excluded themselves.Evidence of the existence of indirect forms of elimination is provided when,despite the standardizing influences of thirteen years of schooling, differences inaffitude and ability, and participation are significantly related to social origin(Bourdieu & Passeron, 1979).The lack of clearly delineated educational streams or tracks, according toBourdieu (1984) encourages and entertains blurred and fuzzy aspirations, whichfacilitates the process of indirect elimination. He continues:whereas the old system tended to produce clearly demarcated social identities whichleft little room for social fantasy but were comfortable and reassuring even in theunconditional renunciation which they demanded, the new system of structuralinstability in the representation of social identity and its legitimate aspirations tendsto shift agents from the terrain of social crisis and critique to the terrain of personalcritique and crisis” (Bourdieu, 1984, p.156)Bourdieu comments that it is significant that divisions, while looselydifferentiated throughout elementary and secondary school, are sharplyclarified at the points where access to the dominant class is decided. In Canada,these divisions occur at the point of entry into higher education. However, evenwithin systems of higher education, subtley ranked paths and skilfullydisguised ‘dumping grounds’ help to blur perception of its hierarchies(Bourdieu, 1984).93Reproduction and AgencyWhile the influence of social origin, transmitted as cultural and socialcapital through the habitus, is relevant to the choice of post-high schooldestination, action does not take the form of mechanical determinism. Familybackground provides individuals with social, cultural, and economic capital.This capital, however, must be actively invested. As Jencks et al. (1983) indicate:while individuals with high SES parents, high aptitude scores, high grades, andcollege-bound friends all enjoy appreciable occupational advantages, they only do soif they get more schooling than average. (p.6)When used rationally, educational success is facilitated by the possession ofvarious forms of capital. Through shrewd investment of the capital at hand,even individuals from the most disadvantaged classes, those who are mostlikely to be “crushed by the weight of their social destiny”, are able to overcometheir excessive handicap, and thus “avoid the common fate of their class”(Bourdieu & Passeron, 1979, p.25).Bourdieu (1976) uses the analogy of players in a card game todemonstrate how individuals, as agents, invest various forms of capital18.Cardsdealt to the players represent social, cultural, and economic capital. The outcomeof the game depends on the nature of the hand dealt, whose strength is definedby the 1) rules of the game, and 2) the degree of skill with which the hand isplayed. Thus, strategy plays an important role in profiting from the varioustypes of resources (Bourdieu, 1976; Lamont & Lareau, 1988). Cultural, social,and economic capital can be invested and converted in to one another to18 Although Bourdieu uses this example as an illustration of marriage strategies, it seemsequally relevant to educational strategies.94maximize one’s upward mobility (Bourdieu, 1985). In this way, individuals,directed by the habitus, are able to act on their resources.Destinations, Determinants, and DecisionsAdmission into the Canadian system of higher education is determinedexclusively on the basis of academic achievement and curricular differentiation.It is, to use Turner’s (1960) term, a system of contest mobility, and the rules ofthe game are defined according to meritocratic principles. That is, academiccapital, in the form of a high school graduation diploma, is the only requirementfor entrance into some form of post-secondary education. University entrancerequires certain prerequisite academic courses and a minimum grade pointaverage.Given a rational choice explanation of post-secondary participation, itwould be expected that individuals would apply to and attend post-secondaryinstitutions most compatible with their grade point averages and prerequisites --in other words, their actions should be based on evidence optimal to thedecision at hand. Also, wants and desires regarding participation in post-secondary education, the beliefs that form the basis for wants and desires, andreasons provided for actions, should be based on evidence (as described inChapter 2).However, given the explanations provided by Bourdieu’s Theory ofPractice, relationships should be detected between curricular differentiation andsocial and cultural capital transmitted by the family (relegation), academicachievement and social class background (overselection), and among social and95cultural capital, dispositions (or habitus) toward post-secondary education, andparticipation (self-elimination).In Chapter 4, research questions and related conceptual frameworks toexplore these relationships are developed from the bodies of literature reviewedin this chapter.SummaryThis chapter began with a review of two dominant bodies of literature oneducational attainment and participation, the social stratification perspectiveand research on status attainment. From this review, a model of educationalchoice as proposed by Härnqvist was deemed to provide a comprehensiveframework on which to base analyses of the macro-processes of educationalchoice by non-participants, non-university participants, and universityparticipants. Next, in order to pursue the micro-processes of educational choice,rational choice theory, from both a practical reasoning and technical rationalityperspective, offered one approach to the examination of how individuals act inrelation to the individual and institutional determinants in Härnqvists model.Finally, the introduction of Bourdieus Theory of Practice and related concepts ofcultural capital, social capital, habitus, and field presented another avenue toexamine the processes which underlie the decisions people make in choosingwhether or not to pursue post-secondary education.Chapter 4RESEARCH QUESTIONS, CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS, ANDHYPOTHESESWhy is it that some students do not continue to the post-secondarysystem following high school graduation? Why do other students proceeddirectly to post-secondary education? Of those who do continue, why do theychoose one type of institution over another? It is clear from the previous twochapters that the problem of educational choice may be conceptualized andanalysed in a variety of ways. In Chapter 3 several approaches to post-secondaryparticipation were reviewed. Also, two theories -- rational choice theory andBourdieu’s Theory of Practice -- were presented as providing possibleexplanations for how individuals arrive at various post-high school destinations.In order to grasp the complexity of how individuals arrive at variouspost-high school destinations, three separate but interrelated questions, eachrequiring a particular conceptual and/or methodological approach, areadvanced. In this chapter, the research questions and related conceptualframeworks are presented. The conceptual frameworks are based on theHärnqvist’s determinants of educational choice, rational choice theory primarilyas posited by Elster, and Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice. Together they provide acomprehensive heuristic for exploring factors affecting participation in postsecondary education, the social processes behind these actions, and individualsperceptions and understandings of these processes.9697Question 1. What factors influence whether and where one participates in post-secondary education?l.a. What are the individual and institutional determinants ofeducational choice?l.b. What combination of individual and institutional determinantsdiscriminate between participants and non-participants? That is, doparticipants and non-participants possess different opportunity sets?In order to address the first set of questions, Härnqvists framework ofeducational choice, as depicted in Figure 5 (Chapter 3) has been recast into ananalytical model, as portrayed in Figure 7. In this model, individual andinstitutional determinants of educational choice are framed within the context ofthe social and cultural conditions and labour markets and the economy, asdescribed in Chapter 2.Employment of Härnqvists framework allows for an exploration of therelationship between individual and institutional determinants of educationalchoice and whether and where one participates in post-secondary educationfollowing high school graduation. The nature of opportunity sets, and thus thedifferential impact of the determinants possessed by non-participants, non-university participants, and university participants, may be revealed.As indicated in Chapter 3, however, illumination of these relationshipswill not reveal how and why certain individual and institutional variablesinfluence choice. Different factors are determinants, of course, only in the sensethat while individuals make choices, they do not always do so under conditionsof their own choosing (Giddens, 1984). Of interest in this study is whether andhow individuals overcome or succumb to constraining factors and whether theyrecognize, acknowledge, and embrace enabling factors. Thus, in order to begin to98Labour Markets and the EconomySocial and Cultural ConditionsIndividual Determinants of Educational ChoiceI. Student Characteristics-sex-GPA— interestsexpectationsbeliefsII. Personal Environmenta. family background- parents’ education- parents’occupation- parents’ influence- other family members’ influenceb. peer groupc. school climate- school district size¼ .• socioeconomic status of school district- % of gr.12 graduates on honour roll in s dNon participantUniversity¼_______________________________¼ Institutional Determinants o¼• EducationalSystem¼ i) Conditions antecedent to choicea curricular differentiation¼ I- university entrance requirementsb. guidance organization- teachers’ influence- counsellors’ influence¼ - number of sources of information used¼ ii) Conditions anticipated in the choice situationa. geographic availability- distance from nearest university¼ - distance from nearest community collegeb. study finance¼ - total number of awards receivedI II L.L.T4qure 7’: etenninant.c ofrEilucationalCñoice99unravel how these relationships are created and reproduced, a second question isposed:Question 2. What processes underlie the decisions people make in choosingwhether or not to pursue a post-secondary education?As reviewed in Chapter 3, rational choice theory is often used to explaineducational choice. Given the problem of deciding about one1s post-high schooldestination, a rational choice, in the sense of practical rationality, would havebeen made if: an individual chose the post-high school destination that was thebest means of realizing her wants and desires, given her beliefs; that her beliefswere optimal, or true given the available evidence; and finally, that an optimalamount of evidence was gathered (Figure 8).59qure 8. R.çtiortaCClwice ‘Theory aost-Iig11ScIioo(Statu.c.100According to tenets of technical rationality, an individual would have behavedrationally if he calculated the expected value of available post-high schooloptions by weighing the utility of each possible outcome by the estimatedprobability of that outcome. Or more specifically, rational action would requirethat individuals calculate their expected rates of return on investment in furthereducation.Thus, one way of unravelling the processes behind the decisionsindividuals make about life after high school is to determine whether and towhat extent rational choice theory helps to make sense of students’ actions. Thefollowing questions may be posed:2.a. Do individuals use the tenets of practical rationality when makingdecisions about post-high school destinations?2.a.i. Do students make choices based on wants and desires,given their beliefs?2.a.ii. Are these beliefs optimal, or true, given the availableevidence?2.a.iii. Has an optimal amount of evidence been collected inorder to justify one’s choice?2.b. To what extent is a technical account of rationality relevant indescribing actions?2.b.i. Under conditions of risk, do students calculate theexpected value of available options by weighing the utilityof each possible outcome by the estimated probability ofthat outcome? Do individuals choose the action that hasthe highest expected utility?2.b.ii. Do individuals calculate their expected rates of return oninvestment in further education?101Employment of the principles of rational choice theory may be useful inelucidating, as Figure 8 portrays, whether individuals act according to theirdesires, given their beliefs and in light of available evidence. Also, it may bedetermined whether desires, beliefs, and the collection of evidence differbetween groups of participants and non-participants.However, while rational choice theory may reveal that differences doexist, it does not explain why or how these differences arose. As Hindess (1988)asserts, rational choice “accords a very limited role to the significance of socialstructure or social relations for actors and their actions” (p.36). Nor does it takeinto consideration the “processes of deliberation” among beliefs, desires, andaction (p.6).Bourdieu,in what he calls a Theory of Practice, argues that the conceptsof cultural capital, social capital, and dispositions toward post-secondaryeducation (habitus) are superior to those advanced by rational choice theory inexplaining action. The relationship between these concepts and post-high schooldestinations is outlined in Figures 9 and 10..!Tiqure 9. Cultural CapitalaiufPost-fliqfl. SchoolStatus.102As Figure 9 portrays, parents as sources of cultural capital directly affect theirchildren’s dispositions toward post-secondary education and the amount ofacademic capital accrued over the high school years. The subsequentrelationship between dispositions toward post-secondary education andacademic capital is reciprocal; that is, dispositions impact on academic capitaland vice versa. In turn, dispositions toward post-secondary education andacademic capital directly affect post-high school status.In this study, social capital is conceptualized as existing in two forms -- asprimary social capital as supplied by the family and as secondary social capitalacquired through relationships with school personnel and friends. The effects ofprimary and secondary social capital are illustrated by the presence anddirection of paths as depicted in Figure 10.103To ascertain the relationship between cultural capital, social capital,beliefs about and dispositions toward post-secondary education, academic andenabling capital on the post-high school status of the individual, the followingquestions may be asked:Fqure 10. Social Capital an ost-I1ig! Sc!oolStatus.1042.c.i. How and to what extent do parents as sources of culturaland primary social capital directly and indirectly affect thepost-high school status of their children?2.c.ii. Do counsellors, teachers, and friends as sources ofsecondary social capital influence the post-high schooldestinations of high school students?This study, however, endeavours to go one step further. In his study ofeducational opportunity in Italy, Gambetta (1987) concluded that:educational decisions are the joint result of three main processes: of what one can do,of what one wants to do, and, indirectly, of the conditions that shape on&spreferences and intentions. They are partly the result of causality and partly ofintentionality. (p.168-9)Guided by this conclusion, the following question is posed:2.d. What is the relationship between the concepts advanced inrational choice theory and Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice?Rather than treating these two theories as competing, a conceptual model ofPost-high School Status, as presented in Figure 11, is proposed. This model arisesfrom the previous set of research questions and integrates concepts central torational choice theory and Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice in order to provide adetailed portrait of the processes behind individuals educational decisions.The model, as illustrated in Figure 11, includes eight constructs. They are:sources of cultural capital, sources ofprimary social capital, beliefs about post-secondaryeducation, academic capital, sources of secondary social capital, dispositions toward postsecondary education, enabling capital, and post-high school status. As withHärnqvisttsframework, this model of Post-high School Status is framed by thelarger social, cultural, and economic context.Justification for the causal arrangement of the constructs in this model hasbeen explored in Chapters 2 and 3. Hypotheses indicating predictedQiLFiqure11.Sv1ot[e1ofPost-fiigfiSc1woCStatus106relationships between paths and their directions, as illustrated in Figure 11, arespecified in the next section. While these hypotheses specify only the predicteddirect effects of one construct on another, the model in its entirety is expected tobest explain post-high school status. Thus, indirect effects are also expected.HypothesesHypothesis One. It is hypothesized that the effects of the two exogenousvariables, sources of cultural capital, and sources of primary social capital, and oneendogenous variable, sources of secondary social capital, will have positive effectson beliefs about post-secondary education.Hypothesis Two. One exogenous variable, sources of cultural capital, and twoendogenous variables, beliefs about post-secondary education and dispositions, ispredicted to have positive effects on academic capitaLHypothesis Three. It is hypothesized that the two exogenous variables -- sourcesof cultural capital and sources ofprimary social capital - will have positive effects onsources of secondary social capital.Hypothesis Four. The two exogenous variables -- sources of cultural capital andsources of primary social capital -- and sources of secondary social capital, beliefs aboutpost-secondary education, and academic capital are hypothesized to have positiveeffects on dispositions toward post-secondary education. That is, a non-recursive orreciprocal path between academic capital and dispositions toward post-secondaryeducation is hypothesized.107Hypothesis Five. Three endogenous variables, academic capital, sources ofsecondary social capital, and dispositions toward post-secondary education arepredicted to have positive effects on enabling capital.Hypothesis Six. It is hypothesized that one exogenous variable, sources ofprimarysocial capital, and three endogenous variables including academic capital,dispositions toward post-secondary education, and enabling capital will have positiveeffects on post-high sciwol status.Furthermore, both sources of cultural capital and sources of primary socialcapital are predicted to have strong indirect effects on post-high school status.Sources of cultural capital is not, however, predicted to have a direct effect on post-high school status.One final question, which focuses directly on the actor, is advanced.Question 3. How do students perceive the processes underlying their decisionsregarding their post-high school destinations?The model of Post-high School Status, as proposed in Figure 11, is used inChapters 8 and 9 to further unravel the processes, and the perceptions of theseprocesses, which lie behind the decisions individuals make when contemplatingwhether and where to participate in post-secondary education.This set of research questions, and conceptual frameworks based onHärnqvist’s conceptualization of the determinants of educational choice, rationalchoice theory as explicated primarily by Elster, and Bourdieus Theory ofPractice, is intended to help explain the relevant determinants of educational108choice, the processes behind the decisions people make in choosing whether ornot to pursue post-secondary education, and individuals’ perceptions of theseprocesses.In the next chapter, a description of the data sources, instruments andmethods of data collection, and details of the survey sample and interviewsample is provided. The observed variables and formulation of the latentconstructs are described in detail in Chapter 6. Questions 1 and 2 are explored inusing discrirninant function analysis in Chapter 7 and structural equationmodelling (LISREL) in Chapter 8. Question 3 is investigated in Chapter 8through the use of indepth interviews with Grade 12 students.Chapter 5RESEARCH DESIGNGiven the nature of the research questions and the conceptual frameworksas described in Chapter 4, the strategy of multiple triangulation was employed inthis study. That is, multiple sources of data and methodologies were used withthe intent of providing a rich, composite depiction of educational choice. Thischapter includes a description of the data sources, details of the samples,instruments and methods of data collection, and preparation of the data. Thechapter concludes with a statement of delimitations and limitations.Three sources of data have been used in this study: 1) data from the LinkFile Data Base, 2) data generated by the Grade 12 Graduate Follow-Up surveyquestionnaire, and 3) interviews conducted with a sample of Grade 12 studentswho were in the process of making decisions regarding post-high schooldestinations. Each source of data will be described separately.Link File Data BaseThe Link File Data Base is a data base of confidential individual studentrecords from British Columbia secondary schools, colleges, institutes, anduniversities. The purpose of this data base is to provide a clear picture of studentsas they progress through the entire educational system. It is comprised of twoseparate data files - a transcript file and a post-secondary institution file. Thetranscript file contains pre-tertiary level information about the individual such asschool district attended, provincial examination results, and grade point average109110earned. The post-secondary institution file documents information about post-secondary status such as post-secondary institution attended, major programarea, and discipline cluster. The data, of which these files are comprised, aresubmitted by the various British Columbia educational institutions to the B.C.Research Corporation. The B.C. Research Corporation is entrusted with itsmanagement. The Link File Project data base served two purposes in this study.First, it was used to generate the sample of individuals surveyed in the Grade 12Graduate Follow-Up survey questionnaire, and second, information available inthe Link File data base was merged with questionnaire data to provide acomprehensive data set.Grade 12 Graduate Follow-Up Survey DataIn May 1989, a survey of Grade 12 graduates was conducted by the BritishColumbia Research Corporation and the British Columbia Institute ofTechnology, under contract with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry ofAdvanced Education and Job Training. Two of the primary purposes of thissurvey were to “collect fundamental, student-based information” (BritishColumbia Research, Corporation, 1990a, p.2) and “to investigate reasons whystudents choose to go, or not to go, to post-secondary education” (p.4). In thisstudy, 10,000 Grade 12 graduates of the 1988 cohort were sent a surveyquestionnaire entitled Grade 12 Graduate Follow-Up. Respondents included bothnon-participants and participants in the post-secondary system. The followingsections describe the target and frame population, stratification and samplingstrategy, return rates, and representativeness of the sample.111The SampleDuring the 1987/88 school year, approximately 43,800 students wereenrolled in Grade 12 in British Columbia. Of these enrollees, 28,677 fulfilled therequirements for Grade 12 graduation. The latter group, the Grade 12 graduates,was defined as the target population for this study.The frame population differs from the target population in two ways:noncoverage and foreign elements. Of the 28,677 graduates, only 23,428 records,representing 82% of the target population, were available in the Link File database. This figure represents those students who granted permission to theMinistry of Education, at the time of writing provincial examinations, to releasetheir Grade 12 records for research purposes.Total Graduates Permission Granted PermissionRefused28,667 23,428 5,247(100%) (82%) (18%)Since records of the 18% who did not give permission to release their records arenot available for comparison, the characteristics of this group remain unknown.Refusal to grant permission for release of records creates an inexorablenoncoverage problem, and a limitation of this study.Of the remaining 23,428 graduates, 127 were from the Yukon. They weretreated as foreign elements and eliminated from the population. Thus, the framepopulation consists of 23,301 Grade 12 graduates.112Sampling StrategyThe frame population was divided into two groups according to post-secondary status (participant and non-participant) as identified by the Link FileData Base. Each of these groups was then stratified by geographic location andeligibility for admission to university. Criteria used to divide the sampleaccording to post-secondary status and stratify by geographic location andeligibility for university admission are explicated in the following sections.Post-secondary status. The Institutional File of the Link File Data Base wasused to determine the post-secondary status of the frame population. Participantswere defined as those students registered in one of the following post-secondaryinstitutions according to the Link File as of October 1, 1988; non-participantswere defined as those not registered in one of these institutions:Community Colleges: Camosun, Capilano, Cariboo, New Caledonia, Douglas, EastKootenay, Fraser Valley, Kwantlen, Malaspina, North Island (Comox, Port Alberrii,Courtenay, Campbell River), Northern Lights, Northwest, Okanagan, Selkirk (Castlegar,Rosemont), Vancouver Community (Langara, King Edward, Continuing Education,Vancouver Vocational Institute).Institutes and Vocational Schools: British Columbia Institute of Technology, Emily CarrInstitute of Art, Open Learning Institute, Pacific Marine Training Institute.Universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University ofVictoria, Trinity Western University. (British Columbia Research Corporation, 1990a)Students attending institutions outside this list (e.g. students attending out ofprovince institutions or private post-secondary institutions) were classified asnon-participants for the purposes of this survey as were those students whocommenced their studies after October 1, 1988. This created an inevitable source113of error in correctly identifying participants and non-participants (see BritishColumbia Research Corporation, 1990a).Geographic region. Geographic regions in this study were definedaccording to categories used in many other studies on post-secondary students inBritish Columbia (e.g. Ministry of Advanced Education and Job Training,1986).The geographic regions include:Metropolitan Region - This grouping includes school districts which are largemetropolitan cities or centres (School Districts 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 48,61, 62, 63, 64).Urban/Rural Region - This grouping includes school districts which are either located inthe interior of the province or on Vancouver Island. They generally include communitieswhich are moderate in size and typically have a mixture of urban and rural settlements.These districts are located closer to the Lower Mainland than those in the Remote Regiongrouping. (School Districts 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 47,55, 56, 57, 65, 66, 68, 69, 75, 76, 77, 89).Remote Region - This grouping indudes school districts which have relatively smallpopulations, typically scattered in small communities. All are located quite remote fromthe Lower Mainland area of the province. (School Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 18,49, 50, 52, 54, 59, 60, 70, 71, 72, 80, 81, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 92). (British Columbia ResearchCorporation, 1990a)Eligibility for university admission. Eligibility for admission to universitycategories were constructed by calculating students’ grade point averages basedon eligibility for admission to the University of Victoria. Those students withoutthe requisite courses for university entrance, regardless of their academicstanding in high school, were assigned a score of 0. Students were then allocatedto eligible, borderline, or not eligible categories based on the followingdefinitions:Eligible: Grade point average of 2.5 or greater.Borderline: Grade point average between 2.0 and 2.4.Not eligible: Grade point average of less than 2.0.114The stratification scheme for the frame population is represented in Table5. Figures in parentheses indicate the percentage of the population in a particularstratum; for example, the 3,818 individuals belonging to the stratum defined asmetropolitan and eligible for university admission represent 31.7% of the framepopulation of participants.Table 5.Frame Population of the 1988 Grade 12 Graduates(as determined by the Link File).Post-secondary ParticipantsGeographic Eligibility for University AdmissionRegionEligible Borderline Not Eligible Total% % % %Metropolitan 3,818 (31.7) 686 (5.7) 2,704 (22.4) 7,208 (59.8)Urban/Rural 1,441 (12.0) 284 (2.4) 1,588 (13.2) 3,313 (27.5)Remote 667 ( 5.5) 121 (1.0) 740 ( 6.1) 1,528 (12.7)Total 5,926 (49.2) 1,091 (9.1) 5,032 (41.7) 12,049 (100.0)Post-secondary Non-participantsGeographic Eligibility for University AdmissionRegionEligible Borderline Not Eligible Total04 % % %Metropolitan 1,413 (12.6) 433 (3.8) 4,332 (38.5) 6,178 ( 54.9)Urban/Rural 692 ( 6.2) 190 (1.7) 2,619 (23.3) 3,501 ( 31.1)Remote 313 ( 2.8) 87 (0.8) 1,173 (10.4) 1,573 ( 14.0)Total 2,418 (21.6) 710 (6.3) 8,124 (72.2) 11,252 (100.0)115Sample SelectionA probabilistic sampling strategy was used to generate the survey samplefor this study. That is, each unit in each stratum of the frame population had anonzero probability of being selected into the sample. The sample was generatedby making distinct systematic selections19,commencing from a random start,within each stratum. According to the British Columbia. Research Corporation(1990), the rationale for the differential sampling fractions for each stratum wasto “yield as many students as possible in the ‘Borderlin& [university eligibility]category and in the ‘Remote geographic region. . . , yet still maintain a reasonableoverall balance to the sample” (p.7). Table 6 describes the total numbers sampledand the sampling fractions in each stratum.19 Kish (1965) warns that monotonic trends and periodic fluctuations of the data may result in aspuriously high computed variance when systematic sampling is employed. Individual recordsused to generate the sample for this study, are sorted and stored in the Link File Project data baseby provincial examination identification number. Neither periodic trends or periodic fluctuationsof the data are problematic in this study.116Table 6.Sample Size and Sampling Fractions by Stratum.Post-secondary ParticipantsGeographic Eligibility for University AdmissionRegionEligible Borderline Not Eligible Total%* % % %Metropolitan 1,025 ( 26.8) 390 ( 56.9) 548 (20.3) 1,963 (27.2)Urban/Rural 1,112 ( 77.2) 284 (100.0) 619 (39.0) 2,015 (60.8)Remote 667 (100.0) 121 (100.0) 590 (79.7) 1,378 (90.2)Total 2,804 ( 47.3) 795 ( 72.9) 1757 (34.9) 5,356 (44.5)Post-secondary Non-participantsGeographic Eligibility for University AdmissionRegionEligible Borderline Not Eligible Total% % % %Metropolitan 371 ( 26.3) 249 ( 57.5) 875 (20.2) 1,495 (24.2)Urban/Rural 524 ( 75.7) 190 (100.0) 1,096 (41.8) 1,810 (51.7)Remote 313 (100.0) 87 (100.0) 939 (80.1) 1,339 (85.1)Total 1,208 (50.0) 526 ( 74.1) 2,910 (35.8) 4,644 (41.3)* Sampling fractions in parenthesesIn total, 44.5% (n=5,356) of the participants and 41.3% (n=4,644) of the non-participants, representing 42.9% of the frame population, were included in thesurvey sample.Questionnaire Development and Data CollectionThe questionnaire used in this survey was developed by a working groupof individuals representing the following institutions: Ministry of AdvancedEducation and Job Training, Ministry of Education, British Columbia ResearchCorporation, British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of British117Columbia20,and Vancouver Community College. The penultimate draft of thequestionnaire was piloted with three geographically disparate Grade 12 classesand one first year class of university students. The final questionnaire wasprepared in booklet form and consisted of three sections for a total of 24questions. Section A was to be completed by respondents who were non-participants in post-secondary education, and Section B by participants. SectionC was to be answered by all respondents. The maximum number of questions tobe answered by any respondent was 21. At the end of the questionnaire, studentswere invited in an open-ended question, to comment on any aspect of theeducational system.The self-administered mail questionnaire, along with a postage-paidenvelope and introductory letters by B.C. Research, the Ministry of AdvancedEducation and Job Training, and the Ministry of Education, was sent to eachindividual in the sample. The first questionnaires were mailed on May 5, 1989,followed by a postcard reminder to the total sample on May 12, 1989. On June 2,1989, all non-respondents were sent a second questionnaire. A copy of thesurvey questionnaire and postcard reminder, can be found in Appendix A. Forfurther details of sampling, mail follow-ups and response rates, see BritishColumbia Research Corporation (1990a).Response RateOf the 10,000 individuals included in the sample, 5,345 responded,resulting in an overall response rate of 53.5%. When the 728 undeliverablequestionnaires are eliminated from the sample, the adjusted response rate was57.7%. The survey respondents for this study, those who responded to the20 was one of two members representing the University of British Columbia.118questionnaire, are described in Table 7. Figures in parentheses indicate thepercent response rate within each stratum.Table 7.The Survey Respondents(Response Rate).Post-secondary ParticipantsGeographic Eligibility for University AdmissionRegionEligible Borderline Not Eligible Total% % % %Metropolitan 638 (62.2) 205 (52.6) 281 (51.3) 1,124 (57.3)Urban/Rural 760 (68.3) 155 (54.6) 319 (51.5) 1,234 (61.2)Remote 450 (67.5) 82 (67.8) 310 (52.5) 842 (61.1)Total 1,848 (65.9) 442 (55.6) 910 (51.8) 3,200 (59.7)Post-secondary Non-participantsGeographic Eligibility for University AdmissionRegionEligible Borderline Not Eligible Total% % % %Metropolitan 216 (58.2) 101 (40.6) 354 (40.5) 671 (44.9)Urban/Rural 298 (56.9) 95 (50.0) 460 (42.0) 853 (47.1)Remote 179 (57.2) 45 (51.7) 397 (42.3) 621 (46.4)Total 693 (57.4) 241 (45.8) 1,211 (41.6) 2,145 (46.2)Representativeness of the SampleRepresentativeness of the sample was determined in several ways. First,the overall response rate was compared with response rates of other studieswhich were similar in nature. Second, the survey population was compared to119the frame population. Third, within the survey sample, characteristics ofrespondents and non-respondents were examined.Overall Return RateNon-response has been identified as a persistent problem in studies whichuse survey questionnaires (Kish, 1987; Miller, 1977; Wallace, 1954). Miller (1977)indicates that a response rate of less than 50% is typical in mail questionnaires(p.7’9). Heberein and Baumgartner (1978), in an analysis of 80 published studiesusing mail questionnaires, found that in 50% of these studies, the response ratewas less than 61% and in 25% the response rate was less than 41%.As discussed in the previous section, the overall return rate for this studywas 53.5%. Of those identified as participants in the sample, 59.7% responded.This figure represents 26.5% of the frame population. Of the sampled non-participants, the response rate was 46.2%, or 19.1% of the frame population. Inother words, the survey population for this study includes over 1 of every 4graduates identified as participants in post-secondary education, and almost 1 in5 graduates deemed a non-participant by the Link File Project data base.The overall response rate is not unlike other studies of this nature. In afollow-up study of Grade 12 graduates, Alberta Advanced Education (1989)reported an overall response rate of 62%. In her study of a cohort of Grade 12graduates from one British Columbia school district, Bellamy (1988) achieved anoverall response rate of 45%. Dennison et al. (1975) report a 56% response rate ina survey of students who had entered post-secondary schools.Given the high initial sample size and a response rate comparable to otherpost-high school follow-up studies, it can be argued that the overall response rateis reasonable. Several authors warn, however, that non-response introduces the120possibility of a biased sample; that is, the respondents to the questionnaire maynot be representative of the intended survey sample (Denzin, 1989; Wiersma,1986; Wallace, 1954). Information contained in the Link File Project data baseallows for a comparison of the frame population with the survey population andseveral of the characteristics of respondents and non-respondents.Frame Population and Survey RespondentsA comparison of the frame population, survey sample, response rate, andsurvey respondents within each stratum is summarized in Table 8. By way ofillustration, the table may be read as: in the metropolitan, eligible for universityadmission, participant group, the population size was 32% (3,818) of the totalframe population (A), the sampling fraction was 27% (1025) (B), the response ratewas 62% (638) (C), which represents 20% of all respondents belonging to theparticipant group (D). Finally, the percent difference between the framerespondents of this stratum (32%) and the survey respondents (20%) was -12%(E).In 11 of the 18 strata, oversampling resulted in the survey respondentsample proportion exceeding the frame population proportion. In theparticipant/metropolitan/borderline stratum, oversampling resulted in thesurvey respondent sample proportion to equal the frame population proportion.In 3 strata (participant, urban/rural, not eligible; non-participant, metropolitan,eligible; non-participant, urban/rural, not eligible), despite oversampling, thesurvey respondent sample proportion is slightly less than the frame populationproportion. This may be due to a relatively low oversampling fraction and/or alow response rate in these strata. The participant, metropolitan, eligible stratum isTable 8Frame Population (A), Sampling Fractions (B),Response Rate (C), Survey Respondents (D), Percent Differencebetween the Frame Population and Survey Respondents(E)ParticipantsEligibility for University AdmissionEligible Borderline Not Eligible TotalGeographicRegionNon-participants0/0Metro.Urban/RuralRemoteTotalA B CD E13 26 58 10 (- 3)6 76 5714 (+8)3100 57 8 (+5)22 50 57 32 (+10)A BCDE4 58 41 5 (+1)2 100 50 4 (+2)1 100 52 2 (+1)6 74 46 11 (+5)A B CD E39 20 41 17 (-21)23 424221 (-2)10 80 42 19 (+9)72 36 42 56 (-16)ABC D E55 24 45 31 (- 24)31 52 47 40 (+ 9)14 85 46 29 (+15)100 41 46 19A - percentage of the frame populationB - sampling fractionC - response rateD - percentage of respondentsE - percent difference between frame and survey respondents121GeographicRegionA B CD E ABCDE ABCD B ABCD E%Metro. 32 27 62 20 (-12) 6 57 53 6 ( 0) 22 20 51 10 (-12) 60 27 57 35 (-25)Urban/Rural 12 77 68 24 (+12) 2 100 55 5 (+1) 13 39 52 10 (- 3) 28 61 61 39 (+11)Remote 6 100 68 14 (+ 8) 1 100 68 3 (+2) 6 80 53 10 (+ 4) 13 90 61 26 (+13)Total 49 47 6658 (+9) 9 73 5614 (+5) 4235 5228 (-14) 10045 6027EligibleEligibility for University AdmissionBorderline Not Eligible Total122underrepresented in the survey respondent sample because of undersampling. In3 other strata (participant, metropolitan, eligible; participant, metropolitan, noteligible; non-participant, metropolitan, not eligible), a combination ofundersampling and low response rates resulted in larger discrepancies betweenthe frame population size and the survey respondent sample proportion. Overall,in both the participant and non-participant sample, the metropolitan region forall eligibility for university admission categories and the urban/rural region inthe not eligible for university admission category are underrepresented.Response rates of individual strata range from a high of 68% to a low of41%. In each stratum, response rates of non-participants were lower than in thecorresponding stratum of participants. Also, the more likely ones eligibility foruniversity admission, the greater the response rate. It appears that low responserates in some strata are a result of perceived low salience of the survey topicrather than faulty questionnaire design and mailout procedures. As described inthe section on questionnaire development and data collection, proceduresrecommended in the survey questionnaire literature (Heberlein & Baumgartner,1978; Miller, 1977; Dillman et al., 1974) were followed to increase the responserate. That is, the questionnaire was prepared in booklet form, the length of thequestionnaire was deliberately brief, respondent anonymity was assured,postpaid return envelopes and introductory letters explaining the importance ofthe study were included, letters from the Ministry of Education and Ministry ofAdvanced Education and Job Training were signed by their respective deputyministers (i.e. government sponsored), and three mailings including one postcardreminder were sent. Other measures, such as a fourth mailing by registered mail,telephone follow-up, and the use of incentives, may have increased the responserate (Heberlein & Baumgartner, 1987; Miller, 1977; Dillman et al., 1974). From a123cost perspective, however, the size of the survey sample prohibited this type offollow-up.As Heberlein and Baumgartner (1987) point out, when questionnaires aredeemed to be salient, they are more likely to be returned. They also found thatstudents, compared with the general population, are more likely to respond toquestionnaires. This may explain higher response rates in the participant andeligible for university admission groups.In order to detect the possibility of response bias due to non-response, onefurther comparison, - between respondents and non-respondents - can be made.Respondents versus Non-respondentsThere are two types of non-respondents to the questionnaire. The first typeof non-respondent is comprised of those individuals to whom questionnaireswere not delivered. Of the 10,000 questionnaires mailed, 728 (7.3%) werereturned undelivered. The second type of non-respondent includes thoseindividuals who chose not to participate in the study. Of the Grade 12 graduatessurveyed in this study, 4655 (46.5%) belong to the second group.Using Link File Project data, respondents, non-respondents, and the‘undelivered group in each stratum were compared on the following dimensions:age, sex, college region, school district, and eligibility for university admission ascalculated according to the requirements of the each of the following universities:University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University ofVictoria.Appendix B provides a detailed account of differences, including chisquare tests, of these dimensions among respondents, non-respondents, and124undelivered. These results are summarized in Table 9. Significant differences arenoted below; however, the largest effect size (an expression of the magnitude ofthe difference between means, Glass & Hopkins, 1984) is .44 and in 62% of thesignificant differences noted in Table 9, the effect size does not exceed .30. Thissuggests that in the majority of cases, the magnitude of the difference is small.Significant differences are evident between groups on several variables, asindicated in Table 9. In the participant group, respondents tend to be younger,female, and have higher than average grade point averages. Non-respondents aregenerally older, male, and have lower grade point averages. Differences in gradepoint average are particularly evident among the eligible for universityadmission group. Only in the urban/rural region are significant differencesnoted within the eligible for university admission category. Respondents aremore likely to be eligible for entrance at all three British Columbia universities;non-respondents are less likely to qualify for university entrance.Few significant differences arise in the non-participant group. It isinteresting to note, however, that the highest number of differences are detectedin the participant urban/rural group, and no differences are evident in the nonparticipant urban/rural group. In all but one instance, no significant differencesas determined by chi-square (p<.O5) are noted between respondents and nonrespondents by geographic location or college region. Significant differences(p<.O5) were detected in the non-participant, eligible for university admission,remote stratum. Response rates for this stratum by college region are as follows:125Table 9.Respondents and Non-respondents - Significant DifferencesBy Geographic Region and Eligibility for University Admission.Participants Non-participantsEligible Borderline Not Eligible Borderline NotEligible EligibleMETROPOLITANage *sex ** *** * *U.B.C. eligibility - - -U.B.C. gradeU.Vic. eligibility - - -U.Vic grade *S.F.U. eligibility - - -S.F.U. grade *college regionschool districtURBAN/RURALage **sexU.B.C. eligibility * - - -U.B.C. gradeU.Vic. eligibility *** - - -U.Vic. grade **S.F.U. eligibility ** - - -S.F.U. grade *college regionschool districtREMOTEagesex** * *U.B.C. eligibility - - -U.B.C. gradeU.Vic. eligibility - -U.Vic. grade *S.F.U.. eligibility - -S.F.U. gradecollege region *school district* significant at p < .05** significant at p < .01significant at p < .001-not applicable126n 179 110 24 313% 57.2 35.1 7.7 100respondents non-respondents undelivered row%totalEast Kootenay 66.7 28.8 4.5 21.1North Island 39.3 49.4 11.2 28.4Northern Lights 68.4 26.3 5.3 18.2Northwest 64.0 26.0 10.0 16.0Selkirk 56.9 37.3 5.9 16.3100.0%The North Island college region has a high rate of non-response and undeliveredquestionnaires, and East Kootenay and Northern Lights college regions have ahigh rate of response. While Northwest college region has a high rate of response,the number of undelivered questionnaires is high.In some instances, discrepancies between the frame population percentageand the percentage of respondents in the survey population appear to beassociated with the number and level of significant differences within strata. Forexample, in the urban/rural, eligible, participant stratum, the survey populationis 12% higher than the frame population (as reported in Table 8). This stratumalso has the highest number of significant differences between respondents andnon-respondents. In other strata (e.g. eligible, urban/rural, non-participant),discrepancies between the two populations do not result in significantdifferences.Tables 10 and 11 show these findings by comparing mean values of thevariables used to compare the groups. Consistent with the findings in AppendixB, mean values demonstrate that respondents and non-respondents differ verylittle across strata in age, sex, and grade point average. The ‘undelivered grouphas a slightly higher proportion of females. There does not appear to be any otherconsistent differences, across strata, in this group, which suggests that theincidence of undelivered questionnaires occurs randomly in this sample.Table10ComparisonofMeanValues-RespondentsandNon-respondentsByGeographicRegionandEligibilityforUniversityAdmissionPost-secondaryParticipantsUniversityEligibleEligibilityBorderlinerespondentnonresp-undelivondentableNotEligiblerespondentnonresp-undelivondenterablerespondentnonrespondentMETROPOLITAN 63862.2xn % agesextU.B.C. x18.0.401.6.503.0.503.0.723.0.5016241.5S23 5.95URBAN/RURAL18.2.451.65021.491.9.5420.32n760291%68.326.218.2.4018.3.691.4.491.5.512.1.471.9.771.9.491.8.7520.2621.2261 5.528151.3518.3.561. 4.8S18. 4.35S18.2.351.5.513.0.3329.392.9.39230420518.3.611. 6.8518.2.541. % agesexU.B.C. 5.718.1.3618.1.4218.1.4218.2.4518.4.6218.3.631.6.491.5.501.5.511.6.491.4.491.5.5121.4521.3921. x3226.4S7 5.8S31053.5S23439.7 x46 7.8S18.2.4918.2.3718.3.4918.2.5118.4.5918.3.651.6.491.4.491.3.491.6.501.5.501.6.492.1.301.9.6321.,sexwasmeasuredaslmale,2’female.Table11ComparisonofMeanValues-RespondentsandNon-respondentsByGeographicRegionandAcademicStandingPost-secondaryNon-partldpantsUniversityEligibleBorderlineNotEligibleEligibilityrespondentnonresp-undellv-respondentnonresp-undeliv-respondentnonresp-un,sexwasmeasuredas1=male,2female.129Preparation of the Data SetThe data were received, on tape and in three files, from the BritishColumbia Research Corporation. The files consisted of 1) Grade 12 GraduateFollow-up Survey data (n=1O,000), 2) secondary school transcript data (n30,771)and 3) post-secondary institutional data (n5507). In order to construct acomplete data set for the 5345 respondents to the Grade 12 Graduate Follow-upsurvey, relevant information from the other files was extracted, matched bysurvey identification number to survey respondent data, and merged into onefile.Of the 5345 respondents to the Grade 12 Graduate Follow-up survey, 527cases were eliminated from the final sample. In 174 cases, either post-secondarystatus could not be determined, questionnaires were spoiled or technicalproblems existed. Those students attending post-secondary institutions (n=353)outside of British Columbia were also eliminated from the sample, as it was notpossible to determine which type of post-secondary institution they attended(that is, university or non-university). The final sample consisted of 4818 cases.SummaryIn this section of the chapter, I have endeavoured to evaluate the integrityof the sample by describing the target and frame population, stratification andsampling strategies, development of the survey instrument, data collection,response rates, the survey population, representativeness of the sample, andpreparation of the data set. This detailed description is provided to justify the useof data generated from the Grade 12 Graduate Follow-up survey questionnaire130and corresponding Link File Project data. Figure 12 provides a summary of thedifferent populations in this survey.All Grade 12 graduateswith characteiistics Inferential Populationsimilar to the surveyrespondent sampleIndudes all Grade 12 Taiet Populationgraduates in the 1988cohort in British 28,677ColumbiaNot induded ai 5,247 Frame Populationwho nfused release of 23 428of their records and 127Yukon graduatesIndudes 5,356 (44.5%)participants and 4,644 10 000Survey Sample(41.3%) non-participantsin post-secondaryeducation___________________________________Not induded ai Survey Respondentsnon-respondents and728 undeliveredquestionnairesFigure 12. Topulation.c aiu[Samp(e.c e[evrnt to the nzd 12 Qraduate To1Tow-upSurveyIn the ideal study, survey respondents would be representative of thetarget population, randomly selected, and free from bias. Kish (1987), however,indicates that “for most surveys it is difficult or impossible to make the samplesentirely representative of the desired populations. Beyond sampling variationsare the diverse divergences that may bias the selection, such as defective framesand nonresponses” (p.28).131In order to alert the reader to a less than ideal, but nevertheless reasonable,representation by the survey respondents of the target population, thepopulations and samples in this study have been described in considerable detail.Findings of this study will be interpreted with these caveats in mind. However,given that 1988 Grade 12 graduates from the entire province were surveyed, thesize sample is considerably large, and that secondary and post-secondaryinstitutional data bases have been linked to the survey questionnaire data, thisdata base offers a unique opportunity to examine the choices individuals makeregarding post-high school destinations.In the next section, the interview sample for this study, including schooland student selection, the interview procedure, and representativeness of theinterview sample is described.Interviews with Grade 12 StudentsThe third source of data in this study involved interviews with Grade 12students who were in the process of making decisions regarding post-high schooldestinations. The purpose of the interviews was to 1) determine the post-highschool plans of the sample of students, and 2) to explore in depth students’perceptions of the processes underlying their decisions in choosing post-highschool destinations. In the following section, selection of school districts,secondary schools, and students is described, and the interview procedure isexplained.132The SampleSelection of SchoolsA multisite approach was adopted in this part of this study. A purposiveor judgment sampling strategy was used to select three schools in which toconduct the interviews. According to Kish (1965), such a strategy is preferred torandom selection when a research project must be limited to a few locations. Theaim of the selection strategy was to ensure that one metropolitan, oneurban/rural, and one remote school, each typical or modal of the category, wasincluded in the study.After tentative selection of three school districts, permission to conductresearch was requested by letter to each district superintendent (Appendix C).Secondary schools deemed appropriate for the interviews were then selected bythese superintendents. Each of these schools is described in the following section.Metropolitan School (MSS). MSS, the metropolitan school for this study, islocated in the Vancouver College Region and in a school district with more than50,000 students. In 1989/ 90, approximately 1650 students enrolled were in grades8 to 12 at MSS. This number includes a total of 349 students enrolled in Grade 12(156 males and 193 females). MSS offers a full range of courses including careerpreparation programs in Business Education and Auto Mechanics. There wereapproximately 30 Grade 12 students enrolled in the business education programand 14 in the auto mechanics program.One university, one community college, and two public institutes arelocated in the Vancouver School District. In addition, within easy commutingdistance from MSS are two universities, three community colleges and two publicpost-secondary institutes.133Remote Secondary School (RSS). RSS, the remote school in this sample, islocated in the the Northwest College region of British Columbia, approximately1200 km. north west of Vancouver. RSS is located in a small town ofapproximately 5000, and in a school district with less than 3000 students.Approximately 560 students attend grades 9 to 12 at RSS. There were 98 students(46 male, 52 female) enrolled in Grade 12 in 1989/90. This school did not offercareer preparation programs.A very small satellite of Northwest Community College is located in thesame town as RSS. In the 1988/89 year, only one high school graduate entereddirectly into the university transfer program at this satellite college. The other 23students enrolled in university transfer courses were described as older students.The main campus of Northwest College in Terrace is over 200 kilometers away.The College of New Caledonia in Prince George is 400 kilometers east of RSS.Urban/Rural Secondary School (URSS). URSS, the urban/rural secondaryschool, is located in the Okanagan College Region in a town of 20,000 people andin a school district size of about 8000. Approximately 1200 students attendGrades 8 to 12 at URSS, with 264 students (128 male, 136 female) in Grade 12.Career preparation programs are available in Mechanics, Hospitality and Foods,and Commercial Art and enrol 12 students in total.A branch of the Okanagan College is located approximately 3 kilometersfrom URSS. The first two years of university equivalent courses are offered at thisbranch. In 1989/90, the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College, located 50kilometers from URSS, became a degree-granting university college. Degreeprograms are available in arts, science, education, and nursing. Cariboo Collegein Kamloops is located approximately 120 kilometers from URSS.134Student SelectionA purposive sampling strategy was also used to select interviewees, basedon the recommendations of school guidance counsellors. In each school, a slightlydifferent method of eliciting student volunteers was carried out by the guidancecounsellor responsible for the task. Student participants were selected for thisstudy based on their 1) willingness to participate in the study (see consent forms,Appendix C), 2) eligibility to graduate from Grade 12 in June 1990 and likelihoodof doing so, and 3) ability to contribute to an understanding of the processes ofeducational choice. Guidance counsellors were asked to ensure that the sampleincluded students who were not likely continue to post-secondary education aswell as those who were likely to continue.MSS. At MSS, a call for interviewees was announced at a school assembly.In total, 15 students, 9 females and 6 males, participated in both sets ofinterviews.ESS. Every third student on the Grade 12 class list (ranked according tograde point average), for a total of 25, was invited to participate in the interviews.Of this number, 16 students (12 females and 4 males) participated in the first setof interviews. Fourteen of the original 16 interviewees were re-interviewed inMay 1990. Of the 2 students who did not participate in the second set ofinterviews, one had dropped out of school and the other was participating in aGrade 12 exchange program in South America. A second student had alsodropped out of high school, but was re-interviewed in May.URSS In order to recruit interviewees at URSS, counsellors approachedclasses of Grade 12 English students. Twenty students (12 females, 8 males)participated in the first set of interviews and 17 of the 20 were re-interviewed inMay 1990. Of the 3 students not available for the second interview, two had135dropped out of school and one was in hospital. One of the remaining 17 studentshad dropped out of high school, but agreed to be re-interviewed.Interview ProcedureTwo sets of face-to-face, semi-structured interviews, approximately onehour in length, were conducted with the student participants from each school.The first interviews21 were conducted in November 1989. At this time, 51interviews (with 33 females and 18 males) were completed. The purpose of theseinterviews was to 1) discuss students post-high school plans, 2) determine theroles of cultural, social, and academic capital, dispositions toward and beliefsabout post-secondary education in the transition process, and 3) detail howstudents perceived the processes behind their decisions. While questions guidingthe interviews were based on the theoretical framework of this study (seeAppendix C) as described in Chapter 4, student participants were encouraged todiscuss decision making, post-high school destinations, and the transition periodin their own ‘voices’ and within their own personal contexts (Mishler,1986). Thus,the form used was that of the non-scheduled or focused interview (Denzin, 1989).All interviews were taped, and typed transcripts were prepared from the tapes.In preparation for the second interview, each student participant wasgiven a copy of the transcript of her/his initial interview. Discussion of thetranscript served as a starting point for the follow-up interview, allowed theinterviewer and interviewee to work as research collaborators in a joint effort tounderstand the previous interview and plan for the second stage of the study,and gave interviewees a “voice in the interpretation and use of the findings”(Mishler,1986, p. 127; 132). The purpose of the follow-up interviews was to: 1)21 In September 1989, the interview questions were piloted with both individual students and agroup of students who were not otherwise a part of this study.136verify the data obtained in the initial interviews and explore more fully thethemes arising from the initial interviews, 2) to determine what strategies andactions individuals have taken since November 1989 to prepare for the transitionfrom high school, 3) discuss reasons for their plans and actions, and 4) explore infurther depth their perceptions of the processes behind their decisions aboutpost-high school destinations. Typed transcripts were prepared from the secondset of tapes.In October 1990, interviewees (or their parents) were again contacted, bytelephone, to ascertain their actual post-high school destinations. In total, 44 ofthe original 51 students were contacted. Table 12 summarizes the interviewsample, for each contact period, by sex and geographic location.Table 12.Interviewees by Sex and Geographic Location.Urban/Remote Rural Metro TotalOctober 1989Female 12 12 9Male 4 8 6Total 16 20 15 51May 1990Female 10 10 9Male 4 7 6Total 14 17 15 46October 1990Female 10 10 9Male 3 7 6Total 13 16 15 44Of the 44 individuals contacted in October 1990, 10 were attendinguniversity, 13 were attending a community college22,15 were employed (9 fulltime, 6 part-time), 2 were unemployed, 3 were participating in travel/exchangeOf these 13 students, 11 were attending the community college nearest to their high school.137programs (other), and 1 had returned to high school to complete graduationrequirements. Actual post-high school destinations of the interviewees, by sex,are summarized in Table 13.Table 13.Interviewees by Sex and Post-high School Destination.Non F/T P/t Unem- Back RowUniv. Univ. Work Work Other ployed to h. s. TotalOctober 1990Female 9 6 6 4 3 2 0 30Male 4 4 3 2 0 0 1 14Total 13 10 9 5 3 2 1 44Representativeness of the Interview SampleIn order to capture the choices made by a range of potential universityparticipants, non-university participants, and non-participants, every effort wasmade to interview a wide variety of students. Since a purposive samplingstrategy was employed, it cannot be claimed that the interview sample isrepresentative of the British Columbia Grade 12 student population. Theinterview sample is representative only insofar as the interviewees arerepresentative of other British Columbia Grade 12 students from similargeographic locations. However, when compared with Statistics Canada data forBritish Columbia (Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, 1987) theinterview sample, at least in terms of post-high school destination directlyfollowing high school, appears to be reasonably representative. According toStatistics Canada, 17% of British Columbia high school graduates continueddirectly to university, 29% to community college, and 55% were non-participants.In my sample of interviewees, 23% continued to university, 30% to communitycollege, and 48% were non-participants.138Preparation of the Interview DataApproximately 1500 typed transcript pages were prepared from the 97taped interviews, and from these transcripts a detailed coding scheme wasgenerated. A coding scheme was generated using the technique of constantcomparative analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Goetz & LaCompte, 1984). Thisscheme was guided by the theoretical framework as depicted in Figure 11(Chapter 4).In order to preserve the individuality of the student while protectingher/his identity, each interviewee was given a pseudonym. If the students ownname reflected her or his cultural or ethnic background, a comparablepseudonym was chosen.While a multisite approach was used in the collection of interview data,the primary unit of analysis is the individual. That is, I have focussed on how theindividual, within a particular context, perceives and makes sense of thetransition from high school. However, when perceptions vary by geographicalregion or gender, the context or ascriptive attributes are taken into account.Reliability and Validity of the Interview DataIn order to enhance the credibility of the interview data, the tenets ofreliability and validity for qualitatitve data, as provided by Goetz and LaCompte(1984), were followed. The foregoing description of school and sample selection,and interview schedules and procedures provide guidelines for the replication(comparability) of this analysis. Chapter 2 included a detailed description of theeducational and societal contexts in which decisions by these interviewees139regarding post-high school destinations took place. In Chapter 4, the theoreticalconstructs used to analyse these data are clearly delineated.Two strategies specified by Goetz and LaCompte (1984) were used toreduce the threat to internal validity of the interview data. These strategiesincluded the use of low-inference descriptors and mechanically recorded data. InChapter 9, frequent citation of low-inference descriptors, in the form of directquotations, provide principal support for the claims made and conclusionsdrawn. The use of a tape recorder ensured that the interview data were preservedin their original form.In this study, the effects of history and maturation were accounted for byconducting two sets of interviews, with a seven month interval, with the same setof students. The transcript of her or his first interview was shared with theinterviewee. Five months following the second interview, a telephone follow-upwas carried out. The validity of reports provided by interviewees was furtherenhanced by the use of effective communication and interviewing techniques,such as perception checking and reflection (Adler & Towne, 1984; Egan, 1982). Amultisite approach was adopted to reduce the effects of distortion of results dueto selectivity (Goetz & LaCoinpte, 1984).SummaryIn this section, I have described the interview sample for this study.Selection of school districts, secondary schools, and students was described, andthe interview procedure and representativeness of the sample were discussed.The data sources used in this study are summarized in Figure 13. Thisstudy considers choices made by a large sample of recent high school graduates,140as reported on Grade 12 Graduate Follow-up survey questionnaire and enrichedby corresponding Ministry of Education Link File Project data, and two sets ofintensive, focused interviews with a sample of Grade 12 students who were inthe process of making choices about post-high school destinations. In doing so,depth and breadth are added to the examination of 1) the complex of individualand institutional influences of educational choice, 2) the processes which liebehind individuals decisions, and 3) perceptions of theses processes.Delimitations and LimitationsDelimitationsThis study was delimited to the examination of choices made by currentGrade 12 students and Grade 12 graduates in British Columbia. The participantgroup of the survey data set was further delimited to include only studentsattending post-secondary institutions in British Columbia.LimitationsLimitations of the frame population, sampling strategy, response rates,and representativeness of the survey population have been described in thischapter. The interview sample was drawn from only one school in each of threegeographic locations (metropolitan, urban/rural, and remote) in BritishColumbia. Limitations related to the variables and their related measures arehighlighted in Chapter 6.1.-age sex-GPA-allgr.12graduatessampledandwhowereparticipantsininstitutionsrecordedinthisfile(n”5507)-institutionattended-majorprogramarea-disciplineclusterInterviewswithGrade12Students-interviewswithcurrentgr.12students(metro,urban-rural; remote)n51(Nov.89)n=46(May90)n=44(Oct.90)(telephone)41-post-highschoolplans-decisionmakingprocesses 44,Totalnumberofinterviews=51+46+44=141[Grade 12 Graduate Follow-up QuestionnaireIInstitutionalDataFile(linkfile)TranscriptDataFile(linkfile)-correspondingtranscript data(n30,771)-Sampleofgr.12graduates(n=10,000)collegeregion eligibilityn5345respondentsFinal Samplen4818Fiqiti13.Da*a Source.c.Chapter 6OBSERVED MEASURES, LATENT CONSTRUCTS, AND THEORETICALMEANINGTwo types of variables are used in the statistical analyses conducted inChapters 7 and 8. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a description of thesevariables.In Chapter 7, discriminant function analyses are carried out to determinewhether and which individual and institutional determinants of educationalchoice best predicts post-high school status. In these analyses, manifest orobserved variables, chosen on the basis of Härnqvists framework, are employed.The source of each variable is identified in Table 14. In Chapter 8, structuralequation modelling which employs latent constructs is undertaken to test thetheoretical model of Post-high School Status (Figure 11, Chapter 4). This type ofanalysis explores relationships among latent constructs or unobserved variables,as hypothesized in Chapter 4. Latent constructs are formed from the observedvariables used in the previous analyses. In Chapter 9, this theoretical model andits latent constructs, as depicted in Figure 11, are used as an organizingframework for an analysis of qualitative data generated from interviews withGrade 12 students.Depending on which theoretical approach is embraced, each observed orunobserved variable carries with it a particular theoretical meaning. Competingtheoretical interpretations, based on either rational choice theory and/orBourdieu’s Theory of Practice, as explicated in Chapters 3 and 4, are provided(where applicable) for each observed variable and each latent construct.142Table 14Determinants of Educational Choice and their Sources143Grade 12 Link FileVariable Graduate ProjectFollow- Data Base OtherupINDIVIDUAL DETERMINANTSStudent Characteristics1.Sex2. Educational Achievement3. Interests4. Expectations I5. Beliefsi. necessary to prepare me for a job Iii. p.s.e necessary to increase my income Iiii. p.s.e necessary to give me a wider choice of jobs IPersonal Environment6. Family SE. Backgroundi. mothers education III. fathers education Ilii. fathers occupation I7. Family Influencei. mothers influence Iii. fathers influence Iiii. influence of other family members I8. Peer Influence I9. School Climateiii. % Gr.12 honours in districtINSTITUTIONAL DETERMINANTSConditions Antecedentto Choice10. Curricular Differentiation ‘11. Guidance Organizationi. counsellors’ influence Iii. teachers’ influence ,Conditions Anticipated in theChoice Situation12. Geographic Availabilityi. distance from nearest university Iii. distance from nearest communty college ,13. Study Financei. total no. of awards received IDependent Variablesi. Participant/Non-participant Statusii. Post-secondary Institution Status Iffl. Post-high School Status ‘144This chapter is arranged as follows: A description of each determinant,following the sequence as specified by Härnqvist, is provided and the manifestor observed variables and their related measurement scales are described. Whena determinant, for example, family background, is modelled into a latent orunobserved construct, the latent construct and its related indicator variables aredescribed.This chapter commences with a description of the individual determinantsof educational choice and their associated measures. These individualdeterminants are discussed under the headings of 1) characteristics of theindividual, and 2) characteristics of the individual’s environment.Individual Determinants of Educational ChoiceAccording to Härnqvist (1978), research on individual determinants isessential in order to gain a thorough understanding of educational choice. In thefollowing section, characteristics of the individual are discussed under thefollowing headings: sex, educational achievement, curricular differentiation,interests, and expectations. One additional determinant -- beliefs -- which isrequired to determine the role of rational choice in educational decision making,has been included in this analysis. Measures of intellectual ability were notavailable for this data set.145Characteristics of the IndividualSexTraditionally, major studies on post-secondary participation, educationaland occupational attainment, and post-high school destinations, have excludedwomen from the analyses (Halsey, Heath, and Ridge, 1980; Sewell and Hauser,1975; Willis, 1977). Yet, findings related to participation and choice patternsbased on the results of these studies continue to be generalized to women. Forexample, in his introduction to Willis’ (1977) treatise on working class males,Aronowitz states “This is the enduring contribution of Learning to Labor: it helpsus understand that people.. . reproduce themselves in an antagonistic relation tothe prevailing culture and ideological practices” (p.xii). Women, however, werenot included as subjects of analysis in this study.Canadian women are now more likely than males to participate andsucceed in all levels of post-secondary education (Bellamy & Guppy, 1991). Inthose studies that do recognize gender differences, a growing body of evidencesuggests that the factors influencing women’s educational attainment aredifferent from those influencing that of men. For example, Rosenfield and Hearn(1982) found that women’s educational attainment is less strongly related toability and academic achievement but more strongly related to parents’socioeconomic status. Anderson (1988), in a study of the determinants ofeducational careers of both male and female college entrants, demonstrated thatfor women early goal commitment (measured as level of education expected,parents’ aspirations for the student’s education, and occupational aspirations)was the best predictor of educational attainment seven years after high schoolgraduation, and this predictor was particularly strong for women. She speculates146that early goal commitment may represent a more deeply instilled commitmentto career development for women.Similarly, Canadian studies have explored gender differences in thevariables that influence decisions about post-secondary participation andprogram choice. In relation to choice of program, Gilbert and Pomfret (1991) inthe context of making recommendations on the Canadian ScholarshipProgrammes (which are science and technology focused), claim that femalerecruitment to science is affected by “support from others, demonstrated academiccompetence, and self-assessment of self-management and interpersonalcompetencies” (p. 44). These factors are less consequential for male recruitment.While the primary purpose of my study is not that of gender, I endeavourto be sensitive to gender differences. In Chapter 7 analyses are first conductedwith the total sample, followed by separate analyses by sex. In chapter 8,separate analyses are conducted for males and females. The variable measuringsex (SEX) is coded “0” if male, and “1” if female.Educational AchievementEducational achievement is central to both rational choice theory andBourdieu’s Theory of Practice. If one adopts a practical rationality approach toexplain post-secondary participation, achievement is an important form ofevidence in deciding what to do. Evidence, in the form of achievement, shouldbe optimally related to what one believes, and in turn, relevant evidence shouldbe used to formulate beliefs. Thus, the relationship between achievement asevidence and beliefs is reflexive in nature.Achievement takes on quite a different meaning in Bourdieu’s Theory ofPractice. According to Bourdieu, members of the dominant class inculcate their147children with the very set of cultural resources required to achieve in school.These first-degree significations, embodied in the form of cultural capital, lead tosecond-degree significations, academic achievement. Academic achievement isthen objectified in the form of academic qualifications, and is available for use asacademic capital. Thus, academic qualifications are perceived as legitimatecompetence and remain unrecognized as the domestic transmission of culturalcapital.Educational achievement (GPA) was measured by calculating a gradepoint average for each student. A mean grade point average was calculated, fromLink File Data (see Chapter 5), using the following: Grade 11 social science,Grade 11 mathematics (one of algebra 11, introductory algebra 11, consumermathematics 11, technical mathematics 11, or introductory accounting 11), andthe score obtained on the Grade 12 provincial examination for English (eitherEnglish or communications).In Härnqvist’s schema of determinants of educational choice, curriculardifferentiation is located with the institutional determinants of educationalchoice (Table 14). It is useful, however, to consider curricular differentiationtogether with grade point average for a more complete portrayal of academiccapital.Curricular DifferentiationCurricular differentiation refers to the track or stream from which theindividual graduated. For respondents to this study, curricular differentiationwas not the result of rigid selection rules and sorting schemes. Instead, whenthese students were in Grade 10 they chose, with the help of counsellors andteachers, courses most suited to their interests, abilities demonstrated to date,148and planned educational and career path as formulated by this point in theirhigh school careers. Over the course of Grades 11 and 12, depending again oninterest, successful completion of courses, and evolving educational and careerinterests or disinterests, programs of study were followed, modified, mollified,or completely diverted23.For British Columbia high school graduates, curriculardifferentiation is an outcome of courses completed in high school, rather than aset trajectory.In this study, curricular differentiation is defined as either graduationwith the requirements for university entrance (sometimes referred to in thisstudy as an academic program), or graduation without these requirements (non-academic program), according to entry requirements for the University ofVictoria. For those without university entrance requirements, in all butexceptional cases, the path to university is truncated. The measure curriculardifferentiation (CURRDIFF) is coded ‘1” for possession of university entryrequirements, and ‘0’ for lack of these requirements.The latent construct academic capital in Figure 14 is hypothesized to becomprised of two manifest variables -- academic achievement (GPA) andcurricular differentiation (CURRDIFF).CURRDIFF GPA.Tigure 14. .f4caéemic Capital23 The intricacies of program planning by high school students are further developed in Chapter 9.149Hypothesized relationships among academic capital and the other constructs inFigure 11 are explicated in Chapter 4.Interests and ExpectationsAccording to practical rationality, action (i.e. post-secondaryparticipation) is explained by confirming whether it is the best way of fulfillingan agent’s desires, given one’s beliefs in relation to the available evidence. Inother words, action depends primarily on what one wants to do. Bourdieu’sTheory of Practice, however, posits that the conscious adjustment of aspirationsbased on assessment of one’s chances for success is really the result of longstanding, durable dispositions produced by the habitus. These dispositions,created as objective structures and personal history converge, result in theexclusion of improbable aspirations and actions from one’s repertoire of choices.In other words, the habitus as “history turned into nature” produces individualaction, of which choice of post-high school destination is one.Two variables, interests and expectations, provide insight into whatrespondents want in terms of education, and what they expect they willultimately achieve. The level of education desired or wanted (INTEREST) wasdetermined by asking “What is the highest level of education that you would liketo obtain?” and measured on a 6-point scale from “1” high school graduation to“6” graduate degree (master’s or doctorate Degree).Although Härnqvist did not specify expectations as an individualdeterminant, he argues that educational choice is a compromise betweenpreferences and expectations. Several other studies (Marjoribanks, 1988; Porter,Porter, and Blishen et al., 1982) consider expectations to be an important variable.Educational expectations were measured using the following question: “What is150the highest level of education that you erpect to obtain”, and measured on a 6-point scale from “1” high school graduation to “6” graduate degree (master’s ordoctorate Degree).The latent construct dispositions toward post-secondary education (Figure 15)is constructed from level of education wanted (INTEREST) and level ofeducation expected (EXPECT).To the extent that the dispositions one holds towards post-secondary educationare explained by the two parental background constructs -- sources of culturalcapital and sources ofprimary social capital -- and its subsequent effects on academiccapital and post-high school status, Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice is supported.Absence of these relationships supports a rational choice hypothesis.BeliefsBeliefs play a critical role in the theory of practical rationality. Whileaction is deemed to be rational if it is the best way of fulfilling an agent’s desires,desires must be in line with one’s beliefs. Beliefs themselves must be optimal, ortrue, and relevant evidence should influence belief formation. In Chapter 2 it wasestablished that it is optimal to believe that post-secondary education does9igure 15. isposition.c towardFost-secoiufanj T4ucatürn151enhance one’s life chances, given the statistical evidence on employability,income, and range of employment opportunities in relation to educationalattainment.Bourdieu, however, contends that the formation of durable beliefsrequires powers beyond those of reason. He asserts that:decision, if decision there is, and the ‘system of preferences’ which underlies it, dependnot only on all the previous choices of the decider but also on the conditions in which his‘choices’ have been made, which include all the choices of those who have chosen forhim, in his place, pre-judging his judgements and so shaping his judgement. . . . Theprinciple of practices has to be sought instead in the relationship between externalconstraints, which leave a very variable margin for choice, and dispositions which are theproduct of economic and social processes that are more or less completely reducible tothese constraints, as defined at a particular moment. (Bourdieu, 1990b, p.49-50)Habitus, as a practice-generating structure, structures not only what onebelieves, but also structures the evidence used in formulating beliefs.In order to assess the influence of beliefs on decisions about post-highschool destinations, three belief variables were added to Härnqvist’s framework.Respondents were asked to indicate the degree to which they believed that post-secondary education would help them 1) to prepare them for jobs (BELIEF2)24,2)to increase their income (BELIEF3), and 3) give them a wider choice of jobs(BELIEF6). These variables were measured on a 4-point scale, ranging from “1”definitely or probably not to “4” yes, definitely. Together, these three variablesform the latent construct beliefs about post-secondary education as depicted inFigure 16.24 The survey questionnaire contained six items that could have been used to measure beliefsabout post-secondary education. Three of these six items were considered relevant for this study.152Relationships among beliefs about post-secondary education, sources of culturalcapital, sources of primary social capital, and post-high school status supportBourdieus theory. To the extent that relationships exist between beliefs about post-secondary education, academic capital, and post-high school status but not amongparental background constructs, practical rationality is supported.Characteristics of the Personal EnvironmentAccording to Härnqvist (1978), characteristics of the individual’s personalenvironment include family background, peer group, and school environment.Following the discussion of the influence of family background on participationin post-secondary education, the school environment as an individualdeterminant is considered.Tigure 16. Be(iefr about fPost-.secolufanj Etfucatioii153Family BackgroundExplanations of action that adopt the theory of rational choice do not takeinto account if and how family background is related to action. Rational choicetheory focuses solely on the individual as an independent actor and rationalaction, including practical rationality, treats the social environment of thedeciding individual as “given” (see, for example, Stager, 1989b).In Bourdieus Theory of Practice, however, the family milieu is crucial inexplaining action. The cultural capital argument rests on the notion that familiesof higher social status transmit cultural resources, in the form of dispositions,meanings, habits, and affitudes of the dominant culture to their children.Transmission of the dominant culture via the family ensures that their childrenare more easily able to reap academic rewards. Social capital -- as obligations andexpectations, information channels, and norms and effective sanctions -- dependson the extent and power of social networks, and these networks often revolvearound the family.In this study, family background is analysed in two ways. First, familysocioeconomic background is assessed by measuring the educational levels andoccupational status of mothers and fathers by the post-secondary participantstatus of their children. Second, influence of parents as sources of primary socialcapital is determined by measuring the influence of mother, father, and otherfamily members on the individual.Mother’s education (MOTHED) and father’s education (FATHED) weredetermined by asking ‘What is the highest level of education completed by yourmother and father (or legal guardian)?tand was measured on an 8-point scale,from “1” less than Grade 9 to “8” completed Master’s or Doctorate Degree. Thisvariable was recoded to reflect actual years of schooling completed, from 7 to 19154years. Fathers occupation (FATHOCC) was determined by a two-part question,which asked usual ‘occupation or kind of work” and ‘nature of the servicesprovided or types of products produced by the business or industry”. Responseswere coded using The Canadian Standard Occupational Classification Schemeand transformed into Blishen and McRoberts’ (1976) Socio-economic Index.In various studies, several measures have been used to assess thecomposition of cultural capital in one’s possession. These measures generallyinclude attitudes towards, attendance at, and knowledge about various forms ofcultural events and activities (DiMaggio, 1982; DiMaggio & Mohr, 1985; Katsillis& Rubinson, 1990). However, Robinson and Garner (1985) point out, it is notcultural capital itself that is central to Bourdieu’s theory; rather, the transmissionby parents of cultural resources which are subsequently converted intoeducational (academic) capital is central. Hence, in this study, mother’seducation (MOTHED), father’s education (FATHED), and father’s occupation(FATHOCC) were used to construct the latent construct sources of cultural capital(Figure 17).Fzqure 17. Source.c ofCultural CapitalE155Since over 1100 respondents to the Grade 12 Graduate Follow-up questionnaireindicated that their mothers were homemakers, mothers occupation was notused as a measure in this study.Of particular interest in this study are the direct effects of sources of culturalcapital on beliefs about post-secondary education, dispositions toward post-secondaryeducation, and academic capital, and its indirect effects through these mediatingvariables on post-high school status.The influence of various family members on post-high school plans wasdetermined by asking “How important was 1) your mother, (MOTHINF) 2) yourfather (FATHINF), and 3) other family members (FAMINF), in helping orinfluencing your plans? These influence variables were measured on a 5-pointrating scale from ‘1” none to “ 5” very strong. Influence of friends (FRIENINF)was measured on the same scale.The latent construct, parents as sources of primary social capital, iscomprised of mother’s influence (MOTHINF) and father’s influence (FATHINF)and illustrated in Figure 18. The influence of friends was deemed to be a measureof secondary sources of social capital and is included as a manifest variable for thatconstruct.L9qure 18. Source.c of!Erimanj Social Capital156Parents as sources of secondary social capital are hypothesized to have direct andindirect effects on post-high school status.School EnvironmentHärnqvist (1978) defines school environment or school characteristics as“those effects which derive from the composition of the student body and fromthe climate of the student’s own school” (p.51). He acknowledges that analyticalproblems exist because when schools with different compositions are located invery different communities, it is difficult to ascertain whether differences are dueto school or community environments.School environment variables provide some sense of the “norms andeffective sanctions” aspect of social capital. Measures of school environmentcharacteristics provide indirect ways of assessing the academic and social climateto which students are exposed.In this study, measures at the individual school level were not available.Three measures that were available to assess whether and to what degree schoolenvironment influences educational choice were school district level variables.Two of the three measures, school district size and school district socio-economicstatus, are not included in the quantitative analyses due to multicollinearityproblems in the multivariate analyses. The achievement atmosphere of theschool district (SDHONOUR) was assessed by calculating the percentage ofGrade 12 students in each school district who, in 1988, graduated with honours.157Institutional Determinants of Educational ChoiceIn Härnqvists schema, institutional determinants of educational choiceare categorized as: 1) the educational system, and 2) society outside theeducational system (see Chapter 3, Figure 5). Society outside the educationalsystem was the focus of Chapter 2 and provides the contextual frame for thisstudy (see Chapter 4, Figure 7). Thus, only those determinants relevant to theeducational system are considered in the findings section of this study.The educational system is divided into two parts: 1) conditions antecedentto the choice situation, or those determinants operating in the school to whichthe student belongs as she or he plans for the next stage, and 2) conditionsanticipated in the choice situation, or those conditions which characterize thestage in which she or he is about to enter (Harnqvist, 1978, p.5).Conditions Antecedent to the Choice SituationIn this study, two determinants constitute conditions antecedent to thechoice situation; curricular differentiation and guidance organization. Curriculardifferentiation has already been discussed, along with grade point average, inthe section on student characteristics. In this section, guidance organization isconsidered.158Guidance OrganizationThe following variables are used to examine guidance organization as aninstitutional determinant of educational choice: influence of teachers andinfluence of counsellors.Influence of Teachers and CounsellorsIn terms of making decisions about post-high school destinations, teachersand counsellors may be described as secondary sources of social capital. They aresecondary in that their influence over students’ decisions occurs over a shorterperiod of time than does parents’ influence. Both teachers and counsellors,however, have significant roles to play as sources of information. Counsellorshave been described as critical ‘gatekeepers’ in the progress of students as theyjourney through the educational system (Erickson & Schultz, 1982; Lee &Ekstrom, 1987). They are the custodians of materials such as application forms topost-secondary institutions and information about awards and student financialaid. They possess key information about the types and roles of various post-secondary institutions and the value of different types of academic credentials.The degree to which teachers’ and counsellors’ influence coincides andcomplements the social capital provided by the family determines the extent towhich students have access to social resources of the simplex or multiplex kind.Teachers and counsellors as sources of social capital are potentially able tocontribute to cultural reproduction. Educational personnel tend to be ahomogeneous group and reflective of the dominant culture -- universityeducated, middle class, usually white, and at the high school level andparticularly in the case of teachers, more likely to be male. Students possessing159the cultural resources necessary to formulate questions and decode informationabout post-secondary prerequisites, application procedures, availability offinancial aid and scholarships, choice of post-secondary institution and programare more likely to benefit from the availability of teachers and counsellors assources of social capital.The influence of guidance organization on post-high school plans wasdetermined by two measures. The influence of guidance counsellors and teacherswas measured by asking HHow important were 1) guidance counsellors(COUNSIN