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Factors influencing access students’ persistence in an undergraduate science programme: a South African case study

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Publication details

JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
DatePublished - Jul 2010
Issue number4
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)351-358
Original languageEnglish


This paper explores the reasons underlying access students’ decisions on their study programmes as they progress through their extended science degree, including the role of career aspirations in these decisions. Data from semi-structured interviews with 20 third year undergraduates show two groups according to their decision criteria. Programme-focused students are guided by an interest in the science subject and, later, by the possibilities of the study programme. Their main aim is the completion of the degree. Career-oriented students are motivated, initially, by role models and extra-curricular science activities, and subsequently by the career they see themselves pursuing after graduation. There is some indication that career orientation is linked with greater study persistence. The applicability of the Social Cognitive Career Theory is discussed, and recommendations are made for accommodating students’ career aspirations in BSc programmes.

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