A factor analytic study of subject choice among a sixth form sample of Jamaican students, with particular reference to the natural sciences

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Title: A factor analytic study of subject choice among a sixth form sample of Jamaican students, with particular reference to the natural sciences
Author: Severin, Francis O.
Abstract: This study aims to explore the underlying factor structure among the variables associated with subject choice-sciences or non-sciences-in a selected group of sixth form students in traditional high schools in Jamaica. Participants were 517 sixth form students (females = 308; males = 209) enrolled in the natural sciences (n = 261); humanities/arts and mixed (n = 134); and social sciences/business (n = 122) studies in 10 secondary high schools in Kingston, Jamaica. Participants completed questionnaires comprising mainly closed-ended questions and a number of Likert and bipolar rating scales. Principal components R factor analysis, adopting the VARIMAX orthogonal factor rotation method, was conducted on the total sample as well as subsamples disaggregated by sex, school type, and subject areas. Several variations were revealed by factor analytic methods. For instance, the first two factors for the female participants were socioeconomic influence and verbal orientation, whereas for the male participants it was teacher interest and socioeconomic influence. A number of factors were unique only to the girls vis-à-vis boys. Regarding single-sex versus co-educational participants, motivation/aspiration and sociocultural/economic influence accounted for the largest percentages of the variation in the data of the former; for the co-educational participants, it was socioeconomic influence followed by teacher interest. With respect to the natural science and non-sciences participants, socioeconomic influence and sociocultural/economic influence were the first factors for the respective subsamples, and mathematical orientation, verbal orientation, and teacher interest were critical emerging factors whether one took the natural sciences or the non-sciences
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2139/6708
Date: 2008


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