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Appears in Collections:Economics eTheses
Title: Subject Choice and Attainment: State Secondary Schools in Scotland
Author(s): Gasteen, Anne S
Supervisor(s): Bell, David
Field, John
Keywords: Education
Subject Choice
Educational Attainment
Secondary Schools
Socio-economic effects
Twin Testosterone Transfer Hypothesis
Issue Date: 28-Aug-2018
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Secondary education in Scotland is characterised by substantial socio-economic inequalities in attainment and gendered patterns of performance. Individuals from the most deprived backgrounds do significantly and systematically less well than those from more affluent households while boys underachieve compared to girls. Evaluating attainment in terms of numbers of qualifications achieved, ignores the importance of subject choice. Some subjects are more important than others for progression to tertiary education and employment opportunities. This thesis exploits Scottish Qualifications Authority administrative data, from 2002 to 2009, to investigate subject choice and attainment in facilitating subjects; traditional academic subjects that facilitate university entry. Chapter One uses sequential logit analysis to examine the decision to stay on at school to take Highers (qualifications necessary for university access) and the decision to take four or more Highers in facilitating subjects (the crucial number for entry to prestigious universities). Chapter Two employs multinomial logit analysis to examine attainment in individual facilitating subjects. Chapter Three uses logistic regression in the context of the Twin Testosterone Transfer hypothesis to explore whether gendered patterns of choice and attainment in Maths and Science might have a biological component in terms of increased testosterone exposure. Despite being in the top 50% for academic achievement nationally, individuals from the most deprived 20% of households were found to be 26% less likely to study four plus facilitating Highers compared to the most affluent 20%. Once facilitating subjects have been chosen, children’s ability was seen to be important for securing a low pass at Higher but insufficient to overcome socio-economic disadvantage to achieve the higher grades required by more prestigious universities. There was no evidence of any biological testosterone effect to explain gendered subject choice and attainment patterns. Stark socio-economic background effects revealed a fundamental social inclusion problem with respect to STEM education in Scottish secondary schools.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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