Middle Years students are required to make critical educational decisions with respect to subject choices. These decisions occur in adolescence - a period of intense identity formation, strong emotions, living in the moment and peer affiliation - characteristics which may affect decision making. Subject choices either broaden or narrow future pathways, so what influences adolescent student decisionmaking? A case study research investigation at one middle school involved teachers, students and their parents/caregivers through the use of questionnaires, interviews and document analysis to reveal various influences. Significant others (family, friends, older students and subject teachers), website sources and course information booklets were among the most frequently cited influences, although there were gender, ethnic and year-level variations. Structural issues related to school resourcing and timetabling affected some students’ choices. Of concern was inadequate awareness of: subject information, subjects required for entry to particular tertiary courses or career options, how to access information or who to approach. The school careers’ advisor was rarely sought, and subject teachers sometimes had little knowledge of progression in their field or career options. Implications arise from the study about effective ways to support adolescents in making appropriate subject choices.
Australian Journal of Middle Schooling, 2016, 16 (2), pp. 24 - 32 (9)