The impact of career development activities on student attitudes towards school utility: an analysis of data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

2 December 2016

By Dr Elnaz T. Kashefpakdel (Senior Researcher, Education and Employers), Dr Anthony Mann (Director of Policy and Research, Education and Employers) and Matteo Schleicher

 

This study seeks to analyse whether greater teenage engagement in school-mediated career development activities, which include elements of direct exposure to the working world can be associated with more positive attitudes towards schooling. This hypothesis originated from a 2014 interview with the OECD’s Director of Education and Skills, Andreas Schleicher, and this study makes use of a unique OECD dataset to test it. The data collected in the Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA study represents one of the world’s most valuable resources for understanding how the academic abilities of young people (in terms of reading, mathematics and problem-solving skills) vary between and within countries and how variations in results can be linked to the different backgrounds and experiences of the students.  Undertaken every three years, over 500,000 students from 65 countries and regions took part in the 2012 PISA surveys.  Collecting a rich set of data about the family and social backgrounds of the 15 year old survey participants and their schools, PISA allows analysts to control for the characteristics which commonly drive academic performance to isolate and analyse the impacts of distinctive interventions.

The 2012 PISA survey asked a series of questions which explore teenage participation in career development activities and subsequent attitudes towards schooling. In the analysis, four activities are isolated (participation in Internships, Job Fairs, Job Shadowing and speaking with a Careers Advisor in school).  Only a minority of countries taking part in PISA 2012 opted into these questions and of these six have been selected for this analysis (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland and Ireland).

The report finds that there is a strong, statistically significant relationship between participation in career development activities and more positive attitudes towards schooling. The most consistent positive effects are found in relationship to speaking with a Careers Advisor in school and attending a Job fair.  Of the six countries, it is teenagers in Finland and Ireland who demonstrate the greatest levels of responsiveness to participation in career activities. Further analysis will explore the relationship between participation in career development activities and academic achievement.

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The technical annex can be found here.

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