University of Limerick
Maher_2017_male_post_primary.pdf (1023.88 kB)

An exploration of the factors that influence male post-primary students in making their subject choices for the leaving certificate.

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posted on 2017-09-04, 10:27 authored by Aiden Maher
As students progress through their post-primary education in Ireland they have many choices to make in relation to the Leaving Certificate programme they wish to study for and the subjects they wish to take as part of their chosen programme (Smyth 2016). These choices have long term consequences far beyond the immediate in terms of the student’s career (Warton and Cooney 1997). The overall aim of this research study was to explore the factors that influence male post-primary students in making their subject choices for the Leaving Certificate Established (LCE). Another aim of this study was to identify recommendations that could inform the design, delivery and supports provided as part of the subject choice process for Senior Cycle students in post-primary schools in the future. This research study is underpinned by a positivist paradigm which focuses on the researcher taking a detached and objective position with a view to producing findings generalisable and representative of the wider community (Frankfort-Nachmias and Nachmias 1996; Walliman and Buckler 2008; Thomas 2009). The study examines the views of a sample of current 5th year students attending two all-boys post primary schools and studying for the Leaving Certificate Established. An online questionnaire was administered to 150 fifth year students and the data collected was collated, analysed and the findings that emerged were presented. The choices that students make are heavily influenced by both organisational and personal factors. Organisational factors that emerged included school management decisions, school size and the nature of the Irish post-primary education system. The personal factors that influenced subject choice included the role of parents, siblings, friends and other significant adults. Overall, the findings suggest that parents are the most significant figures in a student’s subject choices for Senior Cycle. This highlights the need to enhance the relationship and the level of communication between schools and parents to enable parents to be of maximum assistance to their child during transitional periods in their academic career. Furthermore, the findings of the research study identify that students are motivated to choose subjects for intrinsic reasons such as enjoyment of a subject which emerged as the most influential factor in students subject choices. Extrinsic motivational factors for choosing particular subjects for Senior Cycle included its usefulness in gaining CAO points to access higher education. To conclude, this research study can contribute to the existing body of knowledge that exists in relation to the factors that influence male students’ subject choice for the LCE. Finally, a number of recommendations are made to inform future policy, practice and research.



  • Master (Research)

First supervisor

Hearne, Lucy





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