Attitudes of staff and students towards vocational education at a case study school

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


School of Education


Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Len Vlahov


The main purpose of this study was to investigate the attitudes of the staff and students at a metropolitan high school towards the vocational Education program, through examining the factors affecting the development of those attitudes and the factors affecting the implementation of the program at the school. The theoretical base of the study draws on the theories of attitude formation proposed by Fishbein (1963) who believed that there is a close relationship between individual belief systems and attitude formation. With respect to the formation of attitudes towards Vocational Education, this study proposes that in a school context influential areas are significant others, past experiences, individual personalities and information. The research is descriptive in nature. The staff and students were asked to complete a questionnaire and were formally interviewed. A measure of the non-verbal behaviour of staff and students during the interviews was also undertaken using a five point scale from negative to positive. The research was undertaken in a single metropolitan senior high school in Western Australia and the sample consisted of 14 staff and 240 students. The main findings of the study show that the majority of staff and students had developed negative attitudes towards Vocational Education. They believed that the course lacked rigour and that significant others such as peers, parents, students and the Western Australian Ministry of Education did not esteem Vocational Education. No needs analysis had been conducted prior to the introduction of the course in the school and staff were given no choice as to their involvement in teaching the units. Staff believed they were inadequately trained in the Vocational Education area and this led to low levels of confidence in teaching the course. The research question was investigated in terms of eight variables: individual attitudes towards Vocational Education; ,perception of the attitudes of significant others towards Vocational Education; satisfaction with course structure; satisfaction with availability of resources and equipment; level of choice with regards to involvement in Vocational Education; degree of ownership towards the course; level of involvement in decision making; and inservicing availability. With the exception of variable four; response to resources and equipment, the response by staff and students to questionnaire and interview items relating to the remaining variables were negative. The implications of the results of the study are discussed in full.

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