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ERIC Number: ED400036
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 21
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Choosing a Secondary School: Can Parents' Behaviour Be Described as Rational?
Martin, Stuart
This longitudinal study of eight London families used rational choice theory to explore the extent to which parents behaved rationally while seeking a secondary school for their children, according to rights given them by England's Education Reform Act (1988). Families were recruited at two London primary schools serving predominantly low socioeconomic areas. Parents were interviewed five times and maintained diaries over the 18 month school choice process. Interview questions concerned criteria used when choosing schools, processes used to seek information, and strategies used to create a preference order. Findings suggested that parents did not act rationally when investigating and selecting schools. Rational choice theory predictions were more useful in explaining the tactics parents used in deciding what schools to list and the order in which to list them. Most parents tried to quantify uncertainty in the process by applying information they had gained earlier. The number of places available, number of potential applicants, and range of the school's catchment area determined level of risk involved in a choice or priority order. Parents tried to obtain accurate information but some did not trust the local authorities, could not obtain the needed information, or did not recall the needed information so could not realistically assess the amount of risk. The report concluded that rational choice theory was not satisfactory for an analysis of the choice because choice under uncertainty was not rational; attitudes, values, and personality also influenced behavior. Two appendices describe the families and the schools involved. (Contains 31 references.) (KDFB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (London)
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Education Reform Act 1988 (England)