Evidence for Learning: Aspiration interventions

Aspiration interventions

A summary of the research evidence on aspiration interventions in the Australasian context.

The Teaching & Learning Toolkit focuses on impact; it presents an estimate of the average impact of aspiration interventions on learning progress, based on the synthesis of a large number of quantitative studies from around the world.

This page offers a summary and analysis of individual Australasian studies on aspiration interventions. In contrast to the Toolkit it includes studies which do not estimate impact, but instead investigate the implementation of interventions and how they are perceived by school leaders, teachers and students. This information is valuable for school leaders and teachers interested in finding out more about particular examples of aspiration interventions that have been delivered in Australia and New Zealand.

This Australasian Research Summary was generated by Melbourne Graduate School of Education in 2016. 

Aspirations are what children and young people hope to achieve for themselves in the future. Raising aspirations is often believed to be an effective way to motivate students to work harder so as to achieve the steps necessary for later success.

Australasian-based studies examining the impact of aspiration interventions on student achievement are yet to be conducted/​published. However, a few studies have examined growing aspirational thinking as one of several intervention outcomes of community engagement programs in Australia and New Zealand that focus on family engagement and building family aspirations.

One study examined the influencers of aspirational thinking around higher education among young people from low socio-economic backgrounds (Harris, 2012). It employed an intervention aimed at increasing young people’s desire to undertake post-secondary education, involving role models and the provision of accurate information about future study and career pathways. The study demonstrated the importance of providing young people with access to academically successful role models from similar backgrounds that may be absent from family and peer networks (Harris, 2012).

The other study focused on personal autonomy/​motivation, giving young people with challenging and risky behaviours (n=5) resources to aid them with setting goals and plans for the future. While three of the participants experienced positive results, studies on a larger scale are needed in order to make more robust conclusions on the program’s effectiveness (Carroll, Ashman, Bower & Hemingway, 2013).

Carroll, A., Ashman, A., Bower, J., & Hemingway, F. (2013). Readiness for Change: Case Studies of Young People with Challenging and Risky behaviours. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 23(1), 49 – 71.

Harris, J. (2012). Improving participation in higher education for young people from low socio-economic backgrounds: Changing beliefs about higher education (Doctoral thesis, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2123/8651

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Aspiration intervention; achievement; Australia; New Zealand; goal setting, change in aspiration.