Courses and careers: measuring how students’ personalvalues matterby Foula Z. Kopanidis, Michael J. Shaw

Education + Training


Education / Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


Education + Training

Courses and careers: measuring how students’ personalvalues matter

Z. Kopanidis Foula J. Shaw Michael

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Z. Kopanidis Foula J. Shaw Michael , (2014),"Courses and careers: measuring how students’ personalvalues matter", Education + Training, Vol. 56 Iss 5 pp. 397 - 413

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Courses and careers: measuring how students’ personal values matter

Foula Z. Kopanidis

School of Economics, Finance & Marketing, RMIT University,

Melbourne, Australia, and

Michael J. Shaw

The Management Edge, Melbourne, Australia


Purpose – Students’ values influence their choice of academic degrees that direct future careers.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate measuring personal values by testing the relevance of the original nine personal values in the List of Values (LOV) scale in the situation-specific context of higher education in relation to student’s educational choices in pursuing particular career pathways.

Design/methodology/approach – The study involved two stages of iterative analysis of data from undergraduate students (N¼ 304) at an Australian university for the purpose of constructing a personal values importance scale (PVIS). The paper assesses construct dimensionality, and convergent and discriminate validities of PVIS.

Findings – Results suggest a two-factor PVIS scale of internal and external values is a valid and reliable psychometric diagnostic tool leading to better understanding of choice behaviour in an educational context. Business students reported both internal and external values as important; however, science, engineering and technology, and design and social context students perceived internally oriented values more aligned to their programme choice.

Practical implications – This research provides new insights into measuring the values influencing the programme choices with a career focus towards particular fields. It allows educational institutions to make more informed decisions for attracting and retaining those students most suited to the educational and career paths they choose. Marketing and educational implications are discussed.

Originality/value – This research offers a psychometrically rigorous measurement instrument valid in an education context.

Keywords Factor analysis, Career choice, Measurement instrument, Personal values,

Post-university career, Undergraduate students, List of values scale

Paper type Research paper 1. Introduction

The personal values that undergraduate students hold about educational institutions significantly impact not only on how they approach their educational experience and determine their choices of courses to degree completion (Willis et al., 2009; Ledden et al., 2007) but also their career paths (Ng et al., 2008). Prospective students express their aspirations to a field of study by choosing particular degree programmes through matching their personal interests, career objectives and judgment of attainability.

Tertiary education presents students with a multitude of challenges and issues as they strive to find a path to course completion (Crede and Niehorster, 2012).

Past research has affirmed that values held prior to study predict career fit. In other words, individuals will pursue careers that are harmonious with their value systems (Vigoda-Gadot and Grimland, 2008). A multitude of reasons prompt prospective students to make the choice to pursue higher education. Whatever these motives may be, the decision calls for an extreme level of involvement (Conway et al., 1994)

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

Received 15 May 2013

Revised 4 September 2013

Accepted 27 November 2013

Education þ Training

Vol. 56 No. 5, 2014 pp. 397-413 r Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0040-0912

DOI 10.1108/ET-05-2013-0065 397