The impact of an experimental university on the occupational and educational aspirations of adolescents in Venezuela

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Marshall Segall


occupational aspirations

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology


This exploratory study was designed to determine the extent to which the presence of a university campus in a rural area impacts the educational and/or vocational aspirations of the adolescents of the region. The working hypothesis is that this influence will be detected in the form of different patterns of aspirations among young persons who either are or are not involved in communities served by the university.

This study interprets the data gathered from Venezuelan adolescents in two time periods 1980 and 1993. The respondents came from three communities: Canoabo, a rural community with a university campus; Cuara, a similar rural community without a university campus; and Barquisimeto, which is a metropolitan city with the greatest number of higher education institutions in the country. While the first two sites have permitted comparison for two rural communities, the third site--the city--has provided information about the trends that may develop when there are more sources of impact (universities) upon the educational and vocational aspirations of Venezuelan adolescents.

Interpretation of the results suggests that overall a university campus in a rural area does have an influence on adolescent aspirations. The extent to which the Simon Rodriguez University campus in Canoabo had an impact can be seen in several aspects: There is a higher number of girls going to school, even though there were still more boys going to school. This increase reflects the same trend as the city, suggesting possible higher education aspirations for girls. Positive attitudes towards women being employed outside the home also increased. So it seems that the campus broadens occupational roles for women. Self-perceived school achievement shifts from regular (below average) to excellent. Perhaps striving for better grades is viewed as promoting chances for higher education. Overall, feelings regarding the future were more enthusiastic and tended more towards self-determination. Most of these findings were the opposite of the ones in the in Cuara site. Hence, Canoabo and Barquisimeto seem to have similar trends consistent with the hypothesis, that the presence of higher education institutions influence adolescent aspirations, but there may be alternative hypothesis that were not eliminated.


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