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Study of career choice factors and students' academic success at an aviation school

Pendergrass, James Franklin
Scope and Method of Study: The purpose of this study was to describe the reasons why students choose careers in aviation, and to determine if there is a relationship between the reasons for career choice and student academic success in aviation training. This study used a mixed-method empirical design that incorporated both quantitative and qualitative data gathering and analysis techniques, using a survey and telephone interviews.
Findings and Conclusions: The participants in this study ranked "Aviation is exciting" as the factor that most influenced their decisions to pursue a career in aviation, and two-thirds listed pilot as the aviation job that was most attractive to them. Even though the completion rate for the population in the study was only 25%, 67% of the students who responded stated they had completed an associates degree. Program completers were more likely to have learned about aviation careers earlier than non-completers, and both completers and non-completers indicated that family, friends, and media sources were the strongest influence in their career choices. The data in this study appear to indicate that at least two factors external to the school in the study contribute to higher success in aviation training.
1. Students who are made aware of aviation as a career earlier are more likely to succeed in their training.
2. Students who had either friends or family in aviation who could explain what a career in aviation consisted of were more likely to succeed.
Students who were well informed were more likely to have career goals that would allow them to be integrated into the program, and the school, of their choice. These students were apparently better prepared to deal with the problems they encountered in school because they understood how their experiences in school would help them reach their career goals.