Valfrihetens geografi och rationella gymnasieval : En experimentell studie om elevers preferenser vid val av skola

Sammanfattning: The increased possibility to choose school and adaption of market mechanisms has created a Swedish upper secondary school market that exhibits spatial variations. However, in the general political and medial debate on choices in the educational sector of today, geography has come to have a hidden place. Based on the rational choice theory, the reform proponents have taken for granted that students’ preferences reflect the quest for the best school of knowledge. Studying students’ preferences is thus central to be able to highlight the importance of the freedom-based reforms in the publicly founded sector.The aim of this thesis is to examine students’ preferences for attributes that are central to the choice of upper secondary school. A further purpose is, based on the preferences, to examine the reform-bearing rational choice theory. The empirical data is based on a feasibility study conducted on 587 students in Halmstad and on a larger national study with data from 1440 students. The national study is carried out on 16 different schools, divided into 12 different municipalities.The results of the thesis show that the students’ preferences are characterized by both academic and non-academic considerations. In other words, the students’ academic preferences have competition from other, non-academic preferences that also are of importance for the students and therefor affect how attractive a school is considered. Further, there are differences in preference between the students and it is mainly their grades that correlate with these differences. The study also shows that there are small differences between the students’ preferences that can be related to their spatial context.  The fact that students’ preferences do not fulfill the expectations in the underlying and reform-bearing theory, raises the question of how the educational producers and the students use choices to design the school market. There is a fundamental positive value in being able to choose and people in general want to be free and self-determined. For both the individual and the knowledge society, it is, however, crucial that the freedom of choice is not used to deselect knowledge. In this context, understanding of students’ preferences is important.

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