Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Goh, E & Dolnicar, S, Choosing a primary school in Australia: eliciting choice-determining factors using the theory of planned behaviour, in Proceedings of the Conference on Global Governance, Educational Change, & Cultural Ecology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian New Zealand Comparative and International Education Society, 2006, 100-104.


Many studies have been conducted in the past to identify why parents choose certain school types for their children. Although a number of interesting insights resulted from these studies, they did not take advantage of any of the established behavioural theories that may enable a more systematic analysis of school choice. In the present study we make a step towards filling this gap: we use the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) as a basis for our study of school choice in the Australian context. The aims of the study are (1) to elicit reasons for choosing and reasons for not choosing different primary school types in regional Australia along all dimensions postulated by the TPB, (2) to compare the results with prior findings which were not based on a behavioural theory, and (3) to evaluate the effectiveness of a mixed methods approach in the elicitation process. Results indicate that (1) the main factors affecting school choice in Australia are proximity of school, academic and religious reasons, that (2) using all dimensions postulated by the TPB (attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control) provides better insight into school choice than eliciting factors in a less structured manner, and that (3) a mixed method approach – as opposed to any single method approach - reduces the risk of omitting important school choice factors and is therefore the recommended procedure for the elicitation of choice-determining factors in the qualitative research stage of a TPB study.