Factors influencing students‟ college choice

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors that influence students‟ choice to enrol in private higher education institutions in Botswana. This chapter provides a brief account of the methodology employed as well as the procedures involved in the study. It included the sections: research design, population and sample, data collection instrument, data collection procedures, and methods of data analysis.

Research design

The study was designed to investigate and describe the factors that influence students‟ choice to enrol in private higher education institutions in Botswana, thus making the study research design a non-experimental, exploratory, descriptive and co-relational in its nature. The first and third objective of the study were; to identify the factors influencing students‟ choice to enrol at private higher education institutions and; to determine the differences in factors influencing students‟ choice among the private higher education institutions. These two objectives make the study as exploratory and descriptive as the students‟ choice factor were identified first and then, differences in the identified factors among the institutions were determined and described. The second objective of the study was to predict the relationship between the factors influencing students choice and their intention to enrol at private higher education institution, this objective made the study a relational as a relationship between the dependent variable (intention to enrol in private higher education institution) and the independent variable (factors affecting students choice ) was determined.
Thus, this study employed a non-experimental, quantitative survey research design. Specifically, both the descriptive and correlational research designs were used to obtain a complete and accurate description of a situation with direct cause and effect relationship (Boyd, Westfall and Stasch, 1981). Survey research provides efficiency in collecting large amounts of data with minimal cost and in a non-intrusive manner (Bernhardt, 2004; Creswell, 2008). Education research has emphasized the use of quantitative approach, especially in the field of college choice (McDonough, 1997). A quantitative survey research investigates “trends, attitudes, or opinions of a population by studying a sample of that population”, which in turn will be used to explore factors of influence on the population of interest (Creswell, 2008:146). The first year students enrolled in private higher education institutions in Botswana were the population of this study and their opinion were captured to identify the factors affecting their choice in selection of higher education institutions.
Borg and Gall (1989) noted that the descriptive research method is used to describe, “What is.” “Descriptive research studies are designed to obtain information concerning the current status of phenomena which direct the researchers toward determining the nature of the situation as it exists at the time of the study” (Ary, Jacobs and Razavich, 1990:286). Descriptive research “asks questions about the nature, incidence, or distribution of variables; it involves describing but not manipulating the variables” (Ary, Jacobs and Sorensen, 2010: 640). McMillan and Wergin (2010:14) define descriptive research that analyses survey results in the following manner: “Descriptive non-experimental research uses frequencies, percentages, averages, and other simple statistics to provide a description of the data collected.” When descriptive research is used, the “nature of the sample and instrumentation are the key to understand the results.
The descriptive investigations are particularly valuable when something is first researched. However, most non-experimental studies go beyond mere description to examine comparisons and relationships among variables. This study went beyond the identification and description of the choice factors as the identified choice factors were used to predict the students‟ intention to enrol at private higher education institution. A specific type of correlational design used in this study was prediction correlational research. Prediction research design was used to “identify variables that will predict an outcome or criterion” (Creswell, 2008, p.359). This study examined whether a set of variable (the students‟ choice factors) could predict the intention of students to enrol at private higher education institutions.

Population and sample

A research population denotes all those who fall into the category of concern, or objects or events that conform to specific criteria and to which we intend to generalize the results of the research (Oppenheim 1996:38; McMillan and Schumacher 1997:164). The population for this study thus, consisted of first year students admitted into the private higher education institutions in Botswana.
When making choices for their higher studies, students decide for their lives and profession and also make an immense impact on the university planning and direction (James et al, 1999) therefore, it is important for students to have a voice and be provided with the opportunity to express their personal ideas, opinions and values in relation to life choice such as selection of higher education institution for their further study. Many researchers have outlined the importance of seeking opinion and gathering data from respondents at high school age (Dave and Galloway, 1996; Fielding, 2004; Cook-Sather, 2006; Brooking et al, 2009; Smyth, 2012). The importance of the students‟ opinion and voice cannot be underestimated and, therefore students were used as respondents in this study. First year students were used in this study to capture their thoughts regarding their choice decision of an institution while they still remain fresh in their minds.
A sample is a representative subgroup of the population that is chosen for direct observation (Leedy, 1997:205-206). The research sample consists of individuals that are selected from a larger group of persons, known as the research population (Ary, Jacobs, Razavieh and Sorensen, 2009:272). Meadows (2003:398-400) and Borland (2003:8) posit that quantitative descriptive research results are drawn from a sample, and generalized to the population of interest. This study used sampling to reduce costs and the labour of doing the research (Keller, Warrack and Bartel, 1994:218; Lucey 2002:82). There were two categories of private higher education institution in Botswana; university and non-university. First of all, four higher education institutions in Botswana; two university and two non-university institutions; were randomly sampled. Secondly, a representative sample of students was taken from the four sampled institutions.
There is seldom a definitive answer about how large a sample should be for any given study (Fowler, 1993). However, it is well accepted that a larger sample size may increase the reliability of the survey estimates. On the other hand, choice of sample size is often as much a budgetary consideration (time, space, energy and money) as a statistical one (Roscoe, 1975; Alreck and Settle, 1995). Although researchers agree that greater samples yield better results for factor analysis, there is no consensus as to which sample size would be sufficient (Harrington, 2009). The evidence on the number of subjects recommended for conducting factor analysis varies from five to ten observations per item (Gorsuch, 1974; Nunnally, 1978; and Arrindelland van der Ende, 1985). Kelloway (1998) suggests that pre-applications with 200 observations usually constitute a suitable threshold for sample size. Kline (1998), on the other hand, refers to sample sizes lower than 100 as small, those between 100 and 200 as medium and those higher than 300 as large samples. Furthermore, Kline (1998) argues that the statistical invariance of the results could be precarious if the respondent/variable ratio is lower than 5/1. The respondent/ variable ratio should not be lower than 3/1 according to Harvey et al. (2005).

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1.1 Introduction
1.2 Overview of higher education in Botswana
1.3 Background of the study
1.4 Statement of the problem
1.5 Purpose and objectives of the study
1.6 Research design and methods
1.7 Motivation for the study
1.8 Theoretical and conceptual frameworks
1.9 Limitations and Delimitations of the study
1.10 Definition of Terms
1.11 Organization of the study
1.12 Summary of the chapter
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The College Choice Process
2.3 College Choice Models
2.4 Factors influencing students‟ college choice
2.5 Review of three international studies
2.6 Proposed conceptual framework of the study
2.7 Summary of the chapter
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research design
3.3 Population and sample
3.4 Instrument for data collection
3.5 Data collection procedures
3.6 Data analysis
3.7 Ethical considerations
3.8 Summary of the chapter
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Demographic information of respondents
4.3 Analysis of research questions
4.4 Summary of the chapter
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Discussion of the findings
5.3 Conclusion of the discussion
5.5 Summary of the chapter

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