Factors influencing subject choices of students: A case study of two schools in O-Level stream

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy in Education

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr Farid Panjwani


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


This research employs a qualitative case study method to explore the factors influencing the subject choices of students in the O-level stream, focusing on two schools in distinct localities—one characterized as elite and the other as moderate. The study includes participants from grades 10 and 11, incorporating perspectives from principals, teachers, and parents. A total of two head teachers, four teachers, ten students, and four parents from two geographically diverse schools were interviewed for this small-scale exploratory study. The investigation delves into the intricate realm of educational decision-making, recognizing the complex web of influences that mold students' subject preferences. Parental guidance and school recommendations emerge as significant factors, shaping the initial trajectory of subject choices. Inspired by Kierkegaard's emphasis on personal agency, the study acknowledges that as students step beyond external pressures, they embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and autonomous decision-making. The findings reveal diverse factors influencing career choices, ranging from parental and peer pressures to the impact of social media. Surprising insights from Grade 11 students shed light on the evolution of subject choices during the college admission process. The study not only identifies influential factors but also proposes intervention strategies for policymakers to positively impact decision-making. This research contributes nuanced insights into the dynamic landscape of O Level subject selection, integrating philosophical perspectives on personal agency to inform practical recommendations for educational policymakers and stakeholders. By recognizing the multifaceted influences on students' decisions, the study provides a foundation for creating supportive frameworks that facilitate informed and autonomous subject choices among O-level students.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library