Carol Brown has been awarded a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Carol Brown has been awarded a degree of Doctor of Philosophy for her thesis What Motivates A-level Students to Achieve? The Role of Expectations and Values. Her examiners were Professor Robert Klassen, University of York and Professor Steve Strand, University of Oxford. A summary of her thesis is provided below:


This research explored the relationships between expectations, values and A-level achievement in 930 students based on Eccles’ expectancy-value model of achievement motivation. A mixed methods design was used. A questionnaire collected information on a student’s background (SES, gender, ethnicity), the expectations and subjective task value attached to A-levels, and their future and general life expectations and values. These relationships were also explored using 20 semi-structured interviews. It was found that A-levels confirmed aspects of students’ identity but also facilitated changes to their goals and academic skills. Expectations and values were related to A-level achievement. Socio-economic status was positively related to both achievement and expectations about achievement. Girls had lower expectations but placed higher value on their A-levels. There were, however, no gender differences in achievement. The findings are useful for explaining the motivational patterns underlying A-level qualifications and the findings have implications for enhancing outcomes and narrowing educational gaps in this student population.


Carol Brown has been supervised by Dr. Therese N. Hopfenbeck  and Prof. Jo-Anne Baird, both OUCEA and she is currently employed as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Education at Oxford Brookes University.

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