Institute for Positive Psychology & Education

Brooke Van Zanden

Program of Study: PhD

Thesis: Understanding Gender Differences in Young People’s Motivation and Educational Attainment: Do Gendered Educational Outcomes Vary as a Function of Social and Cultural Background?

This thesis will draw on the work of Eccles and colleagues, using Expectancy Value Theory to explain student motivation and outcomes (eg Eccles, 2005; Eccles et al, 1983; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Little is known about the specific contexts in which gender differences in educational outcomes may vary. This study hopes to expand on previous literature by investigating how socio-cultural factors impact upon gender differences in educational outcomes. Psychological research has previously ignored marginalised groups, and paid little attention to how socio-cultural factors may impact upon an individual’s self-perceptions and values. This thesis seeks to address this research gap by adopting an intersectional perspective to examine how social and cultural background can impact upon gendered educational outcomes.