Background to the
The concept of Possible Selves was developed by Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius in 1986 in the United States of America. Their initial research indicated that all people thought about the future to some extent and, in particular, reflected on a personal future that involved a range of expectations, hopes and fears.
Australians are little different in their future thoughts and most,
if not all of us, reflect on possibilities for our personal futures. These
future thoughts vary according to our particular circumstances in life and
may concentrate on concerns about continued good health, financial security or long-lasting
relationships. Younger people tend to reflect on these too but also on
other aspects of immediate concern to them such as meeting the
expectations of parents, making future improvements in performance at
school and maintaining good health.
Students in year 10 are at a stage in their education and development where they are required to make important decisions about their futures. By this time, most have reached the mature stage of thinking called “Formal Operations” and are, for the first time, in a position to think in an adult way about their immediate and more distant futures.
Year 10 is usually the year during which subject choices for the
South Australian Certificate of Education (S.A.C.E.) Stage 1 subjects are
made and these choices tend to have a major impact on the future
directions for these students both in terms of Stage 2 subject choices and
future career opportunities. Year 10 is often a year during which work
experience is offered to students to help them decide on an appropriate
future career as well.
The research carried out so far indicates there is a strong link
between what a person sees as their possible future, and their motivation
to work hard at current tasks that lead to the realization of that future.
Thus, students who have clear envisionments of their future successful
selves tend to be highly motivated to do work that they believe will allow
them to achieve their expectations and hopes.
Being highly motivated in year 10 can be an indication of the
likelihood that a student will stay at school and complete all
requirements for the S.A.C.E. Motivated students are likely to describe
realistic and achievable future selves if asked about their future
thoughts. Similarly, unmotivated students are likely to describe a less
certain future for themselves.
Being able to identify students who express limited future
aspirations and who are at risk of not completing S.A.C.E. requirements,
is one of the main thrusts of this research project.
University of South Australia. RETURN