Working paper
Interventions to foster academic aspirations adjustment among disadvantaged and female students - A PRISMA systematic review of literature
Sciences Po LIEPP Working Paper
CARBUCCIA Laudine - LIEPP (Author)
Paris : Laboratoire interdisciplinaire d'évaluation des politiques publiques
Sciences Po LIEPP Working Paper : 114
academic aspirations , interventions , inequalities , gender gap, STEM, censorship, academic achievement
Occupational aspirations significantly contribute to educational inequalities according to family background and gender. Little is known, from a policy perspective, about the impact of educational interventions aimed to foster aspirations among low-SES students and female students. We attempt to fill this gap through a PRISMA systematic review of interventions assessed using counterfactual designs. A total of 11 articles encompassing 13 interventions, published between 2003 and 2020, are included in the study. Hence, only a limited number of impact assessment studies have been carried out so far, and these are mostly concentrated in the US and track only short-term impacts. These studies are classified according to the kind of levers they use: role modeling; encouragement (emotional support); practice (meeting with professionals of a given field); learning component and/or information. The review describes how each intervention combines multiple levers. A majority of these studies reported either null effects or even negative effects on the aspirations of disadvantaged students, especially among low-achieving ones. We identify two main reasons for these discouraging results. First, most of these interventions concerned high school students who had been often already formally or informally tracked. It may be important to start earlier to intervene on the aspirations and skill development processes of disadvantaged pupils. Second, most of these interventions targeting disadvantaged students rely on role models, while our results suggest that role models may be double-edged. If they appear to be effective in increasing girls' STEM aspirations, particularly when they emphasize a positive image of science careers, role models may end up discouraging low-performing or disadvantaged students, if they are perceived as too far from the students' situation, and therefore out of reach. However, some interventions do yield encouraging results for the latter population and we discuss which characteristics may have contributed to their positive impacts.