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Driven to succeed? Teenagers' drive, ambition and performance on high-stakes examinations

John Jerrim (), Nikki Shure () and Gill Wyness ()
Additional contact information
John Jerrim: Department of Social Science, UCL Institute of Education, University College London
Nikki Shure: Department of Social Science, UCL Institute of Education, University College London
Gill Wyness: Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, UCL Institute of Education, University College London

No 20-13, CEPEO Working Paper Series from UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities

Abstract: There has been much interest across the social sciences in the link between young people's socio- emotional (non-cognitive) skills and their educational achievement. But much of this research has focused upon the role of the Big Five personality traits. This paper contributes new evidence by examining two inter-related non-cognitive factors that are rarely studied in the literature: ambition and drive. We use unique survey-administrative linked data from England, gathered in the lead-up to high-stakes compulsory school exams, which allow us to control for a rich set of background characteristics, prior educational attainment and, unusually, school fixed effects. Our results illustrate substantial gender and immigrant gaps in young people's ambitiousness, while the evidence for socio-economic differences is more mixed. Conversely, we find a strong socio-economic gradient in drive, but no gender gap. Both academically ambitious and driven teenagers achieve grades around 0.36 standard deviations above their peers, even controlling for prior academic attainment and school attended.

Keywords: socio-economic gaps; gender gaps; aspirations; secondary school; higher education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I24 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 47 pages
Date: 2020-07, Revised 2020-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-edu, nep-eur and nep-ure
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https://repec-cepeo.ucl.ac.uk/cepeow/cepeowp20-13.pdf First version, 2020 (application/pdf)

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