A Grounded Theory Approach to Educational Aspirations of Youth in North Cyprus: Personal, Parental, and Community-Related Factors on a Divided Island





Educational aspirations, Parental assets, Educational policies, Parental expectations, Unemployment


Future aspirations play a definitive role in adolescents' developmental outcomes. This research aims to explore the factors involved in building the educational aspirations of high school students in North Cyprus. The study is designed as grounded theory on the contextual framework of the ecological systems model and integrative theory. The research design involves multiple data sources including 101 semi-structured interviews with students, teachers, and school administrators of high schools, ministerial officials, and political leaders of North Cyprus. The findings illuminate the role of parental, personal, and community-related factors that influence students' aspirations. The results reveal that these factors are intertwined, some of which lead to the emergence of other factors. Identifying these relationships has implications for school administrators, teachers, and policymakers, enabling them to design stimulating school settings and eliminate the adverse effects of these factors to encourage students to develop their future aspirations.


Abu-Hilal, M. (2000). A structural model of attitudes towards school subjects, academic aspiration, and achievement. Educational Psychology, 20, 75-85. https://doi.org/10.1080/014434100110399

Akos, P., Lambie, G. W., Milson, A., & Gilbert, K. (2007). Early adolescents' aspirations and academia tracking: An exploratory investigation. Professional School Counseling, 11, 57-73. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759X0701100108

Alloway, N., Gilbert, P., Gilbert, R., & Muspratt, S. (2004). Factors impacting on student aspirations and expectations in regional Australia. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training.

Astone, N. M. & McLanahan, S.S. (1991). Family structure, parental practices and high school completion. American Sociological Review, 56, 30-320. https://doi.org/10.2307/2096106

Beal, S. J. & Crockett, L. J. (2010). Adolescents' occupational and educational aspirations and expectations: Links to high school activities and adult educational attainment. Developmental Psychology, 46, 258-265. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017416

Berrington, A., Roberts, S., & Tammes, P. (2016). Educational aspirations among UK young teenagers: Exploring the role of gender, class, and ethnicity. British Educational Research Journal, 42(5),729-755.


Boxer, P., Goldstein, S. E., DeLorenzo, T., Savoy, S., & Mercado, I. (2011). Educational aspiration-expectation discrepancies: Relation to socioeconomic and academic risk-related factors. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 609-617. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.10.002

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Harvard university press.

Charmaz, K. (1996). The search for meanings-Grounded Theory. In J. A. Smith, R. Harre, & L. Van Langenhove (Eds.), Rethinking Methods in Psychology (pp.27-49). London: Sage Publications.

Charmaz, K. & Belgrave, L. L. (2007). Grounded theory. The Blackwell encyclopedia of sociology.

Cheryan, S., Ziegler, S. A., Plaut, V. C., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2014). Designing classrooms to maximize student achievement. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1(1), 4-12. https://doi.org/10.1177/2372732214548677

Christensen, J. (2016). A critical reflection of Bronfenbrenner's development ecology model. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 69, 22-28.

Christofides, L. N., Hoy, M., Milla, J., & Stengos, T. (2015). Grades, aspirations and post-secondary education outcomes. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6867. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2158009

Cook, T. D., Church, M. B., Ajanaku, S., Shadish, W. R., Jr. Kim, J., & Cohen, R. (1996). The development of occupational aspirations and expectations among inner-city boys. Child Development, 67, 3368-3385. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01918.x

Cunningham, M., Corprew, C. S., & Becker, J. E. (2009). Understanding the role of future expectations in high-achieving African–American adolescents living in urban neighborhoods. Urban Education, 44, 280-296. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085908318715

Day, C., Gu, Q., & Sammons, P. (2016). The impact of leadership on student outcomes: How successful school leaders use transformational and instructional strategies to make a difference. Educational administration quarterly, 52(2), 221-258. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X15616863

Dee, T. S. (2015). Social identity and achievement gaps: Evidence from an affirmation intervention. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 8, 149-168. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2014.906009

DeJaeghere, J. (2016). Girls' educational aspirations and agency: imagining alternative futures through schooling in a low-resourced Tanzanian community. Critical Studies in Education, 59(2), 237-255. https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2016.1188835

Dimitrova, R., Ferrer-Wreder, L., & Ahlen, J. (2018). School climate, academic achievement and educational aspirations in Roma minority and Bulgarian majority adolescents. Child Youth Care Forum, 47(5), 645-658.

Dubow, E. F., Boxer, P., & Huesmann, L. R. (2009). Long-term effects of parents' education on children's educational and occupational success: Mediation by family interactions, child aggression, and teenage aspirations. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 55, 224-249.

Elliott, W.III & Beverly, S. G. (2011). Staying on course: The effects of savings and assets on the college progress of young adults. American Journal of Education, 117(3), 343-374.

Filozof, E. M., Albertin, H. K., Jones, C. R., Steme, S. S., Myers, L., & McDermott, R. J. (1998). The relationship between adolescent self-esteem to selected academic variables. Journal of School Health, 68, 68-73. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1746-1561.1998.tb07194.x

Flecha, R. (2015). Successful educational actions for inclusion and social cohesion in Europe. Berlin: Springer.

Foley, K., Gallipoli, G., & Green, D. A. (2009). Ability, parental valuation of education and the high school drop-out decision. IFS Working Paper W09/21. Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Garcia Coll, C. G., Crnic, K., Lamberty, G., Wasik, B. H., Jenkins, R., Garcia, H. V., & McAdoo, H. P. (1996). An integrative model for the study of developmental competencies in minority children. Child development, 67(5), 1891-1914. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01834.x

Garg, R., Kauppi, C., Lewko, J., & Urajnik, D. (2002). A structural model of educational aspirations. Journal of Career Development, 29, 87-108.

Gershenson, S., Holt, S. B., & Papageorge, N. W. (2016). Who believes in me? The effect of student-teacher demographic match on teacher expectations. Economics of Education Review,52, 209-224. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2016.03.002

Gil-Flores, J., Padilla-Carmona, M. T., & Suarez-Ortega, M. (2011). Influence of gender, educational attainment and family environment on the educational aspirations of secondary school students. Educational Review, 3(63), 345-363. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2011.571763

Glaser, B. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity. Advances in the methodology of grounded theory. Mill Valley, CA:Sociology Press.

Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. L. (2017). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York:Routledge

Goodman, A., & Gregg, P. (2010). Children's educational outcomes: The role of attitudes and behaviours, from early childhood to late adolescence. Final report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol, and Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Gorard, S., Huat, B., & Davies, P. (2012). The impact of attitudes and aspirations on educational attainment and participation. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Greenaway, K. H., Frye, M., & Cruwys, T. (2015). When aspirations exceed expectations: Quixotic hope increases depression among students. PLoS One, 10, e0135477. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135477

Gregory, A. & Huang, F. (2013). It takes a village: The effects of 10th-grade college-going expectations of students, parents, and teachers four years later. American Journal of Community Psychology, 52(1-2), 41-55.

Hartas, D. (2016). Young people's educational aspirations: Psychosocial factors and the home environment. Journal of Youth Studies, 19(9), 1145-1163. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2016.1145634

Herrold, K. & O'Donnell, K. (2008). Parent and family involvement in education, 2006–07 school year, from the national household education surveys program of 2007: First look. Report NCES 2008-050.US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC.

Hoffman, K., Llagas, C., & Snyder, T. (2003). Status and trends in the education of Blacks. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

Hope, J. (1995). The price they pay for the places they live: A case study of the association of educational achievement and aspirations with residential incongruence among middle-class black adolescents. In C.K. Jacobson (Ed.), American families: Issues in race and ethnicity (pp.407-427). New York: Garland.

Hossler, D., & Stage, F. K. (1992). Family and high school experience influences on the postsecondary educational plans of ninth-grade students. American educational research journal, 29(2), 425-451. https://doi.org/10.3102/00028312029002425

Huang, J., Beverly, S.G., Clancy, M., Lassar, T., & Sherraden, M.(2013).Early program enrollment in a statewide child development account program. Journal of Policy Practice, 12(1), 62–81. https://doi.org/10.1080/15588742.2012.739124

Katircioglu, S. T. (2006). Causality between agriculture and economic growth in a small nation under political isolation: A case from North Cyprus. International Journal of Social Economics, 33(4), 331-343. https://doi.org/10.1108/03068290610651643

Katz, C. (2004). Growing up global: Economic restructuring and children's everyday lives. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press

Keddie, A. (2012). Schooling and social justice through the lenses of Nancy Fraser. Critical Studies in Education, 53(3), 263-279. https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2012.709185

Khattab, N. (2003). Explaining educational aspirations of minority students: The role of social capital and students' perceptions. Social Psychology of Education, 6, 283-302.

Lazarides, R., Viljaranta, J., Aunola, K., Pesu, L., & Nurmi, J. (2016). The role of parental expectations and students' motivational profiles for educational aspirations. Learning and Individual Differences, 5, 29-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2016.08.024

Leventhal, T. & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: The effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 309-337. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.126.2.309

Louie, V. (2001). Parents' aspirations and investment: The role of social class in the educational experiences of 1.5-and second-generation Chinese Americans. Harvard Educational Review, 71(3), 438-475.

Lv, B., Zhou, H., Liu, C., Guo, X., Zhang, C., Liu, Z., & Luo, L. (2018). The relationship between mother–child discrepancies in educational aspirations and children's academic achievement: The mediating role of children's academic self-efficacy. Children and Youth Services Review, 86, 296-301. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.02.010

Marcenaro-Gutierrez, O. D. & Lopez-Agudo, L. A. (2017). The influence of the gap between parental and their children's expectations on children's academic attainment. Child Indicators Research, 10(1), 57-80.

Marjoribanks, K. (2003). Family background individual and environmental influences: Aspirations and young adults' educational attainment. A follow-up study. Educational Studies, 29, 233–42. https://doi.org/10.1080/03055690303283

Mertkan-Ozunlu, S. & Thomson, P. (2009). Educational reform in North Cyprus-Towards the making of a nation/state? International Journal of Educational Development, 29(1), 99-106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2008.02.003

Messersmith, E. E., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2008). When can we expect the unexpected? Predicting educational attainment when it differs from previous expectations. Journal of Social Issues, 64, 195-211. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2008.00555.x

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldana, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook. The USA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Murayama, K., Pekrun, R., Suzuki, M., Marsh, H. W., & Lichtenfeld, S. (2016). Don't aim too high for your kids: Parental overaspiration undermines students' learning in mathematics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(5), 766. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000079

Nichols, T. M., Kotchick, B. A., McNamara Barry, C., & Haskins, D. G. (2010). Understanding the educational aspirations of African American adolescents: Child, family, and community factors. Journal of Black Psychology, 36(1), 25-48. https://doi.org/10.1177/0095798409344084

Ou, S. R., & Reynolds, A. J. (2008). Predictors of educational attainment in the Chicago longitudinal study. School Psychology Quarterly, 23,199-229. https://doi.org/10.1037/1045-3830.23.2.199

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative research & evaluation methods: Integrating theory and practice. The USA: SAGE Publications, Inc

Powers, R. S. & Wojtkiewicz, R. A. (2004). Occupational aspirations, gender, and educational attainment. Sociological Spectrum, 24, 601-622. https://doi.org/10.1080/02732170490448784

Rojewski, J. W. (2005). Occupational aspirations: Constructs, meanings, and application. Career Development and Counseling: Putting Theory and Research to Work, 131-154.

St. Pierre, T. L., Mark, M. M., Kaltreider, D. L., & Campbell, B. (2001). Boys & Girls Clubs and school collaborations: A longitudinal study of a multicomponent substance abuse prevention program for high-risk elementary school children. Journal of Community Psychology, 29, 87-106. https://doi.org/10.1002/1520-6629(200103)29:2<87::AID-JCOP1007>3.0.CO;2-U

Strauss, A. L. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Sage: Newbury Park, CA

Sue, D. W. & Sue, D. (1990). Counseling the culturally different. New York: Wiley.

Wang, Y. & Benner, A. D. (2014). Parent-child discrepancies in educational expectations: Differential effects of actual versus perceived discrepancies. Child Development, 85, 891-900. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12171

Wyman, P. A., Cowen, E. L.,Work, W. C., & Kerley, J.H. (1993). The role of children's future expectations in self-system functioning and adjustment to life stress: a prospective study of urban at-risk children. Development and Psychopathology, 5,64-661. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579400006210

Zembylas, M., & Bekerman, Z. (2008). Education and the dangerous memories of historical trauma: Narratives of pain, narratives of hope. Curriculum inquiry, 38(2), 125-154. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-873X.2007.00403.x

Zhan, M. & Sherraden, M. (2003). Assets, Expectations, and Children's Educational Achievement in Female-Headed Households. Social Service Review, 77(2), 191-211.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Gokmenoglu, T., Ozturk Komleksiz, F., & Grossman, G. (2022). A Grounded Theory Approach to Educational Aspirations of Youth in North Cyprus: Personal, Parental, and Community-Related Factors on a Divided Island. Psycho-Educational Research Reviews, 11(2), 245–260. https://doi.org/10.52963/PERR_Biruni_V11.N2.16