Does family structure matter? A comparison of the goals and aspirations of learners in secondary school
Self Determination Theory (SDT) proposes that individuals are motivated to have goals and aspirations which are either intrinsic or extrinsic in nature. Intrinsic life goals are associated with greater psychological health and well-being. Research shows that family structure plays a role in the way children are raised and has implications for later adult adjustment. In South Africa 42.8% of children are raised in a single parent household. This study aimed to compare the goals and aspirations of learners from single and married parent households. The study used a quantitative methodology with a cross-sectional comparative research design. The sample consisted of 853 Grade 11 learners from schools in the Northern, Southern and Metro Central Education Districts in the Western Cape. The data was collected using a selfreport questionnaire that consisted of two sections, demographical information and the Aspirations Index. The Aspirations Index assessed the life goals of the learners and categorised the goals and aspirations into intrinsic and extrinsic life goals. The data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences V20 (SPSS). The results suggest that there was a significant main effect of family structure on certain goals and aspirations of Grade 11 learners in secondary schools. These goals and aspirations included wealth, image, personal growth, relationships and health. Furthermore, participants from single parent households placed more emphasis on intrinsic goals than participants from married parent.