This work investigates the decision to study shipping and logistics at advanced levels in the UK. Documented evidence reports and analyses the perceptions of students on vocational courses in shipping, transport and logistics and investigates why they chose their particular fields of study. A range of instruments are presented to analyse how students perceived that they had arrived at their study decisions, including national surveys of undergraduates in maritime business, postgraduates in shipping and logistics and professionals contemplating updating short courses. Qualitative, quantitative and mapping methods are presented along with perceptions of relevant professional outcome roles and other factors. Exploratory approaches to proposing and evaluating alternative approaches to teaching aimed at raising the student's perception of the nature of professional skills requirements were predicated by identifying and defining local student schemae and tailoring aids to their specific learning and teaching requirements. A cognitive mapping approach enabled comparisons of perceptions between postgraduates, whose individual beliefs, after being mapped and modelled as a directed network, were analysed, and differences between maps were quantified. Quantitative pairwise map comparisons included 54 individuals generating 1430 synchronal comparisons in one cohort and four diachronal cohort comparisons. These revealed that distance measures constrained by the numbers of transmitters or receivers, and the strength of relationships where appropriate, formed the best discriminators. Empirical and theoretical explanations of maps and attempts to compare particular subgroups and explain differences were often inconclusive. A unified social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice and performance generated useful propositions relating to how individuals manage issues of self-efFicacy, expected outcomes from decisions and their personal goals. Substantive work revealed problems of conflicting domains between students' verbatim statements, only weakly coincident with theoretical concepts. Conclusions that mapping is most powerful/when based on qualitative analysis of the richness and diversity of individual perceptions; infer that no simple standard decision process is operating and hence no single recruitment marketing device is apparent. In applying and disseminating findings, where possible, proposals were made to assist organisations promoting careers awareness and recruitment into relevant professions and university based vocational courses, published by relevant professional bodies.

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