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An analysis of the high representation of scientific and mathematical disciplines in New Zealand Scholarship Premier awards

Michael Johnston

The Premier New Zealand Scholarship, awarded annually to students performing at a high level in multiple secondary school subjects, has historically been dominated by students with successful results in mathematics and the sciences. Three possible explanations for this dominance are explored in the present article. The first is that greater numbers of students undertake assessments in combinations of these subjects than in combinations of other subjects. The  second is that there is a greater correlation in the cognitive demands of subjects within this group than is the case for other subjects. The third is that candidates undertaking mathematics and science are stronger Scholarship candidates, on average, than students undertaking other subjects. The analyses show that all three explanations have some currency, although the correlation in cognitive demands is shown to be no greater within the mathematical disciplines and the sciences than it is within the humanities.

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