Category Archives: Education

PROVIDING SUFFICIENT ASSESSMENT INFORMATION

Please follow this link on various command listed with their meaning. This helps learners on how to provide sufficient information in any assessments:
https://magic.piktochart.com/embed/8483522-assessment-tips

Academic Success Factors: Implications for Teaching, Learning and Academic Administration

ABSTRACT: A group of second year students in a university of technology was asked to provide their perceptions of the main factors that contribute to their academic success and or failure. This exploratory study used the survey method to gather data from a convenient sample of the target population, which consisted of second year students offering Financial Management. This study undoubtedly has value because if the success and failure factors are identified and reconciled, students are likely to adjust their behaviour to produce positive outcomes. Beyond this,
it must be acknowledged that entrepreneurship has been considered as one of the ways to boost the economy of any nation. Therefore, finding ways of attracting and retaining students on the program will improve access to entrepreneurship education as well as fast track economic development once graduates are able to add value to their respective communities.

KEYWORDS: Academic Administration, Teaching and Learning, University of Technology, Academic Performance, South Africa

Authors: Lucky Sibanda, Prof. Chux Gervase Iwu and Dr. Olumide Henrie Benedict

Published in: International Journal of Educational Sciences, 10(2): 269-279 (2015) ISSN 0975-1122

Link to the Pdf: Academic Success Factors – Implications for Teaching, Learning and Academic Administration

Factors Influencing Academic Performance of University Students

ABSTRACT: Considering the increasing reports of high student failure rates as well dropout rates worldwide, this study sought to statistically determine what students perceive as the highly influential academic success and or failure factors. The hope was to uncover these factors so as to provide some direction in terms of intervention. A quantitative approach was followed in pursuing this. The population for the study consisted of second year students because they fit the context within which this study defines success and failure. The findings reveal a mix of factors some of which are consistent with previous research on student academic performance. This study derives its uniqueness from the perspective of the significance of the discipline – entrepreneurship, which has been touted as the major economic force that can deliver the necessary socioeconomic development to a country. The results of this study will not only add to the global literature on student academic performance, but will also provide those in management of higher education with the necessary material for intervening in issues of student academic performance. Further research might consider increasing the population size to gain much deeper insights into the perceptions. It may also help to undertake a different research methodology in the form of one-on-one interviews or focus group interviews.

Published in ІSSN 2072-9480. Demography and Social Economy, 2015, № 2 (24)

Link to the Pdf: Factors Influencing Academic Performance of University Students

MID NINETIES LESSONS

About 20 years back (Grade 4, in 1995), I am reminded of my primary school days as a little boy at Manjolo Primary School (Binga). There are many lessons which I drew ranging from motivation; working together as a community; determination to achieve objectives and the priceless contribution made by others into our lives.

It is funny to recall how i began the long journey. My mum tricked me by indicating that i will be registered for Grade 1 if i take a bath (it was in Jan 1992) [Expectancy Theory applied in action]. I willingly took a bath and quickly went to bed; woke up early in the morning only to be told i was under age. I took that as a joke as i had to trick her back by crying non-stop till i get registered. The strategy helped me as it saved me – the registrar couldn’t help out as i even failed their entry test (raising one’s hand over the head, touching the shoulder). I was motivated to go to school as it was like that’s where all the other kids are at – nothing like pre-school was there in my village.

I never knew that going to school comes with a price of being early and life long learning starting with vowels; alphabetic letters; and own name. I was not shy to cry all the way to school every morning. Well, my sisters took turns daily, slowly running to school. Late or early, it didn’t make any difference. When left to walk on my own to school, i would clock even at 10am in class.

We used to go to school with plates in plastic bags and come lunch, we knew that our lunch will be freely provided (pap and beans, sometimes nutritious porridge or mahewu). As young kids, we were not shy to carry our plates around and pushing each other in the queue even making a second round. Villagers voluntarily took turns to cook at the school (Singwemu; Sikalenge; Damba; Chibondo; Manjolo; Keelameenda etc). Well, the efforts of our parents were sacrificial though we seemed to take it for granted. Honestly, I was motivated going to school every day though the six hours before lunch seemed to be like a full day.

Prize Giving ceremonies and sports competitions were conducted by the school which made no sense to me – they only translated as a day not to go to school. Not only because I never got any prize but because no one pumped sense into my head about them. I preferred to assist with cultivating in the garden or fields than going to watch others. Up to now, I have not been moved by this, I would rather read a short story than watching a movies (I translate it as helping others make money at the expense of my time).

I can say we had free education. Paying fees of Z$0.50 per term – at one time we had a two dollar note with two of my sisters and got back a Z$0.50 change. Books and pens were given freely. I am not sure if some would not call that free education.

I was motivated when my teacher would scribble a “Good” in any of the exercises – I measured success by the frequency of them in any exercise book (Grade 4). My favourite exercise book had been one with most “Good” remark comments. The most hectic thing was writing “Corrections” for any exercise. This meant that whatever you got wrong, have to be perfect this time around. The teacher seemed to be putting special attention when it comes to “Corrections” – we as learners observed that we were expected to master what we got wrong in the first place (not just copying from a colleague without a good understanding).

I have no words to describe our learning style. One day, as I was coming from the rest room, under a tree was a class with a frustrated lady teacher hitting students shouting “WHAT IS A VERB?” – From that moment, I had to master the definition of a verb. I slowed my pace until I heard her saying – “A VERB IS A DOING WORD” . . . . and she gave some examples.

Sometimes, we had afternoon classes till around 3pm. One day, our teacher taught us on how we should be prepared for uncertainty in life (that’s my own conclusion). Our Mathematics topic was “Multiplication” – a learner was expected to recall the multiples of any numbers from 1 to 12 (luckily, our exercise books had those tables at the back). So it went like this: the teacher set a condition that EVERY learner should recall multiples of any number from 1 to 12, however, the teacher randomly picks one. That was a FAIR play but not easy for every learner. Well, I had no strategy for tackling the challenge. I unfortunately had to master everything. When the student gets ready, they raise a hand and then everyone listens to them. It was one of those days when we went home individually (instead of walking as a group) as everyone could n’t wait longer for the stuck colleagues.

After recalling this, I now understand how privileged we were, not necessarily comparing with others. But, above all, we face many challenges which leverage our forward movement though we take them for granted at times. It takes no cost to to appreciate such positive contributions.

I wonder what a current Grade 4 student at the same school would recall in 20 years time (2035). Surely, that would be a different story.

Graduation-Birthday Celebration

I never thought I will do such a thing – postponement of a birthday celebration indefinitely!!! Yes, this was me (Lucky), this year. My birth date for this year (2014) was at a time when I had about seven if not eight formative assessments within a week – tests, individual & group assignments and a group presentation. Postponement from 7 May 2014 to 19 September 2014. This makes it one of those unique days.

Today, I celebrate my third graduation in conjunction with my birthday – a special one. It is a special one in many ways: graduating on a program which I always wanted (Business Administration) and the pressure exerted by the program to the extent that I had to postpone my birthday celebration indefinitely.

As I grew up, it was clear to me that I will not attain a degree let alone completing any educational certificate besides a Grade 7 which seemed to be a compulsory, I never knew of his plan. By his grace, I am celebrating for my degree – glory to him. Attaining a qualification is regarded as an investment – expensive but with no guarantee for ‘returns on investment’.

First graduation – National Certificate (2008); second – Diploma (2012); and third – Degree (today, 19 September 2014). Basing on this, I now extrapolate my next higher graduation to be before December 2017.

This becomes the day I am reminded of the challenges I went throughout in life and more specifically during my studies such as spending sleepless nights; studying on boring content at times; social life forgone; financial sacrifices.

Yes, it was worth it. Now I understand, it is possible, I am up for the next challenge – the next level.

Want to watch the online celebration, here is the link for the live event from 10 am: http://www.cput.ac.za/live

Failure – its true meaning

There are various consequences of failing at any level of education, be it failing a test, an assignment, or a semester mark etc. Research indicates that the consequences are underestimated by a multitude. Difficult it may be to express it in monetary terms, economists explains it as opportunity cost (this means that a learner who fails a test, semester for example forgo some of the benefits that would have been enjoyed by a pass). Psychologists link it to stress and an injured social life. Economically, retarded human resource gains are experienced.

On behalf of Supreme Educators, I (Lucky Sibanda) would like to extend our appreciation to our fans for liking this page.

Just to give an overview of those who might be wondering what page is this, here is a brief description:

“Supreme Educators is an initiative that was born after realising the need of supplementary tuition apart from what learners receive from high school, colleges and universities. It is based in Cape Town. Through tutoring, Supreme Educators strives to ensure that learners complete their qualifications within minimum time frame.

It is common some learners take long to complete their qualifications due to various factors. We understand and acknowledge that we are not equal as human beings hence the need for additional time, what matters is the understanding of concepts at the end.

Though it might seem difficult to understand this, GDP is negatively affected by delayed completion of a course by a student. Upon an institution, it brings more fees yet this is not a desirable situation in terms of dwindled throughput as well as negative connotations.

Fraiser and Killen (2003) present an article which puts some suggested assumptions when registering a student by an institution though it is originally meant to present student perception on success and failure factors. They insist that students should only be registered only if they show some degree of successfully completing the qualification within the prescribed duration. However, with an alarming competition for clients (students), we see some learners being enrolled at tertiary institutions without having recommended capacity. Anyway, let me leave this for an academic article. In essence, education should focus on the clients’ side not on the financial bottom line.

In fact, time is money, it can never be bought. Once lost, it can never be recovered. We should bear in mind that we live once hence there is no time to wait for a second chance. Living for a handful of years is not a problem especially when wisely spent, the problem is when those years are recklessly spend when one needs another chance to live.

Limiting Performance

It is so painful to learn that the outcome of a specific activity is bound to limit an individual in future and perhaps for the rest of one’s life. I was compelled to write this after a conversation which I had with a student who aimed to attain a mere passing mark for a degree qualification. My comment was: “. . . it is unfortunate that getting a mere passing mark such as an average of 50% affects one for the rest of one’s life such as progression and competition on the job market to some extent. . .”

For a significant percentage of learners, career planning seems not to be taken care of. Talking from experience, I had conversations with various learners for the past four years and I have noted that some are offered study courses which were not their first choices.

This is a dilemma in which affected individuals have limited choice on whether to accept the offer or reject. There are various reasons behind and I will limit this article to what I have learnt from the conversations:

With some learners, there is little or no relationship on their natural abilities and the courses they are studying.

Some learners make application into courses they wish to take a career yet their background academic performance would be against such an option. This is so in that tertiary institutions have some guidelines such as minimum requirements to enrol a particular learner into a course.

Interestingly, Fraiser and Killen (2003) emphasises that institutions should enrol students on the probability that the particular learners will successfully complete the course. However, this seems to be actual situation on the ground. This could have been influenced by the various FET Colleges (in the case of South Africa) or private institutions in other countries.

Private institutions seem to be competing for getting clients. It is painful in that at the end we witness learners who are enrolled for qualifications they are literally challenged. With such misconduct, I would casually insist that we should not be shocked by the low through put or success rate. This has many implications not only to learners, but to the education system and the economy as well.

On learner, stress would be the order of the learning process is the learner is not a fast learner. Educationally, the increased failure rate continues to make headlines in newspapers and economically, learners spend more money in repeating courses.

The money could have been invested in other economic activities. Students lose time through repeating courses and such precious time could be spent on earning income if the learner had completed within minimal time.

Key Issue

Despite the presence of a myriad of issues that influence the success of learners, an internal locus of control is vital for learners to challenge the status quo and make positive performance outcomes which will leverage their possible future initiatives. One has to accept that a positive outcomes starts from within, action is needed when there is still time.

Behaviour enhancement – The Fun Theory

I have read, in various studies, the importance of integrating fun in anything done such as learning.

After taking some few minutes on seeking an understanding on The Fun Theory, I had a better understanding on how it has been used to influence and improve human behaviour. This is an initiative by Volkswagen Company as presented on the website www dot thefuntheory dot com. After having a view of about five videos basing on the above mentioned theory, i now fully understand why fun should be integrated in most activities, it improves human behaviour. Individuals participate in some activities they would not normally do only because there is an element of fun. Such a theory has been mostly used in discouraging negative behaviour promoting positive actions at the same time such as encouraging learners to spend much time in their studies.

For videos to watch, follow the link below:

Scoring A 100% Exam Mark

Source of motivation

After taking a moment tracking my original source of motivation in ‘numbers’, i have realised that it all started ten years back, in 2003, end of January, when i was doing my Form 3, Ordinary level (10th grade) – i scored a 90% mark in a formative Mathematics class test. Despite  the test having a mark of out 20, it seems to be the source of all the inspiration i have when it comes to calculations. There is much i learnt from that test mark [while other learners were still recalling their Dec-Jan holiday moments, i put much effort towards the test hoping to build a future in education – i am a testimony as, surely, i am slowly building this and its coming up in good shape].

All the confidence i have when it comes to calculations was born in that particular test – i enrolled Advanced level mathematics in 2005 with boldness which was brought from the test and i made it as well. In my Ordinary level, i got an ‘A’ and a ‘C’ at an Advanced level (13th grade) – this was not common in my rural areas. The principle i relied on was ‘not to use statistics of the previous learners‘ performance to determine my outcome – i am unique. This turned to be the reality and i still base on this same principle. I do not feel a challenge to set a target in scoring a 100% mark in a test even in summative tests which at times weigh up to 40% towards the whole module mark. With a basic principle which guide me, i am always certain in attaining my set mini-targets.

I usually guide myself with principles. I always seek to identify the ‘principles observed’ in specific topics i cover. Since the beginning of the year, i have been frequently meeting with my group members mostly on Saturdays for revision and assignment purposes. I always emphasised observing the underlying principles all the time. For example, in writing assignments, i urged everyone to follow the format requested by every lecturer and where no structure was asked, i urged everyone to follow a ‘standard academic research thesis/dissertation or a journal article. When it comes to modules involving calculations, i urged everyone to observe the topic specific related principles. One of the basic principle i usually referred to is ‘BOMDAS’ or ‘BODMAS’ – very basic but it applies in many instances. I always said, there is no-way to get it wrong when it comes to calculations and has been a reality to me.

As part of a study i was doing towards writing journal articles that sought to ‘identify the academic performance factors at tertiary level‘, i once offered a free tutorial to Financial Management 2 Class in the ‘Entrepreneurship Diploma‘ course in preparation of their final year Exam weighting 40%. As i sent them an invitation email, i decided to title the ‘Tutorial Theme’ as “Attaining a 100% Exam Mark“. In this tutorial, i explained how students could make use of basic principles to attain a maximum performance i.e. scoring 100% mark. It is very easy to attain than in any calculation based subjects.

These were the main points:

1. Having a Exam strategy – a learner should know exactly how they are going to tackle the exam. This is assisted by knowing one’s progress mark. This helps to set the exam score target. One should also know the total marks of the question paper and the duration. This helps in allocating the appropriate time to be spent in every question. With this, a learner would be able to attempt all the questions.

2. Prepare one-self thoroughly – summative exams are not meant to surprise learners, but to test whether learners are ‘competent’ or ‘not-yet-competent’ (as per outcome-based assessments). Also, learners cover all the learning areas during their formative sessions. This could spell out that exams should not be surprises to learners in any how. I always urge my group members to comprehend the study guide as it has all what learners are expected to know. Therefore, once the learner makes use of such precious resources, one would be having an idea of how the questions would look like.

3. Arm one-self with relevant principles – i am sure every topic or module has specific principles that applies to it hence observing them would always direct learners in the right direction. Apply them appropriately.

4. Utilise maximum speed – on this one i always find it challenging to explain as some learners are naturally slow when it comes to writing. However, the principle of ‘practice makes an individual perfect’ serves to explain on my behalf that learners should be constantly practising to enhance their accuracy, understanding and speed at the same time. I always encourage learners to revise almost everything at their disposal especially on calculation-based modules with an aim of identifying various principles.

5. Never allow time to think during the Exam – i always remind fellow students that as part of an exam assessment, we are also tested on time management, taking few seconds to think is not recommendable from my side. I believe in the continuous flow of information throughout till the end of the exam and this is mostly possible when one has fully prepared for the exam – just like a sponge saturate with water.

Completing my second semester of my three semesters for my Btech. Degree in Business Administration at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, i would like to confess that despite the pressure brought by the course to fellow learners, every assessment to me seemed to be yet another ‘early Christmas present’. I was glad in the first place when i looked at the course modules as i knew anything involving calculations is a ‘morale booster’ to me. Out of the ten modules, half of them involve some sort of calculation. Besides the two to be done in the last semester (Managerial Economics 4 and Financial Management 4), this semester had the other three involving calculations: Production and Purchasing Management 4, Management Accounting Aspects 4 and Financial Accounting Aspects 4. It had been an interesting semester for me though to other learners it can be described as a ‘most trying and tormenting one’ as indicated by a significant number of dropouts not mentioning the alarming failure rate.

The experience has been great and the course has been very insightful. It helped me to explore some other avenues of opportunities such as considering venturing into the provision of Financial related decisions (personal and corporate investments) as well as considering focusing on a financial management related dissertation for my masters qualification in the near future.

Safe exit for Graduates


Graduate

Ask any graduating student to list the most pressing issues and you won’t be surprised the aspect of ‘life after graduation’ will be among the top. This is a case in most countries where unemployment is high when learners after graduation seem to be given a ticket of a ‘qualified and official unemployed’. In simpler term degree certificate now seems to be a certificate or proof of being unemployed as more often we learn of people who have such hardly earned documents not serving its purpose. . . or getting a job which does not call for one particular field of specialisation. Identifying ways that graduates can opt to buffer themselves upon this traumatizing wave of winds is paramount. In this article, I discuss my own experiences and insights on what graduates undergo once they are successfully released from tertiary institutions.

Year end indeed is the most stressful time for final year students as that’s when reality begins – with two options – perpetual stress or happiness. It is the most defining moment in life. This is most painful when one is aware of the trends on the job market [unemployment is in every country due to challenges in reaching a positive economic growth and job creation for the increasing economically active labour force].

I always remember the excitement that students have once they are accepted to study at tertiary institutions as it can be literally translated to a positive relationship towards a brighter future. However, the reality seems to be far from this. The saddest part is that some learners tend to be taken over by the waves of a student life that some do not plan for an exit strategy (after graduating). Instead of building meaningful relationships to secure a starting point after graduation, some would be enjoying like crazy (sad to note this). I am sure no one would like to be a point of reference on a bad connotation except for the celebrity.

Gone are the days when completing a degree was something one can be proud of – it resembled an achievement with a better life. This probably meant that one is about to realise the returns on investment (education). We are now in an era where education seems to be a risky investment, unprofitable to say the least to most of us. This is due to the fact that more often, one is guaranteed to plunge into unemployment after graduating with a degree unless with good support structures. This is worsened by the fact that some learners pursue degrees that do not relates to their natural abilities [e.g. a Marketer (naturally) doing Accounting just because one was told Accounting is the high paying job or due to some unfortunate circumstances when one could not secure a place in a desired course].

The trend seems to be shifting into unexpected folds. Graduating with flying colours nowadays seems to be of less value to a person who intends to secure a job after graduating with a degree for instance. Skills are essential and this calls for learners to be juggling with gaining practical experience while they are studying to stand a better chance in comparison to the knowledgeable inexperienced graduate. On the other hand, flying colours are ideal to learners who aim to pursue further qualification as this helps, at times, in getting assistance such as scholarship to further study or for meeting minimum performance requirements.

University now seems to be a hiding place or a hive to while time whilst make attempts to seek something in the highly competitive job market. This is typical in countries with high levels of unemployment coupled with minimal levels of entrepreneurial development. This would point out to learners who, at times, enrol for a master’s qualification even when an individual has no intention for pursuing masters. Getting enrolled for a qualification seem to be relieving than graduating.

At one time, I was contemplating to attend a graduation ceremony considering the time and money spent in preparation. I always thought I could use this for something more economical. This could be a detour to consider by fresh graduates. Some would even prefer not to attend the graduation ceremony due to an additional cost which would be more likely to be incurred as part of the preparations as indicated above. That little money could be saved towards simple issues such as CV printing (those still applying offline) and attending to interviews.

Parents expect graduates to be independent despite the escalating levels of unemployment in every country. When a learner graduates, a general expectation increases from the learner. Such a typical graduate will be faced with extreme pressure from all directions including starting a family.

However, this seems to be a different to someone who is doing a degree of choice, well prepared for the market not relying to the forces of unemployment. It’s unfortunate that very few falls in such a category such as the entrepreneurs. Despite the opinion that this turns to be untrue when some students feels as if they are caught unaware as if time is working against them, on the other hand, this is a bit different to some students who plans ahead of time and to entrepreneurial minded learners. It has to be acknowledged that not everyone in the world can be an employer as some have to be employed. However, naturally, there are some people who are meant to work for others unless they learn the competences and skills required. It is unfortunate that the education system supports the notion that more employees are needed yet it is now vice-versa, more employers are needed. It is painful to learn a number of graduates who sacrificed immeasurable efforts only to plunge into the pool of unemployment.

Doing part-time jobs and in-service training during the time of study is critical towards a safe exit from tertiary study.