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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

Social Media: FB Jokes (2)

CONTINUATION FROM THE PREVIOUS POST  As the lecture gave the assignments to the students, he jokingly said the following: An anonymous mini-research was conducted on 10 of students from Amsterdam University (Netherlands). This was made as a comparative research on a similar number of students at one of the universities in South Africa (name withheld) covering a period of one month.

The following were the findings, it revealed some interesting facts:
-Most students at a South African university has updated their profiles on average twice a day, they comments and post likings were unknown but estimated to be over 20 per day per student. There was a picture which attracted 32 likes and 164 comments (this photo showed a student with a killer smile having lunch at KFC with fried chicken estimated to be valued at R82)
-On the other hand, the Netherlands shows that they updated their profiles on an average of once every week, mostly like pages than making comments. One of the pictures showed 47 likes with one comment. It was of a student showing funny presentation products.

-Recommendations were that, Facebook should be integrated with classroom (use of group discussions, sharing of information) at one of the South African universities. On the other hand, the Amsterdam side attracts a need to further investigate on why they tend to like photos than making comments.

Later on, the lecture jokingly said: Who do you think has a better understanding of facebook usage between the two groups? Who spends more time?

The lecturer concluded that: “On average, a student from a South African university spends more than 49 minutes per day whereas one from Netherlands spends an average of 5 minutes per week.”

However, this presentation took the lecturer 10 minutes and by the time the lecturer finished, one of the students showed the lecturer the following: There was a facebook discussion about the presentation done by the lecturer on her profile; it was posted 2 minutes after the lecturer began his presentation. 7 students shared the post on their walls. There were 23 post likings and 52 comments.

This lecture was in one of the South African universities which were part of the case study research.

After that, the lecturer said: from today onward, we shall informally integrate our lectures with mini facebook breaks to increase levels of understanding and interaction. . . .

. . . and he said BUT use your time for a good cause, knowledge development discussions, and motivational material etc

It is not known what the response of these students were. What do you think would be some common responses from them?????

What an Easter Holiday!!

2013 Easter Holiday, turned to a “marathon-study-recovery-session” by a University Student

Easter holiday is a most common Christian holiday celebrated across the world. According to Wikipedia, it estimates a total of around 2.5 billion of people who celebrated the holiday: [].

The holiday is aligned with university holidays such as here in South Africa hence the students would be on a mini vacation [10 days Easter inclusive]. Most of the students take it as the time to take a real break on their studies as student life is not the best with some courses. On the other hand some students remain preparing themselves in terms of assignments and further understanding on the material they would have covered. It is rare to note how other students remain cluttered to their books when everyone is taking a break to refresh. Globally, most companies have a break and students have locked their books in their trunks only to wait for the opening of university over the Easter holiday. This is typical to students, however, a historical scientific theorist Douglas McGregor refer to such students falling under the Theory X category. Is n’t it difficult to understand where some students get the zeal to maximise output when almost everyone is relaxed? Or perhaps it can be said that the student would have been playing throughout the term and only . . . .

Anyway, that is my case as I write this article. My first term was characterised by a couple of challenges which drew my attention away from schoolwork. I barely got the motivation to concentrate on my studies and as a result, I only saw the accumulation of chapters which need my precious time. This is one of the moments when I easily related my scenario to another theorist Clayton Alderfer on his ERG Theory of motivation. Just because other needs required immediate attention, my focus easily got distracted from my studies. I later found that my Easter Holiday would be turned into a “Marathon Study Recovery” and it turned to be a reality.

On a Good Friday, I quickly woke up at 3am and managed to draft a 10-day recovery plan. It took me 2 and 1/2 hours to complete a plan which required me to generate 80 hours to complete 30 chapters for my 5 subjects. Surprisingly, refreshment breaks were not included on this plan. To cover up for this, I made a target of creating “12 productive hours” per day which saw me generating between 96 to a maximum of 120 productive hours over my 10-day vacation to cater for some variations due to uncertainties. This translated to about a minimum of 90 minutes of accumulated breaks per day. Now, this seems not to be enough for a 12 hour productive day hence I ensured that I complete some chapters in less that the allocated 2-hour sessions. I made sure that I write down every hour spent and on where it has been spent. The plan seemed to be perfect and I quickly took a 2-hour nap which saw me embarking on my new project at 5:30am. For my Easter days, my plan worked perfectly as I worked in line with my schedule. During the period, I learnt that the most important aspect in life is implementation of plans as that’s where the line between the rich and the poor lies according to my opinion. Unfortunately, I got distracted by some other interesting learning experiences as I ended up taking some “coding” lessons online which completely affected my plan as I remember I once spent a continuous 15 hours in front of my laptop. Therefore, implementation is very important.

My door remained locked mostly throughout the marathon session, with my phone on an “offline-vacation” mode. My friends were not happy about it but I was content with it as I clearly knew what I wanted to achieve. Life without friends is unpleasant but life taught me that I meet friends in various stages of it and have to be careful not to regret due to their influences. With that in mind, I always put my studies first before friends. This is simply that the investment I am making towards my education will help not myself alone but my family too, and even my friends. I always see it as an opportunity cost to spend time meant for studies with friends. This becomes a burning issue when I think of millions of people who never get the chance to achieve basic education not mentioning tertiary level.

In short, while people may be busy relaxing globally, one can get self motivation to work beyond a normal schedule and I admit that it pays in the long run. You are the best person to motivate yourself – by knowing your weaknesses and strength gives room to maximise performance in your strong areas.

Managing failure at University level of study

Life is full of challenges and it all depends on how we individually respond to them. One could see challenges as stumbling blocks while another could see them as learning experiences whereas someone can turn them into an opportunity – what about failure at university level? Anyway, on this article, I am focusing on the need for university students in maintaining a 100% pass rate on their subjects especially on core subjects to the programme being studied. I am not yet a researcher but I would first define a researcher in my opinion – “anyone who identifies a problem or area of study, with the use of a particular methodology gathers any necessary information, which assist in making a possible solution, analyse it and give a conclusion for the analysis”. I am presenting a general research I have made on the need for students to pass their core subjects in the first attempt. I will then look at few universities across the globe which has related policies towards this, the challenges to the students and learners and the possible course of action which I recommend to be taken.

 I will begin by sharing my experience. In my primary level of education it didn’t matter what marks I got at the end of the year and it was by default that I proceed to the next grade the following year. Grade 1, 2, 3, 4…….7, then Form 1, 2, 3 and 4. These are categorized as primary and secondary levels of education respectively. To proceed to Form 5 and form 6 (Advanced level of education), it changes from proceeding by default to performance related and that is when life seems to be taken seriously by some students or have to be. Completing this level assists students to gain entrance to colleges and universities with better grades attracting entrance to better rated universities e.g. National University of Technology (Zimbabwe), University of Cape Town or Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Harvard University…and Stanford University (globally) – these are my examples. However, it is at this university level of study when some policies exist depending on the tertiary institution one is studying at whereas students should pass core subjects before they proceed to the following year.

 It is amazing to know how some students take failure for granted as some would simply say “I will re-do the subjects next year”. This saying goes “time is money” and I always like to express time lost in monetary terms though it depends on different aspects – individual worthiness, place etc. To me failure brings a bunch of questions that flashes my mind whenever I put myself in this scenario. Questions like these remain unanswered – for how long will this delay me to proceed to the next level? At how much cost – fees, tuition, living expenses, food costs? For how long will I be delayed into the job market which is characterized by stiff competition? What are my parents going to say about all these fees? Are they going to afford?….and won’t I lose this bursary I got?… colleagues oh?…..and why this happening to me? Am I studying the right course or what? What should I do next? Whom should I consult? Or will I get a second chance or should I quit this? This is tense indeed; thank God if you have never been in this scenario and if you sometimes faced this, praise God for everything happens for a reason.

 Well, this is my mini-research:

The following universities have been part of a rough research and it has been noted that they have some measures put to ensure that students maintain a constant pass on major courses – Cape Peninsula University of Technology (South Africa), University of Cape Town (South Africa), University of Zimbabwe, National University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe), Melbourne University (Australia) and University of Sydney (Australia). Among the policies, any student who fails to achieve a pass mark is given a second attempt or given a warning and on sad instances a student may be discontinued with performance rendered unsatisfactory. It is during this moment when students feel the emotional tense of being at university. Some are allowed to re-take what they failed the previous year in conjunction with what they will be studying in the current year and this carries with it an unbearable stress. This do not just become a burden to a student only but also to the parents, guardians etc. At a particular university in Australia, repeating a semester had an approximate amount of $10 000 (all expenses from tuition, living expenses and food) as a cost.

 My research has identified the various forms in which students are affected by failing in terms of expenses incurred and psychologically. This has been identified as mostly affecting 1st year university level as students will be adjusting from the high school level. The level of failure shrinks as the level of study for students rises. It has to be acknowledged that examinations are meant to test our level of understanding and not as a tool to fail us. As a result, students should take all the necessary free services made avail to them by their respective institutions such as tutoring services and guidance and counselling services. Above all students has to exert maximum effort during any level of their studies to prevent the challenges that emanates from failure. Students should keep in mind that they came a long way from grade 1 to university level hence they can pass on first attempt as well.

 I personally recommend that having a right attitude towards what you are studying, proper planning and constant revision of study material coupled with hanging with the right people can bring about a positive result on our studies as students. Though there are many possible suggestions, I suggest the above.