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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

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.

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?????

Graduate with a Cum Laude!

Is it better to graduate with a Cum laude qualification?

For so long, I have been wondering why there are grades in every level of studies and I always wanted to get a clear understanding on what is believed as the difference between an excellence performer and an average student. It is indeed debatable to judge a student by the grade of the qualification which one got as some students can score the 90%+ as a result of cramming rather than studying for understanding yet someone could get a 60% average degree but with a great understanding of the degree content covered. Despite that, high percentage degrees are preferred in the job market as they are always attached with the level of intelligence to the qualification holder.

During my primary, my report was characterized by numerical grades i.e. 1, 2, 3 up to 9 (from the highest to lowest), my secondary education was however characterized by the following grades: A, B, C, D, E and U. however, passes from A to C resembling the highest grade to the average pass respectively. When I did my Advanced level of education, grades almost similar to Ordinary level were used with a ‘U’ replaced by ‘F’ and an ‘O’ grade being an additional grade which is higher than ‘F’. However, an ‘E’ is rendered as a pass different from the Ordinary level standard which has a ‘C’ as a least pass grade. To me, these grades translated the level of intelligence to the results bearer. Does it resemble performance or intelligence of the student? I always got confused to strike the difference. Well, my opinion might not be legitimate without supporting evidence. Different universities have different grades of passes however, mostly 50% being the pass mark. I always told myself that there is a reason why there are these entire grades instead of merely having failure and pass.

This article dwells much on tertiary level qualification grades and particularly – a cum laude. I learnt that there are also different levels of passes also at tertiary level with the common being: ‘Fail’, ‘Pass’ and ‘Pass-with-Distinction’. Some universities use grades such as 3; 2.2; 2.1 and 1 which classifies a qualification from average to highest grade. Most employers prefer graduates with highest grade especially in the private sector where competence, efficiency and productivity are a priority. This tend to be contrary when it comes to the public sectors which does not emphasises on top achievers as it ensures to be mean as it also strives to reduce unemployment by employing graduates who cannot be absorbed in the private sector.

Let me not focus on the difference of getting a ‘fail’ compared to passing because it is simple in that one is rendered not competent for a job whereas those who ‘pass’ stand a better chance to get a job. In a different note, those who fail to get a qualification tend to mostly get absorbed in family or friend’s businesses. Surprisingly, such individuals can be found doing extremely well which could prove that getting a qualification is not the only way out to a greater life.

In the mind of an entrepreneur, failing to attain a qualification does not mean much but signals ‘a need of another way of doing things’. There exists a difference in the quality of qualification as discussed below. For every qualification, there are admission requirements hence at some institutions, some lower level grade qualifications are not good enough unless where work experience counts as an advantage. In this regard, high grade qualification becomes an added advantage when a graduate seeks to study further as an admission enabler or when opting to join the private sector for employment. Also, when one seeks for a sponsor to further one’s studies, a need to have attained a high quality qualification is highly recommended.

With the growth of the usage of internet, educators or lecturers are capable of collaborating with learners in achieving maximum possible performance hence the competition among graduates can be said to be high with the use of this logical explanation. However, how good can be the qualification? A cum laude is title used to describe a qualification which is excellent such as attaining an average of at least 75% to 100%. With Latin honours, these are the following grades of cum laude qualifications as presented by encyclopedia:

“Cum laude – with honour

“Magna cum laude – with great honour”

“Egregia cum laude – with outstanding honour”

Summa cum laude – with highest honour”

Maxima cum laude – with very great honour”

However, different countries use different categories for grading criteria which is, unfortunately, not covered in this article. These grades are much used to undergraduates and rarely used to students taking masters or doctorate.

A different perception presents an objection with regards to getting cum laude grade. A friend of mine once told me that some employers do not go for high performing students simply because they might be lacking a skill of ‘managing failure’. A graduate with a mark range of, for example 82% to 98, on a transcript in other words could symbolise that the graduate has never experienced failure hence if employed in a business; the graduate might find it extremely challenging to cope with failure if ever the business gets into trouble. Such employers mostly prefer graduates with transcripts with varying marks which could reveal that the graduate somehow faced some challenges which the graduate managed to overcome. However, this is debatable on the basis of the perceptions of different managers.

I managed to graduate with a cum laude in Diploma in Entrepreneurship due to various factors. The most crucial was the love of the subjects that forms part of the qualification. At times, I never studied to pass but to improve my understanding in the field of entrepreneurship hence I could even read more that what was required for the assessments giving me a holistic understanding of the whole qualification. However, there were modules which I thought they should not have been part of the course which happened to be de-motivating to study. At times, I just studied to pass but not to understand as I viewed them as time wasters.

In conclusion, a high grade qualification is more preferable as indicated above. As indicated above, when a graduate aims to pursue another qualification to gain admission preference and sponsor during studies, a high grade qualification in crucial. It has also been identified that when understanding of the qualification content is the priority, from the content covered, an ordinary qualification is good enough for mastering the skills. Therefore, the most crucial thing is for the individual student to know what they want to accomplish after attaining their qualification. This puts one in a better understanding on whether one will be able to get admission in the chosen field of study and institution. This prepares for the elimination of some frustrations such as to be rendered as incompetent for further studies or having challenges to secure a sponsor.

 

Supreme Educators

– an improved version introduction

This one would actually be better for spelling-out who we are and what we do. Have a look.