Tutorial classes - Why bother? An investigation into the impact of tutorials on the performance of economics students
The deteriorating performance of first-year economics students has become a concern at many South African universities. Addressing the issue requires an understanding of the factors influencing students' success. Studies analysing academic performance use the education production function approach. This approach identifies inputs that are crucial to learning and to achieving certain outputs. Factors that have been investigated in other studies include the impact of lecture attendance on performance, school-leaving exam (matriculation) results, particularly performance in mathematics, and the gender and age of students. This study adds to existing local empirical research by analysing the impact of the tutorial programme as an input. The case study investigates the tutorial programme for first-year economics students at Stellenbosch University using quantitative analysis. Results confirm what previous studies have found, namely that lecture attendance, gender, and matriculation results contribute positively to the performance of first-year economics students. The main finding of the paper is that tutorial attendance also contributes positively to academic performance. © 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 The Economic Society of South Africa.