Perceived influences on collegiate success in the context of social adversity

Hopson, Kenneth (2019-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Non-traditional students or students entering tertiary education at an older age represent a growing portion of South African students in higher education. These are students who for any number of reasons have disengaged with the typical educational path. The future of postapartheid South Africa is deeply dependent on expanding access to the economy, and securing this access is largely dependent on opening the doors of learning and education to this marginalized group. As such, supporting academic re-engagement for non-traditional students is essential to the growth of South Africa. In order to better understand how to support non-traditional students, this study sought to identify the challenges facing South African students, and to understand the elements that foster resilience in them, specifically as it relates to their academic pursuits. A case study of nontraditional students pursuing higher education was undertaken based on qualitative inquiry that focused on student experiences preceding and during collegiate study at the Tertiary School for Business Administration (TSiBA), a community college catering for students from low-income backgrounds. During semi-structured interviews, students detailed the elements of their experiences that they perceived as impacting their respective academic careers. These elements were determined to be supports or challenges, based on existing literature focused on youth development, education, and resilience. Data was collected from 10 TSiBA students, all having completed at least one year of study at the institution. This study found that, while there was clear evidence of deep levels of adversity and trauma in their lives, students mostly benefitted from supports and programming aimed at providing financial relief, promoting mental and emotional health, and fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility among students. With these elements being core functions of the TSiBA model, the institution’s comparatively high student throughput (success) rate indicates that the provision of such supports is effective in mitigating adverse conditions and allowing students that might have been thwarted by such adversity to maintain their educational pursuits. The essential finding of this study is that students can thrive when adequately resourced and provided with the right supports. Financial backing and people-based supports- such as counselling and development services and mentorship- may yield profound positive impacts on a student’s ability to reach academic achievement and may even be the difference between educational pursuit and unreached potential.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Nie-tradisionele studente of students wie tersiêre opvoeding teen ‘n latere ouderdom begin, verteenwoordig toenemend ‘n groter persentasie van Suid-Afrikaanse studente aan ’n hoër opvoedingsinstelling. Daar is ‘n verskeidenheid van redes waarom hulle nie die tipiese pad van naskoolse opvoeding gevolg het nie. Die toekoms van post-apartheid Suid-Afrika is baie afhanklik van die groter toegang tot die ekonomie, en om hierdie toegang te verseker is grootliks afhanklik om die deure van leer en opvoeding oop te maak vir hierdie gemarginaliseerde groep. Om dié rede is die ondersteuning tot akademiese her-toegang vir nie-tradisionale studente essensieel tot die groei van Suid-Afrika. Ten einde ‘n beter verstaan te genereer hoe om nie-tradisionele studente te ondersteun, het hierdie studie gepoog om die uitdagings te identifiseer van Suid-Afrikaanse studente, en om daardie elemente te verstaan wat hul veerkragtigheid uitbou, veral met betrekking tot hul akademiese strewes. ‘n Gevalle-studie is onderneem met nie-tradisionele students aan ‘n hoër opvoedingsinstelling gebaseer op ‘n kwalitatiewe ondersoek wat gefokus het op studente se ervarings voor en tydens kollegiale studie aan die Tersiêre Skool vir Besigheidsadministrasie (“Tertiary School for Business Administration”, TSiBA), ‘n gemeenskapskollege vir studente van ‘n lae-inkomste agtergrond. Tydens die semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude het studente die elemente van hul ervarings beskryf wat volgens hul persepsies hul akademiese loopbane beïnvloed het. Dit is vasgestel dat daardie elemente ondersteuningsbronne of uitdagings verteenwoordig gebaseer op bestaande literatuur oor jeug-ontwikkeling, opvoeding, en veerkragtigheid. Data is ingesamel van 10 TSiBA-studente wie almal ten minste een jaar studie aan die instelling voltooi het. Gebaseer op die bevindings van hierdie studie is gevind dat ten spyte van bewyse van hoë vlakke van teenspoed, studente meeste gebaat het by ondersteuning en programme gerig op finansiële hulpverlening, die bevordering van geestes-en emosionele gesondheid, en die uitbou van ‘n sin van gemeenskap and gedeelde verantwoordelikheid onder die studente. Terwyl hierdie elemente ook die kernfunksies van die TSiBA model verteenwoordig, toon die TSiBA se relatiewe hoë studente sukseskoers dat die voorsiening van sulke ondersteuning effektief is in die tempering van moeilike omstandighede, en die bied van geleenthede vir studente wat andersins deur sulke teenspoed gedwarsboom sou wees om hul opvoedkundige ideale te verwerklik. Die mees belangrike bevinding van hierdie studie is dat studente kan floreer wanneer hulle oor voldoende hulpbronne beskik. Finansiële hulpverlening en mens-gebaseerde ondersteuning - soos berading en ontwikkelingsdienste en mentorskap – kan hierdie kragtige positiewe impak bied vir ‘n student se vermoë om akademiese prestasie te behaal, en kan selfs die verskil wees tussen die verwerkliking van opvoedkundige strewes en potensiaal.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107029
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