A curriculum framework for an introductory programme in the national diploma: Engineering at the Vaal University of Technology

Sutherland, G. (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2009-12)

Thesis (PhD (Curriculum Studies))-- University of Stellenbosch, 2009

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to develop a curriculum framework for engineering introduction programmes offered at a higher education institution, using a case study design. The South African government is attempting to redress the social inequalities which prevailed in the education sector during the apartheid era. One of their efforts has involved the widening of access to diverse groups in society in order to increase participation within the higher education sector. However, many students attempting their higher education studies are academically under prepared. This is mainly due to insufficient life skills, communication skills, numeric skills and literacy skills. The lack of these skills has inspired various international and national higher education institutions to develop academic programmes aimed at bridging the gap that exists between secondary schooling and higher education. Introduction programmes for prospective engineering students have to ensure high-quality curriculum development procedures in order to secure these students’ academic success throughout their engineering studies. This, in turn, leads to quality graduates and addresses the huge shortage experienced by the industry. An overview of the contextual and conceptual views on curriculum development is given against the backdrop of the current higher education legislation in South Africa. The overview regarding curriculum development links the introduction programme curriculum to generic learning outcomes specifically set at the National Qualification Framework Level 4. It suggests the application of continuous assessments, in line with outcomes-based education criteria, together with quality assurance in order to fit the Higher Education Quality Committee and the Engineering Council of South Africa’s accreditation criteria applicable to higher education institutions. During the design and methodological stages, it was established, by means of a theoretical investigation, that the first phase of this study determines whether students that successfully completed the introduction programme perform academically better than students entering the diploma programmes directly. The theoretical investigation also established that the second phase of this study determines if the diploma students dropped out of the programme for reasons other than academic performance. A triangulation approach was used to increase the validity of the empirical part of the study and to enhance the rigorous use of both quantitative and qualitative data. The study results shed light on the need for introduction programmes. In addition, it proposed a curriculum framework for improved engineering introduction programmes at the Vaal University of Technology.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie studie was om kurrikulumraamwerk vir oorbruggingsprogram vir ingenieurswese-studente in hoër onderwys te ontwikkel. Die kurrikulumraamwerk is ontwikkel deur middel van gevallestudie wat die implementering van oorbruggingskursusse in die ingenieurswese indringend ondersoek het. Die huidige Suid-Afrikaanse regering poog om die sosio-politieke wanbalanse as nalatenskap van apartheid, uit te wis. Dit word gedoen deur middel van inisiatiewe waarin onder meer hoër onderwys prominente vennoot is wat aan diverse samelewing gelyke geleenthede bied. Die huidige, meer toeganklike bedeling in hoër onderwys in Suid-Afrika het groot toename van studente uit histories agtergeblewe gemeenskappe tot gevolg gehad. Die meeste studente wat in hierdie konteks die hoëronderwyssektor betree, blyk in groot mate onvoorbereid te wees vir hoër onderwys vanweë hul gebrek aan lewens-, kommunikasie-, numeriese en taalvaardighede. Hierdie tendens kom ook op internasionale vlak voor. Dit het inisiatiewe ten opsigte van akademiese ontwikkeling op nasionale sowel as internasionale vlak genoodsaak. Die doel van akademiese ontwikkeling is primêr om die gaping tussen die skool en hoër onderwys te oorbrug. Oorbruggingskursusse moet van hoë gehalte wees om sodoende te kan verseker dat voornemende studente vir hoër onderwys, en vir die doel van hierdie studie meer spesifiek ingenieurstudente, van groter akademiese sukses verseker kan wees. Die suksesvolle implementering van oorbruggingskursusse vir ingenieurswese-studente behoort in groot mate tot beter gehalte gegradueerde te lei en bydrae te lewer tot die vraag na ingenieurswese-studente vir die nywerheidswêreld. Kontekstuele en konsepsuele beskouings ten opsigte van kurrikulumontwikkeling in die hoër onderwys in Suid-Afrika word deur generiese leeruitkomste bepaal. Hierdie uitkomste is op vlak 4 van die land se Nasionale Kwalifikasieraamwerk vasgepen. Dit het ook tot gevolg dat alle programme volgens amptelike Departement van Onderwys-dokumente aan deurlopende assessering onderwerp moet word, dat die gehalte van die kursus onderworpe is aan die gehalteversekeringskriteria van die vi Hoëronderwys se Gehaltekomitee (‘HEQC’) en dat dit moet voldoen aan die vereistes van die Ingenieursraad van Suid-Afrika. Teoretiese raamwerk is tydens die ontwerp- en metodiekstadium van die studie daargestel. Die doel van hierdie eerste fase van die studie was om te bepaal of diplomastudente wat die oorbruggingskursusse suksesvol voltooi het, akademies beter gepresteer het as daardie studente wat nie die oorbruggingskursus gevolg het nie. Die tweede studiefase het bepaal of die diplomastudente hul studies vir redes gestaak het wat moontlik nie met akademiese sukses verband hou nie. Die navorsing het van triangulasie gebruik gemaak, ten einde die doeltreffende gebruik van sowel kwantitatiewe as kwalitatiewe data te verhoog. Die resultate van die studie werp lig op en onderstreep die behoefte aan oorbruggingskursusse. Die navorsing beveel kurrikulumraamwerk aan vir die ontwerp van verbeterde oorbruggingskursusse in die ingenieurswese aan die Vaal Universiteit van Tegnologie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1368
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