Promoting social change amongst students in higher education : an evaluation of the listening, living and learning senior student housing programme at Stellenbosch University

Dunn, Munita (2013-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The positioning of Stellenbosch University in a rapidly changing higher education context necessitates transformation, the promotion of diversity, and social integration among all students on campus. Although a vast variety of recruitment and support initiatives are in place to diversify the student population and to enhance student success, it is not sufficient to simply widen access for African, coloured and Indian students to Stellenbosch University. Change with regard to the institutional culture and social climate of the institution also needs to be effected. One intervention aimed at achieving this is the Listening, Living and Learning programme, promoting social change among students. The Listening, Living and Learning (LLL) programme is a senior student housing programme, and a co-curricular living-learning community, and is the first of its kind in South Africa. The students in the LLL houses are ideally a diverse group of students, learning to live together, hosting conversations with guest speakers about the theme of their house and participating in a small project. The initiative aims to develop students as agents of change. Since its establishment in 2008, the outcomes of the LLL programme have not yet been evaluated. This study is embedded in a broader programme evaluation of the LLL initiative and evaluated only one of the programme outcomes: increased levels of interaction among students in a LLL house lead to reduced stereotyping and diminished bias. All the students enrolled in LLL for 2013 (N=99) participated in the study. An applied, quantitative approach was followed. A web-based, electronic survey (Student Attitude Questionnaire) was conducted in a one-group pre-test post-test design that was completed by 79 students. The questionnaire measured tolerance towards five constructs of ‘the other’ – gender, race, language, socio-economic status and nationality. The results indicated for all five constructs – gender, language, race, socio-economic status and nationality – a change in senior students’ stereotypical and discriminatory attitudes, increasing to a more intolerant level from the pre-test to the post-test. The changes were not statistically significant. The deduction can be made that increased levels of interaction among students in a LLL house, over a five-month period, did not lead to reduced stereotyping and diminished bias. The short timespan between measurements and the adjustment, as well as developmental processes of the students, impacted the results. However, valuable information was gathered in terms of students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal development; as well as feedback on the programme content and outcome. This research study contributes, firstly, to a starting point for discussion to allow HEIs to consider learning communities as part of the co-curricular sphere in South Africa. Secondly, the research indicated the vital role learning communities play in students’ in-class and out-of-class development. Thirdly, the study highlights the need for discussion and research on the integration of curricular and co-curricular learning in South Africa, as well as the establishing of partnerships between all role players in student affairs and faculty.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Universiteit van Stellenbosch se posisie in die vinnige veranderende konteks van hoër onderwys noodsaak transformasie, bevordering van diversiteit en sosiale integrasie van alle studente op kampus. Al is ’n groot verskeidenheid werwing- en steuninitiatiewe in plek om die studentepopulasie te diversifiseer en studentesukses te bevorder, is dit nie genoeg om slegs toegang na die Universiteit van Stellenbosch vir swart, bruin en Indiër studente te vergemaklik nie. Daar moet ook veranderinge aan die institusionele kultuur en sosiale klimaat van die inrigting teweeggebring word. Een intervensie wat daarop gemik is om dit te bereik deur sosiale verandering onder studente te bevorder, is die Luister-, Leef- en Leerprogram. Die Luister-, Leef- en Leerprogram (LLL) is ’n behuisingsprogram vir senior studente en ’n ko-kurrikulêre leefgemeenskap, die eerste van sy soort in Suid-Afrika. Die studente in die LLL-huise is idealgesproke ’n diverse groep studente wat leer om saam te leef, gasheer speel vir gesprekke oor hulle huis se tema met sprekers van buite en deelneem aan ’n klein projek. Die inisiatief het ten doel om studente as veranderingsagente te ontwikkel. Sedert dit in 2008 begin is, is die uitkomste van die LLL-program nog nie geëvalueer nie. Hierdie studie is gesetel in ’n breër programevaluering van die LLL-initiatief en evalueer slegs een van die program se uitkomste: hoër vlakke van interaksie tussen studente in ’n LLL-huis lei tot die vermindering van stereotipering en bevooroordele. Al die studente wat in 2013 vir LLL ingeskryf is (N=99), het aan die studie deelgeneem. ’n Toegepaste, kwantitatiewe aanslag is gevolg. ’n Webgebaseerde, elektroniese opname (“Student Attitude Questionnaire”) is gemaak volgens ’n eengroep-voortoets-natoets-ontwerp wat deur 79 studente voltooi is. Die vraelys meet verdraagsaamheid teenoor vyf konstruksies van ‘die ander’ – geslag, ras, taal, sosio-ekonomiese status en nasionaliteit. Die resultate dui op ’n verandering in senior studente se stereotiperende en diskriminerende houdings in al vyf konstruksies – geslag, taal, ras, sosio-ekonomiese status en nasionaliteit – met ’n verhoging na ’n meer onverdraagsame vlak vanaf die voortoets na die natoets. Die veranderinge was nie statisties beduidend nie. Die afleiding kan gemaak word dat die verhoogde vlakke van interaksie tussen studente in ’n LLL-huis oor ’n periode van vyf maande nie gelei het tot verminderde stereotipering en bevooroordele nie. Die kort tydperk tussen opnames en die aanpassing sowel as die ontwikkelingsprosesse van die studente het ’n impak op die resultate gemaak. Waardevolle inligting is egter ingesamel oor studente se interpersoonlike en intrapersoonlike ontwikkeling sowel as terugvoer op die program se inhoud en uitkomste. Hierdie navorsingstudie dra eerstens by tot ’n beginpunt vir die bespreking dat inrigtings vir hoër onderwys leergemeenskappe as deel van die ko-kurrikulêre terrein in Suid-Afrika beskou. Tweedens dui die navorsing op die belangrike rol wat leergemeenskappe in studente se binne- en buiteklasontwikkeling speel. Derdens beklemtoon die studie die behoefte aan bespreking en navorsing oor die integrasie van kurrikulêre en ko-kurrikulêre leer in Suid-Afrika, sowel as die behoefte aan vennootskappe tussen alle rolspelers in studentesake en fakulteite.

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