Student engagement as a way of enhancing student success at a private higher education institution

Theron, Erika (2015-03)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Relevant literature in higher education indicates that the higher education scene is changing fast and that higher education providers and their educators are at the centre of such change. The changing student body is of particular interest to higher education providers as the changing needs of students result in new inquiries into how current students learn and perform. Student engagement is widely suggested as a means of addressing the changing nature of the current generation of students and enhancing student success. Student engagement may be defined as the time and effort students devote to activities that are empirically linked to the desired higher education outcomes. Student success is no longer considered merely as cognitive competence as there is a greater understanding today of what makes up the entire student and his or her learning needs. This study was aimed at determining to what extent student engagement is being promoted at a private higher education institution in the Western Cape, South Africa. A mixed method research design was applied. Self-constructed questionnaires were distributed to staff members and students at the institution and semi-structured interviews with individual staff members and focus group interviews with students were also conducted. Both quantitative and qualitative data were generated and appropriately analysed. From the findings of this study a number of issues emerged. Firstly, it was revealed that the institution as a private provider in the field of culinary arts and hospitality and its educators recognise the changing nature of their students. Secondly, staff seem committed to the concept of student engagement and related practices to foster student success. Thirdly, students acknowledge engagement in their own learning as a favourable feature, but indicate further engagement opportunities to be created by their lecturing staff and the institution. A number of implications also emerged from the study. It is evident that lecturers at The Private Hotel School may aim to gain a better understanding of the current generation of students and they may also focus on determining more ways to facilitate engagement. Furthermore, it is evident that students at this institution may be made more aware of their role in engaging in their own learning.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die relevante literatuur in hoër onderwys dui daarop dat die hoëronderwysomgewing besig is om vinnig te verander en dat die verskaffers van hoër onderwys en hul opvoeders sentraal staan in sulke verandering. Die veranderende behoeftes van studente dien as aansporing vir nuwe navorsing oor hoe teenswoordige studente leer en presteer; gevolglik is die veranderende studenteliggaam van besondere belang vir die verskaffers van hoër onderwys. Daar word algemeen aanbeveel dat studentebetrokkenheid ondersoek word om die veranderende aard van die huidige geslag studente te verken en studentesukses te verhoog. Studentebetrokkenheid kan gedefinieer word as die tyd en moeite wat studente aan aktiwiteite wy wat empiries verbind kan word met verlangde uitkomste in hoër onderwys. Studentesukses word nie meer gesien as slegs kognitiewe bevoegdheid nie aangesien daar tans meer begrip is van wat die hele student en sy of haar leerbehoeftes behels. Die doel van hierdie navorsing was om te bepaal tot watter mate studentebetrokkenheid bevorder word by ʼn private hoëronderwysinstelling in die Wes-Kaap, Suid-Afrika. ʼn Gemengde-metode navorsingsontwerp is gebruik, en self-opgestelde vraelyste is aan personeellede en studente by die instelling uitgedeel. Semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude is gevoer met individuele personeellede en fokusgroep-onderhoude is met studente gedoen. Beide kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe data is gegenereer en toepaslik ontleed. ʼn Aantal kwessies het vanuit die bevindinge van hierdie studie aan die lig gekom: Eerstens, dat die opvoeders van die instelling as ʼn private verskaffer op die terrein van kulinêre kuns en gasvryheid die veranderende aard van hul studente herken; tweedens, dat die personeel verbind is tot die bevordering van studentebetrokkenheid en verwante praktyke om studentesukses te bevorder; en derdens, dat studente betrokkenheid in hul eie leerproses as ʼn positiewe doelstelling beskou, maar dat verdere geleenthede tot betrokkenheid geskep kan word deur hul doserende personeel en die instelling. ʼn Aantal verdere implikasies het ook vanuit hierdie studie aan die lig gekom. Dit is duidelik dat dosente by The Private Hotel School nog ʼn groter poging kan aanwend om die huidige geslag studente beter te begryp en dat hulle ook kan probeer om meer maniere te vind om studentebetrokkenheid te fasiliteer. Dit blyk verder dat studente by hierdie instelling nog meer bewus kan raak van hoe hulle self tot groter betrokkenheid by hulle eie leerproses kan bydra.

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