Factors influencing the academic success of first-year students in chemistry at an agricultural training institution

Ross, Kachné (2016-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2016

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : Learning is a multi-layered concept which depends on many different role-players, complex factors and different historical and contextual factors. In view of the many factors that may influence the learning environment, a need was identified to investigate the aspects of learning that are related to chemistry education. In basic chemistry, a variety of factors influence learning and academic performance as well as the strategies to learn chemistry in order to minimise the factors that have a negative influence on students’ learning and their academic performance. Several authors have highlighted possible factors that may influence the academic performance of students. Only a limited number of studies have investigated teaching and learning in chemistry education and in agricultural training in particular. Factors that were found to potentially influence students’ academic performance were incorporated in Astin’s inputenvironment- output model that was used as a framework to interpret the data generated for the study. Such knowledge may provide valuable information to first-year students, lecturers and the planners of foundation programmes at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute and similar agricultural training institutes. In this study, the aim was to investigate the possible academic factors that influence the success of the BAgric students who study Chemistry (PAS) 111 in their first year. Three data sources were used: PAS 111 curriculum documents, the opinions of 2013 BAgric first-year students and the opinions of lecturers involved in the first-year courses and in PAS 111 in particular. These data sources contributed to determining to what degree, if at all, academic factors influence learning in Chemistry (PAS) 111 and how these factors are perceived by the main constituents. The main question addressed in this study was thus: Why do students at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute not perform well in Chemistry (PAS) 111? In conducting the study, a pragmatic stance was taken and a mixed-methods research design was used. The findings of this study indicate that language, admission requirements, student interest, and student support had a considerable influence on student academic performance for the 2013 PAS 111 student group. Implications flowing from the study for the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute as well as possibilities for future research are pointed out.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Leer is ʼn veelvlakkige begrip wat van baie verskillende rolspelers, komplekse faktore en verskeie historiese en kontekstuele omstandighede afhang. In die lig van die vele faktore wat die leeromgewing kan beïnvloed, is ʼn behoefte geïdentifiseer om ondersoek in te stel na die aspekte van leer wat verband hou met chemie-onderrig. In basiese chemie word leer en akademiese prestasie deur ’n verskeidenheid faktore, asook die strategieë om chemie te leer, beïnvloed ten einde die faktore te minimaliseer wat ʼn negatiewe invloed op studente se leer en akademiese prestasie uitoefen. Verskeie outeurs het moontlike faktore uitgelig wat die akademiese prestasie van studente kan beïnvloed. Tot dusver het slegs ’n beperkte aantal studies ondersoek ingestel na onderrig en leer in chemie-onderwys en na landbou-opleiding in die besonder. Geïdentifiseerde faktore wat studente se akademiese prestasie moontlik kan beïnvloed, is geïnkorporeer in Astin se insetomgewing- uitset-model (Engels: ‘input-environment-output model’) wat as ʼn raamwerk gebruik is om die data wat in hierdie studie gegenereer is, te interpreteer. Sulke kennis kan moontlik waardevolle inligting verskaf aan eerstejaarstudente, dosente en beplanners van grondslagprogramme aan die Elsenburg-Landboukollege en soortgelyke landbouopleidingsinstellings. Die doel van hierdie studie was om ondersoek in te stel na die moontlike akademiese faktore wat die sukses van die BAgric-studente wat Chemie (PAS) 111 in hul eerste jaar studeer, beïnvloed. Drie databronne is gebruik: PAS 111 kurrikulum-dokumente, die menings van BAgric-eerstejaarstudente in 2013 en die menings van dosente wat betrokke is by die eerstejaarkursusse en in die besonder by PAS 111. Deur middel van hierdie databronne is daar gepoog om te bepaal tot watter mate – indien enige – akademiese faktore leer in Chemie (PAS) 111 beïnvloed en hoe hierdie faktore deur die hoof- rolspelers ervaar word. Die hoofvraag wat in hierdie studie aangespreek is, was dus: Waarom presteer studente aan die Elsenburg- Landboukollege nie goed in Chemie (PAS) 111 nie? In die studie is van ʼn pragmatiese benadering gebruik gemaak en is ʼn gemengde-metodesontwerp gebruik. Die bevindings van hierdie studie dui aan dat taal, toelatingsvereistes, studentebelangstelling en ondersteuning van studente ʼn groot invloed gehad het op die akademiese prestasie van die PAS 111-groep van studente in 2013. Die implikasies vir die Elsenburg-Landboukollege voortspruitend uit die studie word aangedui en moontlikhede vir toekomstige navorsing word voorgestel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98385
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