A statistical analysis of student performance for the 2000-2013 period at the Copperbelt University in Zambia

Ngoy, Mwanabute (2017-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Education in general, and tertiary education in particular are the engines for sustained development of a nation. In this line, the Copperbelt University (CBU) plays a vital role in delivering the necessary knowledge and skills requirements for the development of Zambia and the neighbouring Southern Africa Region. It is thus important to investigate relationships between school and university results at the CBU. The first year and the graduate datasets comprising the CBU data for the 2000-2013 period were analysed using a geometric data analysis approach. The population data of all school results for the whole Zambia from 2000 to 2003 and from 2006 to 2012 were also used. The findings of this study show that the changes in the cut-off values for university entrance resulted in the CBU admitting school leavers with better school results, i.e. most recent intakes of first year students had higher school results than the older intakes. But the adjustment on the cut-off values did not have a major effect on the university performance. There was a general tendency for students to achieve higher scores at school level which could not translate necessarily into higher academic achievement at university. Additionally, certain school subjects (i.e. school Mathematics, Science, Physics, Chemistry, Additional Mathematics, Geography, and Principles of Accounts) and the school average for all school subjects were identified as good indicators of university performance. These variables were also found to be responsible for the group separation/discrimination among the four groups of the first year students. For graduate students, the school average was the major determinant of the degree classification. However, most school variables had limited discrimination power to differentiate between successful and unsuccessful students. Furthermore, it was found that policies of making school results available as grades rather than actual percentages can have a marked influence on expected university achievements. One of the major contributions of this thesis is the use of optimal scores as an alternative imputation method applicable to interval-valued and categorical data. This study also identified years of study which needed more focus in order to enhance the performance of students: the first two years of study for business related programmes, the third year of study for engineering programmes, and the third and fifth year of study for other programmes. Additionally, the study also identified certain school variables which were good indicators of university performance and which could be used by the university to admit potential successful students. It was also found that the first year Mathematics had the worst performance at the first year level despite the students achieving outstanding results in school Mathematics. It was also found that a clear demarcation exists between the “clear pass” (CP) students, i.e. those who successfully passed the first year of study and other first year groups. Also the “distinction” (DIS) group, i.e. those who completed their undergraduate studies with distinction, was apart from the other groups. These two groups (CP and DIS groups) mostly achieved outstanding results at school level as compared to other groups.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Opvoeding in die algemeen en tersiêre opvoeding in die besonder is die dryfkrag vir volhoubare ontwikkeling van ’n volk. In hierdie opsig speel die Copperbelt Universiteit (CBU) ’n deurslaggewende rol in die verskaffing van die nodige kennis- en vaardigheidsbehoeftes vir die ontwikkeling van Zambië en die omliggende suider Afrikaanse gebied. Gevolglik is dit belangrik om die verwantskappe tussen skoolen universiteitsresultate by die CBU te ondersoek. Met hierdie doel voor oë is datastelle bestaande uit eerstejaarprestasie sowel as die prestasie van graduandi aan die CBU vir die periode 2000-2013 ondersoek deur ’n geometriese data-analisebenadering te volg. Die data afkomstig van die populasie bestaande uit alle skoolresultate vir die hele Zambië vir die periodes 2000 tot 2003 asook van 2006 tot 2012 is ook gebruik. Die bevindings van hierdie studie toon dat die verandering in die afsnypunt vir universiteitstoelating daartoe gelei het dat die CBU skoolverlaters met beter skoolprestasie toegelaat het, dit wil sê, die mees resente innames van eertejaarstudente toon beter skoolprestasies as die innames in vorige periodes. Dit is egter gevind dat hierdie aanpassing in die toelatingsvereistes nie gepaard gegaan het met ’n beduidende verandering in universiteitsprestasie nie. Daar was ’n algemene tendens dat studente hoër punte op skool behaal het, maar wat nie noodwendig gelei het tot beter akademiese prestasie op universiteit nie. Verder is bepaalde skoolvakke (naamlik skool wiskunde, wetenskap, fisika, chemie, addisionele wiskunde, geografie en beginsels van rekeningkunde) en die skoolgemiddelde van alle skoolvakke ook ge-identifiseer as goeie indikatore vir universiteitsprestasie. Dit is gevind dat hierdie veranderlikes verantwoordelik is vir die onderskeiding/diskriminasie tussen vier groepe van eerstejaarstudente. In die geval van graduandi is gevind dat die skoolgemiddelde die vernaamste determinant vir graadprestasie is. Die meeste skoolvakke het egter ’n beperkte diskriminasievermoë getoon om tussen suksesvolle en onsuksesvolle studente te onderskei. Verder is gevind dat die beleid om skoolprestasie in die vorm van graderings eerder as werklike persentasies bekend te maak ’n beduidende invloed het op die verwagte universiteitsprestasie. Een van die belangrikste bydraes van hierdie tesis is die gebruik van optimale tellings as ’n alternatiewe imputasie metode vir toepassing op interval- en kategoriese data. Hierdie studie het ook studiejare geidentifiseer waarop meer gekonsentreer moet word ten einde studenteprestasie te verbeter: die eerste twee jaar vir besigheidsverwante programme; die derde studiejaar vir ingenieursprogramme en die derde asook vyfde jaar van studie vir die ander programme. Verder het die studie ook bepaalde skoolveranderlikes geidentifiseer wat goeie indikatore vir universiteitsprestasie is en wat ook kan dien om skoolverlaters met die potensiaal om suksesvol op universiteit te presteer tot die CBU toe te laat. Dit het geblyk dat prestasie in eerstejaar wiskunde die swakste was tydens die eerste studiejaar op universiteit ten spyte daarvan dat die studente uitstekende resultate in skool wiskunde behaal het. Daar is ook ’n duidelike onderskeid gevind tussen studente wat die eerste studiejaar suksesvol geslaag het ( ‘clear pass’ oftewel CP studente) en die ander eerstejaarsgroepe. Bowendien kon die groep wat die eerste universiteitsjaar met onderskeiding geslaag het (‘distinction’ oftewel die DIS groep) heeltemal ge-isoleer word. Hierdie twee groepe (CP en DIS) het meestal ook oor uitstekende skoolresultate beskik in vergelyking met die ander groepe.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102668
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