Addressing the needs of commuter students : an evaluation of the amamaties hub at Stellenbosch University

Van Zyl, Benita (2018-03)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Massification of higher education has led to increasing numbers of a diversity of students entering universities. At the same time financial constraints prohibit higher education institutions from providing sufficient student accommodation on campus. This results in growing numbers of commuter students with different needs and challenges. The residential education (ResEd) and cluster initiative at Stellenbosch University (SU) aim to address the needs of commuter students by providing a physical on-campus space (hub) for commuter students and by granting access for them to common areas in residence dining halls and study areas. The hub and cluster initiative aims to promote commuter student success and to enhance the social interaction among residential and commuter students in the co-curricular environment. It further seeks to create integrated learning communities that are commuter-friendly and promote active and collaborative academic and social activities outside the classroom. This initiative was implemented in 2008, and has not been evaluated before. This study used program evaluation to gain a better understanding of the cluster initiative and hub, and the extent to which it actually addresses the needs of commuter students. The following outcomes of the Logic Model were evaluated: to create spaces which would address the basic needs of commuter students (in terms of safety, meals, rest and relaxation); to create opportunities within the cluster for commuter and residence students to participate in learning communities (i.e. attend mentor and/or tutor sessions and form study groups); to make campus life more welcoming by creating spaces and opportunities where diverse commuter and residence students can socialize in the same community; to enhance the academic experience and academic success, especially that of commuter students. All the commuter and residential students in the amaMaties cluster during 2014 and 2015 were asked to participate in the study. A self-generated questionnaire was used for an electronic survey among the research participants. The questionnaire was completed by 331 students, of whom 126 were commuter students and 205 were residential students. Some of the findings of the study included that significant interaction between commuter and residential respondents occurred in the learning community of the hub, and although a gradual improvement of average percentages of commuter students occurred, graduation rates of residential students still exceeded those of commuter students, especially in the case of black and coloured students who live in residences. This study found that the hub and cluster contributed firstly to the positive experience and sense of belonging of commuter students. Secondly, it contributed to the spontaneous interaction across race and gender differences among commuter and residential students. Thirdly, an unexpected change in behaviour of residential students to open up previously exclusive spaces in residences occurred. Fourthly, both commuter and residential students experienced the space as a learning community that enhanced their student experience, and lastly the study provides guidelines to student affairs practitioners at other South African universities on how to better integrate commuter and residential students, leading to a stronger sense of belonging among commuter students.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Massifikasie van hoër onderwys het gelei tot groter getalle diverse studente wat toegang tot universiteite kry. Terselfdertyd verhoed finansiële beperkings dat hoëronderwysinstellings voldoende studenteverblyf op kampus verskaf. Dit lei tot ʼn groeiende getal pendelstudente met verskillende behoeftes en uitdagings. Die residensiële onderwys (ResEd) en klusterinisiatief van die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US) het ten doel om die behoeftes van pendelstudente aan te spreek deur 'n fisiese kampusruimte (hub) vir pendelstudente daar te stel, en toegang tot gemeenskaplike areas in eetkamers en studielokale vir hulle te verleen. Die hub en klusterinisiatief beoog om die sukses van pendelstudente te bevorder en om die sosiale interaksie tussen residensiële en pendelstudente in die ko-kurrikulêre omgewing te verbeter. Dit het verder ten doel om geïntegreerde leergemeenskappe te skep wat pendelstudentvriendelik is en aktiewe en samewerkende akademiese en sosiale aktiwiteite buite die klaskamer bevorder. Hierdie inisiatief is in 2008 geïmplementeer, en is nog nie geëvalueer nie. Hierdie studie het programevaluering gebruik om beter begrip van die klusterinisiatief en hub te kry, en beter te verstaan tot watter mate die inisiatief die behoeftes van pendelstudente aanspreek. Die volgende uitkomste van die ‘Logic Model’ is geëvalueer: om ruimtes te skep wat die basiese behoeftes van pendelstudente sal aanspreek (ten opsigte van veiligheid, etes, rus en ontspanning); geleenthede binne die kluster vir pendel- en koshuisstudente te skep om aan leergemeenskappe deel te neem (d.w.s. bywoning van mentor- en / of tutorsessies en die vorming van studiegroepe); om die kampuslewe meer verwelkomend te maak deur ruimtes en geleenthede te skep waar verskillende pendel- en koshuisstudente in dieselfde gemeenskap kan sosialiseer; om die akademiese ervaring en akademiese sukses veral van die pendelstudente te verbeter. Al die pendel- en residensiële studente van die amaMaties-kluster gedurende 2014 en 2015 is genooi om deel te neem aan die studie. 'n Selfgegenereerde vraelys is gebruik in ‘n elektroniese opname. Die vraelys is voltooi deur 331 studente, van wie 126 pendelstudente was, en 205 residensiële studente was. Sommige van die bevindings van die studie was, onder andere, dat beduidende interaksie tussen pendel- en residensiële respondente in die leergemeenskap van die hub plaasgevind het. Alhoewel 'n geleidelike verbetering van gemiddelde persentasies van die pendelstudente waargeneem is, het gradueringskoerse van residensiële studente steeds die gradueringskoerse van pendelstudente oortref, veral in die geval van swart en bruin studente wat in koshuise woon en akademies steeds beter vaar as hul eweknieë wat pendel. Hierdie studie het bevind dat die hub en kluster eerstens bygedra het tot die positiewe ervaring en gevoel van behoort van pendelstudente. Tweedens, het dit bygedra tot die spontane interaksie tussen pendel- en residensiële studente ongeag ras- en geslagsverskille. Derdens, was daar 'n onverwagte verandering in gedrag van residensiële studente om voorheen eksklusiewe ruimtes in koshuise oop te stel vir nie-inwoners. Vierdens, het beide pendel- en residensiële studente die ruimte ervaar as 'n leergemeenskap wat hul studente-ervaring verryk, en laastens bied die studie riglyne aan studente-praktisyns by ander Suid-Afrikaanse universiteite oor hoe om pendel- en residensiële studente beter te integreer, wat lei tot ‘n sterker gevoel van behoort onder pendelstudente.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103877
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