An investigation of the perceptions of South African students with regards to accelerated learning courses

Van Rooyen, L. M. ; Ontong, J. M. ; Mitchell, Z. L. (2021)

CITATION: Van Rooyen, L. M., Ontong, J. M. & Mitchell, Z. L. 2021. An investigation of the perceptions of South African students with regards to accelerated learning courses. South African Journal of Higher Education, 35(3):254-279, doi:10.20853/35-3-3944.

The original publication is available at http://www.journals.ac.za/index.php/sajhe

Article

The cost of repeating a module has both financial and social implications. The social implications include increased workloads when repeating a module and students often not being able to graduate within the prescribed minimum course period. A possible solution for this is the use of accelerated learning courses, in the form of summer or winter schools. These schools provide students with another opportunity to pass a module, during the summer or winter recess, using an accelerated learning mode, and consequently complete modules with prerequisites of failed modules in the following year. Using an accelerated learning approach, a summer or winter school covers a large portion of the content in semester or year modules in a shortened timeframe outside the normal academic period. Using a questionnaire approach, the various perceptions of first year students at the end of the academic year regarding the use of these schools were obtained and analysed. The timing of the end of the academic year allows students to familiarise themselves with the various accelerated learning courses offered to them throughout the academic year. The findings suggest that students have a positive perception of these schools despite most of them not having had previous experience of completing an accelerated learning course. Although previous literature has indicated that students are hesitant to complete finance-related modules in an accelerated learning format versus traditional semester and year modules, the perceptions indicate that students are willing to engage in financial modules, with the students identifying that the benefits of these accelerated learning courses exceed the cost. The findings suggest that students who are presented with various non-academic obstacles throughout the traditional module are able to use summer or winter schools as a way to reduce exposure to these obstacles and complete an accelerated learning course. The use of these schools therefore presents an area for module developers to consider when implementing these schools as a way to improve throughput rates, thereby contributing in a positive way to students’ financial and social health.

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