The development and empirical evaluation of an extended learning potential structural model

Mahembe, Bright (2014-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In South Africa, selection from a diverse population poses a formidable challenge. The challenge lies in subgroup difference in the performance criterion. Protected group members perform systematically lower on the criterion due to systematic, group-related differences in learning and job competency potential latent variables required to succeed in learning and on the job. These subgroup differences are attributable to the unequal development and distribution of intellectual capital across racial-ethnic subgroups due to systemic historical disadvantagement. This scenario has made it difficult for organisations in South Africa to meet equity targets when selecting applicants from a diverse group representative of the South African population, while at the same time maintaining production and efficiency targets. Therefore there is an urgent need for affirmative development. Ensuring that those admitted to affirmative development interventions successfully develop the job competency potential and job competencies required to succeed on the job requires that the appropriate people are selected into these interventions. Selection into affirmative development opportunities represents an attempt to improve the level of Learning performance during evaluation of learners admitted to affirmative development opportunities. A valid understanding of the identity of the determinants of learning performance in conjunction with a valid understanding of how they combine to determine the level of learning performance achieved should allow the valid prediction of Learning performance during evaluation. The primary objective of the present study was to integrate and elaborate the De Goede (2007) and the Burger (2012) learning potential models in a manner that circumvents the problems and shortcomings of these models by developing an extended explanatory learning performance structural model that explicates additional cognitive and non-cognitive learning competency potential latent variables that affect learning performance and that describes the manner in which these latent variables combine to affect learning performance. A total of 213 participants took part in the study. The sample was predominantly made up of students from previously disadvantaged groups on the extended degree programme of a university in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The proposed De Goede – Burger – Mahembe Learning Potential Structural Model was tested via structural equation modeling after performing item and dimensional analyses. Item and dimensional analyses were performed to identify poor items and ensure uni-dimensionality. Uni-dimensionality is a requirement for item parcel creation. Item parcels were used due to sample size restrictions. The fit of the measurement and structural models can generally be regarded as reasonable and both models showed close fit. Significant relationships were found between: Information processing capacity and Learning Performance during evaluation; Self-leadership and Motivation to learn; Motivation to learn and Time-engaged-on-task; Self efficacy and Self-leadership; Knowledge about cognition and Regulation of cognition; Regulation of cognition and Time-cognitively-engaged; Learning goal orientation and Motivation to learn; Openness to experience and Learning goal orientation. Support was not found for the relationships between Conscientiousness and Time-cognitively-engaged, as well as between Time-cognitively-engaged and Learning performance. The hypothesised moderating effect of Prior learning on the relationship between Abstract reasoning capacity and Learning performance during evaluation was not supported. The statistical power of the test of close fit for the comprehensive LISREL model was examined. The discriminant validity of the item parcels were ascertained. The limitations of the research and suggestions for future studies have been highlighted. The results of the present study provide some important insights for educators and training and development specialists on how to identify potential students and talent for affirmative development in organisations in South Africa.

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