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Signature: Juané Bezuidenhout
Date: 19 September 2018
Tertiary education in South Africa consists of various options that high school students have from studying towards a degree, a diploma or obtaining a certificate. Acceptance into the various institutions is based on a grading system using high school results, particularly matriculation/Grade 12 results.
High school students are subjected to some forms of assessments during their scholastic term one of which includes an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test. The results are used to enable the Guidance Teachers and Tutors to guide the participant into a subject choice during their middle year of high school, i.e. starting from Grade 8 through to Grade 10 which, ultimately, steers them into a career path for which further education is required. This does not necessarily mean it is in the best interest of the participant, as they may not have sufficient information and experience to make the ideal choice. Parents also play a major role in influencing the participants, not necessarily into what the participants want, but more having the participants live out their dreams as parents. Parents, in some cases, do tend to manipulate and/or mould their children into “mini-me’s” or to live out their dream which they were not able to achieve in their lifetime for whatever reason.
This study will review several factors that will be used to explain the impact pf the selection criteria into acceptance into a tertiary institution. A sample size of 20 participants were interviewed in person. A tabulation of their matric results with the results of their third-year results was formulated.
The demographic profile of the participants represented all races, gender and age within the South African and International environment. The pre-requisite was that all the students were Honours Students in the Psychological discipline with one third year subject to be compared to their Grade 12 high school results.
Participants were all presented with the same questions which formed the basis of this study. The results of this study highlighted several factors which would have had an influence on the outcome of their results at tertiary level.
The participants also indicated that additional assessments and exposure to their field of interest throughout their high schooling career should form part of their high school education besides just being IQ assessed before making the final decision. This should already start being implemented from Grade 8 level to be able to make an informed decision when doing their subject choice in Grade 10.
Key Words: tertiary education, grading system, matriculation results, psychological discipline, psychological assessments, field of interest.
Interpretive analysis or alternatively interpretative phenomenological analysis, also referred to as the IPA technique can be described as methodology to psychological qualitative research and the approach thereof with the aim to offer deeper insight into how a person, in a given context makes sense of a given occurrence. Terre Blance, Durrheim and Painter (2006) Chapter 14, 321-327.
A qualitative interview and the value it represents, Kvale (1996) regards a research interview as the way of obtaining intricate scientific knowledge about the subject matter. The objective of the qualitative interview, according to Kvale (1996), is to understand the subject matter from the participant’s point of view. To be able to put oneself in the participant’s shoes and find meaning of their experiences.
According to Bryman ; Cassell, 2006, conducting a qualitative interview is a way of collecting data through conducting interviews, whether it be formal (in person via a focus group or one-on-one interviewing) or informal (through questionnaires, social media or telephonic discussions). This interview allows for the opportunity for the researcher to get to know his/her participant on a more intimately personal level, reading non-verbal communication, e.g. body language to assess response to a question, monitoring facial expressions to determine if a specific question evokes any emotion which would not normally be accessible through an informal process.
Analysing data involves 5 complex tasks namely:
Discovering themes and subthemes
Describing the core and peripheral elements of themes
Building hierarchies of themes or codebooks
Applying these themes, that is attaching them to the actual data
Linking the themes into a theoretical model
There are various themes that emerge with interpretive analysis. These themes are patterns that form across data sets that are important to the description of the phenomenon and the specific research question associated with it.
In this study, the qualitative interview enabled me to better understand how the participants interpreted the information, perceived, encoded and retrieved it and how they analysed and interpreted their experiences of their tertiary education verses that of their high school experiences. It also gave me an opportunity to study their non-verbal communication through body language, facial expressions, voice tone. For example, a participant answering a question of potential selection. The body language experienced was that of frowning and anger. It also enabled me to provide support throughout the process.
From the sample size of 20 participants, 5 participants were selected for association of a theme and/or subtheme to determine the participants emotional and personal view of the fairness in the selection processes at tertiary institutions.
What impact does these themes have on the fairness of the selection process at tertiary institutions? It could be determined that a mere individual would not have an impact on the selection process whereas multiple participating students who are of the same opinion might be able to change the perceptions of tertiary institutes on their selection process.
Participating Student 6: Theme
The theme depicts that there should be additional assessment measures introduced into high school where they can be of beneficial to the student and will be able to be used as an enhancement for the selection process at higher institutions.
Participating Student 8: Theme
Student 8 shows a theme of discrimination within the selection process that should be eliminated. There should be a balanced approach to selection within tertiary institutions. Various skills can be developed, and this positively contribute to society. Previously disadvantaged participants should be given an opportunity to be reviewed in accordance with their environment.
Participating Student 12: Theme
The theme of participating student 12 shows that the selection processes at tertiary institutions is unfair and causes more disadvantage to already disadvantages students, where there are no funds are available to be able to study further or show one’s potential.
Participating Student 19: Theme
Participating student 19 presented with an interesting theme where he, himself exceled at school and did brilliant at university third level but was pushed into a career path that he did not enjoy. 20 years later he has not worked a day within the choice career path and is doing something completely different.
The theme presented here is that selection process is of importance but does not provide the student with the drive and passion for the chosen career path. “Just because I am good at maths does not mean that I want to be what my family wants me to be. I love science and would rather have chosen my education to lead into the science field rather than mathematical field.”
Participating Student 20: Theme
Student 20 theme is that of a disadvantaged background where family matters causes individuals to not be able to complete their tertiary education due to financial constraints within the family environment. The university does not necessarily see the potential for success in such an individual and this does not result in a bursary or exemption form paying annual fees.
This research project will have a look into the selection process which a student has to go through for higher education within any tertiary institution. The aim of the study was to be able to determine if there is a correlation between a student’s matriculation results versus that of a third-year module completed within a degree of the Psychological discipline. Study conducted is of a Qualitative and Quantative nature.
The aim of this research report is to determine if there is a significant relationship between a student Grade 12 results and the results of their third-year level module. The question that needs to be asked is: “Does the selection process of a tertiary institution provide a fair chance for all students to partake in higher education?”
Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used to determine the strength of the relationship between Variable X, namely the average results of Grade 12, and variable Y, namely the final third year results of Research Methodology module. Pearson’s correlation coefficient is more frequently and commonly referred to as Pearson’s R. The results of calculating the correlation coefficient produces a value between -1 and 1, where a “+” (positive) indicates a positive relationship or subsequently a “–” (negative) indicates a negative relationship.
The position of a negative or positive relationship provides an indication of whether there is a relationship between the variables or not. With this study a correlation coefficient of 0.42, i.e. r = 0.42 was preselected, with my results concluding a r = 0.43. This result depicts a positive significate relationship between a student Grade 12 results versus that of their third-year module results.
The selection assessment goal is to attempt in obtaining a better understanding of how a student will perform in a selected position that has been applied for. The assessment used is based on the idea that suitability or passion does not really present an indication when making use of questionnaires, letters or interviews whereas assessment for placement is used to place a student into a course or educational path.
Assessment for placement is used to determine if a student has the capacity, capability and determination to succeed within a certain preselected academic program. For example, within high school one is an above average student in maths, it is concluded that you will do great as an accountant or if the student is strong is Physical Science, Mathematics or Biology he/she will go on to be a great in the medical or scientific field of study.
Within South Africa there is a high demand for individuals to gain various skills through higher education within a tertiary environment.
The higher education sector plays a crucial role in enabling students or graduates access to various corporate environments. This, in turn, enables the individual to grow within the economic market. Whilst being in the 21st century, South Africa still experiences the reluctance for certain underprivileged citizens the opportunity to study further.
Access to higher education in South Africa is not without obstacles. Individuals from disadvantaged social backgrounds in most of the African countries faces a range of barriers and they tend to be poorly represented in tertiary institutes. Mdepa W, Tshiwula L (2012). Student diversity in South African higher education (University of the Western Cape) Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning Volume 13, 19-33 is evident and well-published.
Taking into consideration the ethical conditions, tertiary institutes should partake in the selection process to ensure fair conditions for all selected students. A number of questions are thus raised through the evaluation of the selection process, i.e.: “Who monitors if an institute is using ethical standards and guidelines when selecting who may enter tertiary education?” and “Does each institute use a grading system to ensure fair selection and if so, what grading system is used?”
The Research Question
The following research question or problem that is guided by this study is: “What is the selection process at tertiary institutes and the effects of matriculation results has on a student’s pass rate with in third year?”
The Aim of the Research
The aim of this study is to explore the matriculation results of 20 participants in comparison with their third-year results and what the effects of a tertiary institute selection process has on a student.
Selection processes at tertiary institutes is a grading system that is applied to applicants based on their matriculation results. There is a positive correlation between previous academic achievement or results and future academic success which has been demonstrated by previous research conducted.
However, in this study of a group of participants who achieved university exemption at matric level in certain compulsory subjects, it is not possible to predict with certainty that these participants would be amongst the top achievers at tertiary level or who of these participants are less likely to succeed.
There are various disadvantages that has been pointed out by society, when it comes to all being able to take part in the adventure or tertiary education, such as those who come from a disadvantages background. When referring to a disadvantaged background, it entails those students who are not able to finish school because of falling pregnant or the older sibling having to take care of the younger siblings and thus has to drop out of school to work and support them.
Another form may be a family member illness which could cause the student to not be able to complete secondary school. In order to address the disadvantage more efficiently and to move beyond race as an indicator of disadvantage, society as a whole should change and address their perception and assessment of others.
Many views in society is that if you did not obtain a tertiary education, you are not part of the elite members that automatically succeed at all tasks provided. This misperception causes many individuals that has the potential for success to not go further in their schooling career due to judgement or bulling.
This misperception which are for many individuals the cause for not enrolling into a tertiary institute is also the cause for many who do enrol in a tertiary institute and does not make a success of it. This result could be from parent’s persuasion and self-fulfilment for their children to succeed as they did not have the opportunity.
Selection processes at tertiary institutes has been in use since the first university was established in 1829, namely the University of Cape Town (UCT). There is a professional board for the discipline you wish to complete a degree, diploma or certificate in that determines the maximum number of students who may be selected per course offered.
The selection regulations are drawn up per institute for each offered degree, diploma or certificate programme. The regulations specified for each University should strictly be adhered to. There are 3 phases which the selection process is evaluated to.
These phases are as follows:
Phase 1: Provisional Selection
Phase 2: Final Selection
Phase 3: Top up Selection – this phase only applies to students who wishes to pursue a career in Medicine and Dentistry.
At University of South Africa, the selection process in particular is a calculation of the students’ individual points which takes into consideration the students Grade 12 results. Other factors that is also taken into consideration is which school the student attended, the student’s gender, socio-economic group and race (www.unica.ac.za – 2019 Application Information).
All of these factors are graded according to a rating scale. These results are used in combination with the results of the students Grade 12 status, such as if exemption is granted or not. Once all of these factors are evaluated the student will be notified if he or she is accepted into the university.
The research problem faced in this study is the selection process at tertiary institutes and what correlation there is between a student Grade 12 results verses that of third year Research Methodology module. Does a good pass rate in matric result in success in your third year within the Psychological discipline?
In the study, 20 participants (n=20) were interviewed with results being of a quantitative and qualitative nature. A Collection was calculated, results being a positive correlation. This essentially meant that there is a positive relationship between the results obtained in Grade 12 versus the results of a selected module in the students third year studies.
This study does not take into consideration the full year results or the average thereof, merely one module. There was no recording of the emotional state the participant experienced during the completion of the third-year module. As a fourth-year psychology student, I am aware of the affects that an emotional, traumatic or difficult year can have on an individual and the suffers one can experience on one’s studies.
Previous studies have established many benefits that educational institutions would experience from implementing self-learning programs. These benefits include a positive perception of the selected university by society or by the community (Miron & Moely, 2006), another benefit being is that it enhances the student’s retention rates, i.e. how the student remember the information learned the next day, or for that matter a week later (Eyler et al., 2001), additional positive benefit is the teaching and learning outcome such as that of a student’s better involvement and participation in class (Caruso et al., 2007), and finally it increases the opportunities for meaningful research to be conducted by the student (Strand et al., 2003).
The aim of this research project is to conduct a study where it is possible to calculate the correlation between a participant’s Grade 12 results verses that of a third-year level module within the Psychology discipline.
The research is based on criteria provided by the University of South African. All regulations specified were complied with. All ethical considerations were complied with.
Research methodology used in this study has been outlined and a brief description is provided. The outline of the research methodology is done to substantiate the choice of research method, the data collection process and the implementation of the data analysis.
The methodology used within this study was of the qualitative and quantitative nature, with an interpretive approach being followed. Ethical considerations such as the protection of the participant’s interest and well-being, their emotional safety and identity were deemed important.
Research approach and design
This study followed a quantitative and qualitative approach with a list of 5 questions asked to each participant, their matriculation results in combination with the participants third year results was recorded to calculate a Pearson’s correlation coefficient.
Population and sampling
The target population included third year Psychology students who have completed Research Methodology in their third year. There are no conditions set that the student had to have passed the module or not.
Of the 20 participants (N=20), 5 participants (n=5) were selected to conduct a face to face interview with, to establish a rapport with them, of which the Interpretative phenomenological analysis theory was applied.
Participants selection consisted of males and females within their third year of a degree within the Psychology discipline who have completed Research Methodology module. The participants are all representing different ages, race and gender with any of the 11 South African languages as their official home language.
Truthfulness or more commonly referred to at the validity of the study can be assured to by adherence to the listed principals of credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability as explained by Lincoln and Guba (1985:290).
Interviews were conducted with each participant based on a semi-structured interview guide provided by the University of South Africa (Appendix A and Appendix B).
The interview questions were structured in an open-ended question manner with the purposes of opening a dialogue with the participant to be able to get an opinion of the selection process experienced by Tertiary institutes. This assisted in full engagement which often led to a comprehensive answer, which included emotion, life experiences and home environment.
According to Burns and Grove (2011:544) a pre-test is a smaller version of the main study and is to be implemented before the principal study is to be conducted. In this study the pre-testing consisted of a single interview with all participant, namely participant 1, me.
Interview conducted was of internal nature to analyse my own perception and experience of the selection process experienced through entering a tertiary institute.
The pre-test met the criteria of the study and no risks were identified, the sampling technique and methodology used in the main study was also implemented in the pre-test.
Thus, the results of the pre-test were included into the main study of the selection process at tertiary institutes (Thabane, Ma, Chu, Cheng, Ismaila, Rios, Robson, Thabane, Giangregoria & Goldsmith, 2010:6).
All the interviews were conducted at various locations, as specified by the participant, either telephonically, via email or mobile communication as well as numerous face-to-face interviews.
The researcher, namely myself, currently a fourth-year Psychology student, is the principal facilitator of the interviews, hence no assistant was made use of.
The principal interviewer took notes and asked the stipulated questions. All interview answers were recorded on an excel document making use of a laptop.
Data analysis and interpretation
The data compiled as set out in Appendix A and Appendix B was analysed using the analysis framework as suggested in Terre Blance, Durrheim and Painter (2006:322-326). The data compiled was examined for various themes and sub-themes. Numerous reputative variations were explored.
Ethical considerations or ethical reasons are very important in any study (Eide & Kahn, 2008). A researcher has an ethical obligation to protect the participants, their privacy as well as their human rights (Burns & Grove, 2009:189).
Therefore, a researcher is directed by five fundamental ethical principles, namely:
Principal of respect for persons
Principle of beneficence
Principle of justice
Confidentiality and anonymity
Due to ethical reasons, Interpretative phenomenological analysis is frequently concerned with the existential issues, it was imperative that the interviewer was monitoring the impact of the interview and how it was affecting the participant, and how his or her emotional state was affected by the list of questions being posed.
One needed to pay attention to aspects that the participant did not want to talk about, such as awkward feelings and reactions they might have been experiencing.
The interviewer, who is experienced, could thus make use of counselling skills to develop a confidential and safe dialogue.
Image sourced from Google
Rubric cube was provided by the University of South Africa for the conversation of matric percentage or symbol results to a numeric value.
The following conversion table was used:
Research study provided the following results. The correlation coefficient predetermined was r = 0.42 as a significant correlation.
The 20 participants average Grade 12 results were used in combination with their third year Research Methodology results.
A correlation coefficient or Pearson’s R was calculated. The results came a positive gradient of r = 0.43. Refer to figure below.
The results concluded that there is a significant relationship between the participants Grade 12 results and that results of their third-year research methodology module.
An above average achievement in high school matriculation/Grade 12 level proved that the participants did, in actual fact, progress further with their tertiary education achieving better results than participants who did not perform at high school level.
The gradient below provides an indication that if a student did well in matric, not only did he or she receive matric exemption to be able to study further at a higher institution, but the results would have an impact on their final degree results. It was also proved that participants had the right subject choice to enable them to receive a tertiary exemption.
That being said, a student who did well in Grade 12 will, in turn, do well in their third year of their tertiary education.
Analysis of the data provided a representation between participants age and gender.
30 % of the participants were male and 70% were female. Two participants preferred not to disclose their age even within the safe environment with the assurance that their identity would be protected in compliance with the nature of this study as well as human rights.
The below table represents the demographic age profile of the participants:
39% of participants were between the ages of 20 and 30, 28% of the participants were between the ages of 31 and 40 years, 28% were between the ages of 41 and 50 and the minority of 6% of the participants were between the age of 51 and 60.
Further analysis was done between gender and age:
The Correlation Coefficient (Pearson R) of females is 0.136 and of males is 0.551.
Aspects that are not taken into consideration when completing this study were whether the participant took a gap year after completing Grade 12.
Another aspect not explored during this study was whether within this gap year, were various other skills gained to aid in the selection process.
The Correlation Coefficient (Pearson R) of Youth in South Africa between the ages of 20 and 35 years resulted in 0.490 whereas the Middle-Aged age group of 36 – 60 years resulted in 0.561.
Based on this, further questions need to be raised: “Were other psychological assessment given in Grade 12 or even earlier to determine if the student would succeed in the selection of subjects to do better in Grade 12”.
For example, would a student do better in matric if a psychological assessment such as an aptitude test is completed in Grade 10 to aid in the selection process of subjects.
Once Grade 12 is completed would a personality profile test using a methodology such as Myers Briggs or Belbin be helpful in the student selecting a higher education path that ultimately will lead to a successful career path.
Would this career selection be satisfactory for the individual to make a success of it to gain confidence?
The question that has been raised is, does a student’s matriculation results have an impact on their third-year results? And would these matriculation results lead a student to study further into a selected career path?
Through doing this study, numerous questions became evident:
Would having various psychological assessments assist one to be able to choose a career path that is the best for oneself or open more questions? Ultimately is it necessary to study further rather that acquiring the skills for a certain trait and working oneself up into various positions within the career path chosen?
Would being a certain age and gender increase the results gained during the completion of a degree is a question that needs to be raised here.
Would it not just be best to acquire the skills in certain fields of study rather than taking the time out to study at a tertiary institution for up to 4-year rather than getting the skill and analyse if this is what you wish to do for the rest of your working life.
Could one make the decision to not study further and still be able to support the lifestyle that comes from being in the ‘real’ working world.
Does having a degree aide a participant in achieving a better paid job or status that goes with it rather that acquiring the status through hard work. Would it be not compulsory for all schools for provide each student with an aptitude test, a 19-field test or any other psychological assessments that would aid the student in the selection process.
While the student participants examined in this study have for the most part had a positive outlook or perception of what higher education entails, they also have clear expectations of what the tertiary institutions should provide to them to be able to support and enable their learning as well as the opportunity to enhance their career prospects.
While this study has viewed valuable information regarding the selection processes at tertiary institutes, it is of this researcher option that a larger sample group should be compiled.
It can thus be concluded that there is a direct correlation between participants achieving good Grade 12 results by achieving a coefficient of 0.427, moving on to achieve tertiary qualifications with good marks.
There is also a direct correlation between the matriculation results obtained by the females versus those obtained by the males. The correlation coefficient in gender can be provided as a 0.136 for females and a coefficient of 0.551 for males.
These results provide a basis to say that there is a need for woman to receive additional guidance in their secondary school years whereas men might not need such additional guidance. These values do, however, not provide a substantial reason why men succeed better within secondary level education and woman has more successful in tertiary level education.
However, it is clear from the sample group’ information provided during the interviewing process that there definitely is a need for psychological assessment to aid the student in the selection of Grade 10 subjects that would ultimately assist them in forming a career of substantial status and growth. A career path that would be fulfilling and satisfactory rather than just a mere job. This could possibly form part of the next level of study.