Central University of Technology, Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 3731-3741
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
The purpose of this study is to look at the role played by sense of meaning in increasing quality throughput rates at university. The study in longitudinal in the sense that, it is a follow up on a previous study which was conducted to determine whether the life stressors and resources students experience, meaning in life, and Grade 12 marks can be used to predict the academic performance of first-year students. A random sample of 101 first-year students in the Faculty of Management Sciences studies was selected to participate in the initial study. For this purpose a biographical questionnaire, the Purpose in Life Test (PIL) of Crumbaugh and Maholic (1969), and the Life Stressors and Social Resources Inventory-Youth Form (Moos & Moos, 1994), were used to gather data. A hierarchical regression analysis was performed to analyse the influence of stressors, resources, purpose in life, and matric performance on the academic performance of first-year students. It was out of the latter analysis that sense of meaning became the most significant predictor of first-year academic performance. In addition a stratified sample of two groups, 10 students with high PIL-scores and 10 students with low PIL-scores, was selected from 101 participants, to determine whether there are differences between the meaning systems of first-year students who scored high on the Purpose in Life Test (PIL) from those who scored low. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather information. A computer software package (NUD*IST) was used to analyse the interviews. The discourse analysis revealed the presence of more meaningful avenues (i.e. what they give to the world, what they take from the world and their attitude towards an unchangeable fate) amongst students who scored high on the PIL, and lack of meaningful avenues in students who scored low on the PIL. In the end it was concluded that, as a result of their more positive outlook towards life, first-year students with a high sense of meaning are better adjusted than those with a low meaning. A follow up longitudinal study was conducted to look into the throughput rate of participants (N=101) in the subsequent years. An analysis of their throughput rate, after 7 years, revealed that 81% of students who scored high on the Purpose in Life Test (PIL), in the initial study, completed their studies, compared to only 10% of those who scored low on the same test; essentially, 85% of students who fell in the low meaning category dropped-out of university; thus, the outcome of the longitudinal study justified the initial study. At the end it can be concluded that sense of meaning is not only a significant predictor of first-year performance, and adjustment, but it seems to also increase the throughput rate. The findings of this study may contribute to the development of intervention programs aimed at improving the sense of meaning (the creative, experiential and especially the attitudinal values) of young people. Considering the important contribution of meaningful avenues in the adjustment of students at university, as well as throughput rates, we should use more time and energy to promote them.
Sense of meaning, throughput rates, higher learning, life stressors, resources, student experiences, adjustment.