AN INTERVENTION STRATEGY TO ASSIST ACADEMICALLY UNDER-PERFORMING MECHANICAL ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN A SOUTH AFRICAN UNIVERSITY
University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Academic performance of engineering students in undergraduate programs in South African universities is a cause for concern in many academic, institutional and government environments. Traditionally a student is given entrance to an undergraduate program at a university on the basis that they have achieved the minimum academic requirements at high school. Once registered for the undergraduate program, the student is able to progress in the program as long as they are passing their modules in the program, and the academic prerequisites for the modules are satisfied. The reality in South African universities is that the majority of learners are coming from underprivileged communities where exposure to and understanding of higher education associated with study of a technological mechanical engineering field at a university is not necessarily present. This lack of exposure and familiarity is a disadvantage which results in poor performance of the learner. The learner’s progress through the program is affected if they do not satisfy minimum requirements. These issues become a major problem affecting the department’s throughput performance figures at the end of the semester. In order to be proactive, the Mechanical Engineering Technology Department at the University of Johannesburg undertook an intervention program to identify and personally engage those learners whose performance was below requirements. In this way it was hoped that their performance could be improved thereby bettering the departmental pass rate. This study shows the outcomes of the intervention program and suggests some strategies forward.
Keywords: Engineering education, social and technology issues.