POTENTIAL BARRIERS TO LEARNING OF FIRST YEAR UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
The transition from high school to university is reported to have been marked with many problems. As McKenzie and Schweitzer (2001), note, students from different social and cultural backgrounds, with different experiences and varying levels of education bring with them different needs and academic potential. This has implications for the teaching and assessment strategies that are used at university level, as well as the nature of social and emotional support the students need. This is true of the South African situation.
This exploratory survey examined the potential barriers to learning of first year Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) students during the first term of their academic year. The students are enrolled in the programme once it has been established that they meet the minimum requirements for admission to a Bachelor’s degree, as stipulated by the National Department of Education. The sample consisted of 46 participants: 28 females and 18 males. The participants completed a questionnaire consisting of biographical data as well as 44 items regarding their perceived barriers to learning. Their responses were measured on a 4-point Likert type scale of 1 to 4 (1 = not at all likely, 4 = Very likely). The biographical information revealed that the majority of the students (40) came from the Free State province where the institution is located and their home language is mainly SeSotho and SeTswana which are dominant languages in the province; only five students stayed at the university residences or hostels, 18 rented flats while 23 stayed at home. The majority of students use buses or taxis to get to the university. The overall mean for the barriers scale was (1.87 and SD=0.5). The items on the potential barriers were categorized into four domains, namely, financial issues; ability; family related issues; and decision making skills. Findings of the study are discussed in line with the four domains and educational implications of the findings are discussed.