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Economics 178 The first year experience Improving the performance of first-year Economics students by means of an innovative summer school programme –

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Presentation on theme: "Economics 178 The first year experience Improving the performance of first-year Economics students by means of an innovative summer school programme –"— Presentation transcript:

1 Economics 178 The first year experience Improving the performance of first-year Economics students by means of an innovative summer school programme – An evaluation PM Horn & AI Jansen

2 Our First-Year Class

3 Outline of Presentation Introduction –Why a summer school? Background –First-year course The Summer School programme –Lectures & tutorials –Disciplinary procedures –Assessment Qualitative Analysis –Interviews Lessons Learnt

4 Introduction Why the need for a summer school programme? –Concern about pass rates at Department, Faculty & University Level –Flow through of students to senior Economics courses restrained –Repeating course has financial implications

5 Background: First-Year Course Economics 178 Currently a year course, non-elective for all BCom students in Economic & Management Sciences (EMS) faculty –Elective for students from other faculties One of the largest enrolments in EMS Faculty –Enrolment still increasing: from 1668 students (2002) to 2024 students (in 2007) – 21%

6 Success Rates Year Total enrolment Fledgling students as % of total enrolment Repeaters as % of total enrolment Failures as % of total enrolment Fledgling students failures as % of total fledgling students Repeater failures as % of total repeaters

7 Economics 178 Enrolment statistics

8 Success Rates Average pass rate of 65% for Economics 178 –Low (compared to Faculty (74%) & University averages (81%))

9 Possible Remedy to improve Success Rates? EMS Faculty initiated and implemented Summer school programme in January 2007 –Results – 89% pass rate –Statistics for the 2007 enrolment: 80.3% fledging first year enrolment 19.66% repeaters Decrease of 6% in the repeat rate enrolment

10 Summer school Requirements for entry Students had to have qualified for the final exams Students had to have written the final exam and failed this exam If students failed the first exam but qualified for a re-evaluation, they had to have made use of the second opportunity and again failed, to qualify for the summer school

11 Summer school Lectures Seventeen 3-hour sessions comprising all content covered during year course All lectures compulsory – Van Walbeek (2004) found that lecture attendance improved performance. Students not allowed to commence late with the programme 3 Lecturers (from Economics Department) teaching different themes

12 Summer school - Tutorials Tutors all Honours or Masters students All experienced tutors (received extensive training with the assistance of the university's Centre for Teaching and Learning) Tutorials compulsory Group sizes were approximately 30 students Tutorial homework consisted of exercises covering the chapters completed Purpose of exercises: –ensure that students revise the chapters covered –test their understanding of the literature –ensure that they participate actively during programme Marburger (2005)supports cooperative active learning where problems had a direct practical connection to work

13 Summer school Assessment Two tests and an examination (weights similar to those in year course) Type of questions and format of tests and the examination identical to those year course Assessments set by the first-year lecturers and internally moderated Students had to obtain entrance to the examination - predicate (course mark) of at least 40% Students not allowed to submit any leave of absences for either tests or examinations All registered students wrote both tests and the examination

14 Summer school Disciplinary procedures Students informed from the start that a) attendance of lectures and tutorials monitored, and b) if they did not attend lectures & tutorials, registration of course cancelled Card-swiping machine used If missed one lecture, students called in to provide reason (only allowed to miss once, if valid reason provided e.g. medical certificate) Rower (1993) – mandatory attendance could lead to a possible improved performance. Stanca (2006) – motivated students will attend all lectures – exogenous motivation by mandatory attendance.

15 Summer School Results

16 Interviews From the 178 students on the summer school, 10 students agreed to a 40 minute personal interview. Nine students arrived for the interviews, which was conducted by the authors. Of the nine students, one student had failed the summer school. Of the remaining eight students, three students continued with second-year economics. Qualitative Analysis

17 The interview focused on the following aspects: motivation for attending the summer school how students experienced the management of the programme (discipline; compulsory attendance, etc.) teaching techniques applied (different lecturers teaching different themes; length of lecture sessions) active learning techniques (homework exercises; tutorial sessions and group work techniques applied) impact of summer school experiences on second year of study attitude towards Economics as a discipline

18 Interviews – Some Results Primary reason for participation – do not want to repeat Economics 178 & extend studies with one more year. Strict discipline and compulsory attendance expected given type of programme they enrolled for. Many comfortable with teaching style used. Some comments on some sections being taught too fast or lack of clarity on some important concepts. Resounding success of the tutorial sessions. Techniques used one of the primary factors contributing to their success in the summer school. Most students indicated that they actively participated during tutorial sessions. They asked questions and answered when the tutor asked them questions (different to what they did during the normal tutorial sessions). Very few students did more self- study other than just completing their tasks. Most students spent, on average, about two hours per day on this activity.

19 Students indicated the importance of becoming actively involved in their learning process. They became more aware of what they did not apply correctly during the academic year, such as reading before lectures, doing tutorial exercises, reading and practicing the examples on a daily basis. Most students indicated that these learning techniques worked effectively during the summer school, but that it was more difficult to apply during the year (due to time constraints, other subjects, friends around, etc.). Factors identified that contributed to failing the summer school include less attention paid in class, very little participation in tutorial sessions and little interaction with other students during study sessions. Interviews – Some Results

20 Some Lessons Learnt Tutorials allowed students to engage with peers in small, interactive groups – increased opportunity to learn Attending only one course during this period Enthusiasm and encouragement of lecturers and tutors contributed to success achieved Experienced staff important

21 Concluding Remarks It is apparent that strict discipline, mandatory attendance of lectures and tutorials, attending only one module at a time, motivated students, and repetition of work still relatively fresh in the minds of students, contributed to the success of this summer school. Questions?

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