A STRATEGY TO RETAIN NCV STUDENTS AT TVET COLLEGE
TVET Colleges has a significant challenge of high student dropout rates in South Africa and other countries for years. The dropout rate in TVET Colleges is estimated between 13% and 25% per annum, the highest levels being in level 2 of the NQF Green Paper, (2012). These figures are a caution to all stakeholders, Higher education institutions around the world have been concerned about the student dropout phenomenon Habley, Bloom & Robbins, (2012); Seidman, 2005b; Tinto, (1993). TVET Colleges are, however, expected to play a significant role in addressing the acute shortage of skills Branson, Hofmeyr & Lan, (2013). The challenge is that the TVET College sector is currently incompetent regarding throughput and retention rates. Chweu and Schultz (2010) proclaim that the student throughput rate has become a great concern for higher education institutions and academic departments are challenged to handle this issue. (Berger, Ramirez & Lyon, 2012), stated that every student lost is a loss for the institution too. Student dropout or low student retention rates in any educational institution indicate a problem that needs to be solved. The students who withdraw from College prematurely end up not obtaining any certificate of graduation Ajaja, (2012). The major social costs of dropping out of college increased demand for social services, increased crime rates and poor levels of health Azam, (2007). Individual costs include lower earnings, unemployment prospects, greater likelihood of health problems Thurton, (2006). It is clear from the foregoing, that by dropping out of school, most students severely limit their chances of economic and social well-being in the future.
One of the long-term goals of any college and around the world is increasing the student retention. To retain students is extremely important as numbers of enrolment continue to rise. This study is mainly focusing on the challenges that contribute to student dropout and explain the reasons why students withdraw from their chosen programme of study. This study seeks to introduce a strategy to retain NCV (National Certificate Vocational) students at TVET College. Hagedorn (2006) defines student retention as keeping students in higher education classes until finish or receive their college certificates. According to Seidman (2005), dropout refers to any person leaving a school, university or college before graduation. In this study, dropout refers to all students who leave without completing their studies at a TVET College. The ever increasing challenge of student dropout at TVET Colleges remains spaces of concern among in higher education and this challenges persist year in and year out. Field, Musset and Alvazarez-Galvan (2014), states that dropping out is a pervasive challenge in South Africa and a significant reason why so many young South Africans end up uneducated and unemployed.
1.2 BACKGROUD OF THE STUDY
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in South Africa aims at strengthening and expanding the public TVET Colleges so that they become institutions of choice according to the White Paper on Higher Education and Training (2013). In South Africa, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges cater primarily for people ‘who have left school; whether they have completed secondary school or not’ (South Africa, 2013:11). The focus of TVET colleges is to ‘educate and train young school leavers, providing them with the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for employment in the labour market’ (South Africa, 2013:11). TVET colleges ‘mainly provide education and training for the mid-level skills required to develop the South African economy and tend to concentrate onoccupations in the engineering and construction industries, tourism and hospitality,and general business and management studies’ (South Africa, 2013:11). In 2006, a new curriculum was introduced, with the roll out of eleven programmes called the National Certificate Vocational NC(V), at levels 2, 3 and 4 of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Ebrahim (2013:29) argues that students who enrol at TVET colleges do so out of a desire to improve their standard of living, by obtaining a good and reliable job,thereby fulfilling their future vision of making a success of their future by working on their careers to become ‘something in life’.
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
Enrollment number of NCV students have significantly increased during recent years and consequently it resulted in a huge number of students. Hundreds of students are admitted to study at the college every year but after first year of study some of them dropout from school. However, high dropout rates continue to be an epidemic afflicting our nation’s higher education. Every year nearly one-third of all college students and almost one-half of minorities fail to graduate with their cohort (Smyth, 2006.) The fact that over 3 million students drop out of school every year and more than 1.2 million students fail to graduate with a diploma 4 years after they have entered high school makes this epidemic a national concern (Steinberg ; McCray, 2012).
1.4 CHALLENGES IN DROPOUT AT TVET COLLEGE
The majority of students who leave school before graduation do not disappear unexpectedly the are reasons or challenges for their dropout Ross Epp ; Epp, (2001). Students are aware of the push-out process and more frequently cite push-out factors such as not liking school, failing academically, excessive absenteeism, or having difficult relationships with teachers as their primary reasons for leaving school Bridgeland, (2006); Ekstrom, (1986).
1.4.1 Absenteeism Absenteeism is a tendency to be away from work or school without a good reason: the perform or habit of being absent from work or school (Merrimum.dictionary). This study view absenteeism as students who are not come in college regularly and not attend classes. Doyle, reported that the main reasons for absence are: the lesson content that is not planned and unattractiveness of the teacher’s speech are ineffective in increasing the absence of students in class Silver, ET (2010). Inappropriate time of class, and poor contents, are the reasons for their absence Flemming, N (2014). In Jahrom University of Medical Sciences, reported that inappropriate teaching method and little class efficiency are the factors that affect the absence Karami, M (2013). Other factors that increase absenteeism are lower subject interes, poor and boring teaching technique, unfavorable environment, extreme student socialization, Kottasz, R; Obeng-Denteh, W (2011);Bati AH (2013); Cook, DA 2005; Fernades, L (2008). This issue disrupts the teaching-learning dynamic environment and converts it into a dull and unpleasant one of student dropout Silver, ET (2010)
1.4.2 Transition The process or a period of changing from one state or conditions to another (Merrimum.dictionary). The transition from high school to the college culture is often complex and difficult, with challenges for all parties involved (Briggs, 2012; Yam, 2010; Lawrence, 2005; Kremer, 2001; Krause, 2001). Students’ academic success is largely dependent on successful transitioning in the first year (Briggs, 2012). Problems encountered during the transition period are now being compounded by the increased student population with diverse backgrounds (Doring, Bingham ; Bramwell-Vial, 1997). The change to student-centred learning calls for early student engagement, especially during the transition phase in their first year, in order to help the students adapt to college learning (Krause, 2005).
1.4.3 Student Discipline
The term ‘discipline’ comes from the word ‘discipulus’ in Latin which means teaching and learning. The term has the essence of control in it and means “to teach someone to obey rules and control their behavior or to punish someone in order to keep order and control” (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2005, p. 443); and thus it is mostly connoted with punishment in case of disobedience. Poor classroom management led to arguments, fights, and classroom disruptions during instruction time, which made it difficult to learn students make decision to leave or choose to droupout Lagto, (2005). Student discipline problems occur when a student refuses to obey rules of the classroom or school. Students’ misconduct in the classroom interferes with teaching and learning and is thought to be precursor to later school dropout and similar negative social outcomes. All students must be aware and prudent of the rules before disciplinary action can be administered. Franken, R.E. (1998). The noisiest students will demonstrate their frustration by loud outbursts, disruptive behavior, while the rest of the class may remain passive Sternberg, R.J. & Williams, W.W. (2002).
The aim of the study is to explore strategies of retain NCV students at TVET Colleges
Challenges of dropout
Absences create a dead, tiresome, unpleasant classroom environment that makes students who come to class uncomfortable and the lecturer irritable Marburger (2001). Absenteeism disturbs the dynamic teaching-learning environment and adversely affects the overall well-being of classes Segal (2008). In quality terms, absenteeism is a waste of educational resources, time and human potential. Student absenteeism also causes rework and wasted time for lecturers Lalek (1995); Rumberger (1997). Lecturers who spend class time re-teaching lessons take instructional time away from students who attend class regularly, and the extra time spent going over absentee homework and class assignments takes time away from lecturer planning periods and time needed to provide individual assistance Weller (1996).
Williams (2000), students who have absenteeism problems generally suffer academically and socially. Barker and Jansen (2000) indicates that students who are absent have lower achievement and may be penalized on test scores. Sustained absences may affect retention as it may degenerate into truancy or dropout Lotz and Lee (1999); Barker and Jansen (2000). The implications of absenteeism are felt outside the classroom as well Williams (2000). Continued loss of instruction or poor academic achievement among students with high absenteeism are essential college characteristics of students who later drop out of s Mayer and Mitchel (1996). Lotz and Lee (1999) indicate that acts of delinquency are more frequent among students who exhibit low grades, have spotty attendance, and later on drop out of school .Attendance patterns are the most accurate indicators that a student is falling behind academically and may drop out.
Inappropriate teaching method
Devadoss and Foltz (1996) stated the factors related with the class assistance are: motivation, the quality of the teachers, and the methodology in the classroom. The work of Timmis and Kaliszer (2002) identifies social and personal compromises and stress as factors that explain the abseentism in the College. Rodriguez (2003) relates abseentism with the methodology of the teachers, proximity of exams and teacher motivation to students. Espada (2008) with the same questionnaire obtains as the main cause of abseentism the proximity of exams. Alvarez (2004) points out that the teacher and proximity of exams are the main causes of abseentism. Massingham and Herrington (2006) indicate that the factors affecting abseentism are: illness, o, bored classes, new technologies or the teacher. Doyle (2008) find that the dissatisfaction with the teachers, time to the travel from home, the familiar or social compromises are related with abseentism. Recently Triado-Ivern (2009) and De Jorge (2011) explain abseentism with causes not related to the students, bored classes, the subject or the teacher’s methodology
Subramanian, B (2013) Inappropriate teaching, teacher performance and educational problems (Vessey, JA) had the greatest impact on student absenteeism. Silver, ET showed that the lesson content that is not well planned and unattractiveness of the teacher’s speech increase the absence of students in class. In the study conducted by Fleming, most of the students reported that stress, weak speech of the teacher, inappropriate time of class, and poor contents, are the reasons for their absence, Flemming, N (2014). The findings of a study, which was conducted at Tehran University, imply that inappropriate teaching methods are the most important cause of absence Moazani, F (2014). Students’ presence in the class has a potential impact on the ability of them in future activities.
Disinterest/lack of motivation
Lotz and Lee (1999) corroborate that students cite a negative self-image and low self-esteem as reasons for non-attendance. According to Enomoto (1997), when students perceive that lecturers do not care enough to follow up on absences, their motivation for attendance is not high. Interestingly, a converse view of compulsory attendance is provided by Lotz and Lee (1999) as contributing to and furthering the absentee problem. Forcing older students to remain in school when they are not motivated will only increase their absenteeism Williams (1999). Studies indicate that absenteeism is caused by a number of factors such as: lack of interesting and challenging curriculum; a desire for hedonistic activities with peers; negative self-image and self esteem; lack of subject interest; lack of personal interest in studies; the mental capacity of a student does not match with the course opted; the poor teaching skills of a lecturer also keep away students from school; lack of confidence in a lecturer; inadequate relations between a student and their lecturer and distance to college Mayer and Mitchell (1996); Weller (1996); Williams (2000); Marburger (2001).
33-44% of first-year undergraduates consider withdrawing Thomas, (2012)
The quality of teaching, the approach used and poor feedback from faculty to students, may lead students to perceive academics as unapproachable, inaccessible, and not interested in their work, and student may decide to dropout McInnis ;James, (1995).
Yorke and Longden (2008) – a frequently cited reason for withdrawal by students is “wrong field of study”; lack of understanding of the nature of the discipline they have chosen. Winstone and Bretton (2013) – the “expectation-reality gap” – independent learning, teaching methods, achievement standards. Rowley, Hartley and Larkin (2008) – unrealistic expectations lead to academic disengagement.
Students who plan to transfer to college have difficulty envisaging college life and accurately predicting their experience Peel, (2000); Sander, (2000); Tranter, (2003); Smith ; Hopkins, (2005); Longden, (2006); Joint Information Systems Committee,( 2007). This possibly relates to student expectations, aspirations and decision-making capacity Peel, (2000); Sander, (2000); Tanter, (2003); Smith ; Hopkins, (2005); Longden, (2006). The reality of the students’ first year at college tends to be mismatched by their pre-transfer aspirations Tranter, (2003; Smith & Hopkins, (2005). This creates great difficulty in adapting to higher education. Many students tend to make uninformed decisions with regard to the institution of choice or programmes they wish to pursue at college James, (2000); & Hillman, (2005). This leads to students withdrawing or contemplating withdrawing from the Yorke, (1997); Yorke & Longden, (2007). Student expectations are a lot of work, more independent learning and perceived that there would be an increased workload and a need for them to become more independent learners, and this links to the suggestion by Haggis (2006) that teaching staff construct the ‘new student’ as able to take responsibility for their own learning
Lack of guidance
College support systems and staff play a major role in assisting first year students to engage with their studies Krause, (2005). With regard to the availability of guidance, Needham and Papier (2011) state that ‘a number of students lamented the fact that there was limited guidance offered in certain courses to the point that parents and friends helped them to choose a course.
6.1.3 Student discipline
The discipline problems are for misbehavior such as insubordination, disruptive behavior, or school fights Vessey, JA (2007). Denga (1999) identified indiscipline problems such as stealing, truancy, sexual offence, disengagement and cheating as destructive practices
Disruptive classroom behaviors
These behaviors which interrupt instruction and student learning may include impulsive actions, defying authority, arguing with peers, and/or failing to comply with school rules Bidell ; Deacon, (2010); Powell ; Newgent, (2008). Students who exhibit disruptive classroom behaviors experience both academic and psychosocial difficulties and may strain limited school resources and services Bidell ; Deacon, (2010). Such inappropriate behaviors are occurring in school classrooms with increasing frequency, resulting in increased disciplinary referrals and lowered academic achievement Lambert, Cartledge, ; Heward, (2006). In addition, disruptive classroom behaviors have been linked with dropping out and delinquency, Vitaro, Brendgen, Larosse, ; Trembaly, (2005). Disciplinary infractions in elementary, middle, and high school have also been linked to dropping out, as have antisocial behaviors including getting in trouble with the police, acts of violence, and substance abuse Ekstrom, Goertz, Pollack, ; Rock, (1986). Even after controlling for student demographic characteristics and academic achievement,
DisengamentRumberger (2004) found that a lack of student engagement in school is significantly linked to dropping out. Dropping out can be described as process, rather than a single event, and is often the end result of a long period of disengagement Alexander, Entwisle, ; Horsey, (1997); Hammond, (2007); Jimerson, Egeland, Stroufe, ; Carlson, (2000). Students who are alienated and disengaged from school are much more likely to drop out Alexander, Entwisle, ; Horsey, (1997); Rumberger, (2001). Disengagement manifests itself in both Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programs: behavior and attitudes and have categorized engagement into several groupings: academic, social, behavioral, and psychological Hammond ; Reimer (2006).
Student’s level of detachment and disengagement from school academically is absenteeism Alexander, (1997); Gleason & Dynarski, (2002); Kaufman, (1992); Rumberger, (2001). Missing too many days and having trouble catching up was the second most reported reason for dropping out of school in a recent survey of dropouts around the U.S. Bridgeland, (2006). Other behaviors that can signal academic disengagement include cutting classes Ekstrom , (1986); Wehlage & Rutter, (1986), truancy Wehlage & Rutter, (1986), consistently not completing homework Ekstrom, (1986), and coming to class unprepared Kaufman, (1992).
Poor academic performance
Poor academic performance is one of the most consistent predictors of dropout, whether measured through grades, test scores, or course failure (Alexander, Entwisle, & Kabbani, (2001); Battin-Pearson, (2000); Ensminger & Slusarcick, (1992); Rumberger, (2001); Wagner, (1993).
Dropouts also have been found to be more likely to have trouble getting along with peers at school or have problems with social skills Jimerson, (2000). One study found that the factor influencing dropout wasn’t that students were socially isolated but that the friends they had were also at risk of dropping out Cairns, (1989). Another aspect of social disengagement at school is the lack of involvement in extracurricular activities at school, such as clubs, sports, science fairs, scouting, or the school newspaper Elliott ; Voss, (1974); Ingels, (2002).
Poor academic performance was given as one of the major reasons that dropouts left school before graduation Bridgeland, Dilulio, ; Morison, (2006); Ekstrom, (1986); Jordan, (1994). “Got poor grades” Ekstrom, (1986), “was failing in school” Bridgelan, (2006); Jordan, (1994), or “couldn’t keep up with schoolwork” Jordan, 1994) were reported by at least one-third of dropouts surveyed as primary reasons for dropping out. Research shows that academic failure or not being prepared for high school is a significant cause of dropout.27
Solutions of dropout
Study reported that most of the students believed that the teacher’s mastery over the content and power of speech are the main reasons for students’ attending classrooms Rostamzadeh, Z (2013). Similar findings have been reported in another study Wittmann, M (2012) ; Mills, LM, (2016). Lipscomb et al. Has reported that the most important factor in the increasing, attending of students in class, is the teacher characteristics such as his teaching and the charm of his words (4). In another study, mastery of teachers over the subject was the most important factor contributing to students’ attending in class Rastamzadeh Z (2013) indicates that a teacher must study continually to master the material content. students considered as effective in reducing absenteeism was actively teaching and attention to students’ learning. Avramor, P (2013), Mattick K (2007) ; Rastamzadeh Z (2013) confirmed that as well.
Students’ presence in the class has a potential impact on the ability of them in future activities. The classroom is a good place to transfer teachers’ experiences to students and provide a better understanding for them. Presence in the classroom not only helps the students in understanding the contents, but also places them in a better situation to solve hard problems Desalegn, AA (2014). Those who know the importance of students’ attendance in class, believe that presence in class, increases students’ knowledge, promotes their ideas, and change their attitudes Horton, DM (2012). In this regard, a study showed that class attendance reduces academic failure. Present learners are the learners who acquire the knowledge and skills needed for serving the society through to active participation in class discussions Eisen, DB (2015). The teacher also plays a special role in medical education by having features such as mastery over the content, power of speech and the ability to transfer knowledge Silver, ET (2010). Viewpoints of Shahrekord University students proposed strategies were: the teacher’s mastery over the course content, actively teaching and attention to students’ learning, teacher’s well-behaving and respectful attitude towards students, making the class atmosphere cheerful, practical teaching, attending sessions regularly and giving importance to the students’ attendance, teaching main contents of the course and not addressing the irrelevant issues, using a variety of teaching methods and up-to-date contents in teaching , responding to the students’ questions properly, and conducting continuous evaluations throughout the semester.
Ridley’s (2004) supposition that ‘conversations’ are the key to student success, and other research suggests the need for ‘transition tutorials’ within the first semester Crosling (2003); Keup and Barefoot, (2005).
Darmody, Smyth, and Unger (2008) college should consider the student workload in relation to time spent on campus and the impact of paid work on their identity as a ‘student’. Britain, government White Papers on higher education (DES, 1987; 1991)recommended that graduates should be equipped to deal with the demands of a rapidly changing working environment. Krause, (2005) have shown that improved staff commitment and accessibility is making the students take a more positive view of learning at college. Effective teaching strategies can be developed only once the students’ conception of learning has been taken into account. To be able to engage with them, it will be important, for example, to take the different learning styles present in the group into account Biggs & Tang, (2007); Ramsden, (2003). It believes the institutions and staff to provide the right environment that promotes engagement right from the first year Krause & Coates, (2008); Ramsden, (2003). This is achieved by creating an environment that makes the students develop a sense of belonging to the institution and the university community. This starts with peer interaction which ultimately leads to reinforcement of academic learning. As noted by Pascarella & Terenzini (2005), this becomes the bedrock of other university life: discussion groups, social activities, service learning.
Students who enter college do not have a positive experience when they start Lowe and Cook (2003). This could be because there is a ‘gap’ between student expectations and their initial experiences Parkinson and Forrester (2004), and this needs to be explored in order to identify the reason for this disjuncture. Levels of stress can be high, and as the cost of failure can result in loss of confidence and self-esteem and there may decide to dropout Longden (2004); Haggis (2006).
Planning the transition is important as it leads to better-informed decisions being taken Smith, (2002). This can be achieved by planning the transition process in a collaboration between schools and universities Smith, (2002). When the transition from high school to university is planned properly the students develop pre-transition skills and knowledge that support independent undergraduate learning. At times there may be fewer choices due to the limited numbers of institutions offering the students’ “preferred” courses. This tends to occur in developing countries where facilities are limited. Systems of planned transition involving liaison between schools and universities make for better informed decision-making Smith, (2002). Pitkethly and Prosser (2001) proposed that institutional changes in universities be made so that the higher educational experiences match more closely with the students’ expectations Briggs, (2012); Longden, (2006); Smith, (2002).
Lack of guidance
James (1999) found that hearsay and word of mouth contributed to a number of applicants’ decisions in Australia. These changes of transition require a re-examination of the support offered to students especially in the early days and weeks at college because issues relating to transition can have an impact on learning such as dropout Ramsay, Raven, and Hall (2005). The dominant discourse within HE promotes the independent learner, but this denies the need for student–staff communication Smith, (2007), which can facilitate support in response to individual need. When considering students’ ability to engage with practices within the institution, it is crucial to remember that students might not have the cultural capital to support their transition Iannelli, (2007)
Adequate university support systems enable socialization and adaptation. This goes a long way in promoting easy passage through the first year at university. At induction, student peer coaches are useful in assisting new students to develop positive relationships with other students Pitkethly & Prosser, (2001); Westlake, (2008). These authors advocate the use of the most student-focussed members of staff to assist the first year students in developing positive relationships with other students. Staff course co-ordinators should be assigned to work with small groups of first-year students particularly during the induction week Pitkethly & Prosser, (2001); Huon & Sankey, (2002). Peel (2000) and Pitkethly & Prosser (2001) note that improved student-staff ratios are beneficial in helping students adjust to university life. During the first year the most student-focused members of staff should be assigned to guide the first year students (Briggs et al., 2012). However, in resource limited environments this is not possible as the numbers of university students is increasing in the face of diminishing numbers of academic staff. Briggs et al., (2012) indicate that some of the important university support systems during the transition phase include: systems of information-giving; orientation; tours; student hand-outs; course outlines with clear statements of aims; objectives and assessment methods; career information integrated into courses; and information about staff availability. This thinking is also supported by the works of Pitkethly & Prosser (2001). However, current literature indicates that students may be over-burdened with information during the induction period and suggests that effective induction should be spread over the whole of the first semester or even all throughout the first year (Briggs et al., 2012; Edward, 2003). There is thus a need for an intensive activity based induction programme purposely designed to introduce the students to the university, the programme, the staff and each other (Briggs et al., 2012; Edward, 2003). Students should be encouraged to participate in seminars and workshops during their first year as a way of sustaining socialization Keup & Barefoot, (2005). Student learning is benefitted by college environments that emphasize close relationships between faculty and students as well as faculty concerns about student development (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005).
Learning and teaching in Higher Education
Another important aspect of transition to higher education involves the university curriculum, the learning modes in higher education and access to lecturers and tutors Briggs, (2012). Assessment feedback is also a very important facet of student learning experiences and must be clearly enunciated in the curriculum. There must also be clarity on the core content to be mastered, the skills that need to be developed, and reflective and autonomous learning that need to be developed. These issues relate to the various disciplinary skills that need to be mastered. Sander, (2000) contend that new students value the approachability and teaching skills of ‘good teachers’ and that they enjoy learning through group interaction rather than formal lectures. Formal lectures tend to be the norm at universities with a large number of students, as opposed to the usual small classes in high school. Most studies indicate that the onus is on the students to adapt to the higher education learner identity Action on Acess, (2003); Briggs, (2012). The student will thus have to adapt to these large numbers and at times to strangers with whom they have to forge new relationships. Another important goal to develop at this stage is autonomous learning. Pascarella & Terenzini (2005) suggest that collaborative and co-operative learning tend to improve knowledge retention.
Harvey & Drew (2006) caution that the need is not so much on focusing on first year students’ deficiencies and how to provide for them, but rather to improve upon the student experience in general. This echoes the sentiments expressed by Yorke ; Thomas (2003) that universities must be prepared to respond positively on an institution-wide basis in order to maximize the success of all their students Briggs, (2012). Pascarella ; Terenzini (2005) add that changes in students are a result of many factors acting holistically in unison to achieve the desired change.
College dropout is associated with many negative outcomes for students including high unemployment, crime, and substance use. Stanard (2003); Townsend, Flisher, ; King, 2007; U.S. Bureau (2009). Students who withdraw from college may generate negative word of mouth publicity for their ex-college Colgate (2006), hence damaging its reputation. McGrath and Braunstein (1997) stated that negative impressions of fellow students increased likelihood of first year students dropping out. Retaining students is a factor in the success or failure of any college in achieving its mission Sorey ; Duggan (2008). Many institutions of higher education consider student retention to be the best measure of organizational success Berger ; Lyon (2005). UNESCO report (2000) on the state of the world’s children, points out, that about 130 million children in the developing world are denied their right to education through dropping out. Maton and Moore (2010), the problem of dropping out should be the concern of every member of society since it has negative consequences at both the individual and social level. Thus dropout is not a mere problem that affects or impacts an individual but it affects the entire community as it has been noticed that certain dropouts get involved in crime Jamil, (2010).
The vision of TVET colleges is to train young college students, providing them with skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for employment within the labour market White Paper (2013). However the vision is not yet achieved with these challenge of student dropout. Thus this study seek to explore strategies to retain NCV students enrolling at South African TVET Colleges not merely to organize themselves for the planet of labor, however to organize themselves for the work that fulfils, improves their ability to contribute to their communities and their families, raises their vanity and expands their future life prospects. Student dropout leads to loss and diminished graduation rate of students and this might have a negative impact in terms of how stakeholder, legislators, parents and community measure a college instructional expertise.
Absenteeism affects the learning-teaching process and disturbs the well-being of the class Segal, C (2008). In quality terms, absenteeism is a waste of educational resources, time and human potential. Student absenteeism also causes rework and wasted time for lecturers Rumberger, RW (1997).
One analysis given that, absenteeism brings out hundreds of cases of negative impact on the building of future of students. Empirical evidences confirm that absenteeism produce the high level of problems and failure. There is decline in value of specialization among the students and significant decrease the achievements of students (Steyn& Van, 2002).
According to Enomoto (1997), students who missed class on a given date were significantly more likely to respond incorrectly to questions relating to material covered that day than students who were present. Most surprisingly, most studies have found an inverse relationship between absenteeism and course performance Marburger (2001). The relation between attendance and performance in one large lecture course suggest that attendance may substantially affect learning; and the difference in performance between a student who attends regularly and one who attends sporadically is about a full letter grade Bowen (2005). Student’s class participation becomes affected due to absenteeism. The effects of absenteeism in class participation, miss the chance to become a part in class participate, can’t raise questions about any confusion regarding topics. Can’t clear the concepts, Poor participation in tutorial discussion; miss the chance of small group discussion within the class. They neglect much value able information which students can gain in class. It leads to poor coordination with teachers, poor coordination with their class mates in their group studies. Also affect the performance of students especially when they are in a teamwork or group assignments and projects. Unable to update for their assignments, unable to take the guideline about preparing the assignments, Absenteeism leads the students to drop out graded activities.
Students’ initial transition into HE can be experienced as entering an ‘alien environment’ Askham (2008), and it is proposed that this experience can be different depending on a student’s social class Reay 2002; Becker and Hecken (2009) and what can be experienced as a middle-class environment Reay, David, and Ball (2005). This process should start with appropriate and stimulating induction Hultberg, (2008) and should include opportunities to develop social cohesion Parkinson and Forrester (2004) and key skills Marland (2003). Induction should be a process rather than a one-off event to ensure that students are supported to ‘fit in’ Reay (2002); Holdsworth (2006); Porter and Swing (2006), especially during their first semester at university. A crucial period for any student is the transition into the university, and the success of this is likely to have an impact on the future achievements of the student Haggis (2006); Hultberg, (2008). This clearly points to the importance of supported transition for students to ensure that they fit in, and Young, Glogowska, and Lockyer (2007) state that when a student’s cultural capital is valued by the college staff, the student will make the transition more readily.
It is proposed that ‘new students’ in HE are at times unable to draw upon social networks of support, making their transition more difficult. Yorke and Longden (2007) suggest that in post-1992 colleges there was less social engagement and a lack of social integration Wingate, (2007), resulting in a negative experience for some students. This lack of integration can be intensified if the students’ socio-cultural, linguistic, and economical capital does not fit with the dominant discourse within the college Lawrence, (2005). The transition into HE can be made more difficult because of a range of differences, including ethnicity, gender and socio-economic class or background Reay, (2002).
If teachers act coercively by adopting punitive discipline strategies, learning is negatively affected Banfield, Richmond, ; McCroskey, (2006) and more psychological and somatic complaints are heard in the classroom Sava, (2002). This issue complicates teacher role in the classroom and makes dealing with persistent behavior problems a formidable challenge that is one source of teacher job stress and burnout Lewis, (1999).
6.4 ThreatsDropping out is a common severe problem for most countries in the world. It causes a significant human and social capital loss in all countries Tas, Selvitopu ; Bora, (2013). In support of this finding, Bloom and Robbins (2011) maintain that dropping out from educational institutions has a high social and institutional price since these individuals are less educated and less professional and the educational institution may lose some of its income. McGiveny (2003) proclaims that in TVET Colleges, student numbers and retention rates are used in the distribution of funds. In South Africa, TVET Colleges are also funded according to the number of students doing all subjects in one level. The same occurs in this TVET College whereby the issue of student numbers has an influence on how much is going to be contributed by the DHET through NSFAS funds. The management at the college mentioned above implemented a policy stating that if a student has failed more than two subjects, he or she must register with the Open Learning Unit. The student is expected to pay an amount of R680.00 per subject, which is very challenging considering the calibre of students in this institution. These students usually drop out due to lack of funds adding to the existing unemployment rate because they are unqualified. Studies by Field, Musset and Alveze-Galven (2014) revealed that unemployment is one of the significant effects of student dropout because once these students leave college, they add to the existing number of unemployed people in the country. Field (ibid) argue that dropouts have difficulty in finding jobs and even if they are employed they earn significantly less than those who graduated. Similarly, Lamb, Markussen, Tesse, Sandberg and Polesel (2011) cite that research in different countries shows that dropouts are more likely to become unemployed, stay unemployed for longer, have lower earnings and over accumulate less wealth over their lives. Another finding was that dropouts develop health problems, probably because of engaging in harmful activities such as drug and alcohol abuse. This increases the demand for more social services which is a loss to the government (Tas, Selvitopu ; Bora, 2013). Providing social services and dealing with crime associated with dropouts is costly as Fruedeberg and Ruglis state (2007). Field, Musset and Alvez- Galvan (2014) maintain that adverse outcomes from dropouts generate substantial social costs to citizens and taxpayers. – 28 – The government also subsidises poor health, high criminal activities and increased public assistance of dropouts. In the United States of America (USA), it is estimated that in the next ten years, twelve million students will leave school without having a diploma and this will cost the USA about one trillion dollars (Tas, 2013). Hupfeld (2010) states that according to the Bureau of Justice statistics report, dropouts are vastly overrepresented in US prisons. Sixty-eight per cent (68%) of the nation’s state prison inmates are dropouts. According to Frueberg and Ruglis (2007) and Tas, (2007), this increases the demand for more social services which is a loss to the government because providing social services and dealing with crime associated with dropouts is costly. The researcher observed that some students who drop out tend to engage in illegal jobs or alcohol abuse because they cannot get employment. As mentioned previously, some of these students do not have parents, so they become a burden to their grandparents and demand their pension money. The female students are the ones who suffer the most because they decide to engage in abusive relationships for the sake of money. Pregnancy amongst drop-out students coupled with HIV and AIDS infections has also been identified. Therefore, government funds are being wasted because providing medication is very expensive. The DHET invested a lot of funds in developing skills through TVET Colleges but only to discover that students did not finish their qualifications. This is an enormous social cost to South African citizens since taxpayers’ money is wasted.
6.5 Anticipated Success
Dealing with potential dropouts is challenging for teachers, administrators, and counselors, so it is important to build consensus and support before implementing strategies to address struggling students’ academic, social, or emotional deficiencies. Cholewa, Smith-Adcock, & Amatea, (2010). Teachers may be reluctant to use class time to promote social skill development while administrators are faced with difficult decisions regarding which prevention programs to fund. Faced with budget limitations, it becomes even more important to carefully match prevention services with students who will most benefit from various dropout prevention programs in order to be cost-effective. Also, despite increased understanding of the importance of early interventions at the college level for students at risk for later dropping out of college, It is important, however, to identify students and implement strategies as early as possible because it often requires intensive effort to reverse years of academic failure or disengagement when interventions don’t begin. Although many dropout prevention efforts focus on either targeted interventions with individual students or more comprehensive school-wide reforms, research indicates that it is important to combine effective strategies from both approaches (MacIver ; MacIver, 2009). “Comprehensive reforms focused on school practices needs to address the problems of absenteeism, behavioral problems, and course failure for the majority of students, while additional, individually focused efforts will be necessary for students with more intensive needs” MacIver ; MacIver, (2009). These practices mesh well with school counseling efforts to provide services at the individual, small group, and school-wide level. In addition, monitoring, evaluating, and modifying dropout prevention strategies compliment the need for school counselors to use data to demonstrate the effectiveness of their services and may ultimately result in decreasing the number of school dropouts.
Kamla Raj quoted in his article, Bowen (2005) have established that students who attend classes more regularly seem to be more successful in their studies than those who regularly absent. In addition, students that attend class regularly are more likely to remember well the information and apply the knowledge effectively throughout their life (Crede, Roch;Kieszczynka, 2010).
Teachers’ discipline strategies have been suggested to be a potent force to promote students’ sense of responsibility in the classroom Lewis, Romi, Qui, ; Katz, (2005) and to produce more responsible citizens at a grand vision Lewis, (2001). Effective teaching research also shows that a sufficient degree of classroom discipline is needed to create an atmosphere conducive to student learning as students’ misbehavior distracts the process of learning and teaching and ruins the effectiveness of even the most carefully planned lessons Barton, Coley & Wenglinsky, (1998). Teachers’ behavior and management styles attach a special significance to this issue as the intervention techniques teachers choose to manage their classes are perceived to be the sign of their professional adequacy by students (McCormick ; Shi, 1999) and an important motivator of learning (Muller, Katz, ; Dance, 1999). A non-threatening learning environment develops a sense of belonging among students (Freeman, Anderman, ; Jensen, 2007), makes them self-initiated and self-confident (Rogers, 1983), and thus increases their desire for learning.
7. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The theoretical framework I found most applicable to couch the research is critical emancipatory research (CER), developed by Adorno, Habermas and also the Frankfort school in 1924 Held (1983). CER Held (1983); Ivey (1986) preaches closeness between the research and also the researched. The latter are not treated as if they were mere impersonal objects in an exceedingly scientific discipline laboratory. In CER they’re treated and handled with respect and recognition of equality between them and also the resercher. CER sees the researched as alternative human being(s), as equal subjects just like the researcher. It sees the researcher as being tasked with the role of decoding alternative people’s interpretations and attempting to form sense thereof. Research is seen because the most humanizing expertise and one from that the investigator should emerge additional human, additional humane, additional cautious, additional respecting and additional broad-minded to signals and messages coming back from a really numerous list of sources. This framework informs researchers to be analytical, to be ready to select the deeper that means and to appear the least bit sides of the story. Good CER is empowering, ever-changing people’s lives and station in life, liberating them from not-so-useful practices and thoughts and meeting the needs of a real-life situation; It is helpful and conjointly methodologically consistent. In short, the standards of quality in CER embody advancing the agenda for equity altogether its forms and advocating social justice, peace, freedom and hope McGregor (2003). I adopted this theoretical framework as a result of it allows me to explain what the framework for this study is, in addition as describe the context during which the respondents during this study were in operation.
In order to fulfil the aim of this study, namely to explore strategies to retain NCV students at TVET Colleges programmes at selected colleges in Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District, I employed Participatory Action Research (PAR). Reason and Bradbury (2001) outline PAR as “a democratic process involved with developing sensible knowing within the pursuit of worthy human purposes.” This is a systematic approach that seeks information for social action Fals-Borda and Rahman (1991) PAR seeks to know and improve the world by changing it. At its heart is collective, self reflective inquiry that researchers and participants undertake, in order that they will perceive and improve upon the practices in which they participate and the situation they find themselves. The reflective method is directly joined to action, influenced by understanding of history, culture, and native context embedded in social relationships. the method of PAR ought to be empowering and result in individuals having accumulated management over their lives Minkler and Wallerstein5 and Grbich6).
Within a PAR process, “communities of inquiry and action evolve and address questions and issues that are significant for those who participate as co-researchers”.1 PAR practitioners make a concerted effort to integrate three basic aspects of their work: participation (life in society and democracy), action (engagement with experience and history), and research (soundness in thought and the growth of knowledge).2 “Action unites, organically, with research” and collective processes of self-investigation.3 The way each component is actually understood and the relative emphasis it receives varies nonetheless from one PAR theory and practice to another. This means that PAR is not a monolithic body of ideas and methods but rather a pluralistic orientation to knowledge making and social change.4569. CHOOSING PARTICIPANTS
I will make a list of the characteristics your participants should have. These might include age, gender, income, religion. Identify and sample every person who meets the sample criteria. Identify and sample every person who meets the sample criteria. Also I will identify a location where you can personally select your sample. It will be interviews for NCV students who dropout and who are still at the college and Senior lecturer. HOD and parent. And selection will be randomly sampling.
10. DATA ANALYSIS
To get an improved understanding of the meanings from the views of the participants I used critical discourse Analysis (CDA), which. Bloor and Bloor (2007) outline as a cross-discipline that includes the analysis of text and speak all told disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. CDA matches CER both seek to search out the origins of a retardant and find solutions to the matter at hand Chilisa, (2012). CDA reflects their knowledge base approach (van Dijk, 2001). Education researchers turned to discourse analysis as the simplest way create| sense of the ways during which people make meaning in educational contexts. Early samples of linguistic analysis in education analysis grew out of the work of linguistics (Gumperz, 1982; Labov, 1972; Sinclair & Coulthard, 1976), linguistic social science (Silverstein & Urban, 1996), and therefore the descriptive anthropology of communication (Gumperz & Hymes, 1964; Hymes, 1972). Sinclair and Coulthard, as an example, introduced associate degree elaborate framework for writing teachers’ and students’ discourse acts in classroom talk. Their intention was to supply an in depth structural model of discourse organization in classroom interactions
11. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
I will be aware of certain ethical considerations that had to upheld since human beings are deserving of respect and protection as inalienable rights. Thus, Ethical considerations is very important in any research study to protect participants from any potential harm during the process of generating data. The study will be ethically cleared by the University of the Free State. All partners involved will be given consent forms. I made it clear on the consent forms that people were not coerced to participate. They will be assured of anonymity with regard to the information they should supply and informed that they could withdraw at any stage of the study without giving reasons. Such withdrawal would not have any negative results on them or their children. The steps that will be taken will be supported by Opie (2004) and McMillan and Schumacher (2001), according to whom the researcher must show respect and caring when conducting research with human beings.
Participatory researchers are particularly called upon to address ethical questions. The closeness to the research partners during participatory projects repeatedly requires ethically sound decisions about the norms and rules that should apply in social dealings among the participants; about how data should be collected, documented, and interpreted in such a way that they do not harm the participants and that their privacy is assured; and about the reliability, duration, and timeframe of the professional researchers’ availability, etc. .
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2.1 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Origins of CER
Evolving from the critical theorists at the Frankfurt School in the 1920’s (Scrambler 2001) emancipation became a central tenet of critical social science and feminist theories due to the acknowledgement of oppression and the desire to engage in political action to create change. Both philosophies aim ‘to probe beneath the surface in order to find what may lie hidden there’ (Tew 2002
Emancipatory research is one approach to research inquiry that minimizes the potential for those who are minoritized and researched to remain voiceless or marginalized. This form of inquiry also necessitates a level of transparency that is not often required or evident in other forms of inquiry. However, the knowledge base that comprises the field of inquiry is relatively unknown. In last three decades of educational research, emancipatory research has been defined by a variety of terminology including among others,transformative research, social justice research, postcolonial discourse studies, feminist research, critical race studies, indigenous research, participatory action research, culturally sensitive research, and Africana womanist research. Engaging in emancipatory research pushes researchers to become aware of their taken granted assumptions’ and its central role in research Gitlin, A (2008).Questioning the power relationships that are inherent to the researcher-researched relationship demands that researchers begin to convey their underlying theories-in-use, locate themselves culturally or theoretically, explain the influence of the research on the researcher and viceversa, and ensure that participants and their voices are adequately represented.
Emancipatory research has the intent to challenge inequities and disrupt the status quo where necessary. It has oppression as its central focus, social change as its key objective and fosters an ideology based on the belief that knowledge is ‘socially constituted, historically situated and valuationally based’ (Henderson 1995.
If oppression was more fully understood, society could be transformed through political action in order to bring about necessary social change (Ramazanoglu 2002). Applying emancipatory methodology in education practice (TVET) will have an immense impact (Irwin 2006), however positive outcomes will be realised when oppressive people in education practices are challenged.
However, when undertaking research in the emancipatory paradigms, it remains crucial that researchers apply methods for data collection that are congruent with the chosen epistemology, focusing on the essential features that are philosophically based. In critical and feminist inquiries, the emancipatory methodologies foster processes that promote opportunities for transformation and as Jacobs et al (2005) concurred, could also create in a philosophical sense, a healing therapeusis. What follows is a closer exploration of emancipatory research methods
The study is guided by Critical Emancipatory Research (CER). CER is aimed at creating space for empowerment and change for the oppressed (Lincoln, Lynham ; Guba, 2011:102). I used it as a transformative framework positioning my stance in relation to the participants in aspects of the whole study. It emphasises that the agency for change rests in the persons in the community, working side by side with the researcher toward the goal of social transformation (Mertens, 2010:8). CER put me in a position to understand that human beings, unlike objects, have feelings and attitudes (Jordan, 2003:190) and these need to be considered when dealing with them. Human beings are further able to interpret their words.
Ontologically, positivism assumes that there is one knowable reality, driven by natural laws. From a positivist perspective, the researcher is the one who knows how to determine the need to design a strategy to effectively retain NCV students at TVET College. CER assumes that there are multiple realities, shaped by social, cultural, economic, ethnic, gender and disability values (Mertens, 2010:32). Social reality is governed by hidden underlying structures. Using CER in determining a need to design a strategy to retain NCV students at TVET colleges, I am put in a position to understand that participants? points of view need to be considered. They have the ability to express and interpret their opinions and in determining the components of a strategy to retain NCV students at TVET college, they need to be considered.
Epistemologically, positivism upholds the objectivity of the researcher, with investigator and the object of study assumed to be independent of each other. CER assumes an interactive link between the researcher and the participants.
Positivism uses quantitative methods and surveys in the collection of data (Higgs, 1995:49-50; Mertens, 2010:10); on the other hand CER uses dialogical methods of collecting data (Chilisa, 2012:253). My choice of CER is based on the position of the researcher in relation to the participants, and although the opinions of the people in authority, such as Dhet officials, have been captured, the opinions of Lecturers and students and parents. My interaction with participants was therefore not of an expert, that has solutions.
2.2 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2.1 ABSENTEEISMThe strategies for reducing the absenteeism from the viewpoints of students have not been studied in Iran and the previous studies have just examined the factors influencing the absenteeism. Therefore, there was not a similar study that the findings of the present study can be compared with and now refers to studies that have examined the factors affecting the absenteeism. The teacher’s mastery over the course content was the most important effective factor in reducing the absenteeism. The findings of two studies were conducted at Tehran and Semnan Universities of Medical Sciences implies that inappropriate teaching method is the most important cause of absence ((12), (14)). The findings of all noted studies are in line with the findings of the present study. A study reported that most of the students believed that the teacher’s mastery over the content and power of speech are the main reasons for students’ attending classrooms (15). Similar findings have been reported in another study (16, 17). Lipscomb et al. Has reported that the most important factor in the increasing, attending of students in class, is the teacher characteristics such as his teaching and the charm of his words (4). In another study, mastery of teachers over the subject was the most important factor contributing to students’ attending in class (15) which is in line with the findings of the present study, indicating that a teacher must study continually to master the material content. In the present study, another important strategy which the majority of students considered as effective in reducing absenteeism was actively teaching and attention to students’ learning. This finding has been confirmed in other studies (18), (19), (15) as well. In the present study, another important strategy was the cheerful class atmosphere that 79% of students reported as significant in reducing the absenteeism. Although other studies have not studied the role of this factor directly, in a study, motivating the students played the most important role in students’ attending in class. This study also reported that the teacher should keep the classroom activities in a vibrant state and attract the attention of students to learn (18). In this regard, Gump reported that teacher’s giving importance to the students’ attendance in class and making the lesson attractive for them, was the most important motivational factor for students attending in class (19).
In the present study, Practical teaching and trying to attract the content were strategies which most of the students considered as effective in reducing the absence. A study that examined the attendance of medical students in class, reported that use of the materials presented in classrooms at the patient’s bedside, was the factor representing the student’s persistently attending classroom (20). A study carried out on dental clinical students, has reported that the expression of clinical experience of teacher and identifying the relationship between the content taught in theory and clinical practice, are important factors of adult learning (21).This finding, which was confirmed in another study (5) is in line with the findings of the present study. Teaching the main contents of the course and not addressing the irrelevant issues was the other important strategy which 72% of students reported as important in reducing the absenteeism. Although this has not been studied in other studies, it seems that the teacher’s attention to main content course enables him that integrates his/her content and teach all course content within the time set. In the present study, regularly attending sessions and giving importance to the students’ attendance were other proposed solutions, reported by the most of the students. The findings of a study reported that in the lack of attendance by the teachers, the possibility of student absenteeism rises to high levels class (19, 22) Timmins et al. reported that for the continuing presence of nursing students in the classroom, control and close monitoring should be done for attendance (11) which the findings of all these studies are in line with current study. Another strategy that the majority of students knew it effective in the reducing of absenteeism was imposing regulations to facilitate nightly rest and sleep in dormitory. In the literature review, we did not find the similar finding, but our experiences shows that living in a dorm and multiplayer rooms causing makes the students stay up all night and at the next morning due to fatigue do not attend in class. Continuous evaluation throughout the semester was another suggestion which about 70% of the participants considered it important in reducing the absenteeism. Wittmann et al. reported similar findings (23) .In the continuous evaluation, the strengths and weaknesses of students are identified and given appropriate feedback to them and this will increase their presence in the class. In current study, involving the students in the class discussions was the strategy which 71% of the participants considered as effective in the active presence in the class. A study reported that if the teachers engage the students in class discussions, the absence of them will be reduced Similar findings have been reported in another study (2). In this regard, teachers should make the students actively participate and involve them in all stages of teaching. By doing so, the student tries to rebuild their learning experiences and institutionalize them (24, 25). The most important proposed strategies of students for reducing the absenteeism were related to teacher. In this regard, teacher’s mastery over the content, actively teaching and attention to students’ learning, teacher’s well-behaving and respectful attitude towards students, making the class atmosphere cheerful, practical teaching and trying to attract the content, teaching main contents and not addressing the irrelevant issues, regularly attending sessions and giving importance to the students’ attendance, using a variety of teaching methods and new contents, responding to the students’ questions properly, continuous evaluation throughout the semester, and involving all of the students in the class discussions, are suggested. Lecturer competence refers to the standards displayed by the lecturer when imparting skills and knowledge (Tope, 2012:6).