Student Performance

By , June 13, 2013 22:08

Student performance

The Chemistry 176 cohort of the extended degree programme of the faculty of Science is divided into three class groups.  Two of these are English (Groups 1 and 2) and the third, Afrikaans (Group 3).  Students from the Life Sciences and other service courses are grouped into Group 1 (Food Science, Molecular Biology, Biology, BSc in Wood Science, Gio Information, BSc Agric, etc), whereas the engineering, mathematical and physics students are grouped into Group 2.  Group 3 is the Afrikaans equivalent of Groups 1 and 2.  Culturally Group 3 is much more homogeneous or less diverse than Groups 1 and 2, because Group 3 is essentially composed of brown and white Afrikaans first language-speaking students.  Most of the students in Groups 1 and 2 are not first language English-speaking students and although the majority of the students are black, they are not same-language speakers.

The students in Groups 1 and 2 receive their instruction via the peer-assisted group-learning methodology.  The lecture format followed with Group 3 was initially schooled on the traditional more passive teaching approach, but the students sit in groups of three during instruction to accommodate an element of peer instruction and collaborative learning.  All three groups use the same tutorial material and the jigsaw tutorial model explained elsewhere in detail.

In the table below the average Grade 12 mark (Gr 12) and the average mid-year mark (Term), for the three summative tests that have been written in Chemistry 176 are shown for years 2011, 2012 and 2013.   The row at the very bottom of the table contains the progress mark for the mathematical modules W176 and W186.

performance 1

When one compares the Grade 12 and Chemistry 176 Term marks of the different groups and subgroups of students it is evident that students in Groups 1 and 2 are not disadvantaged by being instructed by means of the PAGL methodology.  The Grade 12 mark lies in a very narrow band, because there is very little between being accepted into either Engineering or BSc main stream programmes and falling below the acceptance level for the EDP programme.  The average Grade 12 mark of Groups 1 and 2 are consistently lower than the average Grade 12 mark of Group 3, but their Chem 176 term mark, on the other hand, is consistently higher.  One would like to ascribe that to the PAGL method of instruction and the confidence it builds in especially the weaker students.

The graph below depicts the average of each group for the 11 different formative MCQ Chem176 assessments the students wrote on WebStudies during 2012.  This data again supports that Groups 1 and 2 who received instruction through PAGL methodology were not disadvantaged at all, to the contrary.

performance 2

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