The Alignment of Institutional and Student Commitment to Student Needs

Pauline MACHIKA
Vaal University of Technology, South Africa
paulinema@vut.ac.za

Abstract

Background/context
Traditional higher education practices and environments are not always conducive to student learning. This creates a dilemma for both the higher education institution and the student and often leads to insufficient commitment from both parties; as a result students fail their course. This calls for shared responsibility towards academic success by the higher education institution and their students.

The initiative/practice
Engstrom and Tinto (2008) contend that it is important for a higher education institution to understand that student success is not coincidental and that student success is a responsibility shared between the higher education institution and its students. This showcase presentation aims to indicate why it is necessary that institutional commitment be aligned with students’ needs for this mutual commitment towards contributing to students' academic success.

Method(s) of evaluative data collection and analysis
Two studies were conducted, the first in 2006 at a distance learning higher education institution and the second in 2011 at a university of technology in South Africa. In both studies focus group and semi-structured individual interviews were conducted with students who were studying at the respective higher education institutions, but were struggling to cope academically. Six steps of data analysis were used, as suggested by Marshall and Rossman (1999).

Evidence of effectiveness
The research results show that the mutual knowledge and understanding of an institution and its students are based on expectations and needs within a distance learning institution and a university of technology.

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