The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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This monograph is the posthumous publication of the first part of Charlton Koens PhD thesis in which he examines the main factors influencing the retention and success of masters students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Sadly, he passed away before completing his analysis of the extensive data he had collected, which was to have formed the second part of his doctorate.

The first part of the PhD published here provides a highly critical, richly theoretical and also controversial work. Its publication is not just in honour of Charlton Koen and the quality of his work, but is also likely to prove a path-breaker in our understanding of the complex web of factors that shape postgraduate student retention and success.

Koen provides a sharp critique of the weaknesses in current South African Higher Education Studies research, particularly a tendency to base analyses of student trends and processes in our universities on largely anecdotal data. His detailed, careful case study of UWC students aimed to lay a new, better-researched foundation for such analysis. Seeking a sound theoretical framework for his study, he explores nearly three decades of rich theorisation by US and European researchers, and finds that much of it focuses on how the postgraduate practices, structures and institutional culture of a university might help masters students to pursue their studies creatively. Koens unique situation of participant observer for almost two decades at UWC as student, then lecturer, then researcher puts him in a position to argue most trenchantly that it is exactly such a departmental, postgraduate framework and milieu for study which a university like that of his Alma Mater has not yet managed to construct.

Open Access

Product information

Format : 280mm x 210mm
Pages : 132
ISBN 10 : 0-7969 -2192-X
ISBN 13 : 978-07969-2192-5
Publish Year : 2007

Chapter 1: The studys origins and motivations

1.1 Introduction

1.2 The background

1.3 Personal motivation for the study

1.4 The scope of the retention problem in South Africa

1.5 The scope of the retention problem at UWC

1.6 General explanations for retention difficulties in South Africa

1.7 Explanations in research on masters students

1.8 Explanation gaps

1.9 Conclusion

Chapter 2: The analytical framework

2.1 Introduction

2.2 General theoretical approaches

2.3 Tintos theoretical approach

2.4 Criticisms of Tintos views, and retention characteristics identified in other theories

2.5 The theoretical model of this study

2.6 Data and method: why a case study?

2.7 Research techniques

2.8 Data analysis

2.9 Limitations of the research

2.10 Conclusion

Chapter 3: Review of literature on masters study and retention in South Africa

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Factors affecting student performance

3.3 The quality problem

3.4 Routinising conduct

3.5 Research evidence and academic anecdotes

3.6 Research themes and findings from institutional research

3.7 Findings on policy-related objectives

3.8 The natural sciences model as a proposed solution

3.9 What can we learn from this?

Chapter 4: International literature review of theoretical models

4.1 Focus of the chapter

4.2 Tintos model of social and academic integration

4.3 Bairds institutional integration perspective

4.4 Beans person-fit model

4.5 Research findings on retention

4.6 Conclusion

Chapter 5: Academic organisation and institutional features at UWC

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Institutional type and key features

5.3 The adequacy of institutional resources at UWC

5.4 Academic goal-setting at UWC

5.5 Change, integration and student-staff growth patterns

5.6 The influence of financial variables at UWC

5.7 Adaptations and improvements at UWC

5.8 Conclusion

Appendix

References

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