n South African Journal of Higher Education - How undergraduate students 'negotiate' academic performance within a diverse university environment

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article examines the practices, norms and values that constrain or enable successful participation of undergraduate students at a South African university undergoing a radical change. We look at four constructs about the resources that Wits students draw on when they negotiate their integration into the Wits culture of academic performance. The four constructs are: (i) internal regulation, which refers to the ways in which students experience the difference in relation to authority when compared to their school experiences; (ii) individual responsibility, which is related to the distribution of responsibilities between 'the student' and 'the institution' in relation to the process of learning and teaching; (iii) explicit and implicit rules, connected to the ways in which students get to understand how the Wits learning environment works; and (iv) re-visiting the familiar, which points to students' experiences of failure and alienation and how these experiences elicit past experiences of racial oppression.

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