n South African Journal of Higher Education - Assessing the effectiveness of academic development programmes : a statistical analysis of graduation rates across three programmes

Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article reports on a study that used statistical analysis to estimate the impact of the first-year academic development (AD) courses offered by three diverse AD programmes (in the commerce, engineering and science faculties) at the same South African Higher Education Institution (HEI). Specifically, in measuring impact the study compares the graduation performance of AD students relative to mainstream students. The study used a larger sample and a more comprehensive multivariate specification to identify the determinants of academic performance than previous studies. The study found that the AD programmes, as they were constituted during the period under investigation (1999-2003), did not improve the graduation rate achieved by AD students relative to their mainstream peers. Therefore, the study raises the question as to whether the type of AD programme investigated can alone provide the solution to the problems faced by the South African HEI community in its efforts to meet the increased demand for graduates from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.

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