n South African Journal of Higher Education - Secondary education influences on higher education performance : Part 2 : HELTASA 2012 Special Section

Volume 28, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



This article reports on a mixed methods study that followed a cohort of students through an undergraduate medical programme. It investigated demographic variables (sex, age, race, language, finance, education level, high school and matric point score) as influences on students' assessment marks. The marks were analysed by means of the general linear method (GLM) for within-group differences, and by a generalised estimating equation (GEE) for overall significance. Most variables showed significantly different subgroups on the GLM analysis. However, only high school quintile, previous higher education, the assessments themselves and matric point scores showed overall significance on the GEE analysis. Semi-structured student and staff interviews explored the surprising influence of students' high schools on their assessment marks. The differences seen between students from schools in different quintiles may be attributable to the schools' financial resources. However, the author argues that Coleman's (1966) and Bernstein's (1971) observations of class differences are apposite, and that school quintile stands here as a surrogate for socioeconomic class.

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