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Courses impeding graduation

In 2015 serious attention was given to courses impeding graduation (CIGs). Many, but not all, of these courses are required for many first-year programmes, with large enrolments and great diversity in the background and ability of the class.

Improving pass rates in courses impeding graduation

Associate Professor Saalih Allie circulated his draft document, titled Courses, Combinations and Contexts that Impede Graduation, after attending all the faculty presentations at the Teaching and Learning Committee meetings.

The document cites examples from each of the faculties where interesting interventions and strategies have been implemented, and notes the different ways in which each faculty has dealt with the issues.

Commerce

The focus has been on Financial Reporting 2. After reformulating this mainstream course, successful students had a much stronger conceptual grounding. However, the course has been replaced with a dedicated Education Development Unit (EDU) Financial Reporting 2 class. The class was convened and taught by a qualified chartered accountant who is an EDU alumnus.

This created opportunities for EDU students to engage in a supportive, caring environment with a conceptually difficult course that is quite a significant shift from Financial Reporting 1. Being in a learning environment that is strongly participative and learning-centred is already improving students’ confidence and their academic outcomes.

Engineering & the Built Environment

In first year, CIGs are usually required courses offered by other faculties. Significant effort has gone into ensuring that the graduation rates improve.


Humanities: Extended Degree Programmes

The Extended Degree Programmes (EDPs) were flagged for Dean’s review over 2015/2016 and the tenets and structures of the programmes are under scrutiny. The Plus Tut (extra tutorials) and Writing Hub systems continued to expand, including pilots in new departments. These initiatives attempt to address matric under-preparation in disadvantaged students by providing additional space to explore course materials. While the flexibility of humanities programmes does not generate graduation-impeding courses to any notable extent, the expansion of support into second-year does target key courses with which students experience particular difficulty.

The extra material generated for Plus Tuts is feeding back into the mainstream courses with innovations and refinements in teaching practice. The differences between exam and coursework assessments needs further study.

Law

In 2015 there was close monitoring of CIGs and extra tutorials were made available to at-risk students in Property and Constitutional Law.

Science

The Faculty of Science faces a widening gap in the preparedness of incoming students, especially in mathematics and the physical sciences. This challenge is being addressed through a number of interventions, including:

  • assistance during student’s first week at UCT
  • improved peer-learning courses.
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