P42 – Reflection of First Year Students’ first semester experiences: a survey in the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Dance room – TUESDAY 16:15-17:15

Prof Jane Spowart

Dean’s office, Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg

(Associate) Prof Jane Spowart is presently the Vice Dean (Teaching and Learning) in the Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg. Prior to that she was the Head of the School of Tourism and Hospitality having being the head of the Food and Beverage Department for many years in the former Technikon Witwatersrand.


A reflection of First year students’ feedback on their thoughts, ideas and experiences concerning the interventions implemented by the Faculty of Management. These included identifying at-risk students together with their comments on the special-purpose Departmental FYE programmes to assist students to cope with university.


Reflection of First Year Students’ first semester experiences: a survey in the Faculty of Management at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is a vibrant, multicultural and dynamic institution of higher education. It attracts over 100 000 applications for ten thousand five hundred first year places annually. The fifty thousand student population is drawn predominantly from the surrounding suburbs of Johannesburg but also from the rural areas of South Africa. The public schooling system in South Africa is considered to be challenging. There are, however numerous good public and private schools. Since 2010, there has been an intense focus on supporting the very diverse first year student population at UJ, with the First Year Experience (FYE). This is deemed necessary particularly as most of them come to university un- and underprepared from diverse schooling backgrounds. This paper shares how the Faculty of Management has taken steps to identify at-risk students and to improve the support to the Faculty’s two thousand five hundred first year students.

In 2014 the following surveys and interventions were implemented: firstly, at-risk students were identified by means of analysing national entry and placement test results together with the test results of major modules of the qualifications for which students were registered. Secondly, all departments supported their first year students by preparing a special-purpose FYE programme for the first semester in conjunction with the University’s division of Academic Development and Support (ADS) and other support units to ensure that each student experiences assistance in order to help them cope with university life. Thirdly, the students were surveyed at the end of the first semester to obtain their thoughts, ideas and experiences concerning the interventions they had received as a first year student in the Faculty of Management.

The methodology used for identifying the at-risk students included correlating the national entry and placement tests to the first test results of the major modules. Thereafter, students deemed to be at risk of not achieving academic success were identified and interviewed. The surveys were placed online on Blackboard (the UJ learning management system) and Google Drive, with students then given a specific time in which to complete these. This paper will discuss the findings of these surveys and how all the collected information will assist in improving the engagement of first year students in the Faculty of Management.

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