Matric results ‘still best gauge’

2011-01-15 18:45

Universities still regard matric marks as the main indicator for admitting students and determining their chances for success.

But they also find that products of the new curriculum’s national senior certificate (NSC) need ­additional support and extended programmes to cope with the ­rigours of tertiary education.

Professor Yunus Ballim of Wits said a recent study by the ­university showed that the NSC exam results were a fair predictor of the likelihood of student success in their first year of study.

“NSC students appear to be performing similarly to previous cohorts in courses that are ­reading intensive or where group work and project-based learning are important components of the course.

“On the other hand, the NSC students who entered university in 2008 appear to have struggled in the mathematics and science courses,” he said.

Ballim is not a supporter of the national benchmark test (NBT), commissioned by Higher Education South Africa (Hesa) and designed as an instrument to assess the NSC system, when calibrated against the old matric system.

The intention of the NBT was also to help assess the validity of the NSC results as a predictor of success in university studies.

Ballim said the NBT results emerged as a poorer predictor of performance than the ­corresponding NSC results.

The Vaaldriehoek campus of North West University (NWU) used the NBT last year, but also found that matric results were a better ­indicator of success, ­according to university spokesperson Louis Jacobs.

This year, only certain NWU students will have to write the test, for example, those studying at the faculty of economics and management sciences in Potchefstroom, and those entering the extended BCom, BSc and B?­Admin degrees in Mafikeng.

Jacobs said the NBT was not used for admission or placement, but to gather more information about students’ abilities.

At the University of the Free State, all applicants for ­undergraduate studies are ­required to write the NBT, but, except for health sciences, they are not used as admission tests.

Lacea Loader of the Free State university said NBT results from 2010 indicated that the majority of students require additional support in academic literacy and mathematics.

The University of Cape Town said studies showed 50% or more of the student intake needed ­extended programmes to give them a reasonable opportunity to succeed and graduate.

Hesa chief executive professor ­Duma Malaza this week said he had the same level of confidence in the class of 2010 as he had in the previous group.

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