Statistical investigation into academic performance in the Faculty of Science at the University of Cape Town in the period 1990-1997

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Ultimate academic success at any tertiary institution is affected and partially determined by many factors related to various aspects of individual's life. These factors could be separated into the following distinct categories, namely, educational, biographical, environmental and personal factors. Some of these determinants are used in the admission procedures adopted at tertiary institutions. In South Africa, the results of different final matriculation examinations (referred to as matric or matric exams) written in several educational departments throughout the country are employed to assess the individual's potential to succeed. However, effectiveness of matric results as predictors of successful academic performance has always been controversial. Expressing these concerns and desiring to explore them, the Faculty of Science at the University of Cape Town (UCT) accepted a proposal from the Department of Statistical Sciences to investigate several issues affecting students' performance in the Faculty. The proposal has led to developing this M.Sc. thesis. The major issue of concern in this study is to describe, on a retrospective basis, the extent to which the current selection criteria based on the matric results may have predicted various types of academic performance in the Faculty amongst those selected and admitted. The thesis also exhibits a coherent and fairly complete methodology that is applicable at general or at particular levels of student performance data analysis on a continuing year-to-year basis. The particular statistical methods and techniques in this study have been summarised and discussed in the three Appendices.

Includes bibliography.