Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Third International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Freshman African engineering student perceptions on academic feedback – A case study from Digital Systems 1
Rangith Kuriakose

Last modified: 29-05-2017


Providing effective and quality feedback to students in higher education has been identified as an integral part of quality teaching by many researchers in the field of education.  However, student perceptions vary drastically as to what they perceive academic feedback to really be. Therefore, this paper aims to present freshman engineering student perceptions of academic feedback from an African perspective. The reason for targeting this group is due to their high dropout rate in higher education in South Africa (around 60%). Quantitative data was collected from freshman engineering students enrolled for a module termed Digital Systems 1 at the Central University of Technology in South Africa. A questionnaire was used as the main data collection instrument featuring 21 close ended questions. The results presented in this paper indicate that almost two-thirds (65%) of the respondents believe that a “grade” written on a test script does not constitute academic feedback. The majority of the respondents (76%) expect some kind of academic feedback regarding their work, either in writing or orally from their lecturer. A good majority (86%) of students perceived that getting written comments on their assessments would encourage them to approach the lecturer to seek further clarification. A key recommendation of this study is to find a mechanism or technique of providing constructive feedback to all enrolled students, even in large classes. This needs to be done from the outset of the module in order to reduce the current high dropout rates among freshman engineering students.

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