UP’s Mamelodi Campus hosts colloquium on Extended Curricula Programmes

Posted on September 03, 2019

“Extended Curricula Programmes are not a dumping ground. We must establish ‘access with success’ and not just cater for a cohort with Academic Performance Index scores that do not qualify students for all mainstream programmes.”

This was said by François Marais, Convenor of the Special Interest Group of the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA), at the 2nd National Colloquium on Extended Curricula Programmes (ECP) held recently at the University of Pretoria’s (UP) Mamelodi Campus.

The theme of the colloquium was “Three Decades of Foundational Provisioning: Strengthening the Transitions” and was attended by academics from universities in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, North West, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. The event was part of the Mamelodi Campus’ 10th anniversary celebrations and looked at, among others, curriculum alignment between ECPs and main stream, e-learning, language and information literacy and student support in ECPs.

Most universities offer ECPs which are designed to equip students who do not meet the minimum requirements for admission into degree programmes. At UP, students admitted to the ECPs on the Mamelodi Campus attend lectures there for the first year of their studies. Upon performing successfully, they can transfer to their preferred study programme.

Data Analyst Bonza Majozi at the colloquium 

Marais said ECPs had played and continue to play an important role in South Africa.

“Firstly, ‘Foundation’ is not a popular word anymore and that will be changed soon. As far as quality assurance and enhancement of ECPs go, at all levels academic and non-academic, the goal is to establish stronger quality assurances which links to what had been said here [at the colloquium], having a whole learning management system to monitor student performance and modular delivery ensures that students have a fair chance at success and to not only expose them to these programmes.”

He said he was 100% convinced that “without the staff’s passion, dedication and belief in the students’ ability and potential, these programmes will not work. But I’ve seen it here at Mamelodi, and in other presentations here: representatives are serious in terms of interventions to monitor, identify and address problem areas, and reward success.” Singling out UP’s ECPs, Marais said: “All the success stories here just show that the staff do take pride in the work that they do.”

UP Mamelodi Campus Dean Professor Nthabiseng Ogude explained that UP’s ECP is based on a student referral system, which is aided by a data-management platform centred around the Blackboard Learn software.

“The platform can provide higher-level detail of student academic performance such as the number of students per performance range across the ECPs, e.g. the number of students, throughout the ECPs, currently receiving a single distinction or more. There are also more granular metrics such as performances per module. For example, how many students have attained three or more modules in the 65%-69% range?”

She lauded the goals and achievements of UP’s ECPs. “The module pass rates of the extended programmes are among the highest in the University. The goal, in order to get students to move into postgraduate studies, is to aim higher than 60%. Fifty percent is not good enough. Students who drop out of ECPs are at high risk of dropping out of tertiary education entirely. Incidentally, research into what happens to students after they dropout is underway.”

In this vein, Prof Ogude underlined the goals of UP’s data-centric approach to intervening with “at-risk” students at Mamelodi, beyond, singularly, their enrolment.

She said: “Extended Curriculum Programmes are high-stakes programmes: they cost a lot, there are cascading effects of damage when students dropout; but in terms of their possibility for feedback, they are a space for incubation, an innovative space for new teaching and learning methods as well a proxy testing space for four-year degree programmes.”

At UP student advisors monitor, identify and address student performance. “They then take action based on the best intervention for struggling students.”

Policies towards students extend beyond these data-centric approaches and include human-centric approaches too. Student advisors take into account various factors impacting on student performances which could include trauma in the home. These details are also recorded on the system. However, policies extend beyond low-performing students. There are also strategies in place to boost high-performing students, explained Prof Ogude.

- Author Jonathan Tager

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences