Factors leading to the non-completion of units at an A.C.T. secondary college

  • Winston Newman

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This study looks at factors relating to the non-completion of units of study by students in a secondary college. It is aimed at providing information for decision-makers at Erindale College specifically in the area of course counselling. Administrators and counsellors at other colleges should also find the information of value. The study compared a sample of students who completed all their chosen units of study in one semester with all students who did not complete all of their chosen units in that semester. The latter group consisted of those who withdrew from one or more units during the semester, those who left the college and those who were deemed “unassessable” as a result of poor attendance or non-submission of assessment items. All 362 students in the college were asked to complete a Baseline Questionnaire during Week 3 of Semester 1, 1985. This sought background information about reasons for enrolling at college, influences on their choice of units, future intentions, preferred ways of learning and other details. Students who withdrew from, or changed units during the semester were asked to complete a Change of Unit Survey and any leavers were asked to complete a Leaver’s Survey. In Week 16 (May, 1985) all students still enrolled were asked to complete an End of Semester Questionnaire designed to enable comparisons of attitudes between those who completed all units and those who did not. The study looks at a number of characteristics of students and their attitudes to various aspects of learning, college life and choice of units of study. It attempts to look at factors that might affect the student’s decision to complete or not complete a chosen unit of study. The factors considered were largely based upon studies of early school leavers.
    1.Students who do not complete units tend to have one or more of the following characteristics (significant at the 0.05 level):
    (a)do not enrol to gain tertiary entrance qualifications (b) enrol to improve their chances of getting a job (c) are not definitely seeking a tertiary entrance score (d) have no definite intention of completing Year 12 (e) have no firm intention of studying subjects in order to complete major or minor courses in them (f) are less likely to have a part- time job (g) by the end of the semester, are not happy with their marks in most units (h) finish the semester studying less than 3 T-units (i) continue into Semester 2 with 3 or more A-units and less than 3 T-units (j)do not consider their parents wishes an important influence on the choice of units for Semester 2. In addition to these, one other finding of interest, with a significance of 0.055 (approx.>, showed that non-completers tend to come from a socio-economic background of parents who are either managers/employers/self-employed or manual-skilled workers (i.e. not professional or nonmanual/ clerical).
    2.No significant differences at the 0.05 level were found between males and females nor between Year 11 and Year 12 students in their tendency to complete units~
    3.Students who change or withdraw from units give the following reasons (in rank order of frequency): they are getting poor marks they are unable to understand the work they find the class activities uninteresting they state that the content is not very relevant to their needs the unit is not suited to their career plans.
    The implications for administrators at Erindale College are:
    1.Students should be encouraged to formulate specific goals and develop a commitment to their education.
    2.Students who are “at risk” need to be identified early and given tutorial assistance in units where they are having difficulty with understanding.
    3.The curriculum must be kept under review in order to provide for the needs of all students.
    Date of Award1987
    Original languageEnglish

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