Academic success factors: Case‐study evidence from entrepreneurship students at a University of Technology (Chux Gervase Iwu, Lucky Sibanda and Henrie Olumide Benedict)
A group of second year Entrepreneurship students were asked to provide their perceptions of the main factors that contribute to their academic success and or failure. This exploratory study utilised questionnaires to gather data from a convenient sample of the target population. The target population consisted of second year students studying Financial Management (a major subject in this programme). The choice of sample (second year students) was justified: (1) on the basis of the Council on Higher Education’s (CHE’s) disillusionment with low throughput in undergraduate higher education, which is considered the fault of a negative first year experience; (2) assumptions that second year students would have experienced higher education and would be better placed to relate to a survey of this kind (i.e. identifying academic success and failure factors from their experience); and (3) the contextual definitions of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ within this study.
This study undoubtedly has value because if success and failure factors are identified and reconciled, students’ success rates are likely to improve with appropriate interventions. Moreover, it is likely for university administrators to gather basic information which can then be utilised for introducing effective strategies to reduce failure and subsequently increase chances of success. Beyond this, it must be acknowledged that Entrepreneurship has been considered as one of the ways to boost the economy of any nation. Therefore, finding ways of attracting and retaining students in the programme will improve access to Entrepreneurship education as well as fast track economic development once graduates are able to add value to their respective communities.
A descriptive analysis of the findings suggest that the factors with the highest frequency which are perceived to contribute to success and failure include, regular studying and lack of attendance at lectures, respectively. The finding also revealed that 20 out of the 38 identified factors influencing success were personal, meaning that students firstly are able to control their learning environment, but also important was the researchers’ consideration that given the necessary support, students could improve their chances of success in higher education.
Some important recommendations for further engagement on the subject were made. The researchers believed that it may be helpful to conduct a comparative study of the perceptions of both lecturers and student factors as it would provide insights on the possible approaches towards success enhancement from both parties. Perhaps through an in-depth analysis of results using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), comparing the factors and factor rankings of responses from second year students from other qualifications; for instance: Accounting students and Human Resources Management students, may result in statistically significant differences in responses.
Chux currently serves as the Head of Entrepreneurship and Business Management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). He has Degrees in Library Studies, Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Management and Human Resource Management. His research interests include business development strategies, employee empowerment, and information systems.
Lucky Sibanda is the Executive Director of Supreme Educators, South Africa.
Henrie Olumide Benedict is the Senior Lecturer in the School of Accounting Sciences at CPUT.