Relationship between student preparedness, learning experiences and agency: Perspectives from a South African university
Background. One of the more discernible needs that challenges universities is addressing the level of preparedness of students entering the higher education environment. Students expect to participate in active learning, while at the same time adopting a certain level of agency to successfully pass through higher education.
Objective. To determine the relationship between student preparedness, learning experiences and agency of students in the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences (FCHS), University of the Western Cape (UWC), Cape Town, South Africa.
Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted on 266 (N=578) convenience sampled 3rd-year students in the FCHS. Data were collected with an instrument constructed from items of evaluation from the departments in the FCHS and other validated instruments.
Results. Findings suggest that 3rd-year students perceive themselves as moderately prepared on enrolling at UWC (mean (SD) 13.74 (1.86)); current learning experiences are favourably indicated (94.04 (15.32)). On average, students perceive themselves to be agents of their own learning (51.56 (8.79)). Furthermore, a significantly positive relationship was found between learning experiences and agency.
Conclusion. This study broadens our understanding of the Vygotskian perspective of the zone of proximal development, where students bring their own knowledge, interact with lecturers who scaffold their learning, and then become agents in their own learning.