Students' perceptions and expectations of a first-year psychology course at the University of the North

  • SD Sedumedi University of the North


The purpose of this study was to explore students' expectations and perceptions of a first-year Psychology course (Psyc 100) at the University of the North. The idea of obtaining information about the students' opinions (especially from those in their first year of study) was spurred by the realisation that students can usefully contribute to developing and influencing the university curriculum. It was also part of efforts to identify the causes of an increasingly alarming failure rate observed over the recent years. A questionnaire with mixed items (closed-ended and open-ended) was administered to a convenience sample of 366 participants (ie the entire Psyc 100 class of 1997) and a group interview was subsequently conducted with six volunteer students. The data was analysed by using both qualitative (themes) and quantitative (descriptive statistics) strategies. The initial findings from the study suggest that the students' schooling and home background and the prevailing conditions at the university largely influence their expectations and perceptions of the course and impact on their academic performance. Students draw on a range of sources that influence their expectations and perceptions such as: professionals, friends, relatives, and the university itself. Students identified both lecturers' and peers' attitudes and the lack of resources as key determinants of their expectations and perceptions.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol.16(3) 2002: 167-176

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eISSN: 1011-3487