Factors distinguishing between achievers and at risk students: a qualitative and quantitative synthesis

  • R Eiselen Rand Afrikaans University
  • H Geyser Rand Afrikaans University


The purpose of this article is to identify factors that distinguish between Achievers and At Risk Students in Accounting 1A, and to explore how qualitative and quantitative research methods complement each other. Differences between the two groups were explored from both a quantitative and a qualitative perspective, focusing on study habits, language proficiency, cognitive ability, academic background and perceptions of reasons for failure or success. From both perspectives, the study showed that the groups differ in terms of language proficiency and study habits with Achievers having better communication skills and being more diligent than At Risk Students. Vast differences in perceptions of reasons for success or failure were also identified. The study furthermore showed that Achievers on average have better cognitive abilities and obtained better school marks than At Risk Students. Recommendations focus mainly on the At Risk Students, as well as on enriching research through a synthesis of qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol.17(2) 2003: 118-130

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eISSN: 1011-3487