South African Journal of Higher Education

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Cognitive ability, learning potential, and personality traits as predictors of academic achievement by engineering and other science and technology students

R van Eeden, M de Beer, CH Coetzee


The aim of this study was to evaluate a battery of tests to be used as part of the process of selecting students for engineering and other science and technology courses at a tertiary institution. The predictor variables included Grade 12 results for Science, English and Mathematics, the General Scholastic Aptitude Test Senior, the Senior Aptitude Test and the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire, South African 1992 version. The Learning Potential Computerised Adaptive Test (LPCAT) developed with disadvantaged students in mind, was also included. The average performance for first-year subjects at technikon was used as the criterion variable. Results indicated that school achievement was the best predictor while the GSAT Verbal Scale contributed more than the other psychometric tests to the variance in academic achievement. However, English proficiency seemed to influence performance on both predictor and criterion variables, and some recommendations are made with regard to the importance of enhancing language proficiency when teaching in a multi-cultural context.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol.15(1) 2001: 171-179
AJOL African Journals Online