South African Journal of Higher Education

Log in or Register to get access to full text downloads.

Remember me or Register

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT Open Access  DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT Subscription or Fee Access

Selection for the Science Foundation Programme (University of Natal): the development of a selection instrument

S Grussendorff, M Liebenberg, J Houston


The Science Foundation Programme (SFP) is a one-year access programme to the Faculty of Science and Agriculture at the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg). It was launched in 1991 and has grown from a programme for 31 students to the current programme with 280 students. One of the means used for selection was the Joint Selection Programme for Science and Applied Science (JSPSAS). An evaluation of this selection procedure, however, indicated a low correlation with student performance during their SFP year. For the year 2000, this procedure was abandoned and selection was made on the basis of Senior certificate results. For the 2001 cohort a new selection test, developed by SFP staff, was piloted. Whereas the previous selection procedure aimed at assessing for learning potential, a number of shifts were made in the test piloted in 2001. The test consisted of Mathematics, General Science and English subtests. The Mathematics test was designed to assess for minimum proficiency. The Science test consisted of items aimed at testing basic reasoning, synthesis and logical deductions not dependent on prior school content knowledge; and the English subtest was designed to assess for basic comprehension, grammar and syntax. For selection, a combination of the selection test and Senior certificate results was used. The students were tracked throughout their SFP year in 2001 and correlations between the selection test results and the June and November SFP examinations were monitored. Preliminary investigations of the correlations indicated that this selection procedure resulted in a group of students with a higher success rate than previous years. This article will describe the assessment of the pilot selection procedure's relative value in predicting student performance during the SFP year.

SAJHE Vol.18(1) 2004: 265-272
AJOL African Journals Online