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First year Master of Education (M.Ed.) students’ experiences of part-time study: A South African case study
This article reports on a study of how a group of first year M.Ed. students in the Faculty of Education of the University of KwaZulu-Natal experienced part-time study. Literature suggests that each year, South Africa suffers significant student departures from universities without completing their studies. Apart from the cost and manpower implications, student dropout also causes damage to the individual’s self-esteem and self-image. The author’s own experience of teaching part-time M.Ed. students suggested that they were faced with a plethora of hindrances whose nature and complexity could not be taken for granted. Thus, this study sought to understand how students experienced part-time study as organised by the faculty. The article contends that organisational factors within an institution are crucial to the success or failure, and the retention or dropout of the students. Therefore, student integration into the institution is highly necessary. Data were collected through a questionnaire that solicited both quantitative and qualitative responses. The findings suggest that while students found their studies worthwhile, their levels of integration with the institution were low, thus weakening their coping strategies. Greater efforts to help students integrate with the institution seem necessary.