University of Zambia: Factors Affecting Students Academic Performance

Topics: Academia, University, Higher education Pages: 34 (18498 words) Published: October 21, 2014

1.0 INTRODUCTIONIn most Universities the world over today, the academic performance of students has recently come under scrutiny for a number of reasons. For instance, a number of studies have been carried out to identify causal factors of poor academic performance in a number of institutions worldwide. Interestingly, most of these studies focused on the three elements that intervene. Such included, parents (family causal factors), teachers (academic causal factors), and students (personal causal factors) (Diaz, 2003). However, this study investigated the main factors that affect students’ academic performance at The University of Zambia main campus. Broadly speaking, factors influencing academic performance of students vary from one academic environment to another, from one set of students to the next, and indeed from one cultural setting to another. It however appears that students have worked hard but their input has not been positively correlated to their output. Indeed, this has been revealed in a report from UWI’s Office of Planning and Development (2011), where 20% of all undergraduate courses offered at UWI, St. Augustine recorded high failure rates. This increases the cost of training graduates as well as reducing admission opportunities for high school students seeking a University education. Furthermore, the low pass rates impose a huge cost to the communities in terms of the low number of students graduating and the reduced intake of potential students due to shortage of spaces caused by low throughput. Therefore, in order to ensure that a larger proportion of the labor force is highly trained, most Universities including The University of Zambia must put in place measures that will ensure high completion rates. In the case of The University of Zambia main campus, the failure and dropout rates are higher in such schools like School of Law, School of Engineering and School of Veterinary Medicine, among others. However, in cases where there are low dropout or exclude rates, at least there should be poor performance making students to merely clear in order to proceed as opposed to getting excellent results. Much of the abrasion that reduces completion rates has been attributed to low academic performance in early pre-requisite undergraduate courses (Scott and Graal, 2007). This problem although may be lightly taken has a profound influence on the communities. Not only that, it also contravenes the motto of the University, ‘Service and Excellency’ in that there is no excellence when people are poorly performing and failing. In view of the above, the study investigated the main factors that affect students’ academic performance at The University of Zambia main Campus so that appropriate administrative measures can be put in place in order to help the community at large. 2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW

The literature review of this study is divided into two components namely, theoretical review which merely reviews theories that relate to the topic under investigation and empirical review which will be composed of studies conducted by other researchers on the same topic. Theoretical Review

There are a number of theories that have been assumed to explain the factors that affect students’ academic performance but for the purposes of this study, only two will be discussed. These include, ‘The Triarchic Theory of Intellectual Abilities’ and the ‘Theory of Mental Self-Government’. 2.2 The Triarchic Theory of Intellectual Abilities

According to the Theory of Intellectual Abilities (Sternberg, 1985; 1986:23), three kinds of intellectual abilities exist, namely analytical, creative and practical abilities. Measures of abilities tend to focus mainly on analytical abilities, whereas all three types of abilities need to be regarded as equally important. Research done by Sternberg (1997b:24) showed that: The more we teach and assess students based on a broader set of abilities, the more racially,...

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