Date of Award

1-1-1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Public Management

First Advisor

Dr. Russell Waugh

Abstract

This study investigates some of the determinates of academic success and failure (and dropout) from first year university level Business units at two private business colleges in Perth, Western Australia. Private business colleges are convenient vehicles for international and Western Australian students who do not possess adequate academic assessments for direct entry into university, and for students who might benefit from an enhanced pastoral support system, in the transition from secondary education to tertiary education. The study is important to private providers and to universities who are trying to help students succeed at university. The study utilises a model of two dependent variables (achievement at first attempt and achievement at second attempt); five independent variables (motivation to achieve, outside work commitments, performance to expectations, family problems, and attendance); and three situation variables (age, gender and whether English is the first language of the student). The variables in the model were identified from various studies in the literature, as likely to be most strongly related to academic success or failure. The model suggests a number of bivariate relationships between the dependent variables andthe independent variables and between the dependent variables and the situation variables. The model also suggests a number of joint relationships between the dependent, independent and situation variables. The dependent variables were measured for eight first year units of study which are generic to Bachelor Degree programmes at most universities for Business or Commerce; Accounting, Economics, Finance, Information Systems, Legal Framework, Management, Marketing and Statistics. The sample consists of 195 students from private provider A and 92 students from private provider B in Perth, Western Australia (a total of 287 students). Data were collected by means of a questionnaire which was distributed to students in both private colleges in mid-semester 1996, and which students completed on a voluntary basis. Each of the independent variables were measured from student self-report data and the private colleges provided the individual student results in each of the eight Business subjects to use as measures of the dependent variables. Analysis took the form of cross-tabulations, zero-order correlations and multiple regression to test the relationships between the dependent and independent variables, as suggested by the model. The computer package SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) was used for the analysis. The conclusions relating to the zero-order correlations are presented in two parts: those relating Achievement at the first attempt and Achievement at the second attempt (as dependent variables) with the five independent variables and those relating the dependent variables with the three situation variables. (i) The five independent variables have small or no correlations with the two dependent variables. (ii) The three situation variables have small or no correlations with the two dependent variables. In each case, the amount of explained variance in the dependent variable was 7% or less and hence the relationships are of no practical significance for any of the eight Business subjects, for students or private providers. The conclusions relating to the multiple regression analysis are presented in three parts: those relating the dependent variables with the independent variables, those relating the dependent variables with the situation variables, and those relating the dependent variables with the independent and situation variables together. (iii) The five independent variables together account for less than 9% variance in the dependent variables. (iv) The three situation variables together account for less than 10% of variance in the dependent variables. (v) The five independent variables and the three situation variables together account for less than 15% of variance in the dependent variables. These relationships are so small that they are of no practical significance for any of the eight Business subjects, for students or private providers. While there do not appear to be any direct implications for private providers or students, flowing from this study, there are direct implications for further research. In particular, a better model needs to be developed that uses variables that can explain more of the variance in achievement at the first and second attempts. This may mean that different and better measures of the independent variables need to be made and that new independent variables need to be uncovered, perhaps, by interviewing students at private providers.

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