Addressing the needs of underachieving students in an extended curriculum programme
The purpose of this study is to determine the nature of support services offered to Extended Curriculum Programme students in a South African university. The primary goals of support services in higher education are to support students holistically and reduce barriers to learning in the teaching and learning environment. One of the faculties in a South African university established a support unit to assist with the low throughput level. The academic support unit is housed in the Academic Development Department (ADD) in a faculty. The unit attempts to address the needs of underachieving students in the Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP). The thesis first identifies the challenges the ECP students are experiencing. Then, support services in the university and in the support unit are described. Thereafter, the challenges experienced by the centre of support services in the university and the support unit are illuminated. Qualitative data was gathered through individual interviews with senior management. Then, a focus group discussion with tutors who volunteer in a support unit was facilitated and lastly the staff members employed in the support unit were also interviewed individually. The thesis was able to identify the intrinsic and extrinsic barriers to learning the ECP students are experiencing. It became evident that the support services available in the university and the support unit are not sufficient to address the needs of the students. The challenges the support service centre of the university and the support unit are experiencing are twofold. The first is a lack of organisational resources that hinders service delivery, the second is a lack of skills and expertise in attain structures that limits the provision of support services.