Article published in:Africa and Applied Linguistics
Edited by Sinfree Makoni and Ulrike H. Meinhof
[AILA Review 16] 2003
► pp. 52–61
A pilot study of Supplemental Instruction for at-risk students at an Historically Black University (HBU) in South Africa
This article discusses a pilot investigation conducted between February and May 2002. The aim of this investigation was to assess the efficacy of the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program — which has a proven track record elsewhere — at an historically black university in South Africa. SI is an academic assistance program which was developed at the University of Missouri- Kansas City in 1973 by Deanna C. Martin and subsequently adopted countrywide and in other parts of the world. The pilot was conducted on a population of first year law students registered for an introductory module, “Introduction to South African Legal Method and Theory”. Two questions were investigated: 1. Does SI have an effect on students’ mastery of content? 2. Does SI have an effect on students’ perceptions of their mastery of skills? Three measures were used to explore these questions, namely pre and posttests of content mastery; student perception of skill mastery and end of course grades. Although there was no significant difference on the mastery of course content between SI and Non-SI participants, it was found that higher SI attendance rates resulted in slightly higher mean grades, suggesting that SI may have had some impact on the final course end grades. A significant difference at the .03 level was found between the mean grades of students who attended 4 or more sessions and those who attended 1–3 sessions. The investigation also revealed that a number of barriers and challenges need to be addressed for a successful SI program to be implemented at the university.
Published online: 08 July 2003