Statistical Analysis On The Rate Of Student Withdrawal In Polytechnic

Project and Seminar Material for Statistics

Statistical Analysis On The Rate Of Student Withdrawal In Polytechnic


Abstract


Despite increasing numbers of students embarking on tertiary studies in Nigeria, the proportion of students completing a qualification is low compared to other OECD countries and Ministry of Education data shows that completion rates are low for students at Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) compared to other tertiary organisations within Nigeria. This dissertation examines the reasons why students at a polytechnic stay on or withdraw from their courses. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, focusing on a course with a low success rate at Unitec Nigeria. The primary sources of data were student pre- and post-course questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with three students. This research project found that polytechnic students face a number of issues including finances and the time and cost of having to commute daily to the institution. This research project also found that the youngest students had the highest risk of withdrawing from the course prior to its completion. Additionally, this research project found that the main factors that put ITP students at risk of not successfully completing their course could be identified prior to, and in the early stages of, their courses. These findings imply that early intervention by academic and support staff may lead to improved retention rates among this demographic of student. The interventions include: interviewing the students prior to the course to ensure they are aware of the costs involved in full-time study; having the students identify issues that may lead to having to withdraw and putting support in place to mitigate the effects of these issues; making a greater effort to socially and academically integrate the students and ensuring that students who struggle to pass early formative assessments are given extra support.


Chapter One


1.1 Introduction

Education is an instrument for developing the nation. It is also an instrument for developing hidden talents in an individual. It is the only means of eliminating illiteracy in any society. The importance of education to the development of individual and the national cannot be over emphasized. It is a great investment any country can make for accelerating development of its technology, economic and human resources. Isife and Ogakwe (2012) explained that education is a powerful tool or weapon that can be used to eradicate ignorance, poverty, diseases and produce individual that can function effectively in the society. Onwuka (2012) pointed out that education is the instrument that is used to free people from incapacitation and exclusion. When an individual is freed from incapacitation and exclusion or illiteracy, there is usually a change in that person’s behavior. This change influences the person’s attitude and his whole life (Apebende, 2013).

In a bid to achieve a paradigm shift in the country’s educational system, The Federal Polytechnic Statue enacted Decree No. 33 of 1979 as amended by Decree No. 5 of 1993, to give legal basis for the establishment of Federal Polytechnics in Nigeria. The principal aim for the establishment of Polytechnics in Nigeria is to turnout the middle-level manpower needed for industrial and technological development of the country.

No meaningful national development could be achieved by any nation without sound and qualitative technical education.

No wonder, Prof. Uba Nwuba, one time Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Oko posited that the bedrock of technical emancipation for Nigeria is centred on Polytechnics education. Polytechnics offer highly technical, scientific as well as research-oriented education to students. It is disheartening to observe today that these citadels of learning which were once cynosure of all eyes in developed economies of the world, has been relegated to the background in Nigeria. Nearly all the State-owned Polytechnics are just a little above the secondary school level, infrastructural wise, due to lack of adequate funding by successive administrations. Most Nigerian Polytechnics are synonymous with structural decay occasioned by neglect and misplaced priority on the part of the government on one hand and society on the other.


1.1 Background of Study

Drop out of school among polytechnic students means Basic technology students withdrawing from school before graduation due to some factors. Hornby (2000) explained drop out of school as a process whereby a person leaves school before he completes the study. He went further to define drop out of school as a situation by which a person rejects the ideas and way of behaving that are accepted by the rest of the society. United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2008) said that drop out of school is those who could not complete a particular level of schooling. Similarly, a school dropout is a learner who discontinues from school at any level of the educational process. The research seeks to investigate the statistical analysis on the rate of student withdrawal in polytechnic.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The principal aim for the establishment of Polytechnics in Nigeria is to turnout the middle-level manpower needed for industrial and technological development of the country.

No meaningful national development could be achieved by any nation without sound and qualitative technical education.

No wonder, Prof. Uba Nwuba, one time Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Oko posited that the bedrock of technical emancipation for Nigeria is centred on Polytechnics education. Polytechnics offer highly technical, scientific as well as research-oriented education to students. It is disheartening to observe today that these citadels of learning which were once cynosure of all eyes in developed economies of the world, has been relegated to the background in Nigeria due to drop outs among students. The problem confronting the research is to proffer a statistical analysis of the rate of student withdrawal in polytechnics in Nigeria


1.3 Objective of the Study

  1. To determine the nature of student withdrawal, causes, effect, and remedy in polytechnics
  2. To determine the statistical analysis of the rate of student withdrawal in polytechnics

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the nature of student withdrawal, causes, effect, and remedy?
  2. What is the statistical analysis of the rate of student withdrawal in polytechnic?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

The study shall proffer a framework of study for the formulation and implementation of policies towards mitigating the rate of students withdrawal in ploytechnics.


1.6 Statement of Hypothesis

  1. Ho The quality of polytechnic Education is low
    Hi The quality of polytechnic Education is high
  2. Ho The rate of student withdrawal in polytechnic is low
    Hi The rate of student withdrawal in polytechnic is high
  3. Ho The causes of student withdrawal in polytechnic is low
    Hi The causes of student withdrawal in polytechnic is high

1.7 Scope of the Study

The study focuses on the appraisal of the statistical analysis on the rate of student withdrawal in polytechnic


1.8 Definition of Terms

Social Capital Defined

Social capital, as defined by Coleman (1988), includes multiple concepts. Each of the included concepts produces a desirable outcome within a relationship among different people. Each person included in the relationship places value on the desired outcome. This value is the intangible resource that Coleman refers to as social capital.

Dropout Defined

Event dropout describes the student who has committed the mere act of leaving high school before graduating. Status dropout describes the person of school age who was not in school at the time of the survey. Cohort dropout uses a base year and describes a person who did not obtain a high school equivalency degree, high school Dropouts  diploma, or failed to attend school for 20 consecutive unexcused days during the base year in which the individual should have graduated.

Status Dropout

Status dropout rate is used most often to describe the proportion of persons who have dropped out of school. Event dropout rate describes the percent of students who drop out of school in any particular year. Cohort dropout rates show the difference in dropout rates for particular groups of students. Due to the confusing nature of the definitions, states often report differing types of dropout percentages, leading to unreliable conclusions when comparing state dropout rates.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

The intention of this research project was to ascertain whether or not students who withdrew from trade courses at a polytechnic conformed to the same picture being painted of tertiary students in general who withdrew from their courses prior to successful completion, and what procedures could be put in place to reduce the withdrawal rate. To this end one cohort of an entry level electrical trade course was studied. Pre- and postcourse questionnaires were given to the cohort and three students were selected for semistructured interviews conducted at the conclusion of the course.


5.2 Summary

This project was undertaken with a view to gaining an in-depth and contextualised perspective of the issues surrounding Nigeria polytechnic trade students’ decisions to withdraw from their courses and identify the factors that lead to improved academic achievement rates. While there is much research on the subject of student success and completion, most of it concerns degree level education at universities. There is very little research focussing on the perspective of polytechnic students whose struggle with their education leads them to withdraw from their courses prior to completion.

This research project found that polytechnic students can, and do, suffer many of the same challenges as their university counterparts.

The common issues are:

Personal issues including financial limitations, travel issues and unforeseen family circumstances a lack of confidence leading to debilitating study practices incorrect choice of course.

Factors that are strong indicators of pending withdrawal are low attendance levels and whether or not an early assessment is passed.

The main finding, which has not been described in studies of university students, is the effect that the students’ age appears to have on their likelihood of withdrawing. This research strongly indicates that 16 and 17 year-old students have the highest risk of withdrawing from their course prior to its successful completion. That this is not mentioned in other literature on tertiary success and retention is most likely due to students needing to be a year or two older to gain university entrance grades from school.


5.2 Recommendations for Practice and Further Study

In view of the above findings the following recommendations can be made:

Recommendation 1

All 16 and 17 year-old (if not all) applicants be assessed prior to being accepted onto a tertiary course.

Due to the diversity of prior academic experiences in gaining a qualification, applicants should be assessed for the specific area they have chosen to study. As each industry has a unique set of skill and ability requirements, so each person has certain natural aptitudes which allow them to be a “good fit” in some areas but not in others. While skills can be taught, if a student is challenged enough to be kept interested, they have a better chance at remaining in the training (Hsieh et al., 2007). If they are challenged too much so as to be unable to achieve competency within a reasonable time, or too little so as to become bored quickly, they may be prone to quitting.

Recommendation 2

During the interview/assessment process, students should be asked to identify any issues that they feel may prevent them from successfully completing the course. Once students with issues have been identified:

  1. Students are introduced to the appropriate support services for the issues raised so that they discuss the issues and instigate a plan to mitigate the negative effects of the issue.
  2. Regular contact should be made between staff and these students regarding the issues the students raised and the students be helped in obtaining support service assistance as soon as an issue appears to be interfering with the students learning.

In this research, most students who could identify multiple issues that might prevent them from completing the course did not complete the course. In other words, these students were very accurate in identifying what was likely to impede their progress and success. At the same time, little, if any, assistance was sought by the students from the institution’s support services. There needs to be a very proactive approach taken to assist these students through the difficulties that have been identified.

Recommendation 3

Department staff should be made aware of the high risk of withdrawing from the course associated with 16 and 17 year-old students and the factors that can mitigate this. These factors include:

  1. Making an effort to socialise with these students. This social contact would need to be:
  2. As early as possible in the course
  3. Regular
  4. At quite a personal level.

All three of these criteria enable the students to see the staff as a part of their social circle, so that they feel that staff care about them as people and are concerned about their progress in the course.

Bring the students into the institution prior to the course beginning for some fun activities so the students start to identify with the institution and the course staff.

This could be combined with the pre-course assessment/interview process.

At a department or institutional level, academic mentors should be appointed to keep an overview of each student’s progress and have scheduled regular meetings with the students.

Students coming to tertiary study directly from high school are used to having daily contact with one teacher (often called the “form teacher” or “home-room teacher”). This teacher provides continuity for the student especially when they are seeing multiple teachers throughout the week and in some cases seeing a particular teacher only once in the week. Having an academic mentor (Tovia, 2007) (Rayner & Beckman, 2011) would replicate this role, and although not necessarily having daily contact, would be someone that the students would know is keeping track of their overall progress.

Recommendation 4

Formative assessments should be carried out prior the first summative assessment.

These formative assessments should be conducted in the same manner as summative assessments to:

  1. Allow students to become familiar with the assessment process.
  2. Identify struggling students as soon as possible.

In this research, most students who did not obtain a passing grade for the first summative assessment also did not complete the course. Students coming to tertiary education from the Nigeria schooling system have been assessed using the NCEA system and criteria. This system allows for internal assessment assistance by teachers to ensure all the performance criteria have been met. The tertiary system is designed for students to take responsibility for their own learning. A mismatch occurs when students come to tertiary education without having stayed at high school to the completion of Year 13. Students who have completed Year 13 have, in their last two years at school, been required to take more and more responsibility for their learning. They also have had time to work out how to juggle their social life and assessment imperatives. Students who enter tertiary after only three years secondary have not had the extra two years to make these adjustments. Early formative assessments (structured the same as summative assessments) would allow both the student and staff to identify who needs assistance making the transition to tertiary.


5.3 Limitations of the Study

The way this research project has been reasonably able meet the study aims and provide answers to the research questions suggests that the methods used were suitable for this study. However, because of the factors outlined in the introduction to this chapter, this study also has some limitations. Its usefulness is also limited due to the small sample size and narrow participant selection criteria. The main limitation is that it failed to gain an indepth and personal account from the departed students themselves of why students prematurely depart from their courses. Until that has happened, conclusions drawn about this subject are inferences, however reasonable, and should be treated with caution. Additionally, the small sample size and limited timeframe of the project does not allow generalising the findings across the polytechnic, let alone the wider tertiary sector.


5.4 Conclusion

This researcher’s decade and a half of experience in the tertiary sector has led him to one inescapable conclusion: Every year, every cohort and every student is different and each comes with their own unique challenges, opportunities and rewards. Tertiary institutions need to redouble their efforts to ensure students do not waste their own (and society’s) time and money by pursuing training options in which they are predisposed to fail. To this end it is my fervent hope that no stone be left unturned until the number of students leaving a course prior to successfully completing it becomes a small fraction of the whole.


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