Management 101: identifying the help students need

What accounts for student success, or not, in first year management subjects is worth universities knowing, notably in the case of internationals who pay high fees which funds rankings-lifting research. “It is therefore in our best interests (both economical and reputational) to ensure our international cohorts’ educational success” Anish Purkayastha and Elaine Huber (Uni Sydney) write.*

They review the performance of 960 students in a first year management course to identify factors that managements might be able to help with.

Well timed. Although they make no mention of it, the Federal Government has a particular interest in how universities are supporting students to succeed.

Among a mass of findings, some that stand out are:

  • Tutors with a PhD are “more effective” in supporting “high-performing” students to obtain a higher grade, but don’t have the same impact for Pass students, “one possible explanation is that the high-degree experience of tutors’ is mismatched with the average students’ aspiration.”
  • Tutor experience does not tend to play a significant role in student performance, “this can be explained since the tutor conducts the tutorial based on the scripted guidelines created by the core faculty members.”
  • Gender of tutors “is statistically non-significant.”
  • For every year-increase in student’s age, the odds of obtaining a higher grade rather than failing increased – across both genders.
  • Every additional tutorial attended nearly doubles the likelihood of a higher grade, but there is an optimal number of tutes attended to achieve a pass grade
  • Level of engagement with the learning management system does not significantly explain final results, but “this relationship is complex and requires further investigation.”
  • Domestic students have a significantly higher likelihood of higher grades than internationals
  • The probability of failing is higher for older international students, while the probability of their getting a Credit is lower – this points to the possible need of additional transition to university study support
  • Higher entry scores for internationals does not greatly influence their chance of a Distinction, perhaps they are adjusting to new learning environments

* Anish Purkayastha and Elaine Huber, “What factors contribute to higher grades in a first-year undergraduate management unit: an explanatory study at an Australian university” Higher Education Research and Development HERE



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