Institutional barriers to learning : a case study of a university in KwaZulu-Natal.
Grant, Monica Jennifer.
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This qualitative case study investigates the institutional barriers to learning encountered by students at one campus of a university in KwaZulu Natal. The objective of the study was to identify institutional barriers to learning from the perspective of students, and to ascertain how these barriers impact on student achievement. The overarching theory used to frame this study is Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystemic perspective. In addition, the notion of inclusion in education proved useful as a conceptual framework to the study. My interest in barriers to learning arose from my observation that many students experience difficulties in achieving their educational goals. While there are many kinds of barriers to learning that students experience, the focus of this study was on institutional barriers to learning, that is barriers arising from the educational institution. The study looked at the physical, psychological and social environment of the campus, the policies and practices of the institution, and the resources and facilities available to students at this campus. A mixed methods research design was employed in order to answer the research questions. Through questionnaires and follow up interviews, this study sought to unearth the institutional barriers to learning experienced by students at this campus. Study findings indicate that participants encountered barriers to learning related to overcrowding in classrooms, inadequate institutional resources, lack of access to information and the registration process. Findings from the study also indicate some enablers to learning, including the inclusive, welcoming atmosphere of the campus, the useful online learning websites and the fact that the library and computer rooms closed late in the evening, allowing students more time to work. Recommendations are provided to the focal university aimed at reducing the institutional barriers to learning identified by the participants of the study. Some of the recommendations are: to enhance the capacity of the university to cater for the number of students registered, to provide a longer and more effective orientation programme and to provide more efficient administrative procedures.
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