The effects of the extended curriculum programme on the social identity of students.
This study explores the perceptions of the first formal cohort of Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP) students in the Somatology Department to determine the effects it has had on the social identity of these students. The Somatology ECP was one of the pioneer extended programmes offered in higher education in South Africa. The aim of the programme is to assist under-prepared students and to attend to the transformation of the programme. It is hoped that the insight gained from investigating how these ECP students perceive their situation, opportunities and experiences in relation to their full curriculum peers, can provide relevant awareness in future curriculum development of any programme using this type of extended curriculum model. In curriculum design, the focus is frequently on the academic sphere, with minimal attention to the social development of the student. In recent years there has been a movement in academia to understand the students’ experience holistically in order to develop curricula which successfully improve their academic performance. Although some research has been conducted into foundation provision offered predominantly to address the concern of low throughput rates, few studies have been conducted to determine the effects of these types of programmes on the students’ social identity. Thirteen students that were currently registered in the Somatology Extended Curriculum Programme were interviewed using semi-structured interviews, and content analysis was used to identify the main themes from the data. The two main themes that emerged were that students believed the ECP programme had assisted them with the transition from high school to University. They had also constructed and adopted a particular group identity but still become fully integrated with the Full Curriculum students in their second year.