Maximising return on investment in IT training : a South African perspective.
This thesis explores the impact of teacher student cultural congruence, specifically in respect of race, home language and gender, on cognitive learning in the information systems and technology discipline. The study is conducted in the South African context and investigates the cultural factors that impact and predict information systems and technology students’ academic achievement. The research aims to contribute significantly to closing the culture-based academic performance gaps, and to improving the returns on investment that technology education and skills development stakeholders in South Africa are able to realise. A thorough review is undertaken of international studies that explore culture and teacher student congruence as significant factors in cognitive learning. Culture-based performance gaps are explored and the theories presented by international researchers to explain these gaps are considered. A review of the results of these international studies shows that different ethnic, language and gender groups perform differently on cognitive testing, suggesting that these groupings do indeed learn differently and that certain pedagogical strategies may favour some groups over others. This appears to be true across various age groups and across various subjects. Teacher student congruence as a predictor of performance is considered in detail in terms of learning style, home language, gender and ethnicity. International findings are reviewed which suggest significant relationships between teacher student cultural consonance and cognitive learning performance, as well as the role of teacher and student perceptions and racial identity as factors influencing the student learning experience and academic performance. The unique South African context for this research is discussed, including the history of inequality in education, the unusually diverse cultural landscape, the culture-based academic performance gap and the factors that account for this. The research conducted as part of this study investigates culture-based academic performance disparities and the impact on cognitive learning of matching teachers and students in terms of race, home language and gender among first year Information Systems and Technology students at a public university in South Africa. In addition, culture-based differences in student perceptions of collective self-efficacy in respect of teacher effectiveness are considered, as well as the relationship between these perceptions and student academic performance. The study finds that cultural factors are significant predictors of cognitive test performance and that matching teacher and student in respect of cultural factors significantly improves student cognitive test performance in information systems and technology education and training. The study further finds that both student and teacher perceptions of collective teaching self-efficacy vary among cultural groupings and are significantly related to higher student test scores for students who are matched with their teachers in terms of cultural factors. The findings are considered in the light of Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory and Phillips’ five level framework for return on investment in training analysis.