The impact of the extended curriculum programme and students' experiences of the programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
This research responds to a body of literature that identifies the epistemological difficulties faced previously disadvantaged University entrants who are insufficiently prepared to successfully master the academic requirements at tertiary institutions in South Africa. The study investigates the impact of the nascent Extended Curriculum Tutorials (ECTs) programme in the Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg on students‟ academic performance and social integration into the academy. These ECTs were developed and piloted in 2006 and were formally implemented in 2007. the aim of the programme is to articulate access into mainstream study through introducing students to the discursive practices of selected disciplines. They are available as an augmented extension of the existing access programme at the University. The research focuses on the following questions: 1) Are extended curriculum academic access interventions instrumental in the academic success and student development?; 2) What are the students‟ personal and interpersonal experiences within the programme in their social and academic development?; Which pedagogical approach/es are prevalent within the extended curriculum tutorials and 4) What is the role and the use of social capital within the programme? A triangulation of quantitative and qualitative methods was employed for data collection in this study. The findings are based on: 1) A comparative statistical analysis of students‟ assessment marks; 2) A student evaluation of the programme; 3) Participatory classroom observations and 4) in-depth interviews with students and tutors within the programme. The findings reveal that the extended curriculum tutorials are instrumental not only in supporting academic success but also in facilitating personal development.