Postgraduate student retention and success: a South African case study
If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This monograph is the posthumous publication of the first part of Charlton Koen's PhD thesis in which he examines the main factors influencing the retention and success of master's students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Sadly, he passed away before completing his analysis of the extensive data he had collected, which was to have formed the second part of his doctorate.
The first part of the PhD published here provides a highly critical, richly theoretical and also controversial work. Its publication is not just in honour of Charlton Koen and the quality of his work, but is also likely to prove a path-breaker in our understanding of the complex web of factors that shape postgraduate student retention and success. Koen provides a sharp critique of the weaknesses in current South African Higher Education Studies research, particularly a tendency to base analyses of student trends and processes in our universities on largely anecdotal data. His detailed, careful case study of UWC students aimed to lay a new, better-researched foundation for such analysis. Seeking a sound theoretical framework for his study, he explores nearly three decades of rich theorisation by US and European researchers, and finds that much of it focuses on how the postgraduate practices, structures and institutional culture of a university might help master's students to pursue their studies creatively. Koen's unique situation of 'participant observer', for almost two decades at UWC - as student, then lecturer, then researcher - puts him in a position to argue most trenchantly that it is exactly such a departmental, postgraduate framework and 'milieu' for study which a university like that of his Alma Mater has not yet managed to construct.