Developing a model to measure academic performance at private higher education institutions
The South African public higher education system is not able to absorb the increase in demand for higher education, and this is an opportunity for private higher education institutions to assist and fill the skills gap. To do so private higher education institutions need a better understanding of the academic environment and its role-players. Hence the primary objective of this study is to build a conceptual model to measure the academic performance of a private higher education institution in South Africa. This study investigated the academic performance measures that impact on a private higher education institution in South Africa. This study aims to analyse the higher education sector in South Africa and provide a basis to develop a model that would be relevant so that a private higher education institution can roll out this model to ensure successful academic performance and ultimately ensure growth and sustainability. The study starts by reviewing the literature on higher education and private higher education to establish a broad theoretical framework to guide this study. After statistically ensuring that the respective theoretical measuring criteria selected do actually measure the specific academic performance antecedents, the thesis then develops and presents a model to measure academic performance in private higher education in South Africa. The final model has a total of eighteen academic performance antecedents. These are Economic factors, Selectivity, Expenditure and retention, Parent income level, attitudes and expectations, Motivation, Workload, External forces, Self-efficacy, Help-seeking, Attendance, Affective factors, Self-concept, Self-esteem, Stress, Active learning, Extracurricular activities, Adjustment, Class size and General measures of academic performance. The study further established the reliability of each antecedent, measured in total by 86 criteria. A total of 250 questionnaires were distributed of which 248 were completed by private higher education supervisors and managers and returned, signifying an effective response rate of 99.2%. Data were captured on a five-point Likert scale and the analysis identified ten latent variables (or factors) using exploratory factor analysis. The factors explain a satisfactory cumulative variance of 73.70%. The factors are Motivation, Workload and student participation, Parent income level, Attitudes and expectations, Institutional commitment and self-efficacy, Active learning and infrastructure, Class size, Help-seeking and attendance, Selectivity, expenditure and retention, Economic factors, Student maturity and success and Self-concept. The study also succeeded to simplify the model to measure academic performance by eliminating 17 questions with low factor loadings (<0.40) or those with strong dual-loadings from the questionnaire while retaining satisfactory reliability (Cronbach alpha 0.989), sample adequacy (0.946) and variance explained. Due to the lack of studies in this regard in South Africa, the literature study, as well as the efforts undertaken in this research study, could provide valuable insights and basis to suggest a conceptual model that could measure academic performance in private higher education. It is envisaged that this research contributes to this area of study and also make a limited contribution to the body of knowledge of academic performance with particular reference to developing a model to measure academic performance in private higher education in South Africa. In so doing the study contributes to discourse in higher education as well as private higher education within the politically charged South African context as well as providing managerial and academic insights. The results of this study are of value to private higher education directors and managers as well as investors in private higher education to determine the academic performance antecedents that lead to a successful private higher education institution. It is also of value to researchers and scholars who intend to do research on academic performance models.