|University of Fort Hare
|Faculty of Education
|Academic support – peer suppor.; higher education – South Africa.
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The purpose of the study was to assess the implementation of peer academic support programmes which are Language and Writing Advancement and Supplemental Instruction programmes in one University in South Africa. The study adopted a qualitative approach that used face-to-face interviews, focus group interviews and document analysis to collect data. Purposive sampling was used to select those who participated in the study. The participants were two coordinators of the programmes, ten facilitators working in the programmes for in-depth interviews and ten students who have been receiving services from the programmes for two focus group discussions. The study revealed that there was a general trend whereby peer facilitators of the programmes were recruited and trained. However, it was found that some facilitators abandoned the position immediately after the training which made it difficult for coordinators and Human Resource Staff (HR) to start the process of recruitment and retraining. In this regard, Teaching and Learning Centre, (TLC) and HR simply appointed other untrained facilitators to replace those who had deserted the positions. Also, some facilitators were unable to attend some of the regular trainings because of clashes with their classes. All these have a negative impact on the implementation of the programmes. The results also reveal that some of the facilitators were frustrated with students’ poor attendance in the sessions, and even those who attended their sessions, did not participate much in the discussions. It was found that most lecturers and students did not know the differences between supplemental instruction (SI) and tutorials. Neither did lecturers encourage their students to seek help from the TLC services. Reviewing of assignments from different disciplines by TLC facilitators was another burning issue that came up. Some facilitators reviewed assignments from different disciplines, because the disciplines were not represented and this is because they want to claim for more hours, which affects the quality of the programmes. The findings also show that some students did not like to take their assignment to the TLC for review because facilitators make unnecessary and harsh comments. On the contrary, some students acknowledged that they were fine with the way facilitators review assignments because it involves one-on-one consultation, and they always pass the assignments reviewed by PASS facilitators. The study also revealed that the coordinators monitored and evaluated facilitators through observation and the checking of attendance registers. Coordinators ware also monitored by senior colleagues of the department such as the manager of the TLC. Furthermore TLC has instituted a mentorship programme whereby senior facilitators mentor newly recruited facilitators. However not every facilitator had a mentor. The study also exposed the fact that the TLC venue was usually closed during examination periods to allow facilitators to prepare for their examinations. The findings show that some departments…