Understanding academic experience of South African first year students studying agriculture, engineering and science (AES) in university using Africentric paradigm.
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South African universities are characterised by high dropout rates particularly amongst students in their first year of university and dropout rates ultimately have an effect on graduation rates. This particular trend is more evident in the faculty of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (AES). This study aimed to understand and explore the academic experiences of first-year students by investigating the external and internal factors that predispose the students to be more likely to drop out of university or to be successful in their studies, and to explore further how these factors shape the experiences of the students in the university. The study also examined the relationship between the external and internal factors that impact on the experiences of the students. The study made use of the Africentric paradigm to understand the needs of African students and the context in which they are living and studying. The study made use of a homogeneous sample of 125 first-year students who answered questionnaires with regards to their first-year experience at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The data was analysed through an initial factor analysis as it allowed for highly correlated variables to be clustered together. These variables were then subjected to further descriptive analysis. The study indicated several factors such as academic preparedness, a social adjustment which can affect the academic experience of a student during their first year of study.