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Friday, 24 May 2024

Bootcamp steers at-risk students

ACCELERATING MINDSET SHIFT: Science, Technology, Education & Maths mid-year bootcamp intervention programme was held at SARETEC. ACCELERATING MINDSET SHIFT: Science, Technology, Education & Maths mid-year bootcamp intervention programme was held at SARETEC.

The at-risk Science and Mathematics students from numerous departments recently attended the STEM (Science, Technology, Education & Maths) mid-year bootcamp intervention programme held at South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre.

The students came from the departments such as Maritime Studies, Marine Engineering, Mathematics, Marine Physics, B.Ed. FET Physical Science and Mathematics, Industrial and Systems Engineering and Engineering Mathematics. The STEM bootcamp has been designed to prepare students for the mid-year assessments.

The CPUT STEM Support Lead, Dr Frikkie George, says the bootcamp intervention programme is one of the imperatives of the University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) STEM project funded by the Department of Higher Education & Training (DHET). The first Bootcamp was conducted in 2022 during the September recess. The Bootcamps take place twice a year - in May to prepare students for the mid-year assessments and in September to prepare students for the year-end final assessment.

“The Bootcamp targets at-risk mathematics, physics and chemistry students identified by lecturers. The interest and requests from students to attend grew, however, due to funding we can only accommodate 50 students in May and 100 in September,” said George.

During the bootcamp students worked through the assessments of the first semester in discipline specific sessions. Lecturers, Jerome Tangkeh from Mathematics and Physics Department, Rhulani Saka from Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, tutors, and STEM Club members facilitated the bootcamp sessions. The bootcamp was well attended despite the short notice to students and the timing of the bootcamp (last week of lecturers). Over the two days 95% of the students attended. The difference in the results of the pre-diagnostic and post-diagnostic tests indicate a 5% improvement.

To quantitively determine the success of the bootcamp intervention for recording purposes, students write a pre-diagnostic test at the start of the bootcamp and a post-diagnostic test at the end of the Bootcamp. The facilitators also randomly interview students during the bootcamp to qualitatively determine the students' experiences of the different sessions. The facilitators also track the academic performance in the mid-year and year-end assessments of the students who attend. “These measures are important to indicate whether the bootcamp makes an impact in the academic performance of students who attend the bootcamps.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce