Don’t blame low pass rate on teaching experience

A student’s low pass rate should not be blamed on a teacher’s several years of experience, says University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) Alafua Campus Director, Professor Mohammed Umar. 

Prof. Umar was responding to claims raised by an alumnus on the declining passing rate of students undertaking agriculture courses AG213 and AG373, resulting in students having to settle for diplomas. 

“Those who failed courses are those who do not attend class, carry out tutorial tasks, have less than 60 per cent required attendance in the class, did not submit their assignments on time even after the extended timelines, and did not practice student activities given on online course,” Prof. Umar said. 

“Role of learner should also be looked into. If some students are determined not to study and not to do the needful but wishes to get a pass grade, what will the teacher do except urge them to learn,” he said. 

“The pass rate of a course depends upon quality of teaching as well as learning. Teaching quality depends upon the course syllabus, quality of lectures and tutorials delivered, and assessment portfolio (quality of question papers of tests and exams and assignments).

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“The quality of learning of students depends upon how many courses a working student is taking in a semester, assignments submitted on time, the course materials are downloaded and read regularly, number of hours devoted for course learning (about 200 hours student workload is stipulated for each UG course). 

Working students taking a load of four courses per semester are not doing justice to learning criteria, not attending classes.” 

Prof. Umar further explained that in quantitative courses like statistics, pass rates are relatively lower as compared to the descriptive type of courses. 

“Comparisons of quantitative courses should be made with other quantitative types of courses, e.g. results of AG213 Statistics for agriculture should be compared with results of EC203 Economic statistics, or ST131 Introduction to statistics.”

Opting for Diploma is a choice given to students on their way to degree programmes, and all courses taken for diploma are cross credited for continuing to degree programmes. 

“U.S.P. has undergrad and postgrad programmes in Agriculture which are nested, so the 12 core courses that you do for the Diploma are the same 12 courses, plus another 12 courses that you will do for the Bachelor of Agriculture programme,” Prof. Umar explained. 

“Those students who have financial difficulty to continue who have completed the 12 core courses required for the Diploma programme can graduate if they have completed - this is within the provisions of the University, 

“It is in the student's interest to at least have a certified qualification if for whatever reason the scholarship is withdrawn or for whatever reason the student is unable to continue. This does not stop the student from continuing to the Bachelor's degree within the given timeframe of three years.”

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