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Management of student misconduct at a TVET college in the Western Cape
Oosthuizen, Louis Jacobus
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Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges play an important role in providing a competent workforce that can contribute to the economic development of South Africa. TVET Colleges also provide an alternative pathway for students who have not completed grade 12. TVET Colleges have seen many changes during the past decades and have reportedly been underperforming in various areas, including academically. Student misconduct may, amongst other factors, have a determining influence on the poor performance of TVET Colleges. Student misconduct comprises the nature of student misconduct, factors leading to student misconduct and management of student misconduct. The nature of student misconduct, factors leading to student misconduct and methods used to manage student misconduct at TVET Colleges remain largely unidentified and need to be researched. The purpose of this study is to determine the nature of student misconduct, factors leading to student misconduct and how student misconduct is managed at a TVET College in the Western Cape. The nature of student misconduct is classified into ordinary student misconduct and serious misconduct. Factors leading to student misconduct are classified into factors related to the management of TVET Colleges, lecturer qualifications and competence and student background and preparedness. Management of student misconduct is classified into reactive methods and preventative methods for managing student misconduct. The research methodology employed for this study was an explanatory mixed method. The explanatory mixed methodology collects quantitative data first and then, based on the quantitative findings, collects qualitative data to elaborate on the quantitative findings. The major findings of the quantitative phase created topics for further discussion during qualitative interviews. The study found that the most frequent forms of TVET student misconduct are ordinary forms of student misconduct such as absenteeism, playing with cellular phones in class and arriving late for lessons. The most frequent factors leading to student misconduct were found to be students becoming hungry during lessons, students coming from disadvantaged homes and students finding work too difficult. Students' home environment and level of academic preparedness therefore has an impact on their behaviour. Students who originate from disadvantaged homes, experience lack of provision in their basic needs, and also a lack of geborgenheit which lead to student disciplinary problems. As a counter measure, methods applied in the interest of managing student misconduct should include an atmosphere of geborgenheit. The study indicated that the most effective methods for managing student misconduct are the creation of a friendly classroom atmosphere, lecturer’s good subject knowledge, proper lesson preparation and positive student-lecturer relationships. A combination of the above-mentioned methods implies interesting lessons filled with activities that engage students who feel safe, loved and unconditionally accepted in their learning environment. When students feel safe and unconditionally accepted they experience an atmosphere of geborgenheit, a pre-requisite for management of student discipline. Poorly disciplined students, it was found, who display deliberate forms of student misconduct should be disciplined by means of stricter methods such as classroom rules and the disciplinary procedure. Methods applied in the interest of managing student misconduct should, however, be accompanied by an atmosphere of geborgenheit. Disciplinary measures should address misconduct from a position of love and unconditional acceptance. Students with behavioural problems need to be identified and referred to student support services for effective support. It is recommended that an early identification and support system be considered for early identification and referral of students with behavioural problems. Successful implementation of an early identification system should include the involvement health and welfare organisations and religious organisations. Student support services should, in addition, be expanded and posts created for educational psychologists to provide effective counselling to students with behavioural problems. TVET lecturers need to have workplace experience and qualifications, academic qualifications and teaching qualifications to enable them to present interesting, well prepared lessons using a variety of methodologies. It is recommended that TVET Colleges and the DHET invest in upgrading the qualifications of TVET lecturers through bursary schemes, time off at work and salary scales that are linked to qualification levels.