Role perceptions of lecturers of first year science students: A focus on gender differences

  • Melanie Jacobs
  • Gerrie J. Jacobs
Keywords: First year lecturers, Science lecturers, Lecturer roles, Gender differences in Science education, Role competency


A marked increase in student enrolments in South African public universities over the last two decades, allowed substantially more �nontraditional� students into the sector. These students typically have unsatisfactory levels of school performance, lack communication skills (especially in English) and mostly have first-generation status. The Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) established its First Year Academy (FYA) in 2007. The FYA, a community of practice for lecturers of first-year students, promotes optimal student learning, and expects lecturers to optimise their facilitation of learning strategies. Not much is known (research-wise) about role adaptions that lecturers of first-year students (especially in science faculties) are expected (forced?) to make in such circumstances. A literature-validated Likerttype questionnaire, involving 53 first-year lecturers (almost 60% females), was subsequently administered. The survey gathered perceptions in respect of eight literature-based roles that lecturers (could or should) play when dealing with first-year students, as well as their selfappraised competence in fulfilling these roles. The Mann-Whitney U-test revealed significant differences between the perceived role importance and competence of male and female lecturers in respect of certain roles. The study revealed a significant relationship between the gender and opinions (and also behaviours) of science lecturers for first-year students at UJ. Capacity building geared at the more proficient execution of the roles of course designer, teacher, course manager and peer consultant is regarded as vital. A tailor-made professional development programme is offered by the Faculty of Science�s FYA as of 2014.

Author Biographies

Melanie Jacobs
Head: Unit for Programme, Enrolment & Quality ManagementFaculty of Science
Gerrie J. Jacobs
Research ProfessorMathematics Education ProgramDepartment of Science & Technology EducationFaculty of Education
How to Cite
Jacobs, M., & Jacobs, G. (2014). Role perceptions of lecturers of first year science students: A focus on gender differences. Suid-Afrikaans Tydskrif Vir Natuurwetenskap En Tegnologie / <i>South African Journal of Science and Technology</I&gt;, 33(1), 9 bladsye.
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