A comparison of S.C.E. and G.C.E. school qualifications as predictors of university performance
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The University of St. Andrews is unique in that one half of its intake has Scottish Certificate of Education (S.C.E.) qualifications and the other General Certificate of Education (G.C.E.) qualifications. Also, the S.C.E. qualified students have consistently been more likely to fail than have their G.C.E, qualified counterparts. The aim of this thesis is to develop a scale to compare S.C.E. and G.C.E. qualifications and to investigate some of the causes for the differential performance. The first part of the thesis considers whether the level of failure at St. Andrews is higher than that at other universities and then reviews the varied literature on academic performance to assess the potential relevance of a number of variables as predictors of performance. It has been common iii educational research to adopt linear weightings for S.C.E. and G.C.E. grades in statistical analyses. The next section investigates the linear weights and finds chat, at St. Andrews, they may be improved upon. An alternative scoring system is developed and a model to estimate an entrant's probability of failure constructed. Thirdly some qualitative reasons for the differential in performance are examined through two surveys: one of the academic and social experiences of the students' first year, and the other of the reasons given by students for choosing an ordinary degree. Finally, some suggestions are made regarding possible improvements in procedures for monitoring student progress and of the potential for improving the assistance offered to new students to help them to complete successfully a degree course.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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