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Research Articles

Academic performance and the perception about the educational environment: a comparison between ethnic minority and majority students following three degree programs

Authors:

W. T. S. Maduwanthi ,

University of Ruhuna, Mapalana, Kamburupitiya, LK
About W. T. S.
Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture
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S. K. K. Mudalige,

University of Ruhuna, Mapalana, Kamburupitiya, LK
About S. K. K.
Deans’ Office, Faculty of Agriculture
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N. S. B. M. Atapattu

University of Ruhuna, Mapalana, Kamburupitiya, LK
About N. S. B. M.
Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture
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Abstract

Beneficial effects of ethnic and social diversity in a higher educational institute can be realized only if different ethnic groups effectively integrate into the educational and social environment in which they live and study. Though located in an area of ethnic majority, the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna (FAUR) has be-come a tertiary education institute with a reasonable proportion of other ethnic communities since 2012. Students of minority ethnic communities may perceive the new learning environment unwelcoming which may in turn ad-versely affect their academic performance. Objective of the present study was to compare the academic perform-ance and perception of educational environment between ethnic minority (Tamil and Muslim) and majority (Sinhala) students, following three degree programs in FAUR. Perception of randomly selected ethnic minority (n=53) and majority (n=83) students were determined using a modified version of DUNDEE DREEM question-naire. Students’ agreement on each of the 50 statements in five domains; students’ perception of learning (SPL), teachers (SPT), academic self-perception (SAP), atmosphere (SPA) and social self-perception (SSP) were recorded on a five point Likert scale. Semester grade point averages (SGPA) of 320 Sinhala and 53 Tamil and Muslim stu-dents, representing three Degree programs were used for the academic performance analysis. SGPA of the ethnic minority (Tamil and Muslim) students (2.267±0.08) was significantly lower than that of Sinhala students (2.747±0.03). Ethnic minority students recorded lower SGPA values in all three degree programs, both academic years and semesters. The percentage of students having higher academic grades was significantly higher among ethnic majority students. There was a higher rate of examination avoidance either by not applying or by submit-ting medical certificates, among minority students. Ethnic minority students held significantly higher total percep-tion score and perception scores with respect to SPL, SAP and SAP. It was concluded that though ethnic minority students held better perception towards the educational environment of the FAUR, their academic performance are lower than ethnic majority students. Students perceptions towards the educational environment and their aca-demic performance were found to be two different constructs each determined by different factors.
How to Cite: Maduwanthi, W.T.S., Mudalige, S.K.K. & Atapattu, N.S.B.M., (2015). Academic performance and the perception about the educational environment: a comparison between ethnic minority and majority students following three degree programs. Tropical Agricultural Research and Extension. 18(3), pp.107–111. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/tare.v18i3.5333
Published on 26 Nov 2015.
Peer Reviewed

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