Previous research summaries


Technical research reports produced prior to 2008.

Ethics

This research has received ethical approval from The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee (Reference Number 2006/037) including any supplementary applications and subsequent approvals.

Confidentiality

All research conducted by Starpath is protected to maintain confidentiality.

Requests

All requests for reports or parts thereof must be made in writing to the Starpath Project Director and submitted to starpath@auckland.ac.nz

Requests must include contact details and details of the contact person, organisation, and intended use. Notification of the outcome will be given in writing, with 10 working days as the normal response time.

 

The Predictability of Enrolment and First Year University Results from Secondary School Performance


This analysis examined the predictive correlations between NCEA (and as a comparator) Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) results and the first year grade point averages at one large New Zealand university. Alternative models for determining university entrance using different attributes of the NCEA qualification were tested, and the implications of the best of these models assessed for different groups of students.

The findings strongly support the reliability of the NCEA system as a predictor of success in the first year of University study, but at the same time raise questions about the current NCEA 'credit accumulation' model. An alternative model which rewards higher levels of achievement in NCEA was tested, and proved to be at once more reliable, and more equitable in admitting students to the University.

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Predictability report
(226.2 kB, PDF)
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Starpath in Schools Scoping Study


This technical report is part of the Starpath project led by the University of Auckland, aimed at increasing the participation and success of under-represented groups in tertiary education. Starpath's main objectives are to build capacity within New Zealand schools to identify "chokepoints" to tertiary education, and to assist schools in developing effective strategies to address these barriers in order to enable more students to reach their full academic potential.

The research detailed in this report comprises two procedures undertaken in a pilot secondary school. One investigated historical data from the cohort of students who first attended the school in 1999 in Year 9, through to the time they left school, at the end of Year 13 (2003) or earlier (known throughout the report as "Cohort 1999"). The quantitative data included gender, ethnicity, achievements, retention and post school destinations information. The second investigated support programmes implemented in the school during 2004. Qualitative data was collected and analysed and included programme objectives and focus, targeted populations, activities, length and the number of years of implementation.

The cohort analysis presented here is a unique study of the students within the cohort only; the results cannot be compared at this stage with any other group of students or any other school. Preliminary analysis shows that groups within this cohort had different experiences at the school and some groups performed more successfully, academically, than others during their time in the school. The programmes analysis suggests that greater programme delivery in the school and that some programme delivery approaches may have a positive effect on student learning for some groups.

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2004 Tertiary Analysis: Business and Economics Faculty


This second technical report from the Starpath project examines the participation and performance of students from different demographics and backgrounds in the Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Auckland. It uses the quantitative analysis of student data to identify the composition of a cohort in a limited entry faculty, as a preliminary to the analysis of potential chokepoints to the educational progress and success of specific groups of students.

This project is designed as a cohort analysis using the University of Auckland's nDeva database. By examining student admissions and progress in a cohort over time, we are better positioned to understand the patterns of and barriers to success in tertiary studies. The adoption of a cohort design sets the Starpath project apart from previous nDeva reporting.

The advantage of using a longitudinal cohort design over snap-shot reporting is that the data tracks individual students through the duration of their studies. This affords considerable flexibility in studying specific combinations of factors as the data is available at the level of the individual across the duration of the study period. In addition it affords a high level of certainty as to who is being reported on as transfers in and out of a programme are controlled.

This report outlines the methodologies and preliminary findings of this analysis within the University of Auckland's Business and Economics faculty for the 2000 and 2001 combined BCom cohort. The report presents a Summary of Findings, with an appendix on Methodologies. The summary of findings provides a relatively brief description of the output data while the appendix on methodologies outlines the rationale, data, process and definitions relating to the cohort study.

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2004 Tertiary Analysis: Engineering Faculty


This third technical report from the Starpath project examines the participation and performance of students from different demographic groups enrolled in the Bachelor of Engineering degree at the University of Auckland. It uses the quantitative analysis of student data to identify the composition of a cohort in a limited entry faculty, as a preliminary to the analysis of potential chokepoints to the educational progress and achievement of specific groups of students.

This project is designed as a cohort analysis and uses the University of Auckland's nDeva database. By examining student admissions and progress in a cohort over time, we are better positioned to understand the patterns of and barriers to success in tertiary studies. The adoption of a cohort design sets the Starpath project apart from previous nDeva reporting.

The advantage of using a longitudinal cohort design over snap-shot reporting is that the data tracks individual students through the course of studies. This affords considerable flexibility in studying specific combinations of factors as the data is available at the individual unit level across the duration of the study period. In addition it affords a high level of certainty as to who is being reported on as transfers in and out of a programme are controlled.

This report outlines the methodologies and preliminary findings of this analysis within the University of Auckland's Engineering faculty for the 2000 BE cohort. The report presents a Summary of Findings, with an appendix on Methodologies. The summary of findings provides a relatively brief description of the output data while the appendix on methodologies outlines the rationale, data, process and definitions relating to the cohort study. It is important to note that for the purposes of this analysis, the BE cohort does not include students enrolled in conjoint degrees (unless otherwise stated).

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Students' Pathways and Achievements


Technical Report 4 is focused on the students of Cohort 2000 at NZHS. This is an important cohort as it is the first to be assessed under the NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement) system. For the purposes of this study, Cohort 2000 is defined as "all students who enrolled in Year 9 at NZHS during the first term of the Year 2000".

In a similar fashion to Technical Report 1, this report begins with a brief background and literature discussion leading to the study objectives and research questions, and a brief description of the overarching statistical tools used in the study. This is followed by a description of the cohort's demographic characteristics, their Scores for Predicted Achievement, academic achievements, and the educational pathways taken by students as they pass through the school and beyond, according to available data. The report then delves into the realms of subject selection, looking at whether subject choice is likely to have a significant effect on student outcomes, and to what extent. The final section of the report compares limited data from several cohorts, Cohort 1999 and Cohorts 2000-2003, to explore the robustness of cohort comparison methodology, although it is acknowledged that data from Cohort 1999 differed in its assessment system and data quality to some extent. Each subsection of the results concludes with a summary box, highlighting the key findings explored.

Throughout the report, the chronological statistical methodology is made explicit and, where appropriate, initial implications and suggestions are offered. The overall implications of the data analyses are discussed more holistically in the Discussion, culminating in a series of educational and research recommendations described in the final sections of the report.

The final section of the Discussion invites critical assessment of the statistical methods used to produce this report. Such assessment is crucial to ensuring a high level of quality assurance and the acceptance of the somewhat unconventional analytical methods (in the context of educational research) employed in this analysis.

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Students, Staff and School Engagement in Extra-Curricular Activities: A Scoping Study


Technical Report 5 presents the methods and outcomes of a scoping study carried out in NZHS, a secondary school in Auckland, on school motivation, management and decision-making processes for extra curricular activities policy in the school, as well as patterns of student participation in such activities and the nature of these programmes/activities as reported by the student and staff surveys. A subsequent report will match patterns of student participation in extra-curricular activities at NZHS with assessment data for 2005, in order to investigate how patterns of student educational outcomes might be related to patterns of participation in extra-curricular activities in the school.

This report has the following structure: a brief background and literature discussion leading to the study design and research questions; a description of current results highlighting key findings; a discussion of these findings and a final section drawing together some recommendations and lessons learned in undertaking this study.

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Extra Curricular Activities and High School Students: A Systematic Review


Secondary schools in New Zealand as well as in other countries tend to sponsor a large number of Extra Curricular Activities (ECA). Nonetheless, little is known on ECA's contribution to students' educational outcomes.

The aim of this systematic review was to ascertain how participation supported positive outcomes and why, and to consider how the theoretical assumptions about the benefits of participation could be validated. Thirty out of 58 studies met the search criteria to be included in the analysis. Most effect sizes on academic achievement yielded from participation in non-specific ECA's, academic clubs and student journalism were small (ES<0.38). Participation in performing arts, sports and leadership activities yielded very small effect sizes (ES=0.17).

Nonetheless, the results show associations rather than causation and the limitations in research approaches; that is the balance between theory and evidence; do not enable validation of the theoretical assumptions. It is suggested that further research in this area will focus on causal relationship between participation in ECA's and educational outcomes.

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