The failure rate of the computer literacy course, at the University of the Western Cape, has been a cause of concern over the last few years. Of the 516 students that registered in 1994 only 414 wrote the final examinations, and of those only 35% were successful. Therefore an investigation was launched into understanding the factors that contribute to the failure rate. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to collect data. The quantitative method used, entailed the use of two sets of self-administered questionnaires. Unstructured interviews were used to collect the qualitative data. Initially it was assumed that students with a mathematical ability and those who had no fear for technology would be the successful candidates in the computer literacy course. Contrary to our expectations no correlation was found between the results of an introductory statistics course (first semester) and the more practical computer literacy course (second semester). However a distinct correlation became apparent between home language, the language of instruction (English) and success rate in computer literacy. Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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