First-year Student Experience of Orientation Week at a University in South Africa

26 Mar 2021

The aim of this cross-sectional quantitative study was to assess the orientation experience of first year students at a university campus in Mpumalanga. The study is informed by Tinto’s (1997) student integration model that suggests that students’ success is mainly influenced by the degree to which the university integrates the students into its academic and social systems. Participants were recruited from first-year students who had gone through a full-week orientation programme at the university. A questionnaire with 23 items on a Likert scale was used to collect data. The responses of 177 participants were analysed using principal component analysis (PCA). The principal components that emerged were health and wellbeing, academic development, student leadership, academic orientation, residence life and living and learning at the university. Further, multiple regression results showed that perceptions of health and wellbeing, academic development, student leadership and residence life significantly predicted living and learning at the university. It can therefore be concluded that these aspects had an influence on students, making it likely that they further influence a positive attitude and commitment on the part of the students. The study recommends that student integration activities at university should be extended even beyond orientation week, so that students are continuously supported in their learning. Key words: orientation week, adaptation, first-year students, South Africa, student success.