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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


DUKHAN, Shalini; CAMERON, Ann  and  BRENNER, Elisabeth. Impact of mother tongue on construction of notes and first-year academic performance. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2016, vol.112, n.11-12, pp.1-6. ISSN 1996-7489.

The purpose of this study was to identify whether there are any differences in the quality of the notes constructed in English between students for whom English is a first language and those for whom it is a second language. Subsequently we assessed whether this difference, if any, affected their grades. Unsurprisingly, the first-language students produced better structured and more detailed notes; they also performed better academically than their second-language peers. However, when students were provided with training that focused on using writing as a means to promote critical thinking, there was an improvement in the personalisation of their notes. The improvement in grades was significant for second-language students. Thus the university has a pivotal role to play in preparing students for academic success by providing them with supportive measures to aid their transition into first year. SIGNIFICANCE: • The work illustrates that writing can be used as a tool for students to improve their learning and their academic performance. • Second-language students' grades improve when writing interventions are provided early in the year. • Students need to take on the responsibility for their learning; lecturers also have a responsibility in scaffolding learning.

Keywords : university grades; language; learning; note-making; note-taking.

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