Student Tracking and Development
Surveys and Questionnaires
Student Tracking and Development
The BeWell Mentor Wellness Tracking System
Each year approximately 600 trained mentors guide between 4000 and 5000 first-year students during their first 6 to 9 months at the University. The mentors are senior students who undergo intensive training over a couple of days. The team of mentors and head mentors are supported by university staff members, including residence heads, cluster coordinators and staff members from Student Affairs. Since its inception in 2013 more than 2700 mentors and head mentors have assisted more than 19 000 first-year students in the programme.
Stellenbosch University has a long history of mentoring, dating back more than forty years. Before 2013 the objectives were, broadly, to help first-year students to adjust to university life, to overcome personal barriers and to provide general psycho-social support – mainly a deficit or problem-focused approach that assisted those in need but did not have real meaning to those who did not fall into that category. In 2013 the University switched to a developmental approach that still catered for adjustment and problem-solving, but also focused on the optimisation of the potential of all students in the system, including both the mentees and mentors – a more holistic and systemic approach that concentrates on developing the whole person instead of only addressing problem areas. The wellness model of Hettler was chosen as the vehicle to accomplish this, and the project is known as BeWell.
All the wellness enhancing activities within the BeWell system are tracked. The logging of sessions by mentors and mentees allows the university to:
- Scientifically manage the programme
- Measure the impact on academic performance
- Measure the experience of both mentors and mentees
- Measure the impact on the development of mentors, including graduate attributes
- Provide individualised progress reports to mentors and managers within the system
- Monitor activity levels within the system
- Do research to continuously improve the system
BeWell is run by the Centre for Student Communities within the Division of Student Affairs. The Centre for Business Intelligence provides the online tracking component and also conducts research on the impact of the system. The public website of the system can be accessed
The Module Mentor Tracking System
The Module Mentorship Programme is a student academic support programme within the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences that aims to increase student performance and retention. The programme is voluntary, student driven and focuses on high risk modules rather than high risk students.
In addition to providing academic guidance, the programme objective is to identify obstacles that are preventing learning and to refer students to help where needed. This includes financial, emotional and psychological problems that a student might be facing. Furthermore it provides social contact for first year students.
The module mentoring programme was initiated in 2007 and administered with an electronic system. This entails that students electronically apply to the module mentoring programme for specific modules in which they need support. Senior students that meet the academic criteria undergo the basic four-hour training session on mentoring skills and are paired with approximately 10 mentees. They schedule meetings outside of the formal class time to discuss academic issues and to provide general support.
The online tracking system was built in 2016 by the Centre for Business Intelligence and is maintained and updated by the staff from the centre. Learn more by visiting the system’s public
An Integrated Tracking and Development Solution for Stellenbosch University
Stellenbosch University received a grant from the Department of Higher Education and Training’s University Capacity Development Grant to develop a proof of concept of an integrated tracking and development system that was proposed in the second half of 2017. The objective of this project is “to develop an online, structured, integrated and intelligent tracking, monitoring and development solution that will improve student success.” The system should, when fully implemented, make a positive contribution to student success. The project was proposed by the Centre for Business Intelligence and is planned for the three year period 2018-2020.
i-FlourishWell4Life: A Positive Education Initiative to Enhance Academic Success and Flourishing
A key function of the Centre for Business Intelligence is to identify, enhance and track a critical set of positive psychological factors that influence academic performance at university level. Research findings and case studies from around the world and from a wide spectrum of fields were considered in setting up this initiative.
Researchers have identified a range of psychological factors that influence academic achievement. These factors include grit, a growth mindset, self-efficacy, a sense of belonging, wellness, well-being, resilience and emotional intelligence. Most of these are malleable factors and evidence-based interventions exist to pro-actively develop them.
An intervention- and evidence based “curriculum,” called “i-FlourishWell4Life,” which implements this new initiative, was consequently developed. It aims to simultaneously advance success, wellness, well-being and character. Tracking data and analytics are automatically integrated within the blended delivery of this curriculum – both are important components to eventually measure the impact of the curriculum and to confirm the predictive values of the above-mentioned malleable factors.
The i-FlourishWell4Life curriculum is delivered via a series of lectures and workshops. All participating students have their own personalised website with learning material, self-assessments, exercises, profiles and journals; this is also where the tracking takes place. A huge amount of both qualitative and quantitative data have already been collected since 2018 and a number of research projects have been launched. The tracking data will also be used in the long term to measure the impact on retention and throughput rates, as well as on closing the academic achievement gap between different groups of students.
The design and implementation of i-FLourishWell4Life builds on successful implementations of forerunners of the framework. i-FlourishWell4Life is currently being tested and fine-tuned by offering it as part of the formal curriculum of three first-year modules to students from five different faculties (Science, Engineering, AgriSciences, Arts and Social Sciences, and Economic and Management Sciences). It is hoped that the initiative can be expanded in the future.
Surveys and Questionnaires
The Alpha-Baseline Questionnaire
Since 2002, the Alpha Baseline Survey has been conducted among newcomer first years during the welcoming week. The aim of the survey is to capture information regarding student engagement, to monitor the cognitive and affective development of the students and to keep track of the values, attitudes, goals and wellbeing of the students.
For this survey, newcomer first years have to complete a web-based questionnaire. This questionnaire consists out of 160 questions, grouped into 13 themes, such as time management, motivation to study at Stellenbosch University, self-perceptions about skills and abilities, life domains that will benefit from additional support, values and wellness.
Newcomer Welcoming Questionnaire
Stellenbosch University strives to create an experience that will make newcomer students feel welcome and put them in the best position possible to study successfully and develop optimally. As part of this endeavour, a questionnaire was developed to improve our welcoming programme for newcomers.
The PSO Satisfaction Survey
Students from Private Student Organisations (PSO) regularly take part in the PSO Satisfaction & Needs Survey. The results assist the Centre for Student Communities in its endeavour to improve and enhance the experience for non-resident students.
The Graduate Destination Survey
One of the goals of the Unit for Graduand Career Services (UGCS) within the Centre for Student Counselling and Development is to prepare students for the world of employment. Good information about the activities of our graduating students, their employment and unemployment patterns and the process of finding a job support the Unit in tailoring its services. In 2017 a gap in the institution's knowledge about its graduates and their future plans was identified as the last graduate destination survey was conducted in 2003. Since then the university had to rely on infrequent investigations by the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC) to monitor and learn about the future plans of its graduates. A new graduate destination survey was consequently designed and administered via an electronic survey. The responses were analysed by means of a newly developed website that was built by the Centre for Business Intelligence.
The decision was therefore made in 2017 that Stellenbosch University will from now on conduct this research annually. This will enable more up to date reporting on current trends to management; it will empower the UGCS to fine-tune its services to the needs of senior students, and it will allow other role-players, such as the Alumni Relations Office, to use the findings to inform strategic initiatives.
The SU Well-being, Culture and Climate at Work Survey
The purpose of the SU Well-being, Culture and Climate at Work Survey is to determine the well-being and "happiness-at-work" levels of staff, and to get the opinion of staff about the culture and climate within the working environment. All staff at Stellenbosch University are encouraged to participate.
The survey will be conducted for the first time during the second half of 2019.
Surveys on Request as a Service
The Centre also occasionally assists with the compilation, administration and processing of once-off surveys.