Relationships between student throughput variables and properties

Keywords: throughput efficiency, student success rates, analytical process model, graduates; dropouts


Many different models have been designed to describe the plethora of factors that influence student throughput and success and how these factors affect throughput system variables and properties. System variables include headcounts (H) and successful credits (S) of throughput systems; some examples of system properties are the percentage of the new student intake graduating annually, and the average number of years to graduate or to drop out of a degree. However, no past study has defined the analytical relationships between these variables and properties from a process perspective – which was the purpose of this study. Three simple analytical equations were derived for 4-year degrees, and then geometrically interpreted. The behaviour of a simplified throughput system can be described by the position of a point in the admissible region of the H-S plane, with each point relating to a specific set of system properties. The successful credits ratio (S/H) is shown to be the ideal process efficiency ratio for throughput systems. The results were also extended to degrees of shorter duration. The behaviour of real throughput systems is broadly found to be similar to the behaviour of simplified throughput systems. In this study, only the mathematical foundations for the general relationships between throughput properties and throughput variables for a degree were established. The way in which this mathematical basis finds application in practice is illustrated for a few selected cases only, because of the specific focus of this paper.

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