The Effects of Taking Less Credit Hours on the Student’s Academic Performance: a Case Study of UiTM Sarawak

Mariam Binti Rahmat, Susan Hydra Sikayu, Azura Binti Ahmad
Faculty of Accountancy, UiTM Sarawak ABSTRACT Poor academic performance has been one of the many critical issues faced by higher learning institutions. Measures in the form of support systems have been found productive in improving the academic performance and retaining an educationally at risk students. This study investigates the performance of UiTM Sarawak students placed under first and second probation known as P1 and P2 respectively after they had taken 12 maximum credit hours as stated in the Peraturan Akademik UiTM (Pindaan 2008) (UiTM Academic Regulations). The sample for this study was taken from the results of students under P1 and P2 status accumulated from March 2002 until October 2006 for Diploma in Accountancy (DIA), Diploma in Business Studies (DBS) , Diploma in Banking (DIB), Diploma in Public Administration (DPA) and Diploma in Office Management (DOM) students of UiTM Sarawak. The results of each student were analyzed in terms of their GCPA and status that is LULUS (Pass), GAGAL DAN DIBERHENTIKAN (Fail and Dismissed), TAMAT (Graduate) and PERHATIAN (Probation). The process of recording and analyzing the results commence once the students were placed under probation status (P1). Each probation student’s performance was observed until he or she obtain the status TAMAT (Graduate) or GAGAL DAN DIBERHENTIKAN (Fail and Dismissed). The study shows that overall performance of P1 students were not encouraging as only less than 40% managed to achieve a minimum satisfactory CGPA of 2.00. In their second attempt, their performance was still far from satisfactory. The P2 students recorded the highest dismissal rate with more than 50% of them from all faculties being dismissed. The graduating rate for P1 students has not been promising either as all programs recorded less than 10% graduating rate. The analysis also shows that the probation students who had acquired a minimum CGPA of 1.92 were found to improve their performance to a satisfactory level of CGPA 2.00, while those with CGPA below 1.92 did not do so. Results from this study might be useful for both the students and UiTM Sarawak in taking aggressive actions to improve the performance of these students should their CGPA fall below 1.92. Keywords : probation, academic performance, students



Students’ drop-out and poor academic performances have left many universities in dilemma. Mann, Hunt & Alford (2004) highlighted that many higher learning institutions have and are still looking for the right measures to handle these critical issues. In addressing the issues of retaining students, measures have been sought by many to improve their grades ranging from offering learning skill assistance through academic support programs such as tutoring, study skill courses, learning centers, supplemental institution to other remedial courses. The Peraturan Akademik UiTM (Pindaan 2008) have also specified rules to be followed by the probation students. Thus, it is the aim of this study to investigate the performance of UiTM Sarawak’s probation students after adhering to the regulations. 1.1 Statement of Problem

In the UiTM system, students are placed on academic probation if they have earned a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of between 1.80 –1.99 on a 4.00 scale. One way in which UiTM helps the



probation students is by limiting the credit hours to be registered by them. Para 2.10.5 of the Peraturan Akademik UiTM (Pindaan 2008) states that, students under PERHATIAN (Probation) status are not allowed to register courses exceeding 12 credit hours per semester. Students under ‘PERHATIAN’ status are given two (2) opportunities to improve themselves under “First Probation”(P1) and “Second Probation”(P2). Once students are placed under the P1 status, it is not an easy task especially for those who are academically weak to pass the hurdle of 2.00 CGPA. Even if they do manage to obtain good grades, the contribution towards CGPA will not be a substantial one. This research attempts to shed light on how far these ‘P Status’ students have succeeded in pursuing their studies, maintaining their results in UiTM and graduating with a diploma. 1.2 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this paper is to determine the effectiveness of taking 12 maximum credit hours for P1 and P2 students in improving the performance of UiTM Sarawak’s probation students. The specific objectives are: a. to determine the achievement of P1 students who passed the hurdle of CGPA 2.00. b. to determine the achievement of P1students who still obtained a CGPA of between 1.80 – 1.99 in the second attempt. c. to determine the percentage of P1 and P2 students who were dismissed in the following semesters. d. to determine the achievement of students who graduated after undergoing P1 or P2 status. e. to determine the minimum CGPA for probation students to pass the hurdle of 2.00 CGPA 2. 2.1 LITERATURE REVIEW Factors Contributing to Probation.

There are many contributing factors that lead to students being placed under academic probation. However, the most cited factors are the following; attendance (Durden & Ellis, 1995), financial problems / the need to work (Dunwoody & Frank, 1995; Olson, 1990), personal/ family problems (Dunwoody & Frank, 1995) lack of social proficiency (Coleman & Freedman, 1996) and uncertain goals (Olson, 1990). Kelly (1996) concluded that a student’s thoughts and feelings of failure led to an overall decrease in performance and perhaps lack of interest in skill – building course. In some cases, failure is directly related to the students’ inability to grasp the material being presented or their lack of interest in particular courses. Mann, Hunt & Alford, (2004) believe that students drop out because they lack the fundamental educational skills necessary for them to succeed academically. 2.2 Intervention Strategies

An intervention strategy such as the role of academic advisors was significant in assisting the students and guiding them towards achieving academic improvement. They also assist students in the selection of courses and in situations when students have academic difficulties, academic advisors often make useful suggestions or direct students to resources designed to help them. Intervention strategies such as group intervention (Coleman & Freedman, 1996), study skills course (Lipsky & Ender, 1990), money management and goal setting classes (Coleman & Freedman, 1996), social competence skills building course (Coleman & Freedman, 1996) and interpersonal problem solving training (Coleman & Freedman, 1996) have been found to be successful. Once a mandatory intervention program had been implemented, retention rates, probation removal rates and persistence rates increased while suspension rates were reduced (Garnett, 1990). Previous studies revealed that students who participated in an intervention course had a significant higher GPA than those who did not participate (Lipsky & Ender, 1990). Lamar University introduced a comprehensive early intervention academic retention program called `Monitored Probation Program (MP)` which was intended to assist students who had been placed under academic probation. Students’



academic progress was monitored, evaluated and tracked through personal contact and documentation of students’ academic performance. MP students demonstrated a higher mean increase in GPA in comparison with the control group (Mann, Hunt & Alford, 2004). In another study, students who attended a ten- week probation intervention seminar were found to have a higher rate of removal of probation status, staying enrolled at college, withdrawing less, and graduating than those who did not attend an intervention seminar (Newton, 1990). The findings from the above literature showed that probation students were able to succeed provided that aggressive and proper support systems were implemented. In short, success was not impossible for probation students if adequate preparation was taken by them. 3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The sample for this study was taken from the examination results of DIA, DBS, DIB, DPA and DOM students in UiTM Sarawak. The result of students under P1 and P2 status from March 2002 until October 2006 were analysed. Information relating to P1 & P2 students was collected from the Head of Programme and Department of Academic Affairs. Each probation student’s performance was analyzed until he or she successfully graduated or until dismissal takes place. The scope of this research was limited to DIA, DBS, DIB, DPA and DOM students who achieved a CGPA of between 1.80 – 1.99 in UiTM Sarawak. These programs were chosen as the of student intake was among the highest in UiTM Sarawak 4. 4.1 RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS Demographic Information

Information on students who were placed under the academic probation for ten consecutive semesters starting from March 2002 until October 2006 was tabulated in Table 1. DBS appeared to have contributed the highest percentage of both P1 and P2 students, that is 5.5% while DOM contributed the lowest percentage with only 2.5%. Overall, the percentage of students under academic probation for all programs was considered low as it only contributed an average of 4.6%. Table 1 : Total Number of Students Who Sat for the Exam and the Number of Students Who Were Placed Under Academic Probation Program Total number of students who sat for the exam Total Number (%) of P1 and P2 students DIA 5,728 DIB 3,007 DBS 5,304 DPA 6,190 DOM 2,494 Total 22,723

285 (4.9%)

163 (5.4%)

292 (5.5%)

243 (3.9%)

67 (2.5%)

1,047 (4.6%)

Table 2 exhibited an interesting finding whereby, academic probation seemed most prevalent at semester one level (part 1). It was discovered that part 1 students contributed the highest percentage with 17.9 %, followed by part 6 students with 16.2%. Interestingly, part 7 students had the lowest percentage of 9.3%. As a majority of P1/P2 students were formed by the new arrivals, this could imply the impact of culture shock as these students lack preparedness in navigating the academic jungle. Table 2 : Analysis According to Part for All Probation Students Part Percentages Part 1 17.9% Part 2 15.7% Part 3 14.2% Part 4 12.8% Part 5 13.9% Part 6 16.2% Part 7 9.3%





The exam results for each program were recorded and analyzed from March 2002 until October 2006. Recording and analysis of the exam results were carefully conducted for at least two consecutive semesters. Each probation student’s performance was observed until he or she obtain the status ‘TAMAT’ (graduated) or ‘GAGAL DAN DIBERHENTIKAN’ (fail and dismissed). Table 3: The Cut-Off of CGPA Point for Probation Students to Pass the Hurdle of 2.00 CGPA. Average DIB 1.93 1.92

Program Minimum CGPA Per Program Minimum CGPA for all Programs

DIA 1.93

DBS 1.92

DOM 1.90

DPA 1.94

The above data (Table 3) was derived from information pertaining to students who managed to pass the hurdle of 2.00 CGPA, either from P1 to LU/TM or from P2 to LU/TM. It can be concluded that to achieve a CGPA of 2.00 in the following semester, an average CGPA of 1.92 and above is needed. Therefore, the cut-off point of CGPA serves as a benchmark and is useful for all lecturers, academic advisors and the ‘Jawatankuasa Pemantapan Akademik’ in advising the students on their chances of securing a 2.00 CGPA. With this supporting figure, realistic judgment can be exercised in determining whether it is desirable or not desirable to retain a particular student.


40.00% 35.00% 30.00% 25.00% DIA, PERCENTAGE 20.00% 20.70%

DIB, 39.50% DBS, 36.60%

DPA, DOM, 27.40% 27.80%

PROGRAMME 15.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00% DIA DBS DIB DOM DPA



Figure 1 : Analysis of P1 Students Who Passed the Hurdle of CGPA 2.00

Figure 1 depicts the percentage of P1 students who were able to pass the hurdle of CGPA 2.00 or above. The outcome was far from satisfactory as less than 40% of P1 students were able to achieve the target. DIB students performed better (39.50%) compared to students from the other programs while DIA students appeared to be the weakest group (20.7%). After giving a second chance to P1 student, performance was far from satisfactory as not many of them were able to achieve higher CGPAs (2.00 and above) . Students in DIA program showed the highest percentage (46.2%) as compared to those in other programs who still failed to secure a minimum of 2.00 CGPA after making the second attempt (Figure 2). Apparently, even with an advantage of a maximum 12 credit hours, the finding from this study revealed that a majority of these students were still unable to secure good result. ANALYSIS OF P1 STUDENTS WHO STILL OBTAINED A CGPA OF BETWEEN 1.80-1.99 IN THE SECOND ATTEMPT

50.00% 45.00% 40.00% 35.00% 30.00% 25.00% 20.00% 15.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00%


44.30% 36.80% 34.80% 25.50%






Figure 2 : The Achievement of P1 Students Who Still Obtained a CGPA of Between 1.80 – 1.99 in the Second Attempt. Contrary to popular belief that taking less credit hour would mean ample of time to study and therefore academic performance should improve, the following findings proved otherwise. Results in Figure 3 indicated that taking less credit hour for that particular semester did not guarantee their academic survival in the university. DBS students (P1) contributed the highest dismissal rate of 40% as opposed to DIB students with only 9.6%. P2 students appeared to have the highest dismissal rate. Evidence shown in Figure 4 revealed that dismissal rate for P2 students under each program were above 50%. DOM contributed the highest dismissal rate of 76.9%.




DPA, 20.40%

DIA, 21.30%


DOM, 23.50% DIB, 9.60% DBS, 40.00%


Figure 3 : The Percentage of P1 Students Who Were Dismissed in the Following Semester


80.00% 70.00%

DOM, 76.90%

DIB, 63.30% 60.00% DBS, 55.20% DIA, 51.50% PERCENTAGE 50.00% 40.00% 30.00% 20.00% 10.00% 0.00% DIA DBS DIB DOM

DPA, 53.70%




Figure 4 : The Percentage of P2 Students Who Were Dismissed in the Following Semester. Another finding from this study was that the percentage of students who have graduated after undergoing P1 / P2 status was very minimal. Figure 5 revealed an alarming discovery whereby, the graduating rate for each program did not even exceed 8%. DOM has the lowest graduating rate for ‘P status’ students with only 2%, followed by DBS (2.4%) and DPA (2.8%). DIB program contributed the highest graduating rate with only 7.9%. However, the above data did not include students who have



graduated after sitting for supplementary examinations. Therefore, it can be concluded that once students are placed under probationary status, there is a strong likelihood that these students will not graduate.

7.90% 6.40%

6.00% 5.00% 4.00% 3.00% 2.00% 1.00% 0.00% DIA DBS DIB


2.80% 2.00%



Figure 5: Analysis of Students Who Graduated After Undergoing P1/P2 Status 5. CONCLUSION

From the above findings, we have concluded that taking less credit hours did not really improve the performance of students placed under academic probation. These findings implied that even though students took a maximum of 12 or less than 12 credit hours for that particular semester, it did not guarantee their academic survival in the university. It is hoped that the results from this study may prove useful in facilitating and executing the role of academic advisors as well as assisting UiTM and the respective faculties in planning their future activities. It is also hoped that the cut-off of CGPA point serves as benchmark in determining the desirability to retain a particular student. REFERENCES Coleman, H.L., & Freedman, A.M. (1996). Effects of a structured group intervention on the achievement of academically at-risk undergraduates. Journal of College Student Development, 37(6), 631-636. Dunwoody, P.T., & Frank, M.L. (1995). Why students withdraw from classes. The Journal of Psychology ,553. Durden, G. C., & Ellis, L. V. (1995). The effects of attendance on student learning in principles of economics. The American Economic Review, 85(2), 343 – 346. Garnett, T.T (1990, Spring). Retention strategies for high risk students at a foreign university. National Academic Housing Association Journal, 10, 22 – 25.



Kelly, K.N. (1996). Causes, reactions, and consequences of academic probation: A theoretical model. NACADA Journal, 16(1), 28-34. Lipsky, S.A., & Ender, S.C. (1990), Impact of a study skills course on probation students’ academic performance, Journal of Freshman Year Experience, 2(1), 7-15. Mann, J.R., & Hunt, M.D., & Alford, J.G. (2004), Monitored Probation: A program that works, Journal of College Student Retention 2003/2004, 5(3) 245 Newton, F.B. (1990). Academic support seminars: A program to assist students experiencing academic difficulty. Journal of College Student Development, 31, 183 – 186. Peraturan Akademik (Pindaan 2008), Bahagian Hal Akademik , Universiti Teknologi Mara

Olson, M.A (1990). Characterictics of students on academic probation, Community/ Junior College Quarterly of Research and Practice, 14(4), 331 – 336.



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