Journal of Academic Ethics 20 (1):3-22 (2022)

The aim of this paper is to examine the strategies used by peer facilitators in improving students’ academic performance in a previously disadvantaged university in South Africa. It also assesses whether peer facilitators are succeeding in this quest. This paper stems from a larger study on the implementation of peer academic support programmes, which used the qualitative research approach and a sample of 31 participants made up of peer facilitators, students and programme coordinators. The study made use of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions as well as documentary analyses as methods of data collection. Data was analysed thematically using the main and sub themes that emerged from the data coding. The results indicate that peer facilitators use different strategies to engage students in an interactive manner in order to improve their academic performance. Some of these strategies include ethically acceptable discussions, questioning, and answering and redirecting questioning. The findings further show that these strategies are succeeding in improving students’ academic performance to an extent. This is through improved pass rates and skill proficiency in various areas of academic learning. However, the participants reported that the strategies are not satisfactorily yielding the desired results because of certain impediments, which include the behaviour of some facilitators, poor relations between the Teaching and Learning Centre and various departments, and less individual attention paid to students by the peer facilitators, some of which raise ethical concerns. Consequently, these hinder satisfactory achievement of students’ academic overall performance at the university. Among other recommendations, the Teaching and Learning Centre should forge better relations with departments to attract needy students for academic support, and there is need to ensure better preparation of peer facilitators with necessary acumen to guide students effectively.
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DOI 10.1007/s10805-020-09361-6
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