22 SES 12 B, Non-traditional Students
Education is recognised as a ‘relational process’ (Haynes & Macleod-Johnstone, 2017, p.182) relying on university staff building trusting relationships with students (Frymier and Houser, 2000). Students face a wide range of challenges requiring different levels of pastoral support. Higher Education Institutions do not have universal understanding of what pastoral care provision should be and there are few established models on which to draw. On face-to-face courses classroom interactions allow teaching staff to build trust through immediacy skills e.g. eye-contact, smiles and positive responses to comments that facilitate closeness. An additional system of tutorials serves to support students with specific pastoral care needs, or to pre-empt difficulties.
Earwaker (1989) presents a theoretical framework for considering student support including: pastoral care based within the traditional Oxbridge model where the university academic is acting as a ‘parent’; a professional model where student support is provided by those in separate departments with specific training and expertise; the ‘curriculum’ model where support is delivered as part of the course and finally a model which views staff and students as both needing support which is provided holistically by the institution. The ‘professional’ model is operational in the majority of UK universities where students on traditional face-to-face undergraduate courses are given tutorial-based support, i.e. tutors provide basic support and refer on when more complex needs arise. Although the amount of contact time varies, usually relationships have space and time to evolve through personal contact.
In this study, we argue that part-time post-graduate students have similar support needs to undergraduates. Part-time postgraduates are more likely than undergraduates to be balancing academic work with employment and family responsibilities and yet may also face many of the same anxieties and insecurities about their studies. We consider a very specific group of part-time postgraduate students: those based in over 70 countries and studying at a distance. We identify that little consideration has been given in the literature to the optimum ways to support these students with their pastoral concerns. The over-riding view is that since online courses are generally designed in similar ways to face-to-face courses, students will experience many of the same needs (Daniels and Stupnisky, 2012), as well as some additional ones related to distance learning. For example, Mazar et al. (2007) identified that online students asked more questions relating to uncertainty than those on face-to-face courses.
Given that appropriate support can help to determine student academic success (Frymier and Houser, 2000) it is pertinent to consider the way in which pastoral support is delivered in an online environment. Hawk et al. (2002) suggest that students of all levels benefit from a strong relationship with a tutor, but how is this built when there is no face-to-face contact to facilitate the building of trust? It is suggested that blended courses, where there is an initial face-to-face meeting, present an advantage in starting a supportive relationship (Risquez and Sanchez-Garcia, 2012; McChlery and Wilkie, 2009), particularly if there is a focus on aspects of emotional support. Tutors on online courses need to make additional efforts to have ‘social presence’ (Richardson and Swan, 2003) through, for example, video (Borup et al., 2012) and podcasts (Edirisingha et al., 2007). Feeling that a tutor cares for them reduces the isolation that students may feel and builds belonging (Motteram and Forrester, 2005). An additional aspect to consider is whether the ‘professional’ model of support still applies when online students may not have access to some of the university support services such as counselling. Does this make the ‘pastoral’ model more relevant, and what are the implications for staff training?
This presentation reports on a study that was carried out in a Faculty of Social Sciences in a Russell Group University in the UK. In an attempt to address the issues raised above, the study asked the following research questions: • How do tutors and students working wholly or partly online, build and maintain a supportive relationship? • What pastoral support did students use when enrolled on an online or blended programme? • How effective was this support? An online survey was designed to explore these questions. Survey methodology enabled both closed and open questions generating quantitative and qualitative data. Open questions were used to gain deeper insights into respondents’ perceptions of pastoral support whilst ensuring the confidentiality of respondents that would have been more challenging with interview methodologies. Quantitiatve data were presented through descriptive and statistical analysis generated through SPSS and qualitive responses were coded thematically using NVivo 11. Ethical considerations were complicated by the focus of the study on pastoral support and the relational factors involved in that. The fact that we were surveying current students who would be continuing with their studies after completing the questionnaire, and whose academic and personal tutors were our colleagues, demanded a level of sensitivity and the need for responses to be completely anonymous. An online survey tool was used, and this generated a numerical identifier which respondents were asked to note. This could then be used to request deletion of survey responses should respondents have decided to withdraw from the study. A questionnaire was disseminated over a period of seven weeks to part-time students who were enrolled on one of six courses leading to a Masters’ level qualification. Approximately two thirds of the students identified as female and one third identified as male. 57 respondents were enrolled on MA programmes and 10 of these respondents had studied face-to-face at summer school. 82 respondents were enrolled on a postgraduate certificate course taught online with a short, compulsory, face-to-face component. At the time of taking the survey, 13.7% of respondents were new students who had not completed any taught modules, 86.3% of respondents had completed at least one module, and subsumed within this, 13.7% had finished, or almost finished their studies and had completed all taught modules. Chi-square tests were used to compare results between respondents from the MA programme and the postgraduate certificate and open questions were coded thematically using NVivo 11.
The findings of the study revealed some interesting and unexpected results and a complex picture has emerged of the expectations, needs and uses of pastoral support for part-time distance learners in this tertiary level context . For example, 37.3% of MA students felt they had not built a supportive relationship with a member of staff, and none of those attended summer school, possibly indicating the importance of the face-to-face contact when building a relationship. Of the 10 people who attended summer school, all said they had developed a supportive relationship with a university staff member. However, the importance of the face-to-face contact was not borne out by the postgraduate certificate respondents all of whom had participated in a compulsory face-to-face event: 59.7% indicated they had built a supportive relationship with a university staff member, but 40.3% indicated that they had not. In the presentation, the results will be elaborated upon and discussed and we will use our experiences as online tutors to explore some possible reasons for these findings. Overall, three main themes emerged from the data: • The premise that distance learning and face-to-face learning are equivalent, and can be supported in similar ways needs to be challenged. • Time, space and place are important factors in the consideration of pastoral support for part-time distance learners and current models need to be re-thought in light of these three factors. • The understanding that ‘the personal’ (personal affect, personal success, personal issues and personal support) is highly interconnected to ‘the academic’ (academic success, academic struggle and academic support) has to be acknowledged in teaching frameworks for online distance students.
Borup, J., West, R. E., & Graham, C. R. (2012). Improving online social interaction through asynchronous video. Internet and Higher Education, 15(3), 195-203. Daniels, L. M. and Stupnisky, R. H. (2012). Not that different in theory: Discussing the control-value theory of emotions in online learning environments. Internet and Higher Education 15, 22-226. Earwaker, J. (1989). Student support and tutoring: Initiating a programme of staff development. Paper presented to the Fourth International Conference on the First Year Experience, University of St Andrews, 10-14 July Edirisingha, P., Rizzi, C. and Rothwell, L. (2007). Podcasting to provide teaching and learning support for an undergraduate module in English language and communication. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 8(3), 87-107. Frymier, A. B. and Houser, M. L. (2000). The teacher-student relationship as an interpersonal relationship. Communication Education, 49(3), 207-219. Hawk, K., Tumama Cowley, E., Hill, J. and Sutherland, S. (2002). The importance of the teacher/student relationship for Maori and Pasifika students. Haynes, J. & Macleod-Johnstone, E. (2017). Stepping through the daylight gate: compassionate spaces for learning in higher education. Pastoral Care in Education, 35(3), 179-191. Mazar, J. P., Murphy, R. E. and Simonds, C. J. (2007). I’ll See You On ‘‘Facebook’’: The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate. Communication Education 56 (1), 1-17. McChlery, S., Wilkie, J., (2009). Pastoral support to undergraduates in higher education. International Journal of Management Education 8 (1), 23–35. Motteram, G. and Forrester, G. (2005). Becoming an Online Distance Learner: What can be learned from students’ experiences of induction to distance programmes? Distance Education, 26 (3), 281–298. Richardson, J. C. and Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7 (1), 68-88. Risquez, A., & Sanchez-Garcia, M. (2012). The jury is still out: Psychoemotional support in peer e-mentoring for transition to university. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(3), 213-221.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.