22 SES 17 A, International Perspectives on Student Retention in Higher Education Part 2
Symposium continued from 22 SES 16 A
The paradox of distance learning is that despite the flexibility afforded by this type of study, retention rates are often poor. Simpson (2013) proposed a ‘distance learning deficit’ on the basis that as few as 5% - 20% of such students graduate compared to 80% of those in fulltime, typically face-to-face education. This deficit can see seen as arising out of the profile of distance learning students in that they are often non-traditional, ‘mature’, with multiple work and family responsibilities (Rovai, 2003). Nevertheless, low retention rates in distance learning cannot be seen as the natural order of things. Learning design and student support can make a difference to the number of students who complete their studies (Simpson, 2010). However, there are few empirically tested studies of educational interventions focused on improving improve retention among distance learners (Nash, 2005). This paper presents a case study of the redesign of a first year module in health and social care within a British distance learning institution which aimed to improve student retention rates. The success of the redevelopment is appraised by drawing upon a number of small scale evaluation projects. The redevelopment of the module was guided by Tinto’s (1975) seminal Student Integration Model which conceptualizes retention as a matter of academic and social integration. Facilitating social integration incorporated the reconfiguration of tuition into individually focused proactive student support and social opportunities. Academic integration was conceptualized with reference to Northedge’s (2003) concept of enabling student participation in academic discourse through case-based scaffolding, integrated skills development work and careful management of the acceleration of academic demands. Retention improved by approximately 10% and remained stable over four module presentations. Results from several small scale projects evaluating student and tutor response to the redeveloped module highlights the ambivalent nature of retention-focused redevelopment in relation to academic standards, the character of proactive support, the conception of tuition and student ‘take up’.
NASH, R. D. 2005. Course Completion Rates among Distance Learners: Identifying Possible Methods to Improve Retention. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration [online], 8, available from https://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter84/nash84.htm, accessed 22 January,k 2018. NORTHEDGE, A. 2003. Enabling Participation in Academic Discourse. Teaching in Higher Education, 8 (2), 169-180. ROVAI, A. P. 2003. In Search of Higher Persistence Rates in Distance Education Online Programs. Internet and Higher Education, 6, 1-16. SIMPSON, O. 2010. 22% - can we do better? [Online]. Available: http://www.94669.mrsite.com/USERIMAGES/Retention%20literature%20review.pdf [Accessed 28 February 2016]. SIMPSON, O. 2013. Student retention in distance education: are we failing our students? Open Learning, 28, 105-119. TINTO, V. 1975. Dropout from Higher Education: A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research. Review of Educational Research, 45, 89-125.
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
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Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
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