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Exploring the Disconnections:  Student Interaction with Support Services Upon Commencement of Distance Education
 

Exploring the Disconnections: Student Interaction with Support Services Upon Commencement of Distance Education

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Presentation at the Firs Year in Higher Education Conference, Te Papa, Wellington, 9th July, 2013.

Presentation at the Firs Year in Higher Education Conference, Te Papa, Wellington, 9th July, 2013.

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  • Has a strong phenomenological dimension and involves a number of case studies or learner stories collected through audio/video diaries over the initial stages of the study lifecycle—that is, from thinking about study to the first few weeks.
  • Has a strong phenomenological dimension and involves a number of case studies or learner stories collected through audio/video diaries over the initial stages of the study lifecycle—that is, from thinking about study to the first few weeks.

Exploring the Disconnections:  Student Interaction with Support Services Upon Commencement of Distance Education Exploring the Disconnections: Student Interaction with Support Services Upon Commencement of Distance Education Presentation Transcript

  • Exploring the Disconnections: Student Interaction with Support Services Upon Commencement of Distance Education FYHE Conference, Wellington 9th July, 2013 Mark Brown, Helen Hughes, Mike Keppell, Natasha Hard & Liz Smith
  • http://www.dehub.edu.au Acknowledgement Support for this project and the production of this report has been provided by DEHub, funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the views of the DEHub, Australian Government or DEEWR.
  • Outline… 1. Background 2. Overview of Literature 3. Research Design 4. The Participants 5. The Findings 6. Key Takeaways
  • Set against the backdrop of the “Bridging the Distance Project” 1. Background
  • …and the challenge of retention, progressionandcompletion Set against the backdrop of the “Bridging the Distance Project” 1. Background
  • 72% 58% Background… 72% 58%
  • 82% 66%
  • 1. Background
  • • Wealth of literature • Issues around attrition and completion are complex • Further investigation required of the „soft factors‟ • There is a growing body of literature on first year experience • Gap in the literature on the experiences of (first-time) distance learners • Emergence ofonline learning literature on student experience • Dearth of research that presents the learner voice 2. Overview of Literature
  • Heyman (2010)… 1. Student support and connection with the Institution 2. Quality of interaction between faculty and students 3. Student self-discipline (and study orchestrations) 2. Overview of Literature Heyman, E. (2010). Overcoming student retention issues in higher education online programs. Online Journal of Distance Education Learning Administration, 13(4).
  • To improve the supports and services available for first-time distance learners. More specifically… Research objective… 3. Research Design
  • To improve the supports and services available for first-time distance learners. More specifically… • To investigate the experiences of being a first time distance learner „in their own words‟ from a student perspective 3. Research Design Research objective…
  • To improve the supports and services available for first-time distance learners. More specifically… • To investigate the experiences of being a first time distance learner „in their own words‟ from a student perspective • To develop a set of overarching principles for enhancing distance learner engagement and success; • To help develop a conceptual framework for identifying the most effective use of various intervention tools, supports and resources at early stages of the study lifecycle. 3. Research Design Research objective…
  • • Design-based research • Mixed method approach • Strong phenomenological dimension Methodology… 3. Research Design
  • • Phase 1 - Audit of existing services • Phase 2 - Baseline and end of semester survey • Phase 3 - Stories of first-time distance learners • Obtained full human ethics approval process • Weekly video diaries using Sony bloggie™ • 140 volunteers from pool of 850 potential participants • 20 participantsbroadly representive of distance learners Method… 3. Research Design
  • 4. The Participants Gender Female (13) Male (7) Age Under 25 (4), 25-29 (4), 30-39 (6), 40-49 (4), 50-59 (2) Ethnicity Pakeha / European (12), Māori and/or Pasifika (8) Location A campus town (11), Other urban town (3), Remote (4), Overseas (2) Delivery Mode Distance only (17), Mixed mode (3) Total Papers (Units) Undergraduate: One (6), Two (6), Three (0), Four (6); Postgraduate (2) Discipline Business (8), Humanities (6), Education (3), Sciences (3) Prior Education High school (8), Diploma (2), Degree papers (5), Degree (5) Employment Full time (11), Part time (3), Casual (1), None (3), Full time mother (2) Dependents None (11), One (1), Two or three (5), Four or more (3)
  • 30 – 39 years Maori 4 papers (units) College of Humanities Remote location Not employed 7 children 4. The Participants
  • 30 – 39 years Maori / Pasifika 4 papers (units) College of Business Wellington FT employment 1 guardianship 4. The Participants
  • 20 – 29 years European 2 papers (units) College of Humanities Urban location FT employment 0 children 4. The Participants
  • 50 - 59 years Maori / European 2 papers (units) College of Business Auckland Seeking employment 4. The Participants
  • 60+ years European 1 paper (unit) College of Education Remote location Employed 3 days 4. The Participants
  • When asked whether, during the course of their studies, they were contacted by anyone from the University, the majority (52%) reported to have been contacted by both their lecturer(s) and another person; 20% by another person only; 17% by their lecturer only; and 11% by nobody whatsoever. 5. The Findings Phase Two…
  • Phase Three… 5. The Findings • Support Seekers (25%) • Lone Wolves (75%)
  • Support Seekers… 5. The Findings “Moodle is very useful – I've managed to work my way around it; as well as the library website and the online tutorials.”
  • Support Seekers… 5. The Findings “Moodle is very useful – I've managed to work my way around it; as well as the library website and the online tutorials.” “I went to Uni and I saw a counsellor and she was just awesome. She also put me in touch with the Teaching & Learning Centre. I came away from Uni this morning feeling so much more positive.”
  • Support Seekers… 5. The Findings “Moodle is very useful – I've managed to work my way around it; as well as the library website and the online tutorials.” “My paper coordinator writes real mean in the forums... and there's been a couple of times I've wanted to write on there but I'm a bit scared of her reaction so I figure it out myself.” “I went to Uni and I saw a counsellor and she was just awesome. She also put me in touch with the Teaching & Learning Centre. I came away from Uni this morning feeling so much more positive.”
  • Lone Wolves… 5. The Findings “I think one of my papers had a contact course during semester break but because of work and stuff like that I didn't go... I couldn't make the time.”
  • Lone Wolves… 5. The Findings “I think one of my papers had a contact course during semester break but because of work and stuff like that I didn't go... I couldn't make the time.” “Moodle is available but people's base fears of putting something out there and being wrong... it's very different to leaning over to a peer and checking for immediate reinforcement.”
  • Lone Wolves… 5. The Findings “I think one of my papers had a contact course during semester break but because of work and stuff like that I didn't go... I couldn't make the time.” “I‟ve been trying to integrate my wife in to talking about what I'm doing but it‟s hard as it can be sometimes quite technical with writing essays and stuff.” “Moodle is available but people's base fears of putting something out there and being wrong... it's very different to leaning over to a peer and checking for immediate reinforcement.”
  • "I've finished my paper [unit], which is such a relief because, in the last six weeks, I just wasn't really interested in it. Other things in my life meant it went on the back-burner and was something that was frustrating and it got in the way of... well, life got in the way." 5. The Findings The reality of study…
  • 1. Stories „add flesh‟ to the „soft factors‟of what it means to be a distance learner. 6. Key takeaways
  • 1. Stories „add flesh‟ to the „soft factors‟ of what it means to be a distance learner. 2. Distance learning is perceived to enabletertiary study to fit around other life commitments; but first-time distance students have relatively little conception of the actual demandsof studying from a distance. 6. Key takeaways
  • 1. Stories „add flesh‟ to the „soft factors‟ of what it means to be a distance learner. 2. Distance learning is perceived to enable tertiary study to fit around other life commitments; but first-time distance students have relatively little conception of the actual demands of studying from a distance. 3. Efforts to support distance learners need to recognise different preconceptions of „what it means to study from a distance‟ and fostergenuine opportunities for interaction (online and offline) between teachers, students and support staff. 6. Key takeaways…
  • Video diaries, coupled with the researcher‟s role, influenced the level of „student engagement‟ by metaphorically providing a new cave, campfire, watering holeand mountain top for active and self-reflective learning which helped to bridge some of the disconnections. Final comment…
  • Questions… “He [she] who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he [she] who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” Chinese Proverb