DEHub/Research Themes/Learner support services

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Research themes
1. Theories and models
2. Globalisation of education and cross-cultural aspects
3. Access, equity, social inclusion and ethics
4. Professional Development & Faculty Support
5. Learner support and development approaches
6. Curriculum design
7. Interaction and communication in learning communities
8. Distance teaching systems and institutions)
9. Research methods in distance education and knowledge transfer
10. Quality assurance
11. Innovation and change
12. Costs and benefits
13. Management and organization
14. Educational technology
15. Learner characteristics
16. Open Education Resources (OERs)

Learner support and development approaches

Research under this sub-theme will investigate the infrastructure and organisation of learner support systems from initial marketing and inquiries to after graduation and linkages with alumni.

Guiding question

What skills, supports and processes are required by learners in the new ICT distance learning environments to ensure successful learner outcomes?

Research questions

  • What are the needs of culturally diverse students in distance education?
  • What are the student, teacher and university views of support systems in the distance education environment?

Highly Recommended Priority Links

Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Education

Student satisfaction and retention: are they connected?, Volume 24, Issue 3 November 2009. This edition provides 6 articles concerned with student retention. The following quote from the introductory article provided a description of the issues addressed in the volume.

Measuring student satisfaction in higher education is also a contested issue, as Brennan and colleagues noted: ‘the limited amount of research on this topic suggests that student satisfaction is a complex yet poorly articulated notion that is influenced by a wide variety of contextual factors which are not intrinsically related to the quality of teaching’ (Brennan & Williams, 2003, p. 26). The present issue of Open Learning contributes to these debates by examining, among other issues, the difference between consumer/student expectations and perceptions of service, both onsite and online, and their general satisfaction with the service provided, based on student surveys and interviews.


Swimming in the deep-end: an e-mentoring approach to help mature students' transition to higher education, 2009.

This paper reports findings from research into the benefits of e-mentoring for mature students (21 years old and above) preparing for university study through taking Access courses. The research was carried out at Kingston University in the UK in the context of current policies of widening participation in higher education (HE).

Universal Design for Instruction

Universal Design for Instruction in Postsecondary Education.

Universal Design for Instruction at the University of Connecticut. Our current project, UDI On-line, is a collaborative project between the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability and the Center for Students with Disabilities. Our focus is on the application of the Principles of UDI © to online and technology blended courses in postsecondary education. The UDI toolbox will contain a range of e-tools and instructional modules that postsecondary faculty members can use in the design, delivery, and assessment of on-line and technology blended courses.

Distance Education (ODLAA Journal)

Role of the local centre in strengthening student support in UWI's distributed learning programmes, Distance Education, Volume 30, Issue 3 November 2009 , pages 363 - 381.

Student and tutor perceptions of effective tutoring in distance education, Distance Education, Volume 30, Issue 3 November 2009 , pages 419 - 441.

Adult beginner distance language learner perceptions and use of assignment feedback, Distance Education, Volume 30, Issue 3 November 2009 , pages 399 - 418.

International Journal for Academic Development

Students' experiences concerning course workload and factors enhancing and impeding their learning - a useful resource for quality enhancement in teaching and curriculum planning, Volume 14, Issue 1 March 2009 , pages 69 - 81. The study of 132 students in veterinary science and investigated factors that inhibited their learning. It was found that factors such as the planning of teaching, including curriculum and course overload, were commonly mentioned as impeding learning. The students only rarely made comment on their own actions.

The results have been widely implemented in quality enhancement procedures at the faculty, such as curriculum planning and reform, planning of individual courses, improving teaching and assessment practices and arranging support for students' reflection.

Higher Education Empirical Research Database

Towards a strategy for workplace learning (Full report), Which is extensive and comes in two volumes. The Summary is available at Summary. The study was a joint program between the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information and KPMG and published in 2006.

The study set-out to: explore the nature,purposes and outcomes of workplace learning; consider workplace learning within the broader relationships between the worlds of work and learning; explore the emerging changes in higher education which may impact of workplace learning in the future; and identify structural issues that currently enable or inhibit workplace learning, and identify future opportunities.

Accelerated learning programmes: A review of quality, extent and demand. Report Summary

The aim of the project was to locate accelerated learning programmes (ALPs) historically and in the current higher education (HE) environment. The research issues addressed include the lessons learned from previous ALPs; the views of the consumers (employers, Sector Skills Councils, professional bodies) of HE outputs on the quality and standards of ALPs; the lessons learned from the development and market testing of the prevailing Pathfinders programme; the experience of students on ALPs and how this compares with that of students on conventional programmes.

Other sites to explore

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

Addressing diverse learner preferences and intelligences with emerging technologies: Matching models to online opportunities, V34(2) Spring, 2008. The authors, Ke Zhang and Curtis J. Bonk, critically review:
various learning preferences and human intelligence theories and models with a particular focus on the implications for online learning. It highlights a few key models, Gardner’s multiple intelligences, Fleming and Mills’ VARK model, Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles, and Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model, and attempts to link them to trends and opportunities in online learning with emerging technologies.

Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (AJET)

First year students' experiences with technology: Are they really digital natives?, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 2008, 24(1), 108-122.

The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition Volumes 12 to 21 (1998-2009). There are two edition in 2009 providing 10 articles. Articles cost US$12 and provided in pdf.

Navigating College Life: The Role of Peer Networks in First-Year College Adaptation Experience of Minority Immigrant Students, Volume 21, Number 2 / 2009, page 9-34.

Given that the transition to college is a critical period marked by a host of complex challenges in psychological, academic, social, and cultural adjustment, the present study examines minority immigrant students' college adaptation experiences, with particular attention to the academic domain, and explores the role of campus peer networks during the first-year college transition process. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with 49 ethnic minority immigrant students from a large public midwestern university. The study participants tended to rely on peer networks of the same ethnicity rather than institutional agents when seeking assistance in adapting to the college environment.

Cocurricular Involvement and First-Year Students' Transition to University: Quality vs. Quantity of Involvement, Volume 21, Number 1 / 2009, pages 43-63.
A newly developed measure of the quality of students' involvement in cocurricular activities was used to assess the relationship between quality of involvement and adaptation during the transition to university. Results indicated that the higher the quality of students' involvement, the better their adjustment to university. The relationship between involvement and adjustment was mediated by self-esteem, perceived stress, and social support. Implications for interventions to help students adjust to the transition to university are discussed.

Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Chapter 6 STUDENT SUPPORT IN OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING FOR TVET, July 2002, pages 51-62. The author Ved Goel argues that a significant number of writer have similarly argued that:

student support services are integral to the overall working of ODL. And although the objectives of a student support system in distance education cannot be defined as a requirement to guarantee success for all students, it is well documented that when it comes to articulating what we mean by student services, distance educators are way ahead of their colleagues in conventional universities.


The 23 ICDE World Conference 2009. BUILDING ONLINE LEARNING COMMUNITIES FOR SELF-TAUGHT LEARNERS, Guangming Li, Haidong Wang, Xinzheng Lu present a paper from the National Education Examinations Authority, China. You will need to scrole through the list of parallel sessions to find the paper.

The National Education Examinations Authority (NEEA) has explored ways to enhance the learning support for the self-taught learners. Taking use of modern information technology and building online learning community is one of these endeavors. The online learning community provides a possibility for improving learning environment, building support system and promoting learning effectiveness.


The role of campus-sessions and face-to-face meetings in distance education, 2008, number II. A study that looks at student and teachers preference for campus sessions of face-to-face meeting 2-5 days per course and 2-3 times per semester. Three surveys were undertaken involving 72 graduate students, 51 teaching staff and 527 current students.


More related sites can be found at the DE Hub Delicious site.

Alan Wylie 06:10, 5 November 2009 (UTC)