Date of Award

1-1-1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Associate Professor Len King

Abstract

The extent to which a range of demographic, academic and administrative variables are related to attrition and persistence of external students enrolled in the Fourth Year of the Bachelor of Education course during second semester, 1995 are Investigated in this study. The applicability of the sub-scales and scales developed by Kember, Lai, Murphy, Slaw and Yuan (1995) for distance education students is also reported on for the study group. Data were obtained from the student records system and two self-administered mail out questionnaires. The study population was predominantly female, in their early thirties, living in Western Australia, had completed their first teaching qualification nearly nine years ago and had subsequently had six years teaching experience. They were mostly classroom teachers who were studying part-lime, were less than half way through the course, had not previously withdrawn from a unit and were achieving satisfactory results. Those students who withdrew from their studies had less teaching experience, had completed fewer units and semesters of study, and had lower course averages than the continuing students. The majority of students Indicated that work, family and study commitments were the main reason(s) for their withdrawal. Withdrawn students were much less satisfied with the level of communication with the tutor and a greater proportion of these students rated assignment feedback as very unsatisfactory. A series of sub-scales and scales const111cled from the Distance Education Student Progress (DESP) Inventory using factor analysis Indicated a wide range of variables underlie the reasons why students withdraw or persist In the course of study. These scales and sub•scales are appreciably different to those reported by Kember (1995). The study found that the attrition rate of students studying in the Fourth Year of the Bachelor of Education may be reduced if the unit materials were mailed by a date that ensured most students would receive them prior to the commencement of semester. Tutors need to initiate communication with their students early in the semester. The due dates for assignments should be planned to enable students to receive feedback on their first assignment before having to submit their next one. Assignment feedback needs to be critically constructive and tutors need to provide positive suggestions on how future assignments might be improved. The university should consider offering Bachelor of Education units during the school vacation periods In addition to the normal semester.

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