AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Accessing learner support services In a distance education context at Unisa Adult Basic Education department.

by Akwasi Arko-Achemfuor

Institution: University of Fort Hare
Department: Faculty of Education
Year: 0
Record ID: 1441870
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10353/d1013382


This study investigated the access to learner support services by Unisa‟s ABET students in the Department of Adult Education in one of the rural provinces in South Africa. Specifically, a survey using questionnaire and focus group interview was carried out to determine the access gaps in to the learner support services by Unisa‟s adult students. A literature study preceded the empirical study to fully comprehend the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the role of learner support in bridging the transactional distance between students on the one hand and the institution on the other hand. In the empirical study phase, a questionnaire was administered to 150 ABET Students in one province in South Africa through the stratified sampling technique and one focus group interview comprising 10 students who access support services at one of the regional offices to assess the importance they attach to the support services that are offered at the regional centres and the extent to which they are able to access them. The focus group interview comprised questions on the students‟ understanding of learner support services and their experiences in accessing them. Moore‟s theory of transactional distance was used as the theoretical base for the study. Out of a total of the 150 questionnaires that were distributed, 117 were the usable representing 78.0% response rate. One of the conclusions drawn from this study is that, although Unisa has most of the learner support services in place but for various reasons, a lot of the students are not able to access the support services as expected as the needs gap for almost all the support services were high. The chi-square tests found significant differences (p is less than 0.05) between the students on the extent to which they are able to access the support services. An integrated learner support framework was suggested for Unisa and other distance providing institutions to address the access gaps adult students‟ encounter in their studies.