Enhancing the effectiveness of student feedback and support in a distance learning context

Grant type: Development (2000-08)
Round: November 2001
Amount awarded £5,000.00
Completed: March 2002
Leader(s): Chris Kynch
Organisation: St Martin's College, Lancaster and Ambleside
Contact Email: c.kynch@lancaster.ac.uk
Diane Shore
Open University
Education Department
Edge Hill University College
Education Department
Sheffield Hallam University
Start Date: 3 December 2001
End Date: 28 February 2007
Interim report received: 18 November 2008
Final report received: 18 November 2008

Distance learning is seen as a popular flexible solution to learning while maintaining a job and other commitments. Nevertheless the drop out rate is typically high. One view is that only highly self motivated students succeed. Another is that students may 'acclimatise' to distance learning. Support and feedback could be important in this process, and especially salient for on school placement.

Understanding the nature of feedback and support and its impact on students has been identified as the key issue to be taken forward by this research project. Prior activities and discussion involving staff and students highlighted isolation from staff and peer group interaction and impaired confidence. The research should enable provision to be tailored to meet student needs more effectively and appropriate electronic communication and website support to be developed.

The project team include staff who design and deliver a modular flexible distance learning PGCE course and experienced research staff. The methodology includes semi structured interviews of students and key staff; a questionnaire survey across faculties and institutions and innovative pictorial methods.

It is envisaged that the findings will be of interest to a wide range of actual and potential providers of distance learning courses in higher education.