OLDER STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF ODL STUDIES: CAN IT EXPLAIN THEIR PERFORMANCE? A CASE OF BOTSWANA
Students’ perceptions about course quality and rigor play an important role in determining their approaches and level of commitment when taking a post-graduate course through ODL. This study finds that some older students at Botswana Open University (BOU) generally have negative perceptions about the quality and rigor of ODL courses and that these perceptions influence their approaches to their studies. The study finds that these approaches have a correlation with the student's performance and if unchecked may result in poor performance and extreme instances, learner attrition. These perceptions may be a result of inadequate knowledge about ODL and the time and resources required to succeed in this field. The study recommends that detailed inductions for new students be made part of ODL programs to dispel the myth and misconceptions that students may have about ODL, as far as quality and rigor are concerned. Appropriate instructional approaches that make use of collaborative learning techniques would also provide the necessary time management skills as well as improve students’ morale. Actively engaging students in collaborative learning would help with feelings of helplessness, isolation, and overwhelm that sometimes overpower students who are learning at a distance.
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