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Working with student expectations of tutor support in distance education: testing an expectations‐led quality assurance model

Stevenson, Keith and MacKeogh, Kay and Sander, Paul (2006) Working with student expectations of tutor support in distance education: testing an expectations‐led quality assurance model. Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning, 21 (2). pp. 139-152. ISSN 0268-0513

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Action research studies in the United Kingdom with Open University students have shown that students come to distance education courses with variable expectations of the levels of service and support they will receive from their tutors. It has been further suggested that a specific expectations-led quality assurance process that enables the sharing of these expectations before a course starts could be of mutual benefit to the student and the tutor, as well as generally improving the overall quality of tutor support provided by the distance learning organisation. This process, it is argued, would be appreciated by the students, have beneficial effects on student satisfaction with tutor support, reducing student drop-out and increasing course completion rates. Could such a process that asks tutors to collect student expectations before a course begins be instituted effectively into a distance learning organisation and how would students and tutors respond to it? This paper reports on a large-scale project carried out by Oscail (the Irish National Distance Education Centre) aimed at developing and testing how students and tutors valued being involved in just such an Open and Distance Learning expectations-led quality assurance process. In the study reported here, all 96 tutors on an Oscail B.A. distance learning programme were asked two weeks before their course began to circulate the student expectations questionnaire to the 950 students on their tutorial lists. Tutors were asked to collect the questionnaires, reflect on the expectations of the students and consider how their tutorial practice and student support might change as a result of the exercise. Tutor and student views on the effectiveness of the exercise were also gathered through questionnaires and focus group meetings. The findings suggested that the majority of students and tutors involved in the study did see the value of the process and that it did help tutors (especially newly appointed ones) consider and respond to the type of support students hoped to receive. The practice of issuing student expectation questionnaires has now been embedded in Oscail introductory courses.

Item Type:Article (Published)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Distance learning; Student expectations; Quality assurance; Student feedback; Student retention; ODL tutor role;
Subjects:Social Sciences > Education
Social Sciences > Distance education
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Oscail
Official URL:
Copyright Information:© 2006 The Open University
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:2479
Deposited On:12 Mar 2009 17:25 by DORAS Administrator. Last Modified 12 Mar 2009 17:29

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