The ICDE Student Success Working Group has recently released the results of a 2014 survey into best practices for encouraging and increasing student success rates in 53 open and distance institutions. The results are published in a final report together with an appendix of research findings.
The report provides a framework of practice to support student success:
- pre-study information, advice, guidance and admission
- curriculum or programme design for student success
- intervention at key points and response to student need
- assessment to support learning as well as to judge achievement
- individualised and personalised systems of support to students
- information and logistical systems that communicate between all relevant participants
- managing for student success
I will focus on the discussion on the aspects around learning support for students during their programme of study:
Curriculum or programme design for student success
- Curriculum relevance is important (including the link to labour market trends).
- Effective learning design supports a positive engagement between the learner and the programme of study.
Intervention at key points and response to student need
- Stages: pre-study; in-course (early contact, first assignment, mid-module, progress check, exam preparation); and through qualification.
- Interventions should be universal (when all students need support) and individual (when a student is not making progress).
- Learning analytics has potential to support success but is not yet widely practiced.
- Information collected should be used to improve the student experience (e.g. module design).
- Frequent and shorter assessment tasks which support student engagement and diagnose learning at shorter intervals.
- Responding to the learner as an individual (from tutor, counsellor etc).
- Communication and support through online communication, social media, networks.
- Individualised support costs increase with student numbers so requires budget planning.
Information and logistical systems
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) framework for integrating materials, assessment and learner support.
- Learning Analytics – requires management of privacy and confidentiality issues and associated ethical and legal concerns.