The influence of learner support services on academic performance of distance learners: A Case of open and distance learning undergraduate students of Kenya Methodist University.
This study, which is descriptive survey, sought to examine the influence of learner support on academic performance. The independent variables were Orientation, Mentoring, Feedback and Library Services. The four objectives used to guide the study were: to examine the influence of orientation on performance; to assess the influence of mentoring on performance; to evaluate the influence of feedback on performance and to establish the influence of Library services on performance. Two theories of distance learning: Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance and Keegan’s Theory of Interaction and Communication formed the basis of the study. Questionnaires were used to collect data from a sample of 60 respondents, drawn from distance undergraduate students of Kenya Methodist University. The sample was randomly selected using the Probability Proportionate to size sampling technique, and a five-point Likert scale was used in rating the students’ responses. Data coding and analysis were done using Chi-square technique and results represented in tables. The results revealed that orientation services offered in the institution helped respondents to adjust to student life. Mentoring provided helpful information on handling distance courses but fell short of addressing learners’ psycho-social challenges. Though the institution lacked proper timelines, the students received detailed comments on their assignments. Library services were readily available, except that access to specialized IT facilities was strained. Overall, students expressed satisfaction with the support offered. Conclusively, Learner support was viewed as an indispensable tool contributing to the success and quality of distance programs. The study recommended that providers of distance courses conduct needs assessments to enable them provide services closely matching prospective learner needs. There were also recommendations for further research.