A longitudinal study of student achievement and dropout in a distance learning English writing course

  • Rahmat Budiman

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This study investigates the factors that affect student achievement in a distance learning English writing course in Indonesia and examines the reasons for dropping out of the course. A cohort of students who registered for writing courses in an open university was used. The study also sought information from lecturers and online tutors. A longitudinal research design employing mixed methods was used over four stages of data collection. The questionnaires consisted of closed-ended and open-ended questions were administered at each stage through postal services and online. The questionnaires were followed by semi-structured interviews. Statistical analysis included descriptive statistics, correlation and factor analysis. NVivo version 10 was used to analyse the interview transcripts. The study suggests that family and employment responsibilities, absence of feedback from the online tutor, limited time to study, lack of writing practice, and a poor level of English skills at first enrolment were issues associated with underachievement. The major reasons that led the interviewed students to drop out were a lack of basic skills in English, unmet expectations, feelings of isolation, and the inability to balance work, family and study responsibilities. The study offers models of interaction, teaching and learning in distance language learning to improve student achievement and minimise the dropout rate. The study recommends that the university leaders and policy-makers improve online tutorials, induction, formative feedback provision and blended learning practice in terms of adopting distance learning and face-to-face learning arrangements to support student learning.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsWorld Bank
    SupervisorAlison Hudson (Supervisor), Keith Topping (Supervisor) & Jennifer Harris (Supervisor)

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