One of the issues faced by distance education universities is that the number of student who do not complete their programs is quite high. Triggered by the question of why some students are successful and others are not, the purpose of this study was to explore what are the personal, academic, psychological, social, and institutional factors that might contribute to student success. Two categories of successful students were defined: students who completed the program in five years or more (completers) and those who completed in less than five years (high achievers). The participants in this study were former students of Universitas Terbuka (UT; Indonesia Open University) consisting of the successful students and the non-completers. Using a mixed methods approach, data were collected from 835 students through an online survey composed of 44 closed-ended questions and two open-ended questions. The quantitative items were analyzed using Chi-square analysis and 120 comments from one open-ended question were randomly selected for thematic analysis. The results of the comparison between successful students and non-completers showed that 28 of the 44 variables were statistically significant, but only 12 were also considered as having educational impact. Therefore family support, time management, confidence in completing, academic expectations, intent to withdraw, enjoyment of study, benefit of contact with UT personnel, face-to-face tutorial frequency, tutorial contact, attending online tutorial regularly, the program structure, and institutional care were considered as the key factors associated with student success. In the comparison of high achievers with completers, eight of the 44 variables were statistically significant but only three were considered as having educational impact. The three variables that appeared to contribute to high achievement were family income, academic expectation, and face-to-face tutorial frequency. The results of the qualitative analysis were consistent with the quantitative results. The findings of this study suggest that distance education universities such as UT need to better understand their students from the distance learners’ success perspective. Two suggestions to increase the probability of student success in a distance education system are the creation and distribution of a distance learners’ guidebook and the development of a philosophy and policy of institutional total care for its students.
Copyright is held by the author.
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Kaufman, David
Member of collection