Employment driven online student attrition and the assessment policy divide: An Australian open access higher education perspective

Catherine Moore, Steven Greenland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Two hundred and twenty-six qualitative interviews with students studying at Australia’slargest online tertiary education organisation, Open Universities Australia (OUA), found thatfailure to complete assessments due to unexpected and unavoidable employmentcommitments was the standout reason for dropping out of its open-access courses. Theassessment policies of 10 Australian universities that teach the OUA tertiary programmeswere then reviewed to evaluate the extent to which employment-related circumstances wereconsidered to be grounds for granting concessions and extensions. Half of these institutions’policies did not mention employment as an extenuating circumstance, others made onlypassing reference, and one specifically stated that work was not a valid reason for anassignment extension. In this regard, online students may not be receiving the flexible andaccessible learning that online education is purported to provide. This situation highlights abroader issue, in that many online educators are using policies and protocols that aredesigned for traditional on-campus students without adequate adaptation for the onlinelearner. Considerable scope therefore exists for improving online learner satisfaction andretention by more effectively accommodating online student characteristics and needs. 
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)52-62
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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