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Title: Understanding and practice of distance education : novice students in the Open University of Hong Kong
Author: Mi-ying, Natalia Li
ISNI:       0000 0001 3609 4107
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2007
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This research attempted to extend the understanding of novice distance learners' practices in managing their study at the Open University of Hong Kong. It also aimed to identify important factors that affected the novice students' experiences. The three research questions asked were: why and how had they become involved in studying through an open entry course by distance education and what they had learned. It has been argued that a knowledge of students' needs and practices can provide insights into distance education development. Literature reviewed raised the issues of understanding Chinese dependent learners and how to support them to become independent learners in distance education. The literature reviewed first indicated that Chinese novice distance learners often do not receive any practical training for independent learning through the formal education system. Current literature identifies the need for educators to provide appropriate quality support for scaffolding to help their students. A longitudinal qualitative case study approach was used to collect data. It has been argued that generalisations about findings could be made to similar educational contexts. Over two years, two in-depth interviews were conducted with eleven students, along with telephone follow-ups in between. Interviews with two staff members, tutorial observations and document analysis were also carried out. The findings provided insights to contribute a better understanding of novices, tutors and the University itself in distance education practice in Hong Kong. The actions allowed the researcher to discover that there were mismatches within and between distance education receivers and providers which need much attention. Mismatches in the novice students' understanding and practice in distance learning were significant factors that affected their learning experiences. Mismatches between the University's understanding of its students, practices in providing support and tutors' tutoring styles played a critical role in affecting students' learning experiences. Thinking from a constructivist perspective, it has been argued that both the students and University have to reflect critically and to take action to change. Students need to be helped to transit from a didactic conception of learning to be independent learners. The University needs to ponder how to achieve its mission of "Education for all" and its goals of developing students to become independent learners. Learning from the findings, the most important suggestion is to increase face-to-face contact between students and teaching staff. In addition, more research on understanding novice distance learners is needed for contributing to distance education theory and practice, particularly in developing countries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available