Who am I and what keeps me going? Profiling the distance learning student in higher education

  • Jacqueline Aundree Baxter THE OPEN UNIVERSITY UK
Keywords: student retention, student progression, distance universities, online identity, forum moderation, online teaching, online support, student identity,


Student retention and progression has exercised the HE sector for some time now, and there has been much research into the reasons why students drop out of Higher Education courses. (Allen, 2006; Buglear, 2009;). More recently the Higher Education Academy Grants Programme Briefing (HEFCE, 2010) , outlined a number of areas that emergent project data revealed as being important to both the retention and progression of students, including areas outlined by a number of researchers as being essential to student success: expectations, support, feedback and involvement. But there has been less research, particularly within the distance learning sector, into factors that encourage students to stay (O'Brien, 2002). This small scale qualitative project using qualitative research methods and based in the Open University UK, builds upon an intensive institutional research project analyzing what type of interventions make a positive difference to student progression and success. The research revealed insights into factors linked to the expectations, identities and support of students which proved influential in terms of their resilience and motivation to remain on course.

Author Biography

Jacqueline Aundree Baxter, THE OPEN UNIVERSITY UK

I am a researcher on ESRC project : Governing by inspection, an international project investigating the ways in which educational inspection is used to govern complex education systems. I am currently based in The Faculty of Social Sciences , The Open University UK. My doctoral studies investigated the role of professional learning on the online teaching identities of higher education lecturers, and I am a member of the professional identitites cluster group, an interfaculty cluster group working specifically in the field of working identities.  This research also formed the basis of a paper given at the Society for Research in Higher Education Conference 2011: Positive Futures for higher education; connections, communities and criticality. Prior to my current role I was Project Officer for The Student Progression Programme , The Open University UK.

How to Cite
Baxter, J. A. (2012). Who am I and what keeps me going? Profiling the distance learning student in higher education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(4), 107-129. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v13i4.1283
Research Articles