Learning gains of international students in South African distance education

Rogaten, Jekaterina; Mittelmier, Jenna; Van Zyl, Dion; Cin, Melis; Long, Dianne and Rienties, Bart (2017). Learning gains of international students in South African distance education. In: SRHE Conference, 6-8 Dec 2017, Newport, Wales, UK.


The proportion of students studying in international distance education programmes has risen dramatically in the last decade, particularly in developing countries like South Africa. Although there has been some research in UK distance education, there is little known about academic trajectories of distance education students in other countries. One promising approach of assessing students’ learning through the use of learning analytics is through measuring students’ learning gains and learning trajectories. Longitudinal data was collected for 69,935 undergraduate Science students from across 30 different qualifications at UNISA. Our multilevel modelling indicated that students made positive learning gains over time, whereby most variance (78.9%) was within-student, followed by the variance due to individual differences (18.3%). Theoretical implications and practical applications for these findings in the context of distance education as well as the appropriateness of the selected method in the context of Africa will be discussed.

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