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Flexible delivery and student attrition in the vocational education and training sector: case studies of students who dropped out

Grace, Lauri 2001, Flexible delivery and student attrition in the vocational education and training sector: case studies of students who dropped out, in ODLAA 2001 : Education odyssey 2001: Continuing the journey through adaptation and innovation : collected papers from the 15th Biennial forum of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia, ODLAA, Sydney, N.S.W., pp. 1-3.

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Title Flexible delivery and student attrition in the vocational education and training sector: case studies of students who dropped out
Author(s) Grace, Lauri
Conference name Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia. Conference (15th : 2001 : Sydney, N.S.W.)
Conference location Sydney, N.S.W.
Conference dates 24-27 September 2001
Title of proceedings ODLAA 2001 : Education odyssey 2001: Continuing the journey through adaptation and innovation : collected papers from the 15th Biennial forum of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia
Editor(s) Mahoney, M.
Publication date 2001
Start page 1
End page 3
Publisher ODLAA
Place of publication Sydney, N.S.W.
Keyword(s) flexible delivery
VET
vocational education and training
student attrition
Summary Government policy in Australia is increasingly encouraging training organisations in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector to adopt flexible delivery approaches. This policy shift is supported by key VET stakeholders including Industry Training Advisory Boards. A recurring theme in VET policy documents is an apparent confidence that flexible delivery can meet the diverse needs of individual learners while at the same time providing cost savings. Yet evidence is emerging that Australian VET learners are not typically ready for flexible delivery, and this lack of readiness is reflected in high attrition rates and low pass rates in many flexibly delivered courses. One research project found that over 70% of learners in the Australian VET sector do not have the learning capabilities required to be ready for flexible delivery. A recent review of the module outcomes achieved by VET students nationally found that students studying by external/correspondence and self-paced unscheduled modes had lower module completion rates than students studying by other delivery strategies.

Research on student progress in flexible delivery within the Australian VET sector has largely been quantitative. That research provides useful statistical data on completion and attrition rates for various modes of delivery, but does not explore the reasons underlying the high attrition rates found in flexible delivery. The qualitative research that is available tends to focus on students who successfully complete their courses, not on those who withdraw. As a result, the Australian literature on flexible delivery in the VET sector is lacking in-depth qualitative information about students who enrol in courses but do not complete. In comparison, the broader literature on distance education and flexible delivery in other educational sectors offers some useful insights into student attrition, and can be can be used to inform research into attrition within the Australian VET sector.

This paper reports on aspects of a research project that followed up six adult learners who enrolled in VET courses but who either failed assessment or withdrew. The research project presented the students’ stories in the form of narrative case studies, focussing on the detailed examination of the barriers that each student experienced, and analysing these barriers in relation to issues raised in the literature. This paper reports on two particular themes that emerged from that research project. The literature on distance education and flexible delivery argues that:


· student dropout is often not determined by a single factor, but by the interaction of a number of factors that build up over time;

· students who experience difficulties when studying by flexible delivery can often be reluctant to access the support that is available to them.

This paper uses these themes as a point of reference in presenting the stories of some of the students who participated in the research project.
Notes Reproduced with the specific permission of the copyright owner.
ISBN 0957939809
9780957939806
Language eng
Field of Research 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
HERDC Research category E2 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed
Copyright notice ©2001, ODLAA
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30013623

Document type: Conference Paper
Collections: School of Social and Cultural Studies in Education
Open Access Collection
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.