Phenomena of Degree Completion in Distance Education: An Explanatory Case Study of Higher Education

Muhammad Jamil & Zafar Iqbal

Abstract

The number of students being enrolled in distance learning institutes is huge, which is a token of success for this mode of education. But literature showed that many students could not complete their degrees due to various reasons. Some of the reasons are common but can vary in different regions according to resources available and socio-economic conditions of learners. This study was designed to determine completion rate along with exploring factors affecting their degree completion. Mixed-methods approach was used to conduct the study. Quantitative data was retrieved from admission office and controller office for ten years. Semi-structured interviews were conducted from those students who could not complete their degrees. The analysis showed 40% average completion rate of distance learners for 10 years. The inductive analysis of interview data uncovered 30 factors that affected the degree completion of distance learners. The implications of the study were vibrant to utilize digital gadgets to improve communication, better academic facilities, activating student support services unit and proper dissemination of information through social media sites. There is enough evidence to bring necessary reforms in administrative and instructional framework of the university to meet the growing needs of distance learners to enhance their degree completion rate.

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