The Curse of Dropout From Distance Education - what is it about? A study of Motives and Mastery among Distance Education Students in Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEAPRIL Conference Proceedings. 2017, 3 313-327.
This Norwegian study was carried out to investigate motivation and mastery among distance students. The dropout rate from distance studies is high, and the intention was to find out whether these factors might contribute to explain dropout. A web-based questionnaire was distributed through Flexible Education Norway, a network that consists of most of the publicly approved web-schools, 6000 questionnaires were sent. Although the response rate was low (1231 responses), the sample represented the variety of courses in the network fairly exhaustive. For the purpose of the present article, 3 groups of students were chosen from the total sample for further study (N=998): high school courses (26%), “vocational colleges” (2 years post high-school)(26.4%) and higher education courses (47.6%). The results show that these students were highly motivated when they started, they were both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated, and they exposed a variety of ambitions; work-related, competence and career oriented, and personal (self-development). They also mastered this mode of study well, their selfefficacy was quite high, and they were quite comfortable with studying online. Consequently, their motivation and mastery cannot explain the high dropout. At first sight, this sample is not candidates to join the dropout statistics. However, they run into a number of challenges that might hamper completing the study they chose. Lack of belonging to the study environment and lack of identity as a student, stand out as possible explanations. The solution may be designing a more personalized and learning motivational contact with the students to make them feel included.