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Support practices to provide social capital in open distance learning: Master’s and doctoral students’ views

Salome Schulze



The University of South Africa is challenged by the slow throughput and high drop-out rates of master’s and doctoral students. Thus, the aim of the investigation was to determine these students’ views of the support provided to them with all aspects of their studies in one college. The study also investigated if different student groups had dissimilar beliefs in this regard. Using a survey design, 66 master’s and doctoral students completed a self-constructed questionnaire by means of a five point Likert scale. There was also an open-ended question which made provision for students to provide recommendations on how institutional support could be improved. The findings revealed problems with the appointment process of supervisors, the guidance given by some supervisors, as well as the timetable of and support provided at seminars with regard to some facets of research. Statistically significant differences were determined between males and females, and master’s and doctoral students in some aspects. Recommendations for improvement of student support were made.  


community of practice, postgraduate supervision, seminars, social capital, support of master’s and doctoral students, survey design

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