Use of the Semester System in Undergraduate Programmes for Open Distance Education
Distance education offers a variety of teaching and learning modes, including various instruction periods, such as a year or six months. This study examined the use of semesters for teaching and learning in undergraduate programmes at a specific university offering open distance education. The authors present the perceived pedagogic challenges for programmes with modules delivered over six months. A qualitative exploratory design was used, following interpretivism. The participants were lecturers from a specific college within the university. The lecturers were involved in modules taught over six months, normally referred to as semester modules. Four group discussions were held with the nominated lecturers from different departments within the college. The discussions were audio recorded, and the data were transcribed verbatim, followed by manual content analysis. The findings indicated that the perceived pedagogic challenges in the semester system were limited time for teaching and learning which included delayed feedback to students, and the academic workload brought about by large student numbers and the types of assessment methods used. The results suggest a basis to respond to new pedagogies and the use of alternative assessment methods to match the semester system in open distance education.