A Gap Analysis of the Quality of Student Support Services in an Open Distance Learning Institution
Keywords:expectations and experiences, student support services, open distance learning, gap analysis, service quality, doctoral students
This paper focuses on an investigation of the quality of student support services. The latter are important aspects in the development of a whole-person experience in any educational system. In the open distance learning (ODL) mode of education, student support services are even more important as they are the anchors of student success. Based on this, the main purpose of this paper is to observe the possible gaps between students’ expectations (the ideal standard) and their experiences (the perceptions formed) of student support services as provided by the University of South Africa (UNISA). The respondents of this paper were doctoral students of UNISA who live and work in Ethiopia. A multi-dimensional and “standardised” instrument was used as a tool to collect quantitative data. The theoretical framework adopted in analysing the results was the gaps model. Descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations) and dependent t-tests were the statistical tools employed. The findings show that there were gaps between the students’ expectations and experiences along the four dimensions of the instrument, namely Supervision Support, Infrastructure, Administrative Support and Academic Facilitation. It was therefore recommended that UNISA should focus on improving the relevant services it gives to its international students.
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