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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 dropout rates of its master’s and doctoral students. Thus, the aim of the investigation was to determine these students’ views of the support they received in all aspects of their studies within one particular college of the university. The researcher also investigated if different student groups had different views in this regard. Using a survey design, 77 master’s and doctoral students completed a questionnaire (constructed by the researcher), by means of a five-point Likert scale. There was also an open-ended question, which made provision for students to provide recommendations for 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 timing of and support provided at seminars with regard to some facets of research. Statistically significant differences were determined between males and females and between master’s and doctoral students respectively 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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