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Variables affecting persistence in distance education in the natural resource sciences Garland, Maureen R. 1992

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VARIABLES AFFECTING PERSISTENCE IN DISTANCE EDUCATION IN THE NATURAL RESOURCE SCIENCES by Maureen R. Garland B.S.A., The University of British Columbia, 1964 M.Sc, The University of British Columbia, 1966 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Interdisciplinary Studies in Resource Management Science) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1992 © Maureen Rosina Garland, 1992 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, 1 agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. (Department of ) Resource ^tenaqgtient Science (Interdisciplinary) The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date October 5, 1992 DE-6 (2/88) Abstract This research was undertaken to clarify the nature of barriers to persistence in natural resource sciences distance education at the tertiary level in order that participation through to completion may be improved. Its aim was to provide insights and theoretical concepts useful in clarifying distance education access as a whole, while also providing understandings helpful in improving education and communication initiatives concerning sustainable development and the environment. Ethnography was used to illuminate the declarative and tacit understandings of withdrawal and persisting students. Ethnographic interpretations of student understandings were complemented by demographic and other data collected through questionnaires and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a psychological survey instrument. Statistical analysis of quantitative data yielded predictive relationships that accounted for 24-39% of the variability in student withdrawal/persistence. However, many variables defy meaningful measurement and quantitative analysis. Overall results suggest that student withdrawal is related to a set of complex multivariables that act additively and interactively in numerous context-dependent ways to result in a dropout decision that is almost idiosyncratic in nature. Nonetheless, important common barriers to persistence are evident. Both withdrawal and persisting students experienced situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological problems that acted as barriers. A number are relatively unique to second chance learners, who are effectively disadvantaged. Many of the problems students experienced reflect the social contradiction between their roles as students and their roles as mature adults. The newly elucidated cluster of potential barriers to student persistence termed epistemological problems are the result of incongruency between the student's cognitive and affective perceptions of knowledge, and the nature of the knowledge presented in the courses. Although the courses mainly present hard, applied knowledge with a generally positivistic, empirical viewpoint, they also demand high levels of integration and inference. as well as abstract and relativistic thinking. A number of students found the courses' diverse epistemological stances problematic: some thought the content too scientific and technical; a few found it too abstract and ambiguous. Some were challenged by demanding prerequisite knowledge requirements. Still others found it difficult, in the absence of face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers, to make the epistemological shift from learning by rote to higher level thinking. It was concluded that more facilitative instructional design and student support are needed. Distance education persistence could be enhanced by providing students with all the resources and support they need in order to exercise personal control over their learning. A dialogic construct reflecting empathetic response to the views, values, frames of reference and varying dependency states of individual adult learners is suggested. Elucidation of the epistemological problems also provides understandings useful in general improvement of natural resource management education and communication initiatives. Because the highly structured, technical and specific nature of the disciplinary content and the dense formal jargon of the disciplinary discourse in themselves impede effective communication, it appears that natural resource scientists could more effectively share their knowledge if they simplified it, assumed no prior understandings, and helped people learn by informally and subjectively putting it in a more holistic context for them, including making inferences to application and implication. Table of Contents Abstract ii List of Tables ix List of Figures x Acknowledgements xi Chapter 1. Introduction 1 The Need for Education in the Natural Resource Sciences 1 The Role of Distance Education 3 Inequality in Education Opportunity 4 Inequality in Distance Education Opportunity 6 The Natural Resource Sciences 9 Dropout 9 Barriers to Participation in Distance Education 13 Research Goals and Objectives 14 Chapter 2. Literature Review 16 Defining Distance Education 17 Distance Education Theory 20 Distance Education and Open Learning 23 Distance Education Practice 25 Instructional Design 27 Communication Technologies 28 Student Support Systems 30 Distance Education in the Context of Adult Education 32 The Purposes and Philosophies of Adult Education 32 Critical Theory 34 Adult Development and Learning 39 Andragogy and the Self-Directed Learner 43 Learning Styles .48 Field Dependence-Independence 51 The Kolb Model 54 Myers-Briggs Type Indicator 56 Motivation 58 Barriers to Participation in Distance Education 61 Situational Barriers 62 Time 62 Cost 64 Study Environment 64 Institutional Barriers 64 Courses Available 64 Policy 65 Instructional Design 66 Student Support Services 69 Dispositional Barriers 70 Socialization 71 Motivation 73 Epistemological Barriers 75 Summary 78 Chapter 3. Conceptual Framework and Research Questions 80 Conceptual Framework 80 Research Questions 84 Chapter 4. Research Theory and Methodology 86 Research Theory and Perspectives 86 Research Methodology 91 The Study Group 91 Course Content 93 Conducting the Research 96 Questionnaires 98 Psychological Survey 98 Ethnography 99 Data Analysis 100 Ethnographic Analyses 100 Analysis of Quantitative Data 101 Chapter 5. Results 104 The Study Group 104 Epistemology of the Courses 107 Quantitative Results I l l Demographic Variables I l l Student Withdrawal/Persister Status in Relation to Other Variables . , .112 The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Psychological Survey 114 Relationships Among Variables 117 Ethnographic Results 119 The Withdrawals 119 Problems Experienced by Withdrawals 124 1. Situational 124 2. Institutional 126 3. Dispositional 130 4. Epistemological 134 The Persisters 137 Problems Experienced by Persisters 137 1. Situational 137 2. Institutional 138 3. Dispositional 147 4. Epistemological 152 Comparing the Problems of Withdrawals and Persisters 153 A Relevant Cultural Theme 155 Chapter 6. Discussion 159 Determining Student "Realities" 159 Situational Problems 164 The Learning Environment 164 Time 165 Health 165 Institutional Problems 166 Cost 166 Institutional Procedures 166 Pacing 167 Problems Concerning Tutorial Assistance 168 Instructional Design 171 Dispositional Problems 175 Lack of a Clear Goal 175 Stress of Multiple Roles 176 Time Management Problems 177 Learning Style Problems 179 Adult Pride 181 Previous Psychological, Social and Economic Factors 184 Epistemological Problems 185 Personal Relevance 186 Epistemology of the Course Differed from the Student's Epistemological Stance 187 The Internal Epistemological Gap Between Presented Course Content and Course Expectations 189 Lack of Prerequisite Knowledge 192 Multivariate Aspects of Student Withdrawal/Persistence 192 The Problem of Conflicting Roles and the Issue of "Control" 198 The Issue of Personal Control 205 Answers to the Research Questions 206 Addressing the Issues 207 Enhancing Persistence in Distance Education 208 Improving Natural Resource Management Educational Initiatives . . . 210 Chapter 7. Summary 218 References 223 Appendices 243 Appendix A. Course Descriptions 243 Appendix B. Letters Sent to Students and Tutors 249 Appendix C. The Questionnaire 252 Appendix D. Statistical Analysis of Quantitative Data 257 List of Tables Table 1. Status of Students in the Study Group 106 Table 2. Student's Reasons for Withdrawal 121 Table 3. The Emotional Words Used by Withdrawal and Persisting Students 156 Table 4. Withdrawal and Persisting Students' Ratings of the Natural Resource Science Distance Education Courses 158 Table 5. Potential Barriers to Persistence in Distance Education 162 List of Figures Figure L The Conceptual Framework 83 Acknowledgements I thank the members of my advisory committee for their support and assistance. I particularly benefitted from the enthusiasm and unfailing insight of my research advisor, Dr. LeRoi Daniels; from Dr. Les Lavkulich's breadth of vision as to what was possible and his championing to make it so; Dr. Ian Mugridge's sharing of his comprehensive understanding of distance education; Dr. Walt Werner's help in keeping the focus clear and consistent; and Dr. Allan Chambers' stimulating perspective of natural resource issues. As well, I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of my statistics mentor of long standing. Dr. George Eaton, and the support of Dr. Jim Richards, without whose accord this undertaking would not have been possible. Finally, I must express my appreciation to my family, my husband Tim, daughter Adrienne and son Mark, for their boundless patience, encouragement and help. Chapter 1 Introduction The Need for Education in the Natural Resource Sciences The Brundfland World Commission on Environment and Development recognized that achieving sustainable development on a global basis is predicated on an agenda for action which takes into account the interrelationships among people, resources, environment and development. Their report (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987) calls for vast campaigns of education, debate and public participation in order to create the public awareness necessary to effect a sustainable course of development. Concern about our environment and natural resources echoes internationally. Among its recommendations the 1988 World Conference on The Changing Atmosphere included increased funding for environmental education and public awareness campaigns (Environment Canada, 1988). Public awareness is a very important element of a society's capacity to deal with environmental and developmental issues. Resource development problems and the extent to which our well-being is dependent on the wise use of resources have been singled key issues. According to some experts, the root cause of our environmental crisis lies in the fact that too many governments and people still tend to take the planet's renewable resources for granted. This situation calls for greater efforts to increase public knowledge and public participation. Environmental progress requires the support of an informed and alert public opinion (Canadian International Development Agency [CIDA], 1986, p. 48). Four centuries ago Francis Bacon said, "Knowledge itself is power" (Religious Meditations. Of Heresies). Knowledge provides the power to control and effect change in one's world. We are now in the midst of an information explosion, living in Toffler's (1980) Third Wave info-sphere. Information, however, does not become knowledge until its constituent beliefs meet public criteria of evidence and the individual mind wrestles with it, tries to make sense of it, and places it in a personal context (Apps, 1988); in brief, learns it Education is "the organized, systematic effort to foster learning, to establish the conditions, and to provide the activities through which learning can occur" (Smith, 1982, p. 37). Education is a powerful factor in national development, contributing not only to economic, cultural and social progress, but also to consolidation of cultural identity (Busshoff et al., 1981). Awareness of its importance has created unprecedented demand for education, particularly in the developing nations of the world. Young, Perraton, Jenkins and Dodds (1980) quote Julius Nyerere of Tanzania as saying in his Declaration of Dar-es-Salaam: Man can only liberate or develop himself. He cannot be liberated or developed by another. For Man makes himself. It is his ability to act deliberately for a self-determined purpose, which distinguishes him from other animals. The expansion of his own consciousness, and therefore his power over himself, his environment, and his society, must therefore ultimately be what we mean by development. So development is for Man, by Man, and of Man. The same is true of education. Its purpose is the liberation of Man from the restraints and limitations of ignorance and dependency. Education has to increase men's physical and mental freedom ~ to increase their control over themselves, their own lives, and the environment in which they live. (p. 1) Simpson and Sissons (1989) report that international requests for aid in education and training show increasing priority for such new sectors as energy and the environment. It is in the context of international concerns about our common environmental future, as well as our local concerns about land, water, forests, energy, the ocean's harvest, and mineral resources, that education in the natural resource sciences assumes particular importance. People increasingly want information on resource issues to help guide them in making intelligent decisions. The "buzz" phrase "sustainable development" dominates our expressed philosophy in this regard. That the phrase is an oxymoron epitomizes our collective dilemma. Information and opportunities for adults to acquire knowledge about natural resources, their intrinsic value, their management, and the issues that surround their sustainable utilization are provided through post-secondary education, continuing education, and various communication vehicles. One of the purposes of adult education is to help ensure an informed citizeruy that can democratically effect change in a dynamic society by being knowledgeable about the issues, able to think clearly, and willing to participate in the process (Jimmerson, Hastay & Long, 1989; Smith, 1982). Rachal (1989) says. on a societal scale, adult education in its multiplicity of forms should be a central force in a democratic society for the planning and directing of desired change; on a personal scale, it should be a vital and available means for individuals to plan, direct, and improve their lives. (Rachal, 1989, p. 13) It encourages adult students to view knowledge and truth as contextual, to see value frameworks as cultural constructs, and to appreciate that they can act on their world individually or collectively and that they can transform it. (Brookfield, 1985a, p. 10) Deshler and Hagen (1989) emphasize the increasing role of adult education as a central strategy for public decision making in such areas as the environment movement. Blunt (1988) says that researchers are now moving beyond the concept of lifelong leaming and education to consider the concept of global leaming. "Global leaming" requires the consideration of the leamer within the total socio-cultural context of family and community. (Blunt, 1988, p. 48) Beyond a general need for a more knowledgeable populace, there is a specific need for those with specialized education and training in natural resource management. Many developing nations have agriculture education programs (Rivera & Schram, 1987) but there is a shortage of professional and technical personnel to serve as agriculture extension agents; those there are have an on-going need for in-service training and upgrading (Maalouf, 1987; Olaitan, 1984; Young et al., 1980). Shute (1989) sti-esses the need for higher agricultural, forestry and fisheries education in development, with more holistic curricula reflecting their role in social and natural environments. Even locally, shortfalls in the number of professional foresters and agricultural scientists are occurring (British Columbia Forest Resources Commission, 1990; McClintic, 1990). The Role of Distance Education Distance education, in which there is normally a time and/or space separation between the teacher and the leamer, is increasingly becoming an integral component of the educational provision in many countries, particularly for adult learners. Communication between teacher and leamer occurs via print or the newer electronic communication technologies; barriers of time and geography are lowered. Distance education is generally perceived as a means to provide flexible access for the traditional student and an educational "second chance" for adults who were previously denied opportunities (Rumble, 1986; van Enckevort, 1986). An early distance education initiative was the creation of the British Open University in 1969. Its success, both in terms of enrolments and growing credibility (Perry, 1986), inspired other countries to follow suit (Reddy, 1988). Several years ago, Curtis and Bakshi (1984) identified the need for distance education programs in natural resources planning and management. Rumble (1989a) says that, internationally, distance education is used to provide: (a) initial or extended formal education for large numbers of people; and (b) continuing, recurrent or life-long education. The courses provided may be academic, vocational, or involve professional development, rural development and community education. Many Third World countries are using distance education as a cost-effective, large scale vehicle to meet educational demands, particularly for the education of adults, that they are not otherwise able to satisfy (Daniel, 1988; Daniel, Stroud & Thompson, 1982; Reddy, 1988; Rumble, 1989a; Rumble & Harry, 1982; Shale, 1987; Young et al., 1980). In both developed and developing nations, the focus is on increasing adult access to educational opportunities with the goal of achieving greater social justice through equality of educational opportunity. Distance education could enable a critical mass of global concem to focus knowledgeably on the problems of resource management and the environment. Inequality in Education Opportunity "Knowledge is indeed power ~ especially when some have it and others are intentionally deprived ~ and education is a potent force for either distributing or perpetuating power" (Rachal, 1989, p. 13). The meritocratic ideal of advancement based on ability, hard work, and initiative must be founded on the egalitarian ideal of equal access and equal opportunity. Equality of access to post-secondary education in Canada became a particular focus for concem when it became clear that the policies formulated during the 1960s to provide a greater degree of educational equality for children from disadvantaged social and racial groups were ineffective (Lessard, 1987; Pike, 1970,1988). Concern regarding social justice reflects Canadians' belief that schools, especially universities, offer a direct route to social mobility, a means of improving the economic prospects of disadvantaged groups (Anisef, Bertrand, Hortian & James, 1985). In post-secondary education, the Government of Canada's declared policy is to co-operate with the provinces in supporting "excellence and equality of opportunity" (Secretary of State of Canada, 1988). In spite of the concern, post-secondary enrolments continue to reveal inequalities reflecting socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender and region — the latter disparity including an urban-rural gap in opportunity structures, particularly in some Western provinces, including British Columbia (Anisef et al., 1985). Results from a 1983-1984 national post-secondary student survey revealed that, while there has been some improvement, children from upper middle and higher class backgrounds continue to be over-represented (Porter & Jasmine, 1987). Moreover, more part-time students had a lower socioeconomic background than did full-time students. Women have made remarkable gains in participation in higher education but continue to be underrepresented overall at the graduate degree level (Porter & Jasmine, 1987). Says the 1991 Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Canadian University Education: "Universities continue to draw the large majority of their students from the financially advantaged socioeconomic classes in our society" (Smith, 1991, p. 96). Moreover, the most important barriers relate to cultural, family and individual expectations. Academic success and higher education are often seen as representing values that are alien, luxurious, or both, in families that are struggling financially to make ends meet. (Smith, 1991, p. 96) Canada is not alone in facing these problems. One of the major thrusts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's policies and actions in higher education since the early 1970s has been fostering the process of democratization by admitting non-traditional groups to study and by providing them with the support they need to complete these studies successfully (Goodridge & Layne, 1984). While continuing to combat the socioeconomic inequalities impacting the educational opportunities of young people, Canada, like other countries, is also seeking to improve lifelong leaming opportunities for adults through new educational initiatives, such as distance education (Pike, 1988) . Universities and colleges are being asked to serve the "learning society" by providing lifelong learning opportunities (Association of the Universities and Colleges of Canada, 1989) . The British Columbia Ministry for Advanced Education and Job Training (1988) concluded that distance education can significantly increase access to educational opportunities. The Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Canadian University Education (Smith, 1991) praises the value and excellence of existing distance education efforts and urges expansion. Distance education would seem able to respond to utilitarian needs for knowledge in a rapidly changing society, while serving democratic ideals and responding to a philosophy of lifelong learning. "The critical point in terms of a philosophy of distance education is the principle of equality of opportunity" (Gough, 1984, p. 23). Increased leisure time, unemployment, career changes, obsolescence of knowledge and skills, disparity in economic status, educational demands of the workplace, and higher initial levels of education are among the factors driving an increased demand for, and participation in, higher education by adults. Adults enter higher education for professional and work-related reasons, for other instrumental reasons, or to broaden their general education (Schutze, 1986). These adults face a number of specific obstacles, such as their life situation, work, family obligations, and distance, which often prevent their participation. Nevertheless, their number is significant (van Enckevort, Harry, Morin & Schutze, 1986). Moreover, the number enrolled in distance education universities is also impressive, with student demographics indicating that distance education is, indeed, providing access for some of those with life situation constraints (Graff & Holmberg, 1988; Schutze, 1986). Internationally, most of these distance education students are over 30, male, married and employed. Inequality in Distance Education Opportunity Morrison (1986) says that, in Canada, the barriers of geography, time and diurnal patterns, physical barriers encountered by handicapped people, psychological factors including confidence-building, and the needs of some learners for privacy and anonymity can, indeed, be overcome by distance education, but he critically questions whether Canadian distance education is redressing social inequality. Although there is a paucity of good demographic data, it has become clear that the same hierarchical tendencies apply in distance education as in traditional universities. Socioeconomic barriers have not fallen. Here in Canada, as elsewhere (Schutze, 1986), distance education seems to be providing second chances and more options for the socially and economically advantaged, while failing to reach other segments of society. Educational deprivation is an enduring reality. Indeed, while removing some old barriers to participation, distance education seems to have erected some new ones, such as requirements for high technology communication equipment or assumptions about the students' ability to be self-directed (Rubenson, 1986). Sweet (1989) is blunt in saying that merely providing greater opportunity to enrol has not broadened the social base of accessibility to distance learning. Existing programs serve best the educationally skilled; the educationally disadvantaged, if they do enrol, are more likely to become attrition statistics, (p. 6) For disadvantaged students, the "open door" can be a "revolving door" which rapidly returns them to the outside (Harris, 1987). Those who most need liberation from the constraints of their economic and social circumstances are those who are selected against. Clearly, the concept of equality of opportunity must encompass more than equality of access, it must also encompass equality of results, that is, equal opportunity for success. (Morrison, 1989; Sweet, 1991). Harris (1987) draws on elements of critical theory to explore the construct of "openness" in distance education, using the British Open University as the exemplar. Earlier, Woodley and Mcintosh's (1977) study of who decides not to apply to the British Open University, and why, revealed that answers to these questions challenged its proclaimed "openness". Harris (1987) exposes the complexities and contradictions of distance education and some of the practices that actually lead to "closure" in such aspects as access, instructional design, student assessment, and the teaching-learning process. These include covert student selection in response to the need for academic credibility, a shift in priority between ends and means with the smooth production of course materials taking precedence over the educational ends they are to serve, a gradual shift from diagnostic assessment towards grading for purposes of discrimination and selection, and the advantage of previous experience in knowing how to "play the game" with assessment procedures (Harris, 1987). Villaroel and Villaroel (1988) suggest that redefining distance to include other variables besides temporal and spatial remoteness should help increase equity. Evans (1989) responds by saying that distance education forms an intersection of spatial, temporal, social and cultural "distances", and that knowledge must be constructed and communicated across distances marked by class, gender, race, language, ethnicity and religious borders. Evans and Nation (1989a) criticize the "instructional industrialism " of distance education as bureaucratic and dehumanizing. Moreover, those who deal with the role of distance education in national development are distressed by the gulf between what could be done and what is actually occurring (Daniel et al., 1982). Arger (1987) contends that, until the Eurocentric development paradigm within which distance education operates becomes more appropriate to Third World needs, there will continue to be a striking difference between distance education's promise of cheap, egalitarian, mass education of high quality, and the reality of what it is delivering. It can be used as just another way of dispensing Western education rather than locally relevant knowledge and there are almost insurmountable problems, such as irregular postal delivery, lack of electricity, poor language fluency, learners who are unprepared to study independently, and the high cost of introducing modem communication technologies. The target groups, if reached at all, are still the elite (Arger, 1987). Women, those from rural areas, and the lower classes are not participating. Jenkins (1988) admits that not as much has been achieved as hoped but challenges Arger's pessimism, saying that efforts are being made to design distance leaming systems that suit local environments. Arger (1990) responds with specific examples and asserts that, with the exception of some developing nation institutions that critically reflect on then- practice, distance education's promise of mass opportunity, national development, and high quality is not being delivered. Nonetheless, Penalver (1990) argues that distance education is a powerful instmment for change, offering the greatest hope for development. The Natural Resource Sciences Not only is distance education failing to serve equally all segments of society, as one would wish not just on moral grounds but because any possible solution to our environmental and natural resource management crisis requires the involvement of all levels of society, but it seems to share with adult education in general, a particular ineffectiveness in attracting students to the scientific and technical subject areas. A study in Britain showed that 50% of students under 21 but only 24% of students over 25 were entering science and related subjects at university (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation [CERI], 1987). Studies from other countries confirm that adults, particularly women, seem disproportionately to favor the humanities and social sciences (CERI, 1987). An international study of distance education (Graff & Holmberg, 1988) revealed that only 15 of the 113 post-secondary institutions responding offered courses in agriculture, silviculture and forestry, and only 29 offered sciences. Moreover, the median enrolment was comparatively low for the agri-forestry programs (Graff & Holmberg, 1988). "Success rates" were lowest for the agri-forestry programs, and "dropout" rates highest for the maths, sciences and engineering, in comparison to other programs (Graff & Holmberg, 1988). Carr and Ledwith (1980) report that the negative consequences of British Open University student "disadvantage" in terms of academic under-preparedness and other factors is particularly noticeable in the maths and technology foundation courses. Dropout Attrition or dropout is a serious problem in distance education. Garrison (1987) says that no area of research in distance education has received more attention. Dropout or overall "wastage" has a number of components: 1. those who do not complete their final registration or who do not begin the course by submitting their first assignment (non-starters); 2. those who withdraw from the course or do not sit the final exam (withdrawals); and 3. those who sit the final exam but are unsuccessful overall (failures) (Woodley & Parlett, 1983). Reported rates, which usually exclude non-starters, vary considerably by institution, subject area, and level of studies (e.g., Graff & Holmberg, 1988; Shale, 1982; Woodley, 1987; Woodley & Parlett, 1983; von Prummer, 1990). Of course, not all dropout is negative; students may achieve what they wish from a course and not carry on (Thorpe, 1988; von Prummer, 1990). Nonetheless, the concern has led to a search for concepts to explain dropout behavior and to guide research. Kennedy and Powell (1976) propose a model to explain dropout which incorporates both student characteristics and circumstantial categories of variables. These include motivation, stage of adult development, educational background, personality, aptitude and educational self-concept. At the British Open University, Woodley and Parlett (1983) identify course, study environment, and motivational factors, such as student age, occupation, sex, region, credits held, educational qualifications, length of study, and workload, which contribute to dropout. Dille and Mezack (1991) report Grade Point Average, number of college credit hours completed, age and marital status as significant determinants, whereas sex, ethnicity, parental status, reason for taking the course, the importance of the course, leaming style and previous distance education experience are not. The difficulty of the course and student perseverance, as influenced by the course instmctional design variables and student support, were identified as central variables determining completion by Chacon-Duque (1985). Gatz (1985) derived a model for personal, instmctional and environmental factors associated with completion and attrition in distance education. Her conceptual framework has five major dimensions: 1. significance and relative advantage of the course to the student's goal; 2. appropriateness of the independent method; 3. feasibility in time; 4. integration with interests and background; and 5. accommodation of leaming style needs. Each dimension has several variables. For instance, leaming style materials support, personal support, and leaming style needs in terms of content, presentation, stmcture, clarity and feedback compose the "accommodation of leaming style" dimension. Unfortunately, her attempt to confirm her model using data drawn from students registered in a wide variety of courses was confounded by differences among the courses, a significant factor she failed to separate in her study. Sung (1986) identifies student perceptions of course characteristics and the learning environment as important in persistence. Siqueira de Freitas and Lynch (1986), using student's educational background as a predictor variable, with institutional and noninstitutional factors as intermediate variables, found that student satisfaction with the course, frequency of visits to student drop-in centres, socioeconomic status, and perceptions of course materials were significant in explaining persistence. Powell, Conway and Ross (1990) say that life change variables, such as illness or altered employment status, institutional factors, such as the quality of the instructional materials and support services, and predisposing characteristics, like a need for success, marital status, and a need for support, interact to influence student persistence and success in distance education. Sweet (1986) applied Tinto's theoretical model of dropout, relating the variables of student characteristics, academic and social integration, goal satisfaction, and institutional commitment to student persistence. The predictive validity of the model was relatively low (R^=. 19) but Sweet did find that social integration in the form of direct telephone contact between faculty and students significantly influenced student commitment and persistence. In an international study involving several institutions, Taylor et al. (1986) also applied the Tinto model, finding that student success is associated with such factors as feedback and the amount of student-tutor interaction. Kember (1989) developed a linear-process model, based on Tinto, with components of individual background characteristics, goal commitment, the academic environment and integration, and the social and work environment and integration, that lead to a cost/benefit type decision on dropout or persistence. In a later model, Kember, Murphy, Siaw and Yuen (1991) identify four dimensions of a distance leamer's experience: academic accommodation, academic incompatibility, emotional support, and external attribution. These are described as intervening variables between background characteristics as independent variables and persistence characteristics as dependent variables. Overall, they achieved an R^=.80 but a large proportion of this is due to inclusion of such "persistence" characteristics as Grade Point Average in the model, the intervening variables have much lower Coefficients of Determination (R^=.10 to .24). In contrast to these studies, which focus mainly on student and institutional factors, Bemard and Amundsen (1989) used Tinto's model to investigate the antecedents for dropout in courses that differ widely in content and instructional goals. They found the model a much more powerful predictor when courses in Communications (R^=.40), Business Administration (R^=.50), and Accounting (R^=.58) were examined individually. There were dramatic differences among the courses in the distribution of explained variance associated with background characteristics, social integration, academic integration, goal commitment and institutional commitment (Bemard & Amundsen, 1989). It is relevant to note that there are significant variations among the cultures of different academic disciplines in the epistemological properties of their knowledge forms and their modes of discourse (Becher, 1989). That is, their overall research paradigms, the role of theory, the extent of modelling and quantification, the generalization of findings, the degree of specialism, the level of jargon, the degree of teamwork, and aspects of communication approaches and styles differ among disciplines. Bemard and Amundsen (1989) have shown that these epistemological factors influence the variables that affect student dropout. Earlier, Woodley and Parlett (1983) had pointed out that a course's dropout rate is likely to be affected by the intrinsic difficulty of the subject matter while Chacon-Duque (1985) found perceived course difficulty a key predictor of dropout. Saying that adult part-time students do not fit the Tinto model because social integration does not contribute in the same way to goals and institutional commitment, Brindley (1988) adapted for the distance education context the Bean and Metzer conceptual model of the attrition process for part-time students. This model proposes that withdrawal decisions are based on: (a) student background and demographic variables; (b) academic variables, such as study habits and course content; (c) environmental variables, such as hours of employment, family support and finances; and (d) psychological outcomes, such as perceived utility of the studies, satisfaction and personal realization. Billings (1988) also proposes a model based on Bean, that includes background, organizational, environmental, outcome and attitudinal variables, with intention to complete an intervening variable in progress toward completion. Barriers to Participation in Distance Education It appears that, not only are there inequities in opportunity for adults to study at the post-secondary level, with distance education removing some barriers while erecting some new ones, but there may be some unique or specific problems associated with distance study in the natural resource sciences which impede successful participation. The goal of an informed citizenry that can democratically effect change cannot be met unless there is equality of educational opportunity: equality of access in entry and equality of access to completion. Effecting equality may require practicing equity, that is, applying differential procedures in order to be fair. Rubenson (1986) provides a partial framework in which to examine some of the impediments to participation in distance education. Like Hammer and Shale (1981) earlier, he classifies them into situational, institutional and dispositional barriers. To these, since the research of Woodley and Parlett (1983), Gatz (1985), Billings (1988), Brindley (1988) and Bernard and Amundsen (1989) has shown that the nature of the course itself, that is, its disciplinary content, influences ability to participate, must be added epistemological barriers. A framework of situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological barriers comfortably accommodates all the varying factors that have been identified in the previous discussion as important in students' ability to participate. Situational barriers stem from a person's life situation and could involve time constraints resulting from home or work responsibilities, or lack of money. Institutional barriers refer to those barriers to participation imposed, intentionally or not, by the institution offering the distance education opportunities. These can include the availability of courses, the adequacy of information dissemination about the opportunities available, policies involving such matters as admission qualifications and course pacing, transferability of credits, the provision of foundation or remedial courses for those with insufficient background, requirements to meet at particular times and/or places for labs or audio-teleconferences, the technologies employed, and provision of student support services. Dispositional barriers are related to the students' psychological and sociological natures, their attitudes and perceptions about themselves as learners, their socialization through family and work, their leaming styles, their purposes and motivation, and their degree of self-directedness. Epistemological barriers include the nature of the disciplinary knowledge, the role of theory, the extent of modelling and quantification, and the level of jargon in the course subject matter - in other words, what some might call the course "difficulty". In seeking to elucidate some of these barriers it is important to appreciate that people's actions, in this case, to dropout or persist, are based on their understandings, their "realities" of their experiences. Kennedy and Powell (1976) point out that students' "subjective views are the 'realities' which can often prove cmcial in student progress" (p. 74). In a review of research on dropout in distance education, Munro (1988) recommends an inductive approach, drawing on theory from disciplines such as sociology, anthropology and economics, to help reconceptualize the problem and collect data that speaks less from the registrar's point of view and more about the experience of students. Knowledge about student understandings which affect their ability to participate in a particular course situation can help all those who design distance education programs to broaden participation and to lower the barriers that cause dropout, particularly the dropout of disadvantaged learners. Research Goal and Objectives The goal of this research is to clarify the specific nature of any situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological barriers to participation in the distance delivery of natural resource sciences at the post-secondary level in order to assess if change is needed to increase access and completion rates. Its aim is to improve the effectiveness of intemational education and communication initiatives concerning resource management and the environment, while providing insights and theoretical concepts useful in clarifying the nature of barriers to participation in distance education as a whole. Specifically, the research goal will be addressed through two research objectives: elucidation of the nature of the experiences of various students (non-starters, withdrawals, incompleters, failures and completers) enrolled in University of British Columbia academic courses in the natural resource sciences; and illumination of student situational and dispositional variables, institutional variables and epistemological variables which may impede student participation through to course completion, particularly those that impact differentially and thus affect equality of opportunity. It will not address directly all aspects of equahty of access (since the students have effected access through registration) but rather will focus on students' declarative and tacit understandings when they attempt to participate. It will, therefore, provide some insights concerning barriers to access from which inferences may be drawn, but will more directly provide information regarding barriers to completion, that is, those barriers encountered during participation that impact ability to persist. Chapter 2 Literature Review This chapter reviews literature relevant in addressing the research goal of elucidating the nature of any situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological barriers that influence participation in natural resource sciences distance education. In any educational transaction there are four essential elements: the learner, the teacher, the course content (what is to be learned), and communication. As well, there is a context in which the transaction occurs. Distance education differs from traditional education only in that the four elements are rearranged (Wedemeyer, 1981) and the teacher may be an institutional team rather than an individual. However, because of these differences it is important in seeking an appropriate conceptual framework in which to address the research goal to first define distance education, review its theory and concepts, clarify the concept of open learning, and elucidate the institution's role in the educational transaction through distance education practice. Accordingly, distance education definitions, theoretical concepts, and practices are presented first. Since the research on student dropout presented in the Introduction reveals the importance of such variables as the student's goals, background, responsibilities, socialization and learning style, understanding the student is also fundamental in clarifying the situational, dispositional and epistemological barriers they may experience. Because distance education students are mainly adults, some relevant adult education concepts and research are reviewed next. Particularly pertinent in terms of students' dispositional barriers are critical theory, which posits that the individual's understandings are molded by socioeconomic and political factors, and adult development and learning theories, such as andragogy, which ascribe unique characteristics to the adult learner. Accordingly, literature concerning critical theory, andragogy and learner self-directedness, learning styles, and motivation are presented. Finally, the chapter links the aforementioned literature and other relevant research within a review of situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological impediments to participation in distance education. Defining Distance Education Distance higher education is provided through autonomous Open Universities, through extension programs or departments within traditional institutions, through dual-mode institutions in which distance education is integrated within the general instructional milieu, or through various collaborations and consortia in which institutions cooperate to provide distance education opportunities (Rumble, 1986). In Canada, the dedicated distance education institutions are Quebec's Têlé-université, Alberta's Athabasca University, and British Columbia's Open Leaming Agency. In British Columbia, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria all employ the extension model. As well, they are partners in the Open Leaming Agency's British Columbia Open University (Mugridge, 1989a). Deakin University in Australia is an example of a dual-mode institution. Garrison (1989a) identifies another extension model, the use of distance education within private companies and agencies to serve their own people and interests. Since such a diversity of non-traditional higher education models exists, and since technology is used in such a multiplicity of ways in different contexts, it is well to be clear about just what distance education is and what it is not. This is not as easy as it would seem since an acceptable, precise definition remains controversial within the field itself (e.g.. Garrison & Shale, 1987; Thompson, 1986). Indeed, the disparity of programs, the innumerable permutations possible when combining different learners, different media, and different approaches, may militate against an acceptable definition of distance education. Moreover, Smith and Kelly (1987) say that the boundaries between traditional, campus-based education and distance education are becoming increasingly blurred. Keegan (1988) has continued his synthesis (Keegan, 1980; Keegan, 1986) of the definitions of Holmberg, Peters, Moore and others to state that distance education is a form of education characterized by * the quasi-permanent separation of teacher and leamer throughout the length of the learning process, * the influence of an educational organization both in the planning and preparation of learning materials and in the provision of student support services, * the use of technical media: print, audio, video, or computer to unite the teacher and learner and to carry the content of the course, * the provision of two-way communication so that the student may benefit from or even initiate dialogue, and * the quasi-permanent absence of the learning group throughout the length of the learning process so that people are usuily taught as individuals and not in groups, with the possibility of occasional meetings for both didactic and socialisation purposes, (p. 10) It is interesting to note that in refining his definition between 1980 and 1988, Keegan has separated Peters' (1973, as cited by Keegan, 1980; 1983; 1989) concept of distance education as a form of industrialised education from the definition and no longer refers to it, even as a socio-cultural determinant. Nonetheless, the debate is not over. Rumble (1989b) responds with a new definition of distance education: 1. In any distance education process there must be: a teacher, one or more students; a course or curriculum that the teacher is capable of teaching and the student is trying to learn; and a contract, implicit or explicit, between the student and the teacher or the institution employing the teacher, which acknowledges their respective teaching-learning roles.... 2. Distance education is a method of education in which the learner is physically separate from the teacher. It may be used on its own, or in conjunction with other forms of education, including face-to-face.... 3. In distance education learners are physically separated from the institution that sponsors the instruction.... 4. The teaching/learning contract requires that the student be taught, assessed, given guidance and, where appropriate, prepared for examinations that may or may not be conducted by the institution. This must be accomplished by two-way communication. Learning may be undertaken either individually or in groups; in either case it is accomplished in the physical absence of the teacher.... 5. Where distance teaching materials are provided to learners, they are often structured in ways that facilitate learning at a distance, (p. 18-19) This view, too, is challenged. Carl (1989) sees it as too institutionally oriented and not allowing for the situation in which the organization for learning emerges from and is controlled by learners. This criticism makes one wonder if the boundary of distance education is not also blurred at the other end of the spectrum, that of self-help learning. Verduin and Clark (1991) present what they consider a minimalist definition, with the four defining elements of distance education as follows: 1. The separation of teacher and learner during at least a majority of the instructional process. 2. The influence of an educational organization, including the provision of student evaluation. 3. The use of educational media to unite teacher and leamer and carry course content. 4. The provision of two-way communication between teacher, tutor, or educational agency and leamer. (p. 11) Mugridge (1989b) suggests that the long debate on definitions may have outlived its usefulness, that intemational distance and open leaming systems take account of their widely different contexts, and that, providing the language of description and discussion is clear and precise, perhaps we should be content with the conclusion that distance education is what the authors, in their own backyard, say it is. The concem on the part of some authors with precisely defining distance education is focussed around the ability to develop the conceptual frameworks and theory that are important in research and in the acceptance of distance education by traditional institutions. Perraton (1983) says that distance education has managed very well without any theory. He (Perraton, 1983; 1987) goes on, however, to suggest ways in which such theories may be derived. In spite of the lack of a widely accepted definition of distance education, it is useful to examine its generally distinct characteristics in comparison to those of face-to-face instraction as these can contribute to our understanding of the educational processes involved and how these might pose barriers to participation. Cropley and Kahl (1983) say that, in comparison to face-to-face education, distance education has contact through communication media rather than immediate, personal contact; the teacher cannot immediately adapt to the leamer's behavior; the leaming environment is distracting; metacommunication is difficult; a personal relationship with the teacher is of littie importance; the teacher's influence is indirect; leaming materials must be of high didactic standard; leamers experience a high degree of freedom; there are few opportunities for imitation/identification leaming; communication is highly planned; information is mainly provided by content and organization; there is a comparatively low degree of evaluation and feedback from the teacher, internal motivation, self-direction, self-evaluation, planning ability, etc. must be high; and the willingness and ability of the leamer to work without direct supervision must be high. Distance Education Theory One of the earliest attempts to develop a theory of distance education, one with profound implications that may, indeed, have sparked the quest for alternatives, is Otto Peters' (see Keegan, 1980; Peters, 1983,1989) description of distance education in industrial terms involving the principles of productivity, division of labor, mass production, mechanization, concentration and centralization. Peters really sees two kinds of education: personal, traditional education; and distance education, which is industrial and technological. Thus, for Peters, distance education is structurally different, a discrete genre. He characterizes the relationship between teacher and leamer as (a) controlled by the mles of technology, not by social norms; (b) maintained by emotion-free language, not interactive speech; (c) based on a limited possibility of analysing students' needs and providing direction; and (d) achieving its goal by efficiency rather than by personal interaction. In his 1989 paper, Peters makes clear that he is not an advocate of this model, merely the "messenger". Two major distance education theorists, Charles Wedemeyer and Michael Moore, have focussed on student autonomy and independence in developing their concepts. Both follow what they refer to as a "Copemican revolution" in education ~ the conceptual shift from teaching to leaming as the central concem. Wedemeyer (1981), using the metaphor "leaming at the back door", bases his theory on the democratic, social ideal that everyone's needs for education should be met. He advocates a learner-oriented system of instmction that is characterized by availability anywhere that there are students; greater responsibility for leaming placed on the student; teachers being free of all tasks but teaching; use of all available, effective media in an articulated way; and greater freedom for students in terms of choice of content, methods, and evaluation. As mentioned earlier, in his distance education teaching-learning model, the four essential elements (teacher, leamer, communications system, course content) of any teaching-leaming situation are present but rearranged. Moore analyzed all stmctured leaming in which there is a teacher-leamer separation and, over a decade, developed his "theory of independent study" (Moore, 1983a). He identifies two significant concepts in the classification of programs, distance and learner autonomy. According to Moore (1983a), distance is a function of (a) the structure in the teaching program, that is, the degree to which it is flexible and responsive to the leamer's needs, and (b) dialogue, the extent to which two-way communication between the teacher and leamer is possible. For instance, a program that is highly individualized to the leamer's need is low in stmcture. The dialogue dimension is largely determined by the medium of communication used, says Moore (1983a). Teleconferencing is high in dialogue and thus less "distant" than broadcast television or print. Both stmcture and dialogue determine the distance between the teacher and learner. A program that is high in dialogue and has no stmcture is said to be least distant. Moore's second variable, leamer autonomy, refers to the extent to which the leamer rather than the teacher determines the goals, leaming procedures and resources, and assessment parameters. Leamer autonomy is considered to be the extent to which the leamer is self-directed and able to take responsibility for the leaming program. The success of a leamer in a program that has high distance will depend on their competence as an autonomous leamer. Thus, programs that are low in distance and low in autonomy are the least independent, those with high distance and high autonomy are the most independent (Moore, 1983a). In contrast to Wedemeyer and Moore, two other theorists, Baath and Holmberg, focus more on teacher-leamer interaction and communication. Baath (1979) relates what he calls correspondence education to a number of contemporary educational theories, models or approaches. He examines their applicability, and their implications for development of course material, for non-contiguous two-way communication and for supplemental face-to-face contacts. Baath (1979) finds that Skinner's behavior control model, Rothkopf s model for written instmction, Ausubel's advanced organizer model, Egan's stmctural communication model, Bruner's discovery leaming model, Rogers' model for facilitation of leaming, and Gagne's general teaching model are all applicable to distance education but that they vary in the extent to which they can be applied smoothly and naturally depending on the educational goals and the extent of control over students' work towards these goals (Baath, 1979). In a later work, Baath (1980) stresses the importance of two-way communication between the leamer and teacher. Effective counselling, well-designed leaming materials, and satisfying two-way communication with an instmctor, regardless of how effected or the medium used, are all important in ensuring perseverance and successful student outcomes (Baath, 1980). Holmberg (1985) sees distance education as a method of real and simulated "guided didactic conversation" with the presence of typical traits of such conversation facilitating leaming. His is a prescriptive theory postulating 1. that feelings of personal relation between the teaching and leaming parties promote study pleasure and student motivation; 2. that such feelings can be fostered by well-developed self-instractional material and suitable two-way communication at a distance; 3. that intellectual pleasure and study motivation are favoiu-able to the attainment of study goals and the use of proper study processes and methods; 4. that the atmosphere, language and conventions of friendly conversation favour feelings of personal relation according to postulate 1.; 5. that messages given and received in conversational forms are comparatively easily understood and remembered; 6. that the conversation concept can be successfully translated for use by the media available to distance education; 7. that planning and guiding the work, whether carried out by the teaching organization or the student, are necessary for organized study, which is characterized by explicit or implicit goal conceptions (Holmberg, 1985, p. Holmberg's view of distance education is quite institutional, with the independent leamer guided through personalized communication. Guided didactic conversation, according to Holmberg (1985), uses clear, somewhat colloquial language, has a personal style, contains explicit advice and suggestions, invites response, and attempts to involve the student emotionally. Evans and Nation (1987) recommend countering the "multi-national instmctional industry model" by invoking critical theory concepts (to be considered later) of Anthony Giddens in developing distance education theory. Giddens' view that people constmct meaning within their social context, and that the stmctures of systems they create in their social lives can constrain them, should be fundamental in educational theory, say Evans and Nation (1987). Giddens provides us with a richer and broader theoretical approach which can be used to extend the "cognitive" approach to teaching and leaming and which allows us to understand these processes within the social contexts which shape them. (Evans & Nation, 1987, p. 51) Other theories, concepts, models and approaches for distance education have been and continue to be suggested. Some of these will be presented in their relevant context in the sections following. Sparkes (1983) raised the issue of the disciplinary status of distance education, saying that more research and experience in distance education were needed to provide insights into such aspects of the educational process as how students leam and the effectiveness of different materials before distance education could become a discipline. However, Rumble (1988) examines the basis upon which claims for disciplinary status might be justified and concludes that, while distance education has many of the extrinsic characteristics of disciplines, such as teaching and research activities, and relevance to real problems, it lacks intrinsic characteristics, such as autonomy and independence of knowledge domain, theoretical and conceptual depth, and the presence of a unique "culture". He says distance education shares these intrinsic characteristics with education as a whole and thus it can not be regarded as a separate discipline. This appears unlikely to change. Since distance education is not a unique discipline but rather part of education as a whole, it is entirely appropriate to draw on other education literature, particularly adult education literature, as wiU be done later in this review, for insights which may be helpful in clarifying a conceptual framework in which to address the research goal. Distance Education And Open Learning While "distance education" and "open leaming" are sometimes used synonymously, they are definitely not the same. Understanding this distinction is important in any consideration of barriers to participation. Rumble (1989c) says that distance education is a method of education that differs from contiguous education, whereas open leaming is a concept involving removal of barriers to student choice; the former stresses means, the latter the objectives and character of the educational process. However, as the varying definitions above suggest, distance education is also a concept; the difference lies in the fact that open leaming is a value temi used to advocate ease of access and student choice, whereas the term distance education, in itself, does not imply a particular set of values. The two may overlap, that is, a distance education institution may have an open philosophy, but the terms are not equivalent. Open leaming refers to student freedom related to access, time and place constraints, resources, stmcture, strategies, dialogue, and support services. In other words, open leaming advocates such things as removal of entrance requirements, with flexibility and student-centredness in the leaming program. Some of these values are based on adult leaming concepts such as andragogy which will be considered later. Lewis provides a comprehensive definition of open leaming, indicating that students may be given choices in one or more of why they leam, what they leam, how they leam, where they leam, when they leam, how their leaming is measured, who can help them, and what they do next. There is a continuum from closed to open regarding each of these aspects (Lewis, 1986). Thorpe and Grageon (1987) say that a basic requirement of open leaming is that institutional barriers are sufficiently reduced so that some leamers who would not otherwise do so are able to participate. Boot and Hodgson (1987) describe two orientations to open leaming, one of dissemination and the other of development. In dissemination, knowledge is considered a valuable commodity that is to be disseminated; leaming involves the acquisition of facts, concepts and skills; the leamer chooses from a cafeteria-style selection of course offerings which are based on a syllabus; the application and transfer of knowledge is what is considered relevant; student independence involves individualization; other people are seen as a source of moral support for the student; the tutor is considered a subject expert; and student proficiency is assessed against an extemally recognized standard (Boot & Hodgson, 1987). In the development model, knowledge is seen as a process of engaging in meaning; leaming involves elaboration and change in the meaning-making process; education is concemed with development of the whole person; student independence involves autonomy; the course structure is based on a process of planning, deciding and experimenting; the participants' working lives are considered the main source of leaming material; other people are seen as an inherent part of the leaming venture; the tutor acts as a facilitator; and student assessment is collaborative, based on mutually agreed criteria (Boot & Hodgson, 1987). Open leaming can occur in any educational situation. Indeed, Thorpe and Gmgeon (1987) say that some distance education programs form a subset of open leaming, a particular example of one type. This is so because, at a minimum, the barriers of geography and time are usually absent in distance education. Hodgson, Mann and Snell (1987), Race (1989), and Thorpe and Gmgeon (1987) provide guides to the concepts of open leaming and their application in practice. Much of the misuse of the term open leaming in reference to distance education systems which are relatively closed results from the political and economic advantages that may accme from such apparent open status (Rumble, 1989b). Both the British Open University and the British Columbia Open University are open in the sense that they are dedicated distance education institutions that do not require entry qualifications, but are closed in that courses are paced, there are limits on completion times, and course content and requirements are fairly fixed so as to ensure academic credibility. The distance education units of traditional universities, such as the University of British Columbia, tend to demand that their distance and on-campus students meet the same requirements; they are relatively closed. Keegan (1988) says that the Italian Consorzia per I'Universita a Distanza imposes more stringent requirements for students to attend study centres than do conventional universities. Even the spatial-time aspect is closed in this case. Distance Education Practice The practice of distance education is formed and constrained by a number of different factors: philosophical, political and economic. Intemationally, distance education systems vary considerably according to available resources and their educational or political purpose, be it broadening provision of education at reduced cost, egalitarianism, modemization, mral development, continuing adult education, social control, or innovation (Rumble, 1986; Rumble & Harry, 1982). An international study of distance education is reported by Graff and Holmberg (1988). It includes such aspects as institutional characteristics, purposes, teaching modes, flexibility, subject areas offered, media used, and provision for two-way communication and tutoring/counselling. Some institutions, such as the Sukhotai Thammathirat Open University in Thailand and the Chinese Central Radio and Television University, have over 500,000 students enrolled (Graff & Holmberg, 1988). Rumble (1986) identifies three models of distance education: a systems model which has materials and student subsystems and is reflected in Peters' industrial theory of distance education; a holistic model, such as that proposed by Perraton (1983), which identifies various activities, influences, alternatives and feedback; and a transactional model, which focuses on the constituents involved in the process (developer, tutor, materials, student, counsellor) and the relationships or transactions between them. As well. Rumble (1986) says there are three general models of education that underpin the various distance systems. The institution-centred model emphasizes effectiveness and efficiency of educational practice; the person-centred model has a humanistic perspective with emphasis on the leamer; and the society-centred model is based on social action and interaction to bring about societal changes. This latter model is commonly reflected in community education projects. Verduin and Clark (1991) suggest a fourth model for organizing distance education, a transaction-centred model that calls for a balance between dialogue and instmction in a systems approach. The mission of the distance education institution or unit, its organizational form (i.e., extension, dedicated, dual-mode, consortium), its philosophic underpinnings, and the ways and means available to achieve its aims determine the way the institution views its mandate to serve students at a distance and the strategy it employs in delivering courses (Rumble, 1986). Most have an academic unit responsible for curriculum planning and development of courses and materials; a unit (linked to the academic one) for such student services as tutoring, counselling and provision of local support services; various production and distribution departments (i.e., publishing, video production), depending on the media employed; and an administrative unit (Rumble, 1986). Mugridge and Kaufman (1986) and Sweet (1989) provide information on distance education practice in Canada. They, and others such as Holmberg (1985), Thorpe (1988), and Howard (1987), provide information on such aspects as evaluation and leamer feedback; only instmctional design, communication technologies, and student services will be considered here. Instructional Design Smith (1980) has identified a number of approaches to instmctional design: 1. the course team model ~ the systems approach used by the British Open University in which a team of academics, media specialists, editors, and other professionals work together to produce a course. 2. the author/editor model — in this model, a content specialist/author is contracted to supply the course content, which is then edited by a distance education specialist. This model is common in North America and is the one generally employed by the University of British Columbia. Its focus is on print materials. 3. the contract author/faculty model ~ used at the FemUniversitat in West Germany, this model involves the contracting of an outside expert whose material is then vetted by the regular faculty of the University. 4. the educational advisor model ~ this model, in which an independent author writes a course with the advice of distance education specialists from the institution involved, is used in Australia and at some of the dedicated distance education institutions in Canada. 5. the intuition model - used at some older institutions, this model involves only an author, who presumes to know what is best for the distance education student. It is no longer considered appropriate. Holmberg (1985) recommends a systematic approach to the planning and development of courses which involves 1. defining the study goals and objectives 2. studying the target audience 3. determining the content and structure 4. determining the appropriate organization and administration 5. choosing the appropriate media 6. providing for two-way communication 7. constructing the course 8. evaluating both formatively and summatively 9. revising. Echoing educational jargon of two decades ago, Holmberg (1985) says that objectives should be defined in specific behavioral terms related to the cognitive, psycho-motor and affective leaming domains, but that these should be tempered by an awareness of the deficiencies of this approach in terms of student autonomy. The University of British Columbia's distance education course objectives are usually framed in behavioral terms. Answers to questions about the leaming goals, the students, and the course content provide direction in the selection of appropriate educational technology to effect both one-way and two-way communication. Communication Technologies Application of the new communication technologies is what has allowed distance education to emerge from its lowly beginnings as correspondence courses. While the print medium, in the form of texts or study guides, remains central because of its low cost and leamer convenience (portable, built-in speed control and "instant replay", privacy, breadth and depth of information, familiarity), multi-media courses are "enriched" by additional provision of one or more of: terrestrial television and radio broadcasts, cable television, satellite television as well as audio and video teleconferencing, videotape programs, audiotapes, computers, videodiscs, telephone systems, and videotext (Bates, 1984, 1988; Niemi & Cooler, 1987; Shobe, 1986; Zigerell, 1984). A number of telecommunication networks, such as British Columbia's Knowledge Network, have been created to provide delivery technologies for educational institutions. Consideration of communication technologies is important in clarifying barriers to participation in distance education because the substitution of print and electronic communication for face-to-face oral communication is a distinguishing aspect of the educational transaction. Larsen (1985) synthesizes the commonalities of various communication theories (i.e., general systems theory which emphasizes the interrelationships of components through feedback; symbolic interaction theories which focus on self, society and mind; rule theories which involve beliefs about how to achieve a given objective; theories of persuasion which relate to perceived consistency with already established beliefs and attitudes; information processing theories which focus on varying levels of cognitive integration ability; and various theories that are concemed with interpersonal relationships [Littlejohn {1983} provides a comprehensive review]) to derive this definition: "Communication is the process of two or more interactants engaging in a flexible and interdependent exchange of coded messages to achieve one or more goals" (p. 17). He emphasizes that (a) communication is an on-going dynamic process, (b) it need not involve two or more people but does require two or more interactants that share an interdependency in a flexible relationship, (c) the two interactants must share the same coding scheme for symbolically presented messages, and (d) the communication process is goal-oriented (Larsen, 1985). Garrison (1989a) presents a conceptual ordering of the modes of communication as follows: I. One-Way Communication 1. Direct (no electronic transmission) 2. Mediated (electronic transmission) II. Two-way Communication 1. Direct 2. Mediated i) Real a) Immediate b) Delayed ii) Simulated (p. 21). The simulated category is to account for impending intelligent computer assisted leaming. Pratt (1987) says that one form of technology is not inherently superior to any other form; the test of effectiveness lies not in the form but in the ability of technology to serve specific instructional functions, (p. 85) Salomon (1979) has studied media in terms of cognition and leaming. Reminiscent of Marshall McLuhan's "the medium is the message" (McLuhan, 1966) but in a more leamed approach, Salomon (1979) argues that there are essential differences among media in the ways in which they structure and convey content, that the symbol systems of various media differ because they call for different kinds of mental activity in the acquisition of knowledge (thus benefitting different leamers) and because they cultivate different kinds of mental skills (thus benefitting different kinds of mental processes), (p. xviii) Pratt (1987) says that each medium or technology may be likened to a culture that has its unique language and norms. Information originated in one form can never be quite the same in another form....This "transmediation" ~ the transfer of information from its original form into a different form for instructional presentation...implies a potential change in meaning, (p. 76) Any medium can convey any form of knowledge; the choice lies in determining which can best convey a particular message (content), using a specific instructional process, to a particular group of students. For instance, television can be used to provide a stimulating overview for further reading or to present highly visual lab and field work that cannot be experienced directly, while audioteleconferencing provides for interaction and discussion of issues. Cautioning that knowledge cannot simply be transmitted but must be induced in the leamer, Larsen (1986) says that attention must be directed to the interface of information technology and human activities like discussion, explanation and personal understanding. Shobe (1986) says the suitability of the various communication technologies should be judged by criteria of responsiveness to leamer needs, program quality, interactive components, reliability of the system, cost and accessibility, student support systems, and institutional commitment. "Getting the mixture right" (Daniel and Marquis, 1983) is the overriding consideration. Student Support Systems Student support systems vary from institution to institution, with their nature dependent on the institution's philosophy, funding and organizational stmcture. In general, they include registry functions, such as admissions, registration, records and examinations, information services, advising and counselling, tutoring and instmctional support, library service, and student advocacy (Mclnnis-Rankin & Brindley, 1986; Thompson, 1989). Increasingly, student support services are being seen as necessary in assisting a unique set of leamers with well justified needs and as being an important part of the leamer's educational experience (Mclnnis-Rankin & Brindley, 1986). Particularly vital is the tutoring/instmctional support system. Scales (1983) provides a typology of increasing levels of tutoring/instmctional support for distance education students: Type 1. Instraction is delivered through any one or a combination of one-way non-interactive media, such as print, audio or video. Type 2. Provision is made for delayed two-way communication, by mail for instance, between leamer and tutor. Type 3. Provision is made for coincident two-way communication between leamer and tutor, such as by telephone or computer. Type 4. Provision is made to permit remote group interaction among leamers, tutor and others through such means as teleconferencing or live interactive video. Type 5. Provision is made for occasional face-to-face interaction through seminars, on-campus labs, etc. Type 6. Fully supported instruction is supplied at a location nearer the leamer than the "mother" institution. This involves an extension program or lecture series in a distant community, or a satellite campus. (There is some question as to whether this type qualifies as distance education according to the definitions considered earlier.) The University of British Columbia uses Type 3 support routinely, with Types 4 and 5 added depending on the course content. Thompson (1989) says that institutions tend to employ uniform student-support strategies, such as systematic telephone tutoring; these do not respond to students' varying needs and preferences. Moreover, he says that the process of self-selection by which some students elect to register for distance-education programs, while others do not, may mean that the need for student-support service is greater among those who tend not to register for distance-education programs than among those who do. If educational institutions seek to attract and serve large numbers of those students unable to attend on-campus classes, they may have to develop increased and highly visible student-support services. (Thompson, 1989, p. 43) The University of British Columbia has no specific provision for counselling support for distance education students. They can receive help and advice of this sort only from their tutor, from UBC Access staff, from Faculty advisors or from the University's general student counselling office. Distance Education in the Context of Adult Education Within a decade, distance education will have become a very significant part of the universe of adult, continuing and higher education. It will cease to be a subject of special comment and be no longer a curiosity. The distinctions between distance and traditional education, adult, continuing and higher education will become blurred and recede into memory. This will coincide with the growing acceptance by both educators and public of the notion of lifelong education. (Moore, 1987, p. 39) Indeed, while distance educators increasingly draw on the literature in adult education for greater insight into their own practice, there is greater attention being given to distance education in the mainstream adult education literature (Hayes, 1990). Li the Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education, Garrison (1989b) says that communication technologies have shifted the focus from distance education to education at a distance, providing adult educators with new means for reaching out to adult leamers through access and support. Since typically one is meeting the needs of voluntary leamers who are adults, understanding the adult leamer is a key prerequisite to successful distance education. The Purposes and Philosophies of Adult Education The purposes of adult education are the basic reasons why it is undertaken, while the philosophies are the beliefs that guide practice. Saying that adult education serves a vital social function, Beder (1989) groups its purposes into four interrelated categories: 1. Facilitating change in a dynamic society ~ Adults need to adjust to keep up with rapid changes in social roles and expected behaviors as values, attitudes and beliefs shift, and to keep up with the rapid changes that are occurring in the knowledge that is required to perform specialized tasks. 2. Supporting and maintaining the good social order ~ Maintaining and supporting the "good" social order in Westem societies is seen as promoting the democratic order. Inherent in the concept of democracy is an informed, critical-thinking citizenry that participates in the affairs of society and has equal socioeconomic opportunity. 3. Promoting productivity ~ Adult education is used, first, for human resource development, to promote productivity at the organizational level through training for job performance, education for advancement or new requirements, and development for general growth of the individual and organization, and, second, at the societal level, where human capital theory (which says that human skills and knowledge acquired through education are vital to economic growth) is applied. For instance, adult literacy is necessary for good communication systems, in turn necessary for economic growth. 4. Enhancing personal growth ~ Here the purpose of adult education is to facilitate the adult's growth and development through achievement of spiritual, physical, vocational, political and cultural goals. Concepts that are relevant include self-actualization (becoming all one is capable of becoming) and Mezirow's (1981) perspective transformation in which adults undergo shifts in consciousness that result in them perceiving themselves and society in more productive ways. The philosophical underpinnings for these purposes of adult education include the liberal-progressive tradition, humanism, and countercritique (Beder, 1989). The liberal-progressive tradition sees adult education as having a decided social role in abetting the democratic order, addressing the problems of social change, and cultivating the intellect. Some philosophers advocate a liberal education approach while others believe education should proceed from experience. Humanism focuses on the philosophy that adult education should assist leamers in making choices that maximize their potential. Here the emphasis is more on the individual's personal growth than on society. Griffin (1987) sees this philosophy in market models of social welfare which are now associated with a form of individuality, a philosophy of freedom, and anticollectivist ideology. Particularly relevant to concem about participation is the third philosophy, countercritique, which focuses on the relation of adult education to society, seeing capitalist democracy inherentiy flawed by stmctural inequalities that can only be redressed through reordering of the social system (Beder, 1989). This philosophy, variously called countercritique, critique, critical reflection and critical theory, is concerned with social justice. Since critical theory would seem to provide understandings relevant in clarifying some of the barriers that adults with varying socioeconomic backgrounds may face when they attempt to participate in academic distance education, it will be considered next in some detail. Critical Theory Educational sociologists are concerned about the ways in which society classifies, transmits and evaluates knowledge. In recent years, the major focus of their concem has centered on two interrelated questions, "to what extent does education make society better by making it more egalitarian, and to what extent does education legitimate, and even enhance, existing social and economic inequalities" (Rubenson, 1989, p. 51)? While most critical theories and concepts have been based on the education of children, Rubenson (1989) says that not only are the principles underlying theories on the relationships among education, social structure, and society equally tme for preadult and adult education, but the two are mutually dependent. The commonalities have not eluded adult educators (see, for example. Griffin, 1987; Jarvis, 1985; Mezirow, 1981). There are two main contrasting paradigms within the sociology of education: the consensus paradigm, which says that social inequality is inevitable and necessary for the benefit of society as a whole; and the conflict paradigm, which sees social inequality as an expression of the stmggle for power, privileges, and goods and services that are in short supply (Rubenson, 1989). The latter is characterized by competing interests, elements of domination, exploitation, and coercion. The consensus paradigm reflects a stmctural-functionalist view that social inequality is fair if there is equality of access to opportunity and meritocratic selection for differential rewards. Implicit in its assumptions is the belief that all classes of society, and the education system as a whole, work together in a neutral, harmonious, consensual way to transmit cultural heritage. In contrast, conflict theorists believe that there is not equality of opportunity, that the stmctures of symbols and knowledge in schools are those of the dominant culture and serve to reproduce and legitimate the power structure. This conflict paradigm and the concepts of critical theory, which attempt to understand and explain education in terms of the larger conflicts of society, have come to dominate and are of concem here. The economic theory of Marx, that the rich and powerful elite govern the infrastmcture of society, using their control over the means of material production to exploit and constrain the proletariat, is a key concept in critical theory. Reproduction theorists see capitalist society as reproducing the class structure, skills, values and belief systems upon which the system depends (Beder, 1989). Schooling is seen as the filter through which children acquire the varying amounts of cultural capital (forms of knowledge, language practices, values, and ways of acting and socializing) which determine their position in the social order. Thus, education is seen as reproducing the inequities of society; it is not neutral. Fundamental to an understanding of reproduction theory is Italian Antonio Gramsci's concept of hegemony. Hegemony refers to the consensual maintenance of views of the dominant group as taken-for-granted, commonsense beliefs and practices which are lived daily (Apple, 1981; Entwistle, 1979). It reflects the establishment of a moral or cultural influence by one social class over other classes, or one sex over the other, rather than physical coercion or political power. Hegemony is what determines the expectations of teachers and students, the hidden curriculum, the selective traditions of textbooks, and other factors through which the dominant beliefs of society are reproduced in schools. Rubenson (1989) points out that formal adult education is subject to the same hegemony that governs pre-adult schooling. Gramsci saw counterhegemonic education as involving the political education of adults (Entwisde, 1979). Reproduction theory has evolved into several schools of thought. Some economic correspondence theorists, such as Bowles and Gintis (1976), maintain the Marxist view that the economic stmcture of society, that is, the division of labor involved in material production, is the key determinant. They see the stmctural correspondence between social relationships in the educational system and relationships of production in the economy as serving to integrate students into capitalist society. Their viewpoint is very deterministic and pessimistic in terms of the possibility for change. Cultural reproduction is espoused by Bourdieu and Passeron (1977) who examine the role of culture in the reproduction of class hierarchies. They link culture, class and domination, saying that the culture of the school system is that of the dominant class, those who control political, economic and social resources. Others, "cultural Marxists" such as Gramsci, Apple, Giroux, and McLaren, consider both economic and cultural systems to be determinants. Besides social class, they believe gender, race, religion and other cultural hierarchies are reproduced in the schools. In their writings (e.g., Apple, 1982, 1986; Giroux, 1981, 1988; McLaren, 1989), they claim to have exposed the prevailing ideological and social practices at schools which favor the existing social order. They espouse a neo-Marxist, radical pedagogy, encouraging social reforms through educational transformations. Anyon (1981) examined elementary schools in contrasting social class settings and found that, while there were similarities in curriculum topics and materials, there were also both subtle and dramatic differences in the curriculum and the curriculum-in-use among the schools. Indeed, social stratification of knowledge was occurring; knowledge was being used as a form of social control. For instance, children in working class schools were being taught facts and mechanical, practical behaviors while those in affluent professional area schools were being taught how to use concepts and ideas, to think for themselves and be creative. Some aspects of knowledge were reproductive, that is, they contributed directly to the legitimation and perpetuation of ideologies, practices and privileges constitutive of present economic and political structures, while other knowledge was non-reproductive and could lead to social transformation (Anyon, 1981). Moreover, she identified resistance as a dominant theme in the working class schools. One of the major contributions in understanding social and cultural reproduction in the context of resistance theory is Paul Willis' (1977) study of a group of working class schoolboys. He found that "the lads" resisted by flouting classroom convention and rejecting the mental work of the classroom, which they considered weak in comparison to manual work, which they considered masculine and strong. By rejecting mental labor so vehemently, the lads freely implicated themselves in their own domination, ensuring their position in the working class. In this way, resistance serves to reproduce the class system of society (Willis, 1977). The concept of Marxist humanism, the belief that humans possess the power of choice and can therefore determine their own fate, is a dominant theme in the adult education literature related to critical theory (Beder, 1989). Key in this regard are the theories of Paulo Freire. Freire's work with illiterate adults in Brazil led to his theory of liberating disadvantaged people for change and self-determination through "conscientization", a process in which the teacher helps people to transcend false consciousness to an awareness of themselves as individuals, of the social, economic and political forces which shape their lives, and of the challenges these present both individually and collectively (Freire, 1970). Freire rejects the "banking" concept of education, in which knowledge is deposited, as creating externally-controlled "adapted man", in favor of "conscientization", a process which involves reflection and action, to create "integrated man". His is a strategy-based radicalism, developed for peasants who were truly oppressed. Even Giroux (1981) cautions that it would be misleading and dangerous to extend without qualification Freire's theory and method to Western societies. Giroux was speaking in the context of schooling, however, and Freire, who was concemed with adults, has some validity in the context of adult education, particularly of the disadvantaged. Moreover, Freire has tumed some of his attention to Westem society and, in one of his more recent publications (Freire, 1985), goes beyond class oppression to argue that society contains a multiplicity of social relations (gender, race, age) which contain contradictions and can serve as a basis for organized reform. Here, Giroux (in Freire, 1985) says Freire has combined the language of critique with the language of possibility. Also espousing the idea of adult empowerment through critical consciousness is Mezirow (1981), who developed a critical theory of adult leaming and education based on the concept of perspective transformation. He draws on the work of the seminal critical theorist Jurgen Habermas, a social philosopher and member of the Frankfurt School. Geuss (1981) and Carr and Kemmis (1986) provide useful reviews of Habermas' critical theory. Habermas distinguishes among scientific theories, interpretative theories and critical theories. He rejects positivism in developing a theory of knowledge in which knowledge is the outcome of human activity that is motivated by natural needs and interests (Habermas, 1978). These "knowledge-constitutive interests" guide and shape the way knowledge is formed in different human activities. Habermas differentiates three generic areas in which human interest generates knowledge. The first, the technical interest, is the human interest in acquiring knowledge that will help in controlling and manipulating events and objects. This interest involves "instrumental action". The second, the practical interest, generates knowledge in the form of interpretative understanding which can inform and guide practical judgement. It involves "communicative action" through social interaction. The third knowledge-constitutive interest is the emancipatory interest, a basic human concem for rational autonomy and freedom. It involves an interest in knowledge gained through self-reflection within one's social context. Essentially, emancipatory awareness allows one to perceive and be released from the hegemony of one's situation. Habermas (1978) proposes "critical social science" as serving the emancipatory interest. A critical social science involves critical theory and the method of critique. Mezirow (1981) draws on Habermas' emancipatory domain, the most distinctly adult domain of leaming, in developing his concept of perspective transformation. He says that perspective transformation is the emancipatory process of becoming critically aware of how and why the structure of psycho-cultural assumptions has come to constrain the way we see ourselves and our relationships, reconstituting this structure to permit a more inclusive and discriminating integration of experience and acting upon these new understandings. It is the leaming process by which adults come to recognize their culturally induced dependency roles and relationships and the reasons for them and take action to overcome them. (Mezirow, 1981, p. 6-7) In simple terms, adults no longer blame their problems on their own inherent inferiority and instead take steps to improve their situation. Relating perspective transformation to Freire's conscientization, Mezirow (1981) asserts it is a central function for adult education. Moreover, he links the adult educator's role in developing students' perspective transformation to the concept of learner self-directedness as both the means and ends of education. According to Mezirow (1981), a self-directed leamer must be understood as one who is aware of the constraints on his efforts to leam, including the psycho-cultural assumptions involving reified power relationships embedded in institutionalized ideologies which influence one's habits of perception, thought and behavior as one attempts to leam. A self-directed leamer has access to alternative perspectives for understanding his or her situation and for giving meaning and direction to his or her life, has acquired sensitivity and competence in social interaction and has the skills and competencies required to master the productive tasks associated with controlling and manipulating the environment, (p. 21) The concept of the self-directed adult leamer is central in much of the current thought in distance education and is, as mentioned earlier, a fundamental premise in the concept of open leaming. It is derived mainly from Knowles' (1970) system of andragogy, the art and science of facilitating adult leaming, which posits itself between adult development and adult leaming and so will be considered within this larger view. Adult Development and Learning Adulthood is defined by biological, social, behavioral, psychological, existential and other indices of age, while adult development implies changes of a fairly lasting nature in these indices (Boucouvalas with Krupp, 1989). A major theme in the literature of adult developmental change concems predictable sequential progressions in an individual's life. These sequential perspectives have been categorized by Kohlberg and Armon (1984) as three types of stage models: nonhierarchical functional models in which a new set of functions, that is, actions and purposes, emerges at each period as the adult experiences new sociocultural spheres and roles; and hierarchical soft and hard stmctural stage models which involve an invariant sequential progression with qualitative differences in stmctures that still serve the same basic function at different points in development. Each stage represents a different and integrated structure. The Piagetian model of cognitive development (e.g., Piaget, 1973) is the best example of a hard structural model. Each stage represents qualitatively different ways of thinking. Soft stmctural models follow the stmctural stage model criteria less closely and contain affective elements of self-reflection, with each stage associated with a different perspective on reality. An example is Kegan's (1982) helical evolution of the various "constitutions of the self — the incorporate, impulsive, imperial, interpersonal, institutional and, finally, interindividual self. He says that the way individuals respond to a particular life event is based on their own reality of that event, that is, its meaning in terms of the event itself and its meaning for the self in relation to the event. Boucouvalas with Krupp (1989) say that, for adult educators, the soft structural models have more promise than the hard structural models in addressing the wisdom and experience of adulthood. Boucouvalas with Krupp (1989) provide a summary of some of the expanded perspective on development stages beyond that of Piaget, called postformai thinking. They explain that beyond formal thought lies relativistic thinking and beyond that, dialectic thinking. Postformai thinkers can reconcile contradictions and understand knowledge as temporary. Hayes (1990) says these theories describe the individual's progress from simplistic, stereotypic thinking to greater awareness of multiple perspectives, conceptual complexity, and increasing tolerance for ambiguity. Moreover, Boucouvalas with Krupp (1989) cite some of the work in transpersonal development and conclude that the structures of cognition are only one way of knowing, that there is a balance between cognitive, analytical, and intellectual ways of knowing and the contemplative approach. Both may have relevance to a more comprehensive understanding of the adult leamer, as does consideration of the leamer's environment, relationships and other social, historical or cultural factors (Boucouvalas with Kmpp, 1989). Linking adult development and leaming theory to critical theory, they speculate that social class itself may militate against an adult's development and further leaming. Hayes (1990) says that adult development theories can inform distance education practice by providing insight into how an adult may behave in a leaming situation. Moreover, education can impact the developmental changes that adults undergo. Smith (1982) found that adult leaming capacity increases as one leams how to leam. Merriam (1987) delineates three types of models adult educators use to understand and explain adult leaming: those, such as Knowles' (1970) andragogical model and Cross' (1981) Characteristics of Adults as Leamers (CAL) model, that are based on adult characteristics; those that are based on adult life situations (e.g., Knox, 1986); and those that involve changes in consciousness (Freire, 1970; Mezirow, 1981). Brookfield (1989) summarizes the behaviorist, humanistic and critical approaches to facilitating adult leaming, saying that different approaches will be called for, depending on the class, ethnicity, cultural conditioning and personality characteristics of the leamers. Smith (1982) says that adult leamers differ from children in four critical characteristics: 1. a different orientation to education and leaming (i.e., the adult is a volunteer with a unique self-concept); 2. an accumulation of experience which can be a base for new leaming or a source of obstacles; 3. special developmental trends (as previously discussed); and 4. anxiety and ambivalence, related to an adult's need for independence and autonomy, as modulated by their insecurities regarding content and techniques, and their needs for assistance in leaming. Schlossberg, Lynch and Chickering (1989) say that adult leamers differ from traditional aged higher education students as follows: * A wider range of individual differences, more sharply etched * Multiple demands and responsibilities in terms of time, energy, emotions, and roles * More - and more varied ~ past experiences * A rich array of ongoing experiences and responsibilities * More concem with practical application, less patience with pure theory, less trust in abstractions * Greater self-determination and acceptance of responsibility * Greater needs to cope with transitions and with existential issues of competence, emotions, autonomy, identity, relationships, purpose, and integrity, (p. 20) Their leamer agendas centre on identity, achievement, change, generativity and competency, and they have a particular need to matter, to be noticed and appreciated (Schlossberg et al., 1989). These authors suggest that providing environments that make adult leamers feel they matter can be a means of removing dispositional, situational and institutional barriers to involvement in mainstream higher education. Smith (1982) proposes six optimum conditions under which adults leam best: 1. They feel the need to leam and have input into what, why, and how they will leam. 2. Leaming's content and process bear a perceived and meaningful relationship to experience and this experience is effectively used as a resource for leaming. 3. What is to be leamed relates optimally to the individual's developmental changes and life tasks. 4. The amount of autonomy exercised by the leamer is congment with that required by the mode or method used. 5. They leam in a climate that minimizes anxiety and encourages freedom to experiment. 6. Their leaming styles are taken into account. Brookfield's (1986) six principles of effective practice in facilitating adult leaming overlap in some ways but also embody some new concepts: 1. Participation is voluntary; adults engage in leaming as a result of their own volition. 2. Effective practice is characterized by a respect among participants for each other's self-worth. 3. Facilitation is collaborative. The enterprise is cooperative in terms of leadership, setting objectives, curriculum development, determining methods, and selecting evaluation criteria. 4. Praxis is placed at the heart of effective facilitation, with a continual process of activity, reflection upon activity, collaborative analysis of activity, new activity and so on. 5. Facilitation aims to foster a spirit of critical reflection. 6. The aim of facilitation is the nurturing of self-directed, empowered adults. In considering barriers to participation in distance education, the concept of the self-directed leamer suggested by these various authors and embodied in the assumptions of andragogy is particularly relevant, as are leaming style and motivation. These will be considered in some detail next. Andragogy and the Self-Directed Learner Brookfield (1986) says that andragogy is the single most popular concept in adult education, while Merriam (1987) says that it has caused more controversy, philosophical debate, and critical analysis than any other idea in adult education. The writer most often associated with the concept of andragogy is Malcolm Knowles. He defined andragogy as the art and science of teaching adults (Knowles, 1970). Based on the premise that leaming activities for adults must address the needs, interests and expectations of adults, andragogy has at least four cmcial assumptions: That, as a person matures, 1. his self-concept moves from being a dependent personality towards one of being a self-directed human being; 2. he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for leaming; 3. his readiness to leam becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of his social roles; and 4. his time perspectives change from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his orientation towards leaming shifts from one of subject-centeredness to one of problem-centeredness. (Knowles, 1970, p. 39) Originally, Knowles viewed pedagogy and andragogy as a dichotomy, one concept for children and one for adults, but he came to see them as extremes of a continuum with the reality for a particular leaming situation existing somewhere between the two poles (Knowles, 1980). More recentiy, Knowles (1984) says that he sees the pedagogical and andragogical models as parallel, not antithetical, and that the educator would draw on one or the other depending on the situation, not the age of the leamer. For instance, adults confronted by strange content may be tmly dependent on didactic instmction before they can take much initiative in their own leaming. Jarvis (1985) draws interesting parallels between pedagogy and "education from above" which assumes a classical curriculum, and between andragogy and "education of equals", which reflects a romantic curriculum. It should be noted that, in the androgogical model, the educator is not seen as a teacher but rather as a facilitator assisting adults to meet their educational needs. Whether andragogy is an empirically accurate constmct, a verifiable theory of adult leaming, or a philosophically based prescriptive concept is highly controversial (e.g.. Davenport & Davenport, 1985; Tennant, 1986; Yonge, 1985). Davenport (1987) urges vigorous empirical testing of andragogy's assumptions but Podeschi (1987) cautions that empirical research cannot resolve philosophical questions. He says, debate about research, like debate about andragogy, involves philosophical as well as empirical issues. Since philosophical questions are answered ultimately by beliefs and purposes, practitioners should be wary of covert epistemology and values underlying adult education research ~ whether about andragogy or any other topic. (Podeschi, 1987, p. 16) Brookfield (1986) questions the assumption of adult self-directedness in leaming situations as opposed to social roles. He comes to the conclusion that if self-directedness is seen as a mark of adult maturity rather than being related to chronological age, then it is appropriate that adult education be concemed with nurturing the prescriptively desired, mature characteristics of adulthood. Thus, self-directedness is seen as a goal rather than as an assumption in adult education (Brookfield, 1986). This echoes Mezirow's (1981) assertion that central to the adult educator's function is a goal and method of self-directed learning. Enhancing the learner's ability for self-direction in leaming as a foundation for a distinctive philosophy of adult education has breadth and power. It represents the mode of leaming characteristic of adulthood, (p. 21) The concept of encouraging self-direction to facilitate adult leaming is one that has attracted many adult educators, including Mezirow (1981), Cheren (1983), Brookfield (1985b; 1986), and Boud (1988a). However, Apps (1988) says "self-directedness is probably less common than Knowles maintains" (p. 100). As Birkey (1984) points out, "...andragogy assumes a need for self-directedness that often gets translated into an assumption about the reality of self-directedness in all adult leamers" (p. 27). Nowhere does this seem more tme than in distance education (for example, see Coldeway, 1982; Cropley & Kahl, 1983; Hayes, 1990; Hodgson et al., 1987; Hough, 1984; Moore, 1983a, 1986; Taylor & Kaye, 1986; Wedemeyer, 1981). Moreover, the concept of the self-directed leamer is pervasive in practice. Holmberg (1986) says that some 40% of distance education institutions largely expect and base their work on the assumption that students are able to work independently, while others, through varying degrees of support, endeavor to develop a degree of independence not expected to be common among new students. Completion rates are significantiy higher in institutions that provide student support (Holmberg, 1986). Tait (1990) says that the earlier model of the autonomous adult student being taught by the perfect course package has given way, but the concept of individualism, often masked as independence, has continued to dominate implicitiy and explicitiy. The model of the independent leamer often appears to deny the reality of the social making and remaking of knowledge that constitutes leaming, and is failing to provide the fullest range of leaming opportunity and associated student progress. The concept is ideological in nature, and in part underlies the enthusiasm of govemments in the UK and elsewhere for distance education and open leaming. (abstract) Unfortunately, decisions regarding the blend of interaction and independence are often based on the reality of the economies of scale that can be achieved with the independent leaming approach (Daniel & Marquis, 1983). Moreover, as Brookfield (1985b) points out, it is uncommon to find details of how adult educators promote self-directed leaming in their students, in contrast to just providing support. For instance, Moore (1986), in a paper promoting leamer autonomy in distance education, says that there may be some students who are not self-directed, who still have an emotional need for dependence. The tutor should not reinforce this dependence and instead should encourage them to become self-directed, says Moore. How this should happen is unclear. For those that are instmmentally dependent, that is, unable to undertake a leaming activity without seeking help, Moore (1983b) suggests they might seek a different program, one in which distance is low. However, more recentiy, Wright (1987) proposed a model showing how various aspects of academic support can contribute to a student's leaming and increased capacity for independence in leaming. Elton (1988) specifies the use of leaming methods that are different from those in fraditional adult and distance education. Inglis (1988) used "hermeneutic interpretation and explication" to conclude that the promotion of affective elements in distance leaming will enhance growth of leaming autonomy. Paul (1990) says that open universities may do less than campus-based ones in promoting independent leamers. He advocates a strong strategic plan that integrates instmctional design, course delivery systems, and student support services into a coherent whole that focuses on developing students' attitudes and skills. Although she acknowledges criticisms of Knowles' prescriptions and assumptions, Burge (1988) says that many implications drawn from the concept of andragogy, particularly the wider learner-centred view, need to be better integrated within distance education to balance the strengths of the instructional technology and systems approaches. She says that this means that the central focus should be on the leamer, not on the instmctor or content. Questioning Burge's concept. Garrison (1988) says that teaching and leaming are inseparable in a proper and holistic view of the educational transaction, and to accept andragogy's view of the instmctor as a guide, catalyst and co-inquirer is to seriously diminish the role of the teacher. He adds, the self-directed assumption of andragogy suggests a high degree of independence that is often inappropriate from a support perspective and which also ignores issues of what is worthwhile or what qualifies as an educational experience. (Garrison, 1988, p. 124) Burge (1989) defends her position, saying that what matters in leamer-centredness is not leamer self-directedness but learner self-responsibility. This exchange points out some of the semantic problems associated with use of terms such as self-directed, learner-centred, student autonomy, independent leaming, and, as pointed out earlier, open leaming. Wedemeyer (1981) says that the terminology for non-traditional leaming is disunifying and divisive. Cheren (1983) questions the meaning of the label "self-directed leamer", while Evans and Nation (1989b) profess a relaxed attitude to the definitional disputes over nomenclature in distance education (Nation [1990] later changed his mind) and go on to advocate a philosophy which recognises student autonomy (exactly what they mean by that is left to the reader) and strives for dialogue. Morgan (1985) says, independent leaming means all manner of things. Like so much educational language, "independent leaming" is not so much a technical term as a slogan. People use it differently with different meanings and connotations. Some people mean the separation of teacher and leamer - the beavering away at home by himself or herself. Independence in this sense is a basic characteristic of distance education....A shift towards independent leaming here may simply mean providing fewer specially prepared leaming materials and cutting back on tuition and counselling support -"independent leaming" is being used as a disguise for a general worsening of our teaching and leaming provision. For other people, independent leaming means something quite different - namely, students taking responsibility for what and how they study - developing greater autonomy and self-direction in leaming. A change in this direction with more of the content of leaming controlled by students immediately raises questions about assessment, curriculum and standards, (p. 38) Garrison (1989a) adds, if independent leaming means isolation from leaming resources and being able to decide what to study without normative advice, then it does appear to be limited as a guiding educational philosophy or theoretical concept, (p. 26) Sammons (1988) provides an epistemological justification for the teacher mediating the leamer's perceptions and ensuring broader educational goals in a way that acknowledges leamer independence. Garrison (1989a) argues that the issue is one of control ~ the degree that the teacher and student share control of the educational transaction. He suggests that control is a triadic relationship consisting of independence, proficiency and support that exists within the larger relationship among teacher, leamer and content (Garrison, 1989a). Pratt (1988) says that not all adult leamers are willing or able to exert control over instmctional functions. What is important is the element of informed choice, leamers deciding, first, if they value control and, second, if they will do anything to establish or relinquish control. Their decision will depend on situational, leamer and teacher variables (Pratt, 1988). The sharing of control is negotiated through dialogue, says Garrison (1989a). Evans and Nation (1989a) argue that dialogue is the essence of practice, research and theory in distance education; it is crucial for quality leaming. Boud (1988b) suggests that a mature autonomy does not involve isolation but rather has a social context of intertelations with others. To him, development in leaming involves moving from dependence to counterdependence to independence and, finally, to interdependence (Boud, 1988b). Graff and Holmberg (1988) found that personal communication, even mainly noncontiguous communication, had great impact on students' success and the possible development of independence. Even Moore (1983a) says that autonomous leamers are not to be thought of as intellectual Robinson Cmsoes, cast-away in self-sufficiency, that they must have recourse to teachers, resources and even contiguous leaming situations. It should be noted that Morgan (1985) is speaking of the meaning of independent leaming in the context of the British Open University; the program context in which others are speaking is often ambiguous. Is it the self-teaching informal types of activities of Tough (1979) or post-secondary academic education, and in which field? Brookfield (1985b) says that no adult c£in be fully self-directed while working within an accredited educational institution. He also questions the latter two assumptions of Knowles' account of andragogy, saying that programs that are problem-centered around developmental tasks with immediacy of application can lead to a highly reductionist view of leaming that ignores aspects of reflection and the adult's fascination with new, unrelated knowledge (Brookfield, 1986). Leslie (1987) says that leamers who enrol in formal courses do not want flexibility and "leamer choice" in materials, they want unambiguous directions, with clear objectives and direct routes to achieve them. "If they wanted 'leamer autonomy', they would go to the library, telephone a friend, rent a tape, or buy some new software" (Leslie, 1987, p. 61). Daniel and Marquis (1983) wam that remote leaming systems must beware of the illusion of solving problems with flexible rules which make the staff feel liberal and warm inside but which do not of themselves help the student attain his goals, (p. 347) In the context of barriers to participation in distance higher education, the concem regarding self-directedness, of course, is that it is those adults who are unfamiliar with systematic leaming and whose needs are somewhere between those assumed in andragogy and those in pedagogy ~ in other words, disadvantaged leamers - who are not served by a leamer-centred approach which assumes student independence. Brookfield (1985a) points out that most research in self-directed leaming has involved samples from middle-class, educationally-advantaged populations; the resultant generalizations are thus culture and class specific, indeed, "dangerously ethnocentric" (p. 11). Paul (1990) refers to the "myth" of the self-actualized leamer, saying that there are large numbers of students who do not cope effectively with the demands for independence, time management and self-direction posed by open leaming. As Rubenson (1989) states, a system of adult education that implicitly takes for granted that the adult is a conscious, self-directed individual in possession of the instmments vital to making use of the available possibilities for adult education - a system that relies on self-selection to recmit the participants ~ will by necessity widen not narrow, the educational and cultural gaps in society, (p. 65) Learning Styles As noted earlier. Smith (1982) pointed out that allowing for their varying leaming styles helps adults in leaming. Loesch and Foley (1988) suggest that "if students are provided with the opportunity to choose between various teaching methodologies, they wiU select those which are congment with their leaming preferences" (p. 230). Daniel and Marquis (1983) say that part of "getting the mixture right" in distance education is providing a healthy degree of redundancy in leaming systems so as to accommodate differences in leaming style. Ehrman (1990) described some of the major leaming style models and speculated on their applicability to distance education practice and research. Leaming styles can be defined as the individual's characteristic ways of processing information, feeling and behaving in leaming situations. Keefe (1987) uses the National Association of Secondary School Principals' definition: "Leaming styles are characteristic cognitive, affective and physiological behaviors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how leamers perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment" (p. 5). Saying that leaming style and cognitive style have been used synonymously in the literature but are decidedly not the same, Keefe (1987) uses Messick's definition that cognitive styles are information processing habits, "stable attitudes, preferences, or habitual strategies determining a person's typical modes of perceiving, remembering, thinking, and problem solving" (Messick et al., 1976, p. 5). In view of these definitions, one might question whether these are "leaming" styles or "studying" styles. Citing over 30 leaming style dimensions in aU, Keefe (1987) says that cognitive style includes such dimensions as field independence vs. dependence (an analytical as opposed to a global way of experiencing the environment), perceptual modality preferences (preferred reliance on one of the sensory modes for understanding experience), and constricted vs. flexible control (individual differences in susceptibility to distraction and distortion in tasks with conflicting clues). Affective styles, the second dimension of leaming styles, encompass those aspects of personality that have to do with attention, emotion, and valuing; motivation is one of their determinants (Keefe, 1987). These include persistence or perseverance (variation in a leamer's willingness to labor beyond the required time, to withstand discomfort, and to face the prospect of failure), and risk taking vs. cautiousness (individual differences in a person's willingness to take chances to achieve some goal) (Keefe, 1987). The third type of leaming styles are physiological, the biologically-based modes of response that are founded on sex differences, personal nutrition and health, and the accustomed reaction to the physical environment They include time-of-day rhythms and need for mobility (Keefe, 1987). It is important to distinguish leaming styles from leaming strategies, although the two are intimately related, with leaming style and motives tending to determine leaming strategy. Learning strategies are the sequence of procedures (tactics) students use to accomplish leaming; they involve conscious decisions and are relatively specific and concrete. Schmeck (1988) provides a detailed discussion. A number of psychometric instruments have been developed to assess the various dimensions of leaming style. Three of the most commonly used will be reviewed next in some detail in order to provide background for the choice of instrument with the best potential utility in providing insight into the constmct of leaming style as a dispositional barrier that may face distance education students during participation. Before tuming to these models, however, it is important to note that the concept of leaming style has both promise and problems associated with it (Claxton & Murrell, 1987). Promise in its potential to inform practice but problems with the conceptual constmct of leaming styles as a whole. Claxton and Murrell (1987, p. 1) quote Curry as saying that researchers "have not yet unequivocally established the reality or utility of [the] concept" Shipman and Shipman (1985) say that styles have been defined at different levels of discourse and as operating at different levels of generality. Although as a class of constmcts cognitive styles are considered to refer to a broad range of human functioning, few of the identified styles have been studied over a wide range or would even be expected to remain stable over a great variety of situations. Similarly, styles vary in the extent to which the underlying constmct has been conceptualized as basic to the individual's personality, (p. 232) They attribute these problems to the varied theoretical proclivities among the researchers involved and the differing phenomena included as styles. Jensen (1987) comments that '"leaming styles' can mean anything from hemisphericity to one's method of sharpening pencils" (p. 182). Moreover, many cognitive style variables may be different measures of a single bipolar dimension. Kirby (1979) suggests that the many different conceptions of style may only be correlates of a few basic styles that fall under "lumper" and "splitter" types. Schmeck (1988), summarizing his work and that of other authors in the same volume, suggests a similar underlying dichotomy, global/holistic/field dependent/right-brained vs. analytic/serialist/field independent/left-brained as the extreme ends of a continuum. Nonetheless, a number of leaming style models have been extensively researched and some seem to provide utility. These include field dependence-independence determined by the Embedded Figures Test, the Kolb Model, and the Jungian psychological model embodied in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Models such as the National Association of Secondary School Principals' Leaming Style Profile, which is a second-generation instmment with 23 scales representing four higher order factors (cognitive styles, perceptual responses, study and instmctional preferences) (Keefe, 1987), do not seem appropriate. Field Dependence-Independence (Embedded Figures Test) The most researched leaming style dimension, field dependence-independence, refers to the ability to overcome an embedding context, specifically, in the Embedded Figures Test (EFT) (Witkin, Oltman, Raskin & Karp, 1971), to find a simple figure within a more complex design. Field independents see things apart from the background field while dependents are influenced by the organization of the background; they have more difficulty disembedding a figure. The dimension and test were defined by Herman A. Witkin and his associates (see Bertini, Pizzamiglio & Wapner [1986] for a history). The concepts "field dependence" and "field independence" were originally used by Witkin to describe tendencies to rely primarily on visual or gravitational cues (extemal or intemal referents) in determining the upright in space (Witkin, Moore, Goodenough & Cox, 1977). The Embedded Figures Test measures the same dimension: the extent to which the surrounding visual framework dominates the perception of the item within it; more simply, the extent to which a person perceives analytically (Witkin et al., 1977) or the degree of psychological differentiation (Witidn, 1978). In later work, Witkin and Goodenough (1981) altered their conceptions of the constructs involved in field dependence-independence by linking performance to cognitive restructuring, the ability to restructure initial perceptual experience. They propose a hierarchical model in which autonomous functioning is a broad superordinate construct with cognitive restructuring skills and interpersonal competencies as subsidiary constructs. Shipman and Shipman (1985) say that this model is more in agreement with their concept of a true leaming style. Claxton and Murrell (1987) say that field dependence-independence may be the two most fundamental leaming style dimensions, perhaps an overarching constmct. They suggest that traits at this level are intrinsic and thus less susceptible to modification. In general, field independents are characterized as being autonomous, analytical, better able to impose stmcture on unorganized material, preferring a lecture format, and having an impersonal orientation with a strong sense of self-identity. Field dependents, on the other hand, have a more global perspective, prefer a group discussion format, have an interpersonal orientation, are more socially adept, more sensitive to social reinforcement, and pay selective attention to social cues (Even, 1982; Witkin et al., 1971; Witkin et a l , 1977; Witkin & Goodenough, 1981). Measures of field dependence-independence bear little relation to college Grade Point Average, reflecting their value-neutral character (Witkin, 1978), but do affect choice of courses and career interests, with field independents favoring the impersonal domains which require competence in cognitive articulation, such as mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering (where they do perform significantly better than field dependents), while field dependents tend to favor interpersonal domains, such as the social sciences and business (see Witkin et al., 1977 for numerous citations). Ramsden (1988) says that systematic differences in leaming styles are to be expected and do occur among professional, science, and humanities students. Leaming tasks in science are typically described as hierarchical, logical, heterogeneous, and rale and procedure govemed, with faculty likely to use more formal, didactic teaching methods; humanities and social science tasks are seen to require interpretation, comparison, generalization, and self-direction (Ramsden, 1988). Brookfield (1985a) says that, if we relate the idea of self-directed leaming to cognitive styles, then field independence is the concept that seems to hold the most promise. One might expect field independents to be more comfortable with distance education and, indeed, Moore (1983a) reports that students in a more distant form of independent study were more field independent than the norm. Chickering (1976) hypothesized that the low persistence in correspondence courses was the result of withdrawal of field dependent students while Thompson (1984) suggests that field dependent students may be more vulnerable than field independent students to dropping out of correspondence courses. However, although Thompson and Knox (1987a) found that students who register for correspondence study are more likely to be field independent, there were no differences in the persistence behaviors between those with field dependent and field independent cognitive styles. Moreover, Thompson and Knox (1987b) found no difference between field dependent and field independent learners in the importance that they placed on systematic telephone tutoring. It is most pertinent here to recall points made earlier in the Introduction: that, in distance education, relatively fewer students are attracted to the natural sciences, maths and engineering, in comparison to the social sciences and humanities; and that completion rates are lower in these programs (CERI, 1987; Graff & Holmberg, 1988). These facts are inconsistent with the predictions of the field dependence-independence concept. The Embedded Figures Test (Witkin et al., 1971) itself is objective and relatively easy to administer. However, besides the concem just raised regarding incongraency between the predictions of the concept of field dependence-independence and actual participation in distance education, there are two additional, inter-related, concems regarding the test itself. The first is that the test measures a specific ability rather than anything that could be constmed as a style. The second is that the test, by measuring the ability to disembed a figure from a complex background, is really a test of field independence or lack thereof; field dependents may perceive themselves as "failing" the test. The Kolb Model David Kolb (1981; 1984) drew on the work of Dewey, Lewin, Jung and Piaget in developing a theory of experiential leaming. Kolb declares that his model of the leaming process is consistent with the structure of human cognition and the stages of human growth and development. Its emphasis on the important role that experience plays in the leaming process distinguishes it from other cognitive theories. Kolb describes leaming as a four-stage process in which leamers have: 1. immediate concrete experience, which is the basis for 2. observation and reflection, leading to 3. abstract conceptualization and, finally, 4. active experimentation. The result is another concrete experience, but at a more complex level, so that the model can be visualized as a narrowing helix spiralling to higher levels of complexity. In cross section, the helix is a circle with two dimensions: the "grasping" dimension of concrete experience at one end and abstract conceptualization at the other, and the "transforming" dimension, with active experimentation at one extreme and reflective observation at the other (Kolb, 1984), In Kolb's Leaming Style Inventory (Kolb, 1984), subjects rank-order words conceming leaming preferences along the two basic dimensions of abstract-concrete and active-reflective. Individuals exhibit four types of leaming style, one for each quadrant (Kolb, 1984): "Convergers" grasp experience through abstract conceptualization and transform it through active experimentation. They can apply ideas practically in focussing on specific problems and are relatively unemotional. "Divergers" are best at transforming concrete experience through reflective observation. They are imaginative, emotional, and interested in people. "Assimilators" grasp experience through abstract conceptualization and transform it through reflective observation. They excel at inductive reasoning and can assimilate diverse data into an integrated whole. They are good at creating theoretical models, less concemed about people, and more interested in abstract concepts. "Accommodators" are best at transforming concrete experience through active experimentation. They are intuitive risk takers who like to do things and have new experiences, and are skilled at adapting to specific circumstances. It is worth noting that Kolb's diverger-converger dimension would seem to fit comfortably within Schmeck's (1988) underlying global/holistic/field dependent/right-brained vs. analytic/serialist/field independent/left-brained dichotomy. In a study of disciplinary differences, Kolb (1981) found that undergraduate business majors tended to be accommodators, nurses and engineers were convergers, history, English, political science and psychology majors were divergers, and mathematics, chemistry, economics and sociology majors were assimilators, while physics majors were very abstract and feU between convergers and assimilators. He mapped data from a 1969 Carnegie Commission of Higher Education study in two-dimensional (abstract-concrete, active-reflective) space and found that the natural sciences and mathematics academic fields were clustered in the abstract-reflective quadrant, the science-based professions such as engineering in the abstract-active quadrant, the social professions such as education, social work and the law in the concrete-active quadrant, and the humanities and social sciences in the concrete-reflective quadrant (Kolb, 1981). There are, however, a number of problems with Kolb's Model and Leaming Style Inventory. Fundamental is the shift to centrality on the "style" continuums (abstract-concrete, active-reflective) that occurs as an individual develops. Claxton and Murrell (1987) provide a useful discussion of some of the concems in the literature about the validity and reliability of Kolb's model and inventory as a guide to educational design. The model's utility seems to rest in its application in collecting aggregate data on student styles for dialogic purposes rather than in individual prescription (Claxton & Murrell, 1987). Dille and Mezack (1991), for instance, found that Kolb's Leaming Style Inventory score measuring concrete experience was significandy related to student success in telecourses. While they concluded that "the less concrete one's learning style, the better suited one is to leam in the telecourse format" (Dille & Mezack, 1991, p. 30-31), they were unable to show that leaming style type (i.e., converger, diverger, assimilator, accommodator) per se was a significant variable in predicting telecourse success. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) provides a measure of personality dispositions and preferences based on Carl Jung's theory of psychological types (Myers & McCauUey, 1985). As such it assesses personality orientation more than style and presents some conceptual problems for those committed to the constmct of leaming style as a whole. The MBTI has four separate dichotomous preference scales: Extraversion-Introversion (EI). The EI index is designed to reflect whether a person is an extravert or an introvert...Extraverts are oriented primarily toward the outer world; thus they tend to focus their perception and judgement on people and objects. Introverts are oriented primarily toward the inner world; thus they tend to focus their perception and judgement upon concepts and ideas. Sensing-Intuition (SN). The SN index is designed to reflect a person's preference between opposite ways of perceiving; one may rely primarily upon the process of sensing (S), which reports observable facts or happenings through one or more of the five senses; or one may rely more upon the less obvious process of intuition (N), which reports meanings, relationships and/or possibilities that have been worked out beyond the reach of the conscious mind. Thinking-Feeling (TF). The TF index is designed to reflect a person's preference between two contrasting ways of judgement. A person may rely primarily on thinking (T) to decide impersonally on the basis of logical consequences, or a person may rely primarily on feeling (F) to decide primarily on the basis of personal or social values. Judgement-Perception (JP). The JP index is designed to describe the process a person uses primarily in dealing with the outer world, that is, with the extraverted part of life. A person who prefers judgement (J) has reported a preference for using a judgement process (either thinking or feeling) for dealing with the outer world. A person who prefers perception (P) has reported a preference for using a perceptive process (either S or N) for dealing with the outer world. (Myers & McCauUey, 1985, p. 2) More simply, the MBTI provides information about leamer preferences in perceiving meaning (Sensing vs. Intuition), expressing values and commitment (Thinking vs. Feeling), interacting with the world (Extraversion vs. Introversion), and about whether they have a cognitive or affective approach (Judging vs. Perceiving). Because there are four bipolar dimensions, there are sixteen MBTI types. Claxton and Murrell (1987) say that the MBTI is a very comprehensive instmment with high face validity. Provost and Anchors (1987) provide reviews of applications of the MBTI in higher education: Lynch (1987) links it with student development theories; Kalsbeek (1987) with models of attrition such as that of Tinto where the MBTI is said to be useful in describing individual students and the nature of their educational experience in terms of their congruence with the academic and social environment; and Jensen (1987) relates it with leaming style, where the MBTI is described as allowing one to penetrate through the veil of behavior, which may be leamed or be determined by other factors, to underlying cognitive functions. Citing the considerable research on the MBTI, Ehrman (1990) states that this is perhaps the most versatile of the cognitive and leaming styles models because it addresses cognitive, affective, general personality, and behavioral factors in leaming performance. However, there are some problems with reliability; the test-retest data reported by Myers and McCauUey (1985) are not particularly impressive. Their data show that there is some consistency, but hardly replicability, with time. The MBTI's self-reporting aspect is problematic. Strength of preference and mood at the time of testing are apparent factors in reliability (Myers & McCauUey, 1985). In a comprehensive review of MBTI literature, Myers and McCauUey (1985) report several research studies in which students electing independent study had definite tendencies to be intuitive, feeUng and perceptive types. Masson (1987) hypothesizes that distance education is more appropriate for students of the introvert type. However, Atman (1988), addressing the relevance of psychological type indicators such as the MBTI in distance education, suggests that extraverts, intuitives, thinkers, and judgers may have an advantage in distance study because of their goal accomplishment capacity. Because the MBTI is self-reporting, it is easy to administer and score. It has the advantage of being less threatening than a test of ability to accomplish a task. Overall, the MBTI would seem to be the survey instrument most likely to provide insights into student personality dispositions and preferences within the constmct of leaming style that could be useful in clarifying the nature of their experience in distance education study. Motivation Because adult leaming is usually voluntary, there is considerable interest in, and concem about, what motivates adults to begin formal leaming and to persist in this leaming. Ehrman (1990) says that motivation is often described as being of three types: instmmental motivation, which refers to the desire to achieve an extemal goal, such as a new job; intrinsic motivation, which is the desire for some form of personal satisfaction or growth; and integrative motivation, which involves the desire to communicate with or be part of a new community. Boshier (1985) produced an "Education Participation Scale" which allowed him to conclude that adults enrolled for six reasons: social contact, social stimulation, professional advancement, community service, extemal expectations, and cognitive interest. In distance higher education, the purposes and motivations of adults are somewhat narrower. Schutze (1986) categorizes them in a simplified fashion as follows: * those who enter or re-enter higher education as adults in order to pursue mainstream studies leading to a full first degree or diploma ("delayers" or "deferrers"). * those who enter to up-date their professional knowledge, or seek to acquire additional qualification, in order to change occupations or advance their career ("refreshers", "recyclers"). * those without previous experience in higher education, who enrol for professional purposes, especially in short programs, such as languages or computers. * those, with or without previous experience in higher education, who enrol with the explicit purpose of personal fulfilment. Cross (1981) provides a review of some of the theories and models that have been developed to explain adult motivation to participate in education. She draws on the theories of Lewin, Miller and Maslow to assert that the needs hierarchy would predict that members of the lower social classes will be interested primarily in education that meets survival needs, mostiy job training and adult basic education, while the upper social classes will have fulfilled those needs and will seek education that leads to achievement and self-realization, (p. 112) Rubenson (1976) developed an "expectancy-valence" paradigm as a framework for understanding the competing forces at work in an adult's psychological field that motivate him/her to participate in adult education. Rubenson's "expectancy" component has two parts: the expectation of personal success in the educational activity, and the expectation that this success will have positive consequences. "Valence" is concemed with the consequences of participation and can be positive (e.g., higher pay), indifferent, or negative (e.g., less family time). The force motivating an individual is determined as a multiplicative function of expectancy and valence (Rubenson, 1976). However, Greenberg (1981) applied expectancy theory of motivation in a study of distance education completion and found that expectancy variables had minor impact on persistence. Cross (1981) draws on models such as Rubenson's, Boshier's Congmence Model and Tough's Anticipated Benefits concept to develop a Chain-of-Response Model. In this model, forces for participation begin with the individual (self-evaluation, attitudes about education), move to goals and expectations as influenced by life transitions, then move more extemally to opportunities and barriers as influenced by information, and, finally, to participation, which feeds back to the first point of the individual. In a study of the motives and orientations of adults in non-traditional leaming. Houle (1979) came to the conclusion that a much more complicated relationship exists between motives and educational content than had been thought to be tme. He suggests that 1. Participation in any type of educational activity is undertaken for a number of different motives which operate collectively.... 2. In most cases these motives reinforce and supplement one another.... 3. some cases motives and content diverge so greatly that it is hard to discem any relationship between them.... 4. People vary greatly in their educational orientation. (Houle, 1979, p. 31) After years of theory building in the area of adult motivation for leaming, Boshier (1985) says that while "the stmcture of participants motives is reasonably clear, people enrol for reasons that are only marginally related to socio-economic and life-style variables" (p. 151). Reinforcing and strengthening even the most fragilely motivated adult to persist in the leaming task is perhaps more important. He concludes that "one way adult education instmctors can diminish dropout rates is to treat motivation as a hypothetical constmct and concentrate on the creation of optimal conditions and consequences that motivate leamers" (Boshier, 1985, p. 152). Neil (1981) says that motivation to start leaming tends to be relatively high, rather widespread, and is "not particularly difficult to translate into action. Motivation to persist, however, especially in circumstances of intellectual, cultural and/or logistical difficulty, is rarer. But for the distance leamer, particularly, it is vital" (p. 76). Atman (1987) provides an interesting point of view. She says that success for distance leamers depends on the interaction of a good curriculum and specialized conation (striving) skills, such as energy mobilization, information management, and time control. The conative domain deals with striving, volition, and the will. Atman (1987) defines conation as vectored energy, that is, personal energy that has both direction and magnitude. It seems, therefore, closely related to intrinsic motivation. There are five conative stages: Stage 1. Perception ~ where the individual intelligently discerns the environment. Stage 2. Focus ~ when the individual brings something into clear relief and sets a goal. Stage 3. Engagement - here the goal-focussed individual begins to work with all available information and forms a plan of action. Stage 4. Involvement — this can be at five attention levels (minimal, cursory, perfunctory, thorough, and absorbed) depending on the levels of involvement at previous stages. Stage 5. Transcendence ~ when the individual is fully immersed in the task in such a manner that mind/body/task become one. High energy is involved, with the individual drawing on and feeding into the energy that is generated from the activity itself (Atman, 1987). She says that knowledge of the conative stages allows a leamer to develop consciously the skills attending each stage, thereby assuming an active rather than passive role in intrinsic motivation. The conscious management of information as an extemal resource and one's own energy as an intemal resource results in feelings of satisfaction, competence, and a growing sense of self....This "joyous sense of mastery" is particularly important for adults who enroll in distance leaming courses. where students must demonstrate not only their knowledge of course content but their ability to manage themselves throughout the length of the term or semester. (Atman, 1987, p. 19) When careful attention is given to the conative domain, as well as the cognitive and affective domains, in instructional design, then leamers can be drawn through to the thorough/absorbed and transcendent levels of leaming (Atman, 1987). This means encouraging goal-setting, providing reinforcement, timely feedback, and mentoring. Gitau (1987) suggests application of achievement motivation principles, such as the use of explicit verbal cues to arouse achievement behavior, in distance education. Barriers to Participation in Distance Education The reviews of literature that have been presented on distance education theory, practice and dropout, critical theory, adult development and leaming theories, leaming style, and motivation provide a foundation for a more comprehensive review of barriers to participation in distance higher education. Recall from the Introduction that impediments to participation in distance education can be situational, institutional, dispositional or epistemological in nature. They can include both barriers to access and barriers to completion. Situational barriers stem from a person's life situation and could involve lack of time due to home or work responsibilities, money, and so on. Institutional barriers have to do with such things as entrance requirements, the availability of suitable courses, and technologies employed. Dispositional barriers are linked to the student's motivation, self-concept, and attitudes. Epistemological barriers are related to the nature of knowledge in the content disciplinary area. Aspects include the overall research paradigm, the role of theory, the degree of quantification and modelling, and the modes of discourse typically used. Battels (1982), Bemard and Amundsen (1989), Billings (1988), Brindley (1988), Chacon-Duque (1985), Dille and Mezack (1991), Eisenberg and Dowett (1990), Gatz (1985), Kahl and Cropley (1986), Kember et al. (1991), Kennedy and Powell (1976), Powell et al. (1990), Rekkedal (1983), Siquiera de Freitas and Lynch (1986), Sung (1986), Woodley (1987) and others provide information on variables that influence students' ability to participate. These include course and instructional factors, institutional factors, study environment factors, student background and demographic factors, time factors, leaming style, socioeconomic status, personal blame, motivational and other factors; all fit within a broader framework of situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological impediments to participation in distance higher education. Note that some factors may not be mutually exclusive in terms of the type of barrier they may impose but may interact or impact in different ways. Time, for instance, can be an institutional barrier resulting from particularly demanding course requirements. This in turn can interact with the situational barrier of how much time a student has available, or the dispositional barrier of motivation, in terms of how much time they are willing to spend. Moreover, Powell et al. (1990) point out that institutional and situational barriers do not, in most cases, act as direct causes of dropout but do so primarily in interaction with predisposing characteristics, affecting students differently depending on their disposition. The notion that the barriers to participation impact students differentially is key in this research. Situational Barriers Time Although distance education may remove some of the constraints of fixed class times and does allow for choice in course load, it does not remove the overall barrier of time — time to do assignments and time to study. Sung (1986) says that most distance education students need more time than regular students to complete courses. For some finding this time is more difficult than it is for others. This is because they rarely have the single role of student; most have multiple roles, which may include being spouse, parent, family provider, caretaker of dependent parents, or may involve social and community responsibilities. Rubenson (1986) says that parents in families with three or more children, and those with irregular working hours are worse off than others. So, one would expect, are working mothers and single parents. Too, the multiple roles of the distance education student often result in changed circumstances that impact the time they have available (Brindley, 1988). Change in circumstances is a key variable affecting student dropout (Gatz, 1985; Kennedy & Powell, 1976). However, in her study of distance education attrition, Brindley (1988) found that course completers and non-completers experienced similar hindering or facilitating incidents in their leaming environment (e.g., changes in time available or circumstance) but that completers responded differently to these incidents. This suggests that the difference between dropout and completion may have more to do with the ability to cope with problems than with the problems themselves. Holmberg (1988) quotes Bartels, Helms, Rossie and Schormann as saying that dropouts have "greater problems coordinating their study and are less capable of sustaining heavy workloads and changes in job situation" (p. 5) than are completers. Courses that demand attendance at particular times and/or places for such events as audioteleconferences or laboratory sessions present traditional time constraints, as well as possible transportation or cost constraints (Daniel & Marquis, 1983). Woodley and Mcintosh (1977) found that 29.4% of those who decided not to apply to the British Open University cited inability to attend summer school as a reason, 29.3% said they would not have enough time for study, and 24.6% said the financial commitment was too great. Nonetheless, for many it is a matter of how one chooses to use time rather than a lack of time. Gatz (1985) identifies feasibility in time as a key dimension in determining distance education dropout. Feasibility in time has four variables: course time requirements (an institutional factor), time available in terms of other commitments such as work and family (a situational factor), willingness to devote time (a dispositional factor), and time management skills, that is, the ability to schedule time, distribute time appropriately, and to make good use of available time (a dispositional factor). Athabasca University students with concrete study habits and good time management skills were found more likely to succeed in their studies (Powell et a l , 1990), while telecourse students identified time management as the key challenge to their success in courses (Hezel & Dirr, 1991). Procrastination seems to be an important part of the problem (Wilkinson & Sherman, 1990; 1991). Cost Cost is a very real barrier for those pursuing higher education, even when true costs are heavily subsidized by government. Rubenson (1986) says that studies have shown that cost is a higher impediment among women than among men and that the lower socioeconomic groups say that it is a greater impediment than do those who are better off. Particularly relevant is the fact that part-time students, enrolled via distance education or otherwise, are discriminated against in financial aid (CERI, 1987). Study Environment A student's study environment is important to his or her ability to participate in distance education (Gatz, 1985; Kahl & Cropley, 1986; Singer, 1982; Sung, 1986; Woodley & Parlett, 1983). There are two situational aspects: having a quiet place to study, and being in or near a community which provides such opportunities as additional library resources and appropriate people with whom the student can talk about matters such as goals, course relevance and the course itself. Institutional Barriers Courses Available Rubenson (1986) reports that, in spite of a wide selection of courses offered, many adult leamers stated that they had no opportunity to study the course they desired. He concluded that, although there was some ignorance about the range of opportunities available, there were also some very real deficiencies in the range of opportunities provided. Woodley and Mcintosh (1977) found that 18.8% of those who decided not to apply to the British Open University did so because there was no course in the desired subject. Bartels (1982) reported that the limited range of available subjects is geared to the more traditional male disciplines. Graff and Holmberg's (1988) summary of distance education intemationally reveals the restrictions in the courses offered by individual institutions. It should be noted that some courses are more difficult to mount than others. Some may have limited target audiences which restricts their cost-effectiveness; others, such as some science subjects with "wet" laboratory components or requirements for sophisticated equipment, are a considerable challenge in distance delivery (Holmberg & Bakshi, 1982; Kember, 1982). Related to course availability is the adequacy of information dissemination about the courses. Particularly relevant in terms of barriers to participation is selective marketing, in which an institution may promote its course offerings to target audiences selected on the basis of socioeconomic or other characteristics. Gatz (1985) reveals, for instance, that one of the reasons for her study of distance education dropout was to identify "appropriate" target audiences for promotion. Policy Restrictions, such as in the range or promotion of courses available, may reflect intemal institutional constraints but may also reflect policy, the greatest institutional influence limiting participation. Particularly relevant is the institution's policy regarding "openness". The degree to which an institution facilitates the entry of adults without conventional entry qualifications is reflected in the number of mature students who are able to enrol (CERI, 1987). However, when entry is open, selection essentially occurs after rather than before admission; attrition rates can be high (CERI, 1987). Woodley (1987) reports that the lower the qualifications of British Open University students, the less likely they were to gain a course credit. Perry (1976) reported that, since the British Open University began, the "discrimination factor", or difference in performance between qualified and unqualified students, increased steadily and was greatest in the maths and sciences. Enoch (1990) found that, while previous education is associated only with course grades in the social sciences, it is a predictor of both grades and course outcome in the natural sciences. Some institutions, such as the British Open University, provide "foundation" or remedial courses for those without the prerequisite knowledge. These courses are designed to help students without sufficient background to familiarize themselves with both the basics of a particular field of study and the methods of academic teaching and study. Provision of such courses would seem particularly relevant for those interested in the maths and sciences because these subject areas, unlike most of those in the arts and social sciences, are not ones that can easily be pursued informally; they require both language and numeracy skills (Swarbrick, 1980). The University of British Columbia offers no foundation courses although they are available through other provincial institutions. Graff and Holmberg (1988) report that institutions differ in the flexibility they offer students regarding the pacing of assignments and exams, different teaching methods, and different choice of media. The relative merit of pacing, that is, having a number of motivating intermediate deadlines that a student must meet, versus allowing student independence remains problematic (Daniel & Marquis, 1983). Pacing definitely increases completion rates but constrains the degree of openness and thus is a barrier for students who are unable to meet the imposed schedule (Paul, 1990). Students in paced courses do complain about not having enough time (e.g., Bartels, 1982). Instructional Design The new communication technologies effect pedagogical improvements by enriching distance education courses and making them more interactive. Satellite television, computers, video tapes, video discs, and other new technologies are generally considered powerful educational tools, particularly in their ability to reach into the home. They permit interactivity between leamer and teacher and the more social leaming that comes through contacts among fellow students. Of course, instmctional design barriers such as lack of congmency between content, choice of media, and the cultural context, as well as the amount of redundancy, interrelate with the impact of such dispositional barriers as leaming style and motivation. Some people are less than positive about the impact of the new communication technologies on accessibility. Robert Pike says that there is a distinct possibility that social inequalities in opportunity of access to the new technologies may...become a new form of educational inequality....Usually, educational innovations which yield social advantage are exploited for the benefit of those who are already socially advantaged, rather than those who have the greatest need. (Pike, 1983, as quoted in Anisef et al., 1985, p. 44-45) Bates (1984) questions whether distance teaching institutions should use media which are not universally available. Niemi and Cooler (1987) ask, "wiU technologies expand the gulf between those who have and those who do not" (p. 105)? Schutze (1986) suggests that the new technologies pose two barriers: the cost of the sophisticated equipment required, and the inability to use it because of lack of familiarity with the technology. These socioeconomic aspects of equality of opportunity are of particular concem in light of the fact that many distance educators embrace interactive electronic media as the preferred method of delivery (e.g., Boyd, 1989; Kaufman, 1986,1989). Kirkwood (1988) reports that there are great disparities in access to microcomputing equipment in terms of gender, occupation and household income of students. Only about one third of British Open University students had microcomputer access, men more so than women, with access rising with income. Kirkup (1989) says that the British Open University has always had courses, mainly in maths and sciences, where students were obliged to use the computer for assessed work; this widened the "gender gap" in women's participation in these subject areas. Moreover, in questioning Pelton's (1990) view that "tele-education", the application of new tele-communications and computer technology to education, is the future hope for global education. Bates (1991) cautions that, while there is great promise, there are also problems in terms of relevance for developing nations and teaching effectiveness. He suggests that tele-education should be only one of a number of distance education models employed so as to ensure that "leamers are not mowed down by the technology" (Bates, 1991, p. 10). Consideration of communication barriers must also include discussion of language as a barrier, particularly since print remains the main medium employed. Perry (1986) cites the case of one graduate of the British Open University, ...a thirty year old deep sea fisherman in Stonehaven who spent his life trawling for cod off the coast of Ireland. When he got his degree, he was asked on television what books he had used the most. He didn't hesitate, he said "An English Dictionary, because I didn't know the meaning of the words in my teaching texts", (p. 19) Language barriers include more than just vocabulary or the use of foreign words, however. Syntax may be even more important. In this regard, we can distinguish between "formal speech" and "common speech", with the former grammatically complex and the latter grammatically simple (Pfluger, 1979). Formal speech is the language of education. Kember (1990) says that authors use a complex, impersonal style because they feel it is appropriate to academic writing. Since there are social group differences in speech habits, the formal language of instruction has a socially differentiating effect (Pfluger, 1979). Holmes (1982) used the Cloze Procedure for readability and found that many distance education assignments were written at too difficult a level for the majority of students. Powell et al. (1990) were able to relate student literacy, as measured by the Cloze test, to student completion. Moreover, as Kennedy and Powell (1976) point out, "the student does not only have to leam new vocabularies; he must leam to debate and communicate in a manner acceptable to the academic community " (p. 69). This suggests epistemological barriers in terms of modes of discourse. Gatz (1985), Chacon-Duque (1985), Sung (1986), Kahl and Cropley (1986), Parer (1988) and others have emphasized the importance of such course quality characteristics as clear instmctional objectives, facilitative instmction, use of simple, lucid language, personal relevancy, and concreteness. Davis (1990) says that those preparing self-instmctional print materials should reduce the cognitive load required for comprehension by simplifying vocabulary and syntax, and by facilitating the integration of text with prior knowledge. The latter can be accomplished by identifying important ideas in text, organizing the ideas, helping the reader recognize the relationships among ideas in text, and integrating text ideas with prior knowledge. A problem related to that of the use of formal language in instmction, in that it also involves the authors' natural quest for academic credibihty and requires a strong editorial policy to keep in check, is the tendency to overdo a course, to include far too much "nice to know" detail, or to provide bibliographies the overly conscientious adult student cannot possibly pursue but which are great sources of anxiety or frustration (Daniel & Marquis, 1983; Paul, 1990). Authors often consider other university colleagues rather than students to be their target audience (Bartels, 1982). Paul (1988) reports that students frequently complain that distance education courses are too long and that they have to work twice as hard as they do in traditional courses. Student Support Services Information, guidance, counselling and study preparation have been identified as key needs of prospective adult students (CERI, 1987). Once the student is enrolled, tutoring and other instructional support become the most vital services required. The institution's perception of its students, along with its philosophy, financial constraints and organizational structure, often determine the amount and nature of the support services provided. On the basis of evidence showing that many students do not take advantage of opportunities for tutor interaction, and other studies or theories, such as Knowles' andragogy, some institutions perceive the distance student as independent and autonomous (Thompson, 1989). Institutions that wish to meet the needs of those with less well developed leaming skills are obliged to provide increased support services as these are the students who need help and encouragement the most (Daniel & Marquis, 1983; Thompson, 1989). Students who declare a need for support and discussion are more likely to be unsuccessful at distance education studies (Powell et al., 1990). Bure, Howard and Ironside (1991) found that 74.8% of distance education students expressed a need for support and encouragement from a tutor via comments they received on their assignments. Enoch (1990) reports that intensive tutoring significantly increased grades in the natural sciences. Academic competence, initiative, empathy, helpfulness, genuineness and an unconditional regard for the student are all required of tutors and counsellors (Daniel & Marquis, 1983). Paul (1988), on the premise that the notion of the self-actualized leamer is more myth than reality, presents a strong argument for the retention and development of student support services. These should play a student advocacy role and address such problems as the isolated leamer with poor self-concept, the insidious reification of knowledge that can occur with a slick printed package, student personal circumstances, and the gap between student expectations and realities, he says. Brindley and Jean-Louis (1990) advocate a proactive approach which involves making such student support services as pre-admission advising and counselling compulsory for "at risk" students. However, Thompson (1991) cautions that such compulsory intervention may serve as a barrier to access. Another concem regarding support services is raised by Mclnnis-Rankin and Brindley's (1986) report that the trend in student support, as well as in instmction, is to growing use of technology to deliver services to the distance leamer. It will be unfortunate if the socioeconomically disadvantaged student, whose need for support services is likely the greatest, is required to have access to high technology equipment in order to receive these services. Dispositional Barriers These barriers, related to the students' psychological and sociological natures, their attitudes and perceptions about themselves as leamers, their purposes and degrees of motivation, are the most problematic, both to identify clearly and to resolve. Students tend to cite institutional or situational barriers as reasons for not participating or for dropping out. While many of these are very plausible, they are also more socially acceptable for adults to cite than others, such as lack of self-confidence or ability, fear of failure, or lack of interest (CERI, 1987; Kennedy & Powell, 1976; Rubenson, 1986; Woodley, 1987). Dissatisfaction with the study materials, academic problems with the subject matter, and problems interacting with the tutor are often revealed in deeper discussion (Rekkedal, 1982; Woodley, 1987). It is also possible, of course, that students stretched to the limits academically or emotionally are far more vulnerable to a new situational problem, such as reduced time; for them, the new time constraint is the "final straw" and this is what they cite as the reason for discontinuing study. Recall that Brindley (1988) found that coiu-se completers and non-completers in general experienced similar hindering or facilitating incidents but that completers seemed better able to cope with these problems. Snell (1987) discusses the problems of detecting and addressing the painful and unpleasant emotions of students in distance education. While some emotional pain or discomfort is a normal part of leaming and development as new personal insights are gained and students move from the familiar into the unknown, he says some painful feelings, such as those of past memories of unsatisfactory leaming experiences, new awareness of their strengths and weaknesses as learners, and the social context of their leaming, may be dysfunctional; these are particularly difficult to detect and respond to when communication is mediated. Socialization The OECD (1979) report on non-participation by adults in leaming opportunities states that it is well established that non-participation is closely correlated with social and educational status. The lower the status the less is the inclination to engage in organized leaming activities. In social terms this implies that those members of society who would seem to have the most to gain from furthering their education are precisely those who shun it, either because they see no utility in it or because they believe that they were failures at school and do not wish to risk the humiliation or failure for a second time. (p. 5) It is dispositional barriers that have confounded the functionalist's view that equality of educational opportunity can be achieved by removing extemal barriers, such as geography and economic background, so that the individual can then aggressively take advantage of educational opportunities (Anisef et al., 1985). As previously discussed, a more critical view has emerged which stresses the role of education in replicating, exacerbating and legitimizing stmctural inequalities in society at large. These understandings about the social reproduction which occurs in school are relevant in terms of the dispositional barriers that adults bring to the opportunity that distance education may afford. Many feel that they lack the ability, that their background knowledge is inadequate or obsolete, that they will fail (again?) and be humiliated, that higher education is not for them. Kennedy and Powell (1976) say that British Open University students with low educational qualifications and working class backgrounds "often have a demoralizing history of educational failure and bring feelings of insecurity and educational and intellectual inferiority to their studies" (p. 69). Note that although many authors (e.g. Billings, 1988; Perry, 1976; Woodley, 1987) have related level of previous education or measures such as Grade Point Average to student completion, Powell et al. (1990) found that formal educational preparedness was not as good a predictor of student outcomes as the students' subjective ratings of their educational experience. Recall that Boucouvalas with Kmpp (1989) speculate that social class itself may militate against an adult's development and further leaming. Meighan (1986) says that school pupils are able to recognize some aspects of the hidden curriculum and some of the labelling processes, and are able to express their feelings of alienation. This alienation can be carried into adult life as an on-going form of resistance; adults may want nothing to do with "school" ever again. Besides the socialization which takes place in the school system, socialization within the family and in working life results in adult education becoming part of the value system of certain groups but not of others (Rubenson, 1986). Certainly, as is evident in the relationship between educational status of parents and participation rates in higher education (Porter & Jasmine, 1987), family values are important determinants. The socioeconomic influence of the workplace is also an important factor for adults. Impressions and experiences gained at work influence an individual's private life. Manual laborers have a work environment where few fellow workers are involved in education, where there are few hopes for advancement, and where there is an acceptance that they belong to the lower level of society. They do not perceive education as relevant to them or recognize its possibilities (OECD, 1979). Moreover, lack of support from family and significant others, such as an employer or peer group, has a significant impact on dropout (Bartels, 1982; Brindley, 1988; Sung, 1986; Woodley & Parlett, 1983). Recall that Blunt (1988) says, '"global learning' requires the consideration of the leamer within the total socio-cultural context of family and community" (p. 48). Rubenson (1986) says, a person's decision whether to participate or not will, to a large extent, depend on earlier socialization, the hierarchical stmcture of work, values of member and reference groups and the way the demand govems the supply of adult education, (p. 51) Van Enckevort (1986) raises the issue of the social individual in contrast to the disciplined individual in distance education. The disciplined individual can organize knowledge according to well-defined mles, accepting the objectified and simplified completeness; the social individual is concemed with the investigation of areas of personal significance and with the interrelationships of social experiences, preferring to spend time in talking and discussion with other people (van Enckevort, 1986). This concept seems to relate to that of leaming style, discussed previously. Note that Kirkup and von Prummer (1990) reported that women distance education students were more interested than men in shared leaming and thus more inclined to use local study centres to effect interactive leaming. Particularly affected in regard to social needs is the "second chance" student, the individual for whom this is all new and who wants and needs the reassurance of social contact. Morrison (1986) says, let us recall that as adults we leam from each other. We leam as members of a group. This is the social side of adult leaming. We leam affectively as well as cognitively. This is particularly tme amongst those who lack "leaming skills". And such people are concentrated among the lower educational and income groups, (p. 166) The distance education student's experience may be modulated by course content and instructional design features that permit a high degree of interactivity but, generally, distance education does not provide an environment for social individuals; they are effectively selected against. The "loneliness of the long distance leamer" can be a very real and challenging experience for the social individual. Thorpe (1987) notes that the need for a variety of stimuli and some social contact during study is felt by most students and not just a minority of "gregarious leamers". Most adults have some need for affiliation. Kahl and Cropley (1986) report that distance education students, in comparison to face-to-face leamers, feel more isolated and experience lower levels of self-confidence. This results in a greater desire for stmcture in their leaming materials as a mechanism for reducing anxiety. Motivation As discussed earlier, students enrol in academic distance education courses for instmmental, professional or personal reasons. Recall that Gatz (1985) identified five dimensions in her model of course factors related to completion and attrition in distance education. The first, significance of the course to the goal, includes goal clarity, goal strength and, particularly, urgency of the goal, and is related to student motivation, both to begin and to persist. The other four dimensions (appropriateness of the independent method, feasibility in time, integration of interests and background, and accommodation of leaming style needs) particularly impact persistence. The importance of the goal can overcome such negative influences as stress or dissatisfaction with isolated leaming (Gatz, 1985). Billings (1988) and Brindley (1988) also report the motivational importance of the goal in course completion but Sung (1986) found that motivational factors such as interest in the course and belief in the importance of course completion did not impact dropout rates. Similarly, Dille and Mezack (1991) report that student reasons for taking the course and the importance of the course are not significant factors in predicting completion. Related to the importance of the goal is the competitive need for academic achievement, the "willingness to extend effort" identified by Gatz (1985), and the need for success (Powell et al., 1990), all of which are related to student persistence characteristics and may be linked to Atman's (1987) conative domain. Marks received for assignments are an important predictor of completion (Bernard & Amundsen, 1989; Brindley, 1988; Woodley & Parlett, 1983). Moreover, Pratt (1987) says that "any perception that the system, whether personal or technological, does not understand the difficulties a leamer may be experiencing can have serious effects on the leamer's motivation to continue" (p. 84). Distance leamers have to rely more on their intrinsic motivational resources to persist than do conventional students because, while face-to-face students are in a classroom environment where learning is the natural thing to do, distance education students are in an environment, usually the home, where different behaviors are more usual (Cropley & Kahl, 1983). The lack of a peer group is also relevant in the context of motivation to persist. Distance education students are disadvantaged in terms of having no benchmark of achievement (Sewart, 1983). While they have self-assessment feedback from their instmctor they lack it from their peer group. This type of self-assessment is an important component of "expectancy" in Rubenson's (1976) model of student motivation to participate and to persist. Herrmann (1988) reports that interviews asking distance education students for their current reasons for continuing study revealed a shift from the instmmental reasons for beginning study to more intrinsic reasons, such as the value of the education itself, and the psychological commitment in terms of self-esteem, the sacrifice of other family members, and the expectations of co-workers. Kennedy and Powell (1976) tie in the concept of what Mezirow (1981) calls perspective transformation (discussed earlier) when they say "a number of students recognize that the perception (through study) of a new synthesis of personal experience can mean a cathartic release with a consequent strengthening of will for further study" (p. 74). Epistemological Barriers A number of authors have identified the course content itself as an antecedent to dropout in distance education. Brindley (1988) says the subject matter can present hindering incidents to completion while Bartels (1982) says that dropouts were less satisfied with the contents of their covu-ses. Woodley and Parlett (1983), reporting that about one quarter of British Open University students cited their course's form and content as reasons for dropping out, say "a course's dropout rate is likely to be affected by such factors as the intrinsic difficulty of the subject matter" (p. 13). On deeper probing, Rekkedal (1983) found that students reporting situational reasons for dropout also revealed study-related reasons such as subject matter and instructional design factors. In her study of variables affecting attrition, Gatz (1985) tried to account for differences between courses by separating instructional design factors such as the number of lessons, but she found that she could not generalize across subjects and that differences between courses confounded her elucidation of the "personal study needs" variable. This interactive effect she attributes to differences in course difficulty. Chacon-Duque (1985) has also identified course difficulty as a variable in dropout. "Difficulty" is a value term, however, which, in this context, reflects a subjective view of the disciplinary content, specifically a lack of congruency between the leamer's affective and cognitive characteristics and those reflected in the subject matter. In their study of the variables in the Tinto model which are antecedents to dropout, Bemard and Amundsen (1989) examined three courses that differed widely, but along a continuum, in content and instmctional goals. One, a communication course, described as process-oriented, addressed topics related to interpersonal communication and self-development, and reflected multiple perspectives. Another, in business administration, was based on informal case studies of business situations and allowed for creativity within the confines of accepted business practice. The third, an accounting course, described as product-oriented, followed a traditional curriculum requiring quantitative skills, as well as precise and logical thought processes, to derive single correct answers. Background characteristics and Institutional commitments contribute to the explanation of dropout in the communication and business administration course, while Goal commitment appears only in the accounting course. Academic integration is important in all the courses, but it dominates in the accounting courses, is less important in the business administration course, and even less so in the communication course. Social integration appears only in communication and primarily on the strength of one item ~ peer contact. (Bernard & Amundsen, 1989, p. 40) They conclude that any model of attrition must take into consideration factors related to the nature of the leaming tasks in individual courses. In their model, Kember et al. (1991) found that academic incompatibility ~ what they describe as a student's difficulty in coming to terms with academic norms, conventions and expectations ~ leads the model path to lower Grade Point Average and a greater likelihood of dropout. Moreover, building on Moore's theoretical base, Verduin and Clark (1991) propose that distance leaming, a broader concept than distance education, can be represented by a three dimension model in which the first dimension is dialogue/support, the second is stmcture/specialized competence, and the third, general competence/self-directedness. Their view of stmcture differs from that of Moore, who sees it as the degree of flexibility and responsiveness to student needs. Verduin and Clark (1991) see structure as a function of the formality of the subject matter, reflecting, for instance, the degree of hierarchy of the knowledge in the field. The say that a high stmcture field, such as mathematics, requires more specialized knowledge/competence on the part of the leamer. Their stmcture/specialized competence dimension, then, is related to the epistemological properties of the content itself. Becher (1989) clarifies some of the significant variations among the cultures of different academic disciplines in the epistemological properties of their knowledge forms and the social aspects of their knowledge communities. They vary in "their traditions, customs and practices, transmitted knowledge, beliefs, morals and mles of conduct, as well as their linguistic and symbolic forms of communication and the meanings they share" (Becher, 1989, p. 24). He says that the nature of what is considered knowledge in a discipline and the cultural aspects, that is, the workings of an academic community in terms of their modes of discourse, its style and accessibility, are closely intertwined, with the sociological aspects reflecting the epistemological. That is, the attitudes, activities and cognitive styles of groups of academics representing a particular discipline are closely bound up with the characteristics and structures of the knowledge domains with which such groups are professionally concemed. (Becher, 1989, p. 20) In an effective analogy, Becher mentions a genotype and phenotype distinction to clarify the differences between the cognitive and social characteristics of a discipline. The disciplinary variations in epistemological properties, the cognitive aspect, include differences in their overall research paradigms, the inquiry processes employed, the role of theory, the extent of modelhng and quantification, the degree of specialism, and the generalization of findings. Becher describes the knowledge forms as varying in two main dimensions: hard-soft and pure-applied. According to his classification, the natural resource sciences would fall in the hard, applied domain, which Becher links to the Kolb leaming style dimension of abstract-active, where Kolb (1981) did, indeed, place the science-based professions. The disciplinary sociological aspects include the modes of discourse, that is, the type of communication favored by those in a discipline (technical joumal articles or books, for instance), and the style and accessibility of this communication in terms of its particular symbolism, the use of specialized terms, and the formality and density of the language employed. The natural resource science disciplinary areas generally reflect a positivistic paradigm, an experimental research methodology, an emphasis on scientific facts, the publication of articles in research joumals, dense, objective language full of jargon and specialized symbols drawn from the natural sciences and mathematics. Because of their close links, both the cognitive and social aspects of disciplinary cultures will be considered as "epistemological barriers" in terms of participation in academic distance education. Note that a course's disciplinary content does not present an epistemological barrier per se but does so only in interaction with the student's disposition and ability. As mentioned earlier, course "difficulty" is a relative term, reflecting the degree of incongruity between the cognitive characteristics, beliefs, orientations, interests, and modes of discourse reflected in the subject matter and those of the student. Consideration of possible epistemological barriers is particularly essential in seeking explanations for the relatively poor participation and lower success rates, reported by CERI (1987) and Graff and Holmberg (1988), in international natural resource sciences and related science-oriented distance education courses. Barriers associated with institutional policies and procediu-es, and the student's disposition and situation may also be involved, but understanding what possible unique aspects of the natural resource sciences subject matter content and its presentation by distance delivery are "difficult" or pose problems may suggest changes that could improve not just participation and success in these courses but the effectiveness of international education and communication initiatives concerning resource management and the environment in general, one of the aims of this research. Summary This chapter has reviewed the theory and practice of distance education, and other literature pertinent to a concern regarding equality of opportunity for adult students to participate in distance education. Relevant literature concerning distance education theory, practice and dropout, open leaming, adult development and leaming, critical theory, leaming styles, and motivation has been woven into a consideration of the situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological barriers that may impede participation through to completion. Although they are not necessarily mutually exclusive, key possible barriers that have been identified can be grouped under these headings, as follows: Situational barriers * the multiple roles of adult students, which constrain the time they have available * changes in circumstances * absence of a good study environment Institutional barriers * selective dissemination of information about courses * the degree of "industrialization" in the distance education program * policies regarding "openness" and course pacing * instructional design, including the inappropriate application of communication technologies to moderate the effective distance, overwriting, and the presence of inappropriate vocabulary and grammatical complexity in written materials * lack of appropriate support services for students who are not self-directed leamers Dispositional barriers * fragile motivation, reflected in such factors as poor goal clarity and an unwillingness to devote time * lack of good time management skills * lack of self-confidence in themselves as leamers, which may result from previous socialization, related in tum to socioeconomic and ideological factors * current socialization, including such aspects as lack of support from significant others * personality and leaming style * lack of appropriate educational background and experience Epistemological barriers * disciplinary differences in epistemology * disciplinary differences in modes of discourse. Of particular import is the concept that many situational, institutional and epistemological barriers to participation impact not directiy but rather interactively with a student's predisposing characteristics, thus affecting students differentially depending on their disposition. It is this differential impact on students that results in unequal opportunity to participate, the fundamental concem in this research. Chapter 3 Conceptual Framework and Research Questions Conceptual Framework A conceptual framework focuses, guides and bounds research by providing a construct of ideas which identify and explain the "main dimensions to be studied - key factors or variables ~ and the presumed relationships among them" (Miles & Huberman, 1984, p. 28). Since concepts subsume the particulars of specific situations, a conceptual framework allows the researcher to treat the particulars of a specific situation as instances of more general cases, in other words, to transcend a particular context to a broader theoretical construct (Miles & Huberman, 1984; Hills, 1987). The review of the literature revealed no such generally accepted paradigm for distance education, although some concepts useful in this study are apparent. These include Peters' industrial model which focuses on the institution, Moore's concepts of student autonomy and distance (as dependent on structure and dialogue), Holmberg's concept of the "guided didactic conversation", Verduin and Clark's structure/specialized competence dimension, and the importance Evans and Nation ascribe to the conceptual intertelationships between individuals and their "societies". Particularly salient is Wedemeyer's clarification that, in distance education, the four essential elements of any teaching-leaming situation (student, teacher, content, communication) are present but rearranged from the classroom norm. Al l of these concepts are relevant but incomplete in illuminating the experience of the individual distance education student, who has a unique milieu and personal characteristics, and whose interaction with the course content is mediated by the institution through its philosophy and policy, as expressed in such variables as instructional design and student support. In addressing the objectives of elucidating students' understandings of their experiences in distance education in the natural resource sciences and illuminating any situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological barriers that may impede their participation through to completion, the following concepts, drawn from the distance education, adult education and other literature, seem particularly relevant: 1. The student comes to the experience with a particular life situation, as well as leaming style, goal, degree of self-directedness, set of expectations, attitude, set of proclivities and temperament, as influenced by personality, maturity, previous schooling, socialization, and other characteristics. 2. While undergoing the experience, the student continues to be influenced extemally by changes in life situation and by socialization at home and at work. These factors may affect students differently, depending on their disposition. ^ 3. The institution providing the distance education course, depending on philosophy, and political and economic factors, sets policies and procedures regarding "openness", and student support and counselling, that impact both directly on the student and interactively, depending on the student's disposition. 4. The course content itself presents a specific disciplinary epistemology and mode of discourse. 5. Through its instmctional design model, philosophy regarding appropriate interactivity, individual perspectives, and available choice of media, the institution provides an instructional course package which may modulate course content in different ways. 6. The student's interaction with the course content is mediated by the communication technologies employed, with varying degrees of interactive instmction provided by the course tutor. 7. Depending on personal proclivities as well as those reflecting institutional philosophy and the communication technologies employed for interactive communication, the tutor may modulate the student's interaction with the course content. 8. There may be varying degrees of compatibility between the needs of the student and the institution's policies and/or response in meeting these needs. ^ As used herein, the term "disposition" goes beyond its standard definition encompassing mood, attitudes, proclivities, temperament and personality, to include such additional characteristics as leaming style, goals, previous experience and expectations. 9. There may be varying degrees of compatibility between the mediated course content and the student's disposition and epistemological stance. 10. There may be varying degrees of compatibility between the instructional design of the course and the student's life situation and disposition. 11. There may be varying degrees of compatibility between the student's disposition and needs, and the tutor's disposition and response to these needs. Three main areas of focus are the student, the course content and the institution. The latter includes the tutor; as a unity it replaces the teacher in the teaching-leaming relationship. Interaction between the student and the institution, and interaction among the student, the institution and the course content, all of which is effected through communication and occurs within a societal and individual context, are of special concem in their relevance to the student's ability to persist. The relationships between and among these main concepts may be depicted diagrammatically (Figure 1). In this figure, the areas of overlap indicate interactivity with the arrows indicating directions of influence. Note that the student and institution may interact directly, and that the institution acts directly to influence the coiu-se content in the course instmctional design and development process, but that the student's interaction with the course content is mediated by the institution through its policies, the instmctional design of the course package, and, at the interface, additionally by the course tutor. The student may interact directly with the course tutor but both this interaction and interaction with the course content are "filtered" through the institution's influence. Since this research is concemed with students' declarative and tacit understandings, and with the situational, institutional, dispositional and epistemological barriers that may impede their participation through to completion, the characteristics the students bring to the experience (their disposition and situation), the extemal influences on the students during the study program (their situation in terms of social context and life changes which impact during participation, shown separately in the diagram), and the students' interaction with the institution, with institutional effects exerted direcdy and through the mediated course Figure 1. The Conceptual Framework content, and interaction with the course content, which presents a particular epistemology, as mediated by the institution, are all relevant areas of concem. Together, these concepts and the presumed relationships among them form the framework of the study. This constmct permits detection and clarification of the nature of barriers to student persistence so that these impediments can be addressed, both in the context of improving access to completion in this and other distance education programs and in the broader context of improving international access to knowledge about resource management and the environment, the aims of this research. Research Questions "It is a direct step from the elaboration of a conceptual framework to the formulation of research questions" (Miles & Huberman, 1984, p. 33). The overall research question is: What, if any, are the student situational and dispositional variables, the institutional variables and epistemological variables, and relationships between and among these variables, which may impede students' ability to persist through to completion in distance education in the natural resource sciences? A sub-question is: Do these variables act differentially, affecting equality of opportunity? These questions can be addressed through answers to the following questions: What are students' declarative and tacit understandings when they participate in natural resource science distance education? Do students who are non-starters, withdrawals, incompleters, failures and completers have different understandings? As well, there are a number of supplementary questions related to explaining student participation: How do the socioeconomic backgrounds of the students relate to national norms? Do students who are non-starters, withdrawals, incompleters, failures and completers have differing socioeconomic backgrounds? Do students who are non-starters, withdrawals, incompleters, failures and completers have different demographic characteristics or sets of circumstances? Do students who are non-starters, withdrawals, incompleters, failures and completers have different psychological perspectives? Are students' understandings influenced by institutional philosophy, policies and procedures, as reflected in degree of "openness", student support services, and instructional design? Are these related to ability to persist? Are different student understandings related to disciplinary epistemological factors? Are these related to ability to persist? Chapter 4 Research Theory and Methodology Research Theory and Perspectives A theory is a set of assumptions for use in thought and/or research, on the basis of which data are defined, discovery and analytical procedures chosen, and conclusions or generalizations derived. Ethnography is the discovery and description of culture, that is, elucidation of the acquired knowledge or systems of meanings that insiders use to determine their behavior and interpret their experience (Spradley, 1979). It posits that people's beliefs and the meanings things have for them can be inferred from what they say and do. Literally, ethnography means "writing about people" (Goetz & LaCompte, 1984, p. 245). Its goal is "to grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world" (Malinowski, 1922, p. 25). Since ethnography involves gaining understandings about the meanings that give form and content to social processes, and the way that people make sense of their everyday world (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983), it has found wide application in anthropology and sociology research. Educational ethnography's purpose is "to provide rich, descriptive data about the contexts, activities and beliefs of participants in educational settings" (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984, p. 17). At its core, ethnography is a process of mediating what Giddens calls "frames of meaning" (Agar, 1986). Since this research is concemed with the declarative and tacit understandings (what some may call their "realities" of their experiences) of various students enrolled in distance education in the natural resource sciences and how these understandings affect their behavior, ethnography provides a suitable theoretical framework for the study. Ethnography can be "macro" in nature, that is, applying to large scale systems of social relations that link many different settings through causal networks, or "micro", where the concem is analyzing more local forms of organization, or particular types of encounters (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983). Micro-ethnography is thus the model of choice for this research. Minnis (1985) advocates the appropriate application of qualitative methodologies such as ethnography in distance education research. Different assumptions about the world are reflected in different research paradigms, the overarching constructs of aims, beliefs, values, standards, methods and procedures that shape and guide research. The focal research traditions are generally called positivism and naturalism. Some (e.g., Carr & Kemmis, 1986) consider criticism a third major construct. Positivism reflects a world view that there is an ultimate, measurable and universal reality independent of the observer; naturalism a view that there are multiple, socially constructed realities that depend on the observer; and criticism a view that these realities are molded by socio-political factors (Carr & Kemmis, 1986; Cuba & Lincoln, 1989; Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983; Leahy et al., 1987; Owens, 1982). Central to positivism is the natural sciences' concept of theory testing using the experimental method, while naturalism is an interpretive paradigm with the premise that the social world should be studied in its natural state, undisturbed by the researcher, so that there is "ecological validity" (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983). Although the tenets of positivism were so deeply rooted in our idioms and culture as to be hegemonic in nature, they have increasingly fallen into disfavor. Now opinion regarding these two paradigms is sharply divided, even across and within such diverse disciplines as sociology, biology, art, physics, film, philosophy and theology (Leahy et al., 1987). Ethnography is characterized by and distinguished from other research models by its assumptions. Goetz and LeCompte (1984) suggest conceptualizing these by framing them in four dimensions which generally delineate the common distinction between qualitative and quantitative research: inductive-deductive, subjective-objective, generation-verification, and construction-enumeration. Deductive researchers begin with a theory with which they hope to match their data; inductive researchers collect data from which they hope to develop a theory. The generative-verification dimension refers to the position of evidence within a study as well to the degree to which results can be generalized. Generative research is concemed with using data to discover constmcts and propositions; it can be described in terms of Glaser and Strauss' (1967) "grounded theory". Verification research is concemed with verifying or testing propositions and determining their degree of generalizability. The constmctive-enumerative dimension reflects a continuum, from research that aims to discover what analytic constmcts can be elicited from the stream of behavior, to research involving enumeration of previously established units of analysis. The objective perspective is concemed with the extemal, unaffected by one's point of view, while the subjective perspective reflects the individual's point of view. The latter is more congment with the notion of "reflexivity", that is, that we are part of the world we study (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1983). Moreover, the theoretical assumptions of ethnography do not preclude incorporating concepts from critical theory within the research. Goetz and LeCompte (1984) characterize ethnography as using strategies which elicit phenomenological data, which are empirical and naturalistic, which are holistic in nature, and which are multimodal or eclectic, that is, which use a variety of research techniques so as to effect triangulation, the systematic comparison of different kinds of data for corroboration. Cultural reconstmctions that require congment research strategies ~ phenomenological, empirical, naturalistic, holistic, and multi-modal - are more likely than other research products to reflect assumptive modes of induction, generation, constmction, and subjectivity (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984, p. 7). Thus, ethnography falls within the naturalism paradigm and can generally be considered qualitative in nature. However, triangulation does not preclude the inclusion of quantitatively derived data. In spite of the "paradigm wars", there is now considerable support for the view that quantitative and qualitative approaches are complementary and can be usefully combined in the study of human subjects, in educational or other settings, in order to derive the most meaningful insights (e.g., Bryman, 1988; Fetterman, 1988; Firestone, 1987; Gage, 1989; Howe, 1988). Shulman (1988), for instance, advocates an eclectic approach, saying that "the best research programs will reflect intelligent deployment of a diversity of research methods applied to their appropriate research questions" (p. 16). Indeed, as indicated by Goetz and LeCompte (1984), "quantitative research" and "qualitative research" are no long viewed as a dichotomy but rather as poles of a number of descriptive continuums. Kember et al. (1990) found the naturaUsm paradigm powerful in distance education research, especially when teamed with the appropriate methodology. This can be a judicious combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to generate a more potent analysis than either approach alone (Kember et al., 1990). Rothe (1985) says that a "complementarity" of quantitative and qualitative perspectives is a conceptual requirement in distance education research. Participants in distance education endeavors engage in program activities which can be generalized according to quantitative, or outside view categories such as skill acquisition, achievement of cognitive objectives, psychological traits and sociological trends. However, from a qualitative, or inside point of view, students assign meaning to their jobs, families, mentors, professors and distance study materials and assignments. While studying, they interact meaningfully with their local environments. They are constantly influenced by situational variables such as politics, finances, neighborhoods and friends. To attain a holistic picture of student-distant study participation the inside data should be related to the outside data. (Rothe, 1985, p. 5) A multi-modal approach which includes quantitative and qualitative methods gives ethnography validity and reliability since there is repeatability of observations through multiple data sources, construct validity between data and concepts through a "grounded theory" approach, development of thick description, transferability, and the ability to confirm behavior and concepts with the informants themselves through a circular process of discovery and verification (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984; Cuba & Lincoln, 1989; Owens, 1982). The "new" ethnography or ethnoscience is based on the assumption that how people construe their world of experience can be discerned from the way they talk about it (Pelto, 1970). It is founded on a relational theory of meaning which says that cultural meaning systems are encoded in symbols, that language is the primary symbol system that encodes cultural meaning, and that the meaning of any symbol is in its relation to other symbols. The task of the ethnographer, then, is to decode the cultural symbols and identify the underlying coding rules. Simply, it involves making inferences from what people say and what is assumed to what they know, to their psychological reality. This semantic analysis can be done by discovering the "taxonomic" relationships among symbols, that is, their relationship through inclusion and exclusion (Pelto, 1970). Spradley (1979) provides an operationally explicit methodology that involves componential analysis of semantic domains. A key assumption in ethnoscience is that there is one "right" description of, or logical organization of, a given semantic domain (say, kinship or plants), and that all or most of the members of a given society "know" that particular system. (Pelto, 1970, p. 75) Ethnoscientists, therefore, are relatively unconcerned with sampling or representativeness of informants in the culture they study. To use an analogy, they assume that, if they want to leam Spanish, they can be taught by only two or three Spaniards. They acknowledge, however, that there is always some differential sharing of knowledge; sampling thus proceeds until no further insights are gained. As well, ethnography can include a hermeneutic approach. This complements the ethnoscience derivation of meaning from what people say by helping to illuminate implied, hidden and connative meanings and intentions. Hermeneutics, both a theoretical constmct and an analytical, interpretive approach, involves a circular engagement with meanings in text in which one's own subjectivities and understandings are brought to bear on the presumed meaning in the text in a process of ever expanding horizons of understanding through reflection (Watson & Watson-Franke, 1985). Grace (1990) makes a case in distance education research for treating the tape-recorded and then transcribed interview conversation as text which can then be interpreted using a hermeneutic methodology in order to enrich the constmction of knowledge about students and their leaming experiences. Indeed, hermeneutics was applied to the language of the ethnographic interview by Inglis (1988) in a study of the development of leaming autonomy by tertiary distance education students. Unlike the positivist approach in which researchers address their subjectivity by trying to expunge it, ethnographic researchers admit the subjective experiences of both the investigator and the participants into the research frame (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984). They examine their subjectivities and incorporate them into the design through a more self-conscious effort to control observer bias, by attempting to suspend preconceived notions, and by examining their own subjective reactions, both alone and in their interplay with the informants' subjectivities, during the research process (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984).^ ^ Accordingly, I acknowledge having been previously trained in the "agricultural-botany" experimental paradigm, but, like many "reformed positivists", to now favoring the naturalism Research Methodology The naturalistic perspective and qualitative methodologies of ethnography dominate in this study although some complementary quantitative research was undertaken and statistical methods used to analyze some of the data. This blend of qualitative and quantitative methodology, with inductive and deductive approaches, was pragmatic and intended to provide the greatest diversity of data that could contribute to meaningful insights. The understandings of students in the study group were determined through ethnographic interviews. These ethnographic interpretations were complemented by demographic and other data collected through questionnaires, student "leaming style" data as determined by the psychological survey instmment, information provided by the course tutors, and data conceming variables related to the course content and instmctional design. The Study Group The study group includes all students registered for credit, whether through UBC Access/Guided Independent Study (the University of British Columbia's [UBC] administrative unit for distance education) or the British Columbia Open University, in offerings of some introductory UBC courses in the natural resource sciences. Introductory courses were selected because the study is particularly concemed with the understandings of students who are new to distance education, not those who have been successful in previous experiences. The courses included in the study are: Agricultural Economics 258 (Introduction to Agricultural Economics) (3 credits). May to August, 1991 course offering; paradigm. Moreover, I have a humanist perspective which includes valuing equality of educational opportunity. I hold some vestiges of a meritocratic view of education that is partially in conflict with a now dominantiy critical perspective. The latter includes a profound empathy with the "second chance" leamer in particular, and some gender bias; the former is perhaps reflected in a limit to this empathy, a point at which I feel it is up to the student to "get on with it". Additionally, I believe in distance education, believe it can, with careful program development and course design, and critical reflection on all program aspects, provide both excellence and greater equality of opportunity in education. It is also important to note that I am a mature student myself and that I am a stakeholder, having been responsible for coordinating the development of several of the distance education courses involved in this study. Animal Science 258 (Introduction to Animal Production Systems) (3 credits), January to April, 1991 and May to August, 1991 course offerings; Forestry 111 (Dendrology) (6 credits), September, 1990 to August, 1991 course offering; Plant Science 259 (Introduction to Plant Science) (3 credits), January to April, 1991 course offering; and Soil Science 200 (Introduction to the Study of Soils) (3 credits), January to June, 1991 course offering. Students registering for these courses can do so either through the UBC, in which case they must meet UBC admission standards, or through the British Columbia Open University, in which case there are no admission requirements. Regardless, students are made aware of the need for appropriate prerequisite knowledge through the course descriptions and any information or advice they seek from UBC Access or the course instructors. As well, students can audit the courses, either as academically-registered auditors or as informal, non-academic auditors. Auditors were not included in the study group. The University of British Columbia has developed these, and other courses in the natural resource sciences, to meet the needs of a number of specific target audiences. These include (a) students who wish to begin their Bachelor of Science in Forestry or Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degrees in their own community by taking first and/or second year science at their local college and the introductory UBC forestry or agricultural sciences courses through distance education, prior to fransferring to UBC to complete their degree; (b) mature students who have a qualification or degree in a related disciplinary area but who wish/need to complete specific course requirements in order to qualify for the professional credentials of Registered Professional Forester (RPF) or Professional Agriculturist (P.Ag.), also known as an agrologist; (c) on-campus full-time UBC students who have timetable conflicts or who transfer into Forestry or Agricultural Sciences and need to make up introductory courses while minimizing the length of their program of study; and (d) mature students beginning a degree program through home study or wanting these courses for general interest or personal development. The number of students registered for academic credit in these courses offerings was 63; since six students enrolled in two courses, there were 69 actual course registrations. It should be noted that ethnography is a fluid process; it proceeds until no further useful insights are gained and then it stops. The number of students in this study group was more than adequate for ethnographic analysis while providing sufficient quantitative data for meaningful statistical analysis. For the statistical analyses, the study group is not considered a finite population but rather is conceptually considered a random sample of similar people from a larger population of inference. Each student's status was noted initially as non-starter (they register but withdraw almost immediately or are assumed to have not really started the course because they do not submit the first assignment), withdrawal (they formally withdraw after submitting at least one assignment), incompleter (they submit all assignments but do not write the final exam), failure (they write the final exam but fail the course overall), or completer (those who successfully pass the course). Course Content UBC Access descriptions of the distance education course offerings are provided in Appendix A. Note that Forestry 111 was first developed and offered in 1985 with revision in 1987 and 1988, Soil Science 200 offered first in 1987 with minor revision in 1990, Animal Science 258 launched in 1988 with minor changes the following year, Plant Science 259 developed and offered first in 1990, and Agricultural Economics 258 was being offered for the first time. UBC uses a course author/editor approach in the development of its distance education courses. The course author is an academic, usually an instructor in the on-campus version of the course, and the editor a professional member of UBC Access/Guided Independent Studies staff. Together they develop the instructional design for the course, involving a media specialist as required for audio-visual components. Note that student support comprises telephone support (usually at specific times only) and written feedback from the tutor. No distinct counselling for distance education students is available. The individual course instructional packages, including any audio-visual or broadcast components and supplementary materials, were carefully examined to clarify their instructional design and their underlying epistemology, including both the nature of the disciplinary knowledge involved, and how it is communicated. Cognitive aspects related to the nature of the disciplinary knowledge include the role of theory, the research paradigms employed, the modes of inquiry, the generalization of findings, and the conceptual structure of the knowledge involved; sociological aspects of a knowledge domain include the communication approaches and styles employed (Becher, 1989). These comprise the extent of modelling and quantification, the amount of jargon, the reflected values and beliefs, academic conventions in terms of the complexity of vocabulary and syntax, and the integration of new and prior knowledge. Biglan (1973) says that three main dimensions characterize subject matter: whether or not it is paradigmatic, its requirements for practical application, and whether or not it is concemed with life systems. Becher (1989) proposes four knowledge forms: hard/soft, pure/applied, convergent/divergent and urban/mral. The first two, similar to Biglan's paradigmic and practical application dimensions, involve the cognitive aspects of knowledge, the other two the social aspects. Hard pure knowledge has relatively steady cumulative growth, relative clarity of the criteria for establishing or refuting claims to new knowledge, clearly defined boundaries, relatively direct channels of implication, a reductionist analytical approach, relatively strong explanations, and an impersonal, apparently value-free nature. On the other hand, soft pure knowledge has a more recursive and reiterative pattem of growth, a diversity of criteria and a lack of consensus about what constitutes an authentic contribution, loosely defined boundaries, fuzzier lines of implication, a synthesis approach which includes a tendency to value complexity and holism, weaker explanations involving more judgement and persuasion, and a personal, value-laden nature. Applied knowledge is, of course, concemed with practical as well as theoretical knowledge. Hard applied knowledge is amenable to heuristic, trial and error approaches; its outcomes are products and techniques. Soft applied knowledge, in contrast, is built up to a great extent on case law; its outcomes are protocols and procedures. According to Becher (1989), the social dimensions, reflected in research and communication styles, are convergent/divergent and urban/rural. Convergent knowledge forms or disciplines have tightly knit, well defined boundaries and a mutually held disciplinary ideology. In divergent disciplines, a clear sense of mutual cohesion and identity is lacking, the boundaries are ill-defined and there is a much more open-ended epistemological structure. The urban/rural dimension contrasts fields in which there are many people working on a few well-defined problems with fields in which relatively few people are addressing each of a great many questions. Verduin and Clark (1991) see course structure as a key aspect of distance leaming. For them, stmcture reflects the degree of hierarchy of the knowledge in a field. The knowledge stmctures of course content can be explored by examining the set of concepts in a course and their relationships (Donald, 1983). These concepts can vary in number, be at different levels of abstraction, vary in their degree of inclusiveness (in other words, have a hierarchy), differ in their modes of representation (enactive, iconic or symbolic), and have differing relationships to each other, that is, have associative, functional or stmctural similarity relationships, or procedural, logical and causal dependency relationships. These authors, and others, provided some criteria by which to examine the epistemology and related communication style of the courses in this study. These criteria included: 1. determining the degree to which it is hard or soft knowledge, including assessing the underlying paradigms, role of theory, inquiry processes employed, generalizability of findings, and the particular set of values and beliefs involved; 2. determining the degree to which it is pure or applied knowledge, including aspects of relative direct practicality for the leamer; 3. assessing the number and types of concepts in the course content, their modes of representation and degree of abstraction, their relations to each other and their degree of hierarchy; 4. assessing the relative amount of modelling and quantification, and the use of technical symbols and jargon; 5. determining the communication style employed, its formality, complexity, density, and whether or not it is personal or impersonal; and 6. assessing the degree to which the courses present knowledge as information to be leamed by rote or as understandings to be derived through active abstraction of meaning, including relating this meaning in a broad context. Conducting the Research Each student was assigned a coded number, used in recording and documenting all student responses in order to maintain confidentiality. The researcher had the only record of this code for the student names. Students registered in more than one course were coded for, and considered registrants in, the first completing course, not the second, except for analyses involving all registrations, in which case they were counted in both courses. The initial approach to the students was not made until their status (i.e., withdrawal, completer) regarding the course was known in order to avoid any possible "Hawthome effect", a confounding outcome in which people behave differentiy when they know they are involved in a study. This first approach, made as soon as possible after their status was known in order that the experience was fresh in their minds, was by letter (Appendix B), with the questionnaire enclosed, followed by a telephone call approximately ten days later to solicit the student's cooperation and arrange a personal visit in their own locales. The purpose of the personal visits was to assure completion of, and follow up on, the questionnaires, to administer the psychological survey instmment, and to carry out the ethnographic study. The latter included conducting the interviews as well as making note of the student's life style and situation, attitude, personality and other information that helped provide a more complete interpretation of their understandings and experience. The initial telephone call and follow-up calls made to complete and confirm arrangements for the visit also allowed the researcher to provide the student with more information about the study and the student's role in data collection. As well, the calls sometimes elicited volunteered information from the students (e.g. "I don't know if I can help you with your study ~ I've dropped out already because I just didn't have time"). Notes were kept of all these conversations. The personal visits were arranged at the convenience of the students although, particularly for locales distant from UBC, the logistics of travel and coordination of several visits in an area sometimes placed minor constraints on this process. The students usually invited the researcher to their homes but sometimes preferred to meet at their offices or in a restaurant. Some Lower Mainland registrants, whether they were on-campus students or not, chose to meet in a restaurant or lounge at UBC, or in the researcher's office at UBC. As suited the students, the visits were held any day of the week and at any hour of the day or evening. The meetings usually lasted one to two hours, with an informal format of general introduction and information sharing, completion and collection of the questionnaire with follow-up as necessary to clarify responses, followed by explanation and administration of the psychological survey instrument, and finally the ethnographic interview. With the student's permission (only one refused), the interview was tape-recorded. Personal visits were arranged with 47 of the 56 co-operating students. Face-to-face meetings with the other nine students were not possible for a number of reasons: one student prevaricated until it was clear she did not want to meet although she was willing to help by phone and mail, one had no telephone but did respond by mail, one had had a recent serious accident and wanted no visitors, another was just leaving for an extended vacation, and others could not be visited because of the researcher's personal time and travel constraints at the times the students were available. However, only one of the nine students not visited personally was a non-completer; this was the prevaricating student. Al l of these students did complete the questionnaire and the psychological survey instrument and did provide additional information by telephone or in writing. The tutors, too, were approached, first by letter (Appendix B) and then by telephone. to arrange a personal interview. These interviews, conducted at either their offices or the researcher's office at UBC, provided information on student achievement and on student-tutor interaction, as well as the tutor's perceptions of the student's experience. With permission, these too were tape-recorded. Questionnaires The students responded to the usual UBC Access Course Evaluation self-report questionnaire, which was modified to incorporate additional questions. The modified questionnaire used in this research in presented as Appendix C. The standard UBC Access course evaluation questionnaire provides information about student demographics and their purposes in taking the course, marketing information, and, using 5-point Likert scales, student opinions on student services, course delivery factors, the course tutor, the course work, the relation to classroom leaming, and the student's preferred mode of instmction. As well, information is elicited regarding television viewing modes, preferred television viewing times, an overall rating for the course, possible improvements, and other suggestions and comments. The added questions (numbers 11 to 20) were designed to elicit further information about the students which might be useful in the study. The first three questions, numbers 11, 12, and 13, conceming marital, parental and employment status, provided additional life situation information. Question 14 regarding educational background, provided information on academic preparedness, while Question 15 clarified the student's academic background in the relevant basic sciences. Questions 16,17 and 20, regarding the father's and mother's levels of education and typical occupations, provided socioeconomic information. The parental education levels can be compared to those published in Porter and Jasmine (1987). As well, the parents were assigned socioeconomic scores according to their occupations using a socioeconomic index (Blishen & McRoberts, 1976). Information on ethnicity was solicited in Question 19 while Question 18 provided additional information relevant to the student's motives. Note that this question was quite different from Question 4 regarding purposes. The modified questionnaire was reviewed by UBC Access staff and others but was not pilot tested. Psychological Survey For a number of reasons discussed earlier, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was the psychological siuvey instrument of choice. The MBTI provides a measure of personality dispositions and preferences based on Jungian psychological types. This psychological differentiation would seem to provide a fairly credible indication of "leaming style". The MBTI (Form G Self-Scorable Version) assessment package was used. Each individual MBTI package consists of the Question Booklet, the Self-Scorable Answer Booklet, and the Report Form. The latter includes descriptions of the various psychological types for the respondents' information. The package was introduced to the student with information about the MBTI, its use in research, and a statement to the effect that it may provide information about their personalities that may be helpful in understanding their experience as distance education students, and that they may, indeed, find it of interest themselves. The students were allowed to pemse all the materials before they began and any questions they had were answered. When the instmment was completed and scored, their personality type preferences were discussed and the students specifically asked if they agreed with the results. Every one of them acknowledged that they were in general or complete agreement with the personality preferences that the instmment had disclosed. Ethnography The ethnographic interviews with the students were conducted last in order to allow time to establish the comfortable rapport that facilitates the process. The interviews were conducted following Spradley's (1979) guidelines and were audio-taped. Ethnographic explanations were provided, and descriptive, stmctural and contrast questions mixed with appropriate repetition and incorporation of informant terms, as well as friendly expressions of interest. An inductive approach was used; the initial question to the student was only about their experience as a distance education leamer in the (specified) course. However, some students spontaneously began to talk about aspects of the course or their experiences; often the interview flowed naturally from conversation about the questionnaire and the results of the MBTI. Regardless, both questions and answers were developed from the informants themselves. This open-ended, unstructured approach allows people to talk about those things that matter most to them. Extensive field notes were made immediately after each interview while details and impressions were most easily and accurately recalled. Noted were life situation aspects such as family interaction, apparent job status, and social milieu, as well as personal observations of the informant's non-verbal behavior, subjective reactions, initial thoughts regarding the data, ideas for follow-up, and any other relevant thoughts or insights. The audio-taped interviews were fully transcribed. Data Analysis Ethnographic Analyses Analyses of the interviews were conducted following Spradley's (1979) view that ethnographic analysis is the search for the parts of a culture and their relationships as conceptualized by informants. His operational guidelines for data analysis, which reflect his ethnoscience view, were followed. Spradley (1979) proposes employing four kinds of ethnographic analyses sequentially as strategies to uncover cultural meaning. The first is domain analysis which involves the search for cultural symbols which are included in larger units (domains) of cultural meaning by virtue of some similarity. The second is taxonomic analysis which involves the search for the intemal stmcture of domains and leads to the identification of contrast sets. The third is componential analysis which is a search for attributes that signal differences among symbols in a domain. Fourth is theme analysis which involves the search for the relationships among domains and discovery of how they are linked to the culture as a whole. This last analysis leads to the discovery of meaning. In domain analysis, the researcher seeks to find semantic relationships between "folk terms". The various possible semantic relationships include strict inclusion, spatial, cause-effect, rationale, location for action, function, means-ends, sequence, and attribution. As an example, "lack of time is a reason for withdrawal" is a rationale semantic relationship that is particularly pertinent to this research's interests. A single semantic relationship at a time was examined to find (from what informants said) as many possible included terms (in the example, the "reasons") within the cover term "withdrawal". Subsets among the included terms were then sought in the taxonomic analysis. Semantic relationships that were evident included " a reason for withdrawal", " a kind of problem in distance education", " a kind of difference in distance education", " a kind of goal", " a kind of emotion experienced" and " a reason for not contacting the tutor". The ethnographic data analysis proceeded as the interviews were conducted in order to augment the data, explore relationships, and clarify insights. Note that the different student groups were analyzed as separate "sub-cultures". Hermeneutic analysis involves submerging oneself in the transcribed interview text, intensively working with the material in a recurrent manner as insights are gained, and relating each part to the overall context. The transcribed interview text was examined in this way. As suggested by Grace (1990), the text was also studied in dramaturgical terms, involving staging, role playing, and the kind of language used, while also being alert for instances of ambiguity, incongruity and contradiction. The "thick" descriptions of the understandings of the various student groups derived from the ethnographic interviews, the hermeneutic analyses, and other qualitative data were further complemented by relevant information derived from the MBTI, the questionnaire, and the examination of the course content. Analysis of Quantitative Data Data from the questionnaire was numerically coded to enable statistical analysis. Only responses to the first 20 questions from the questionnaire were included in this analysis. Since most incompleting students were unable to answer, either fully or in part, sections/questions 21-30 conceming specifics of the course and its delivery, this data was not included in the statistical analysis but rather was used only as supplemental information. Student status was coded as 1, nonstart; 2, withdrawal; 3, failure; and 4, completer. Question 4 on student purpose was coded as 1, for credit toward a degree; 2, for credit toward a fifth or qualifying year; 3, for professional development; 4, for general interest; 5, for a professional credential, i.e. RPF or P.Ag.; and 6, for practical application. Question 7 as 1, male; 2, female. Questions 8 on age, 14 on highest level of education, and questions 16 and 17 on parental education levels were coded 1-9 for the nine increasing education levels. For question 10 on occupation, the coding was 1, student; 2, homemaker; 3, professional or semiprofessional; and 4, non-professional. Question 11 on marital status was encoded 1, married; 2, single; 3, widowed, separated, divorced. Question 12 on children was 1, yes, living with me; 2, yes, not living with me; and 3, no. Hours of paid employment (question 13) was 1, none; 2, less than 10 hours per week; 3, 10-20 hours per week; 4, 20-35 hours per week; and 5, 35 or more hours per week. Question 18 was difficult to disentangle because students were able to choose more than one motive. Based on these responses and clarification in person, responses were coded as 1, to get a job; 2, for job security or to get a better job; 3, to increase job-related satisfaction and competence; 4, for personal development and interest; and 5, for practical application. Ethnicity (Question 19) was coded as 1, English-Canadian; 2, non-English but Caucasian Canadian; 3, visible minority Canadian; and 4, non-Canadian. The question that asked for information on the student's prerequisite background in terms of the highest levels of math and various sciences courses they had completed (Question 15) was coded by assigning an overall value: 1, for students with no or very little math/science background, even at the high school level; 2, for those with prerequisite knowledge but not at a university level; and 3, for those with at least introductory university level courses. The socioeconomic scores were taken directly from the Blishen and McRoberts (1976) scales, then multiplied by ten to eliminate a decimal point and facilitate analysis. For student-identified occupations that were not listed, the closest apparent equivalent was used or, in some cases, the scores for more than one similar sort of job were averaged. The occupation "homemaker" was scored as 350 based on taking an average score for such similar responsibility occupations as secretary, laundress, babysitter, nursing aide, food and beverage service, hostess or steward, receptionist, seamstress, and hotel management. Data from the MBTI was treated in four separate ways. First, the students were analysed by each personality preference alone for each of the dichotomous preference scales, that is, as extrovert or introvert, for instance. Second, the 16 possible personality MBTI personality types were considered. Third, the raw scores for each of the eight personality type scales were used for the analysis. Fourth and finally, the results were analysed using the MBTI linear data transformation convention (Myers and McCauUey, 1985) to generate continuous scores from preference scores. Frequency distributions were determined for the nominal (MBTI personality type, sex, marital status, status as a parent, purposes, motives, previous UBC Access experience, occupation, ethnicity) and ordinal (MBTI personality preference raw and linearly transformed scores, age, hours of employment, educational background, parental socioeconomic status indicators) data, with means and standard deviations determined for the latter. Data was examined overall, by course, and by student status overall and by course. For analyses by course, data from aU 61 registrations was included (that is, data from the five cooperating students who registered in two courses each was included for both courses), whereas analyses over all the courses included data from only the 56 cooperating students. Relationships between variables were determined by calculating the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient r, differences between and among groups determined using Chi Square, t-test and Analysis of Variance, and predictive relationships among variables determined using step-wise backward Multiple Regression Analysis. Chi Square tests differences in distributions and is used for nominal data. The t-test, used for ordinal data, tests differences between two means. Analysis of Variance permits testing of differences among several means. Multiple Regression analysis allows the examination of linear relationships among variables. Glass and Hopkins (1984) provide details of these inferential statistical methods. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS/PC-i- version 4.0) was used to effect the analyses. Chapter 5 Results This section presents results of the research undertaken in this study. First, information on the study group itself is presented, followed by results of the epistemological analysis of the courses involved. Although the demographic data and student psychological profile information are intended as complements and clarifiers within the main ethnography, these quantitative analyses are presented next as they provide a valuable understanding of who the students are before the presentation of the qualitative results of the ethnographic interviews and analyses, which clarify what they say and the understandings that they have. Overall discussion of results will be presented in Chapter 6. The Study Group As explained earlier, students were approached regarding participation in this study when their status as non-starters, completers, etc. was known. A few cancelled their registration very shortly after the course began, others withdrew after several weeks or months without ever submitting an assignment, and a few others who had been submitting assignments withdrew relatively late during the course. None of the students in this study group did all the course work and then did not write the exam; that is, there were no incompleters, as previously defined. Moreover, while those who withdrew immediately were clearly non-starters, and those who withdrew after actively working on the course were clearly withdrawals, the status of those who did not immediately withdraw but who appeared not to have started the course was unclear. By the definition being used, they were non-starters. However, since almost three quarters of the course fee is refunded if students withdraw within 30 days of the start of a course, they had a financial incentive to withdraw promptiy and had not done so. Some were not heard from at all until they received the routine letter sent by UBC Access to students who have not submitted assignments. This letter encourages them, offers assistance and reminds them that neglecting to withdraw before the final examination would result in a fail grade. As well, the interviews with these students revealed that they were not really non-starters. Some had continued to be committed to carry on with the course while procrastinating about getting the assignments done. Others had done a fair amount of work but had run into trouble doing the first assignment and had not submitted it. With such evident blurring of status and with the very small number of students who seemed to be true non-starters (only four), it was decided to eliminate this somewhat artificial distinction and consider all students who did not continue to the end of the course to be "withdrawals". Gatz (1985) had also found the population of dropouts too broad to be differentiated from that of non-starters. For the purpose of this study, the difference between failures and completers was also somewhat confounded. Only 4 of the 56 participating students failed their courses. In each case, they failed because they did not pass the final exam. In one case, for instance, a student who had demonstrated B-grade competence up to the final exam apparentiy completely misread a major final exam question, gave a fine answer to the wrong question, and failed. This student, however, was one of those registered in two courses; the second course was passed. Two of the other three failed students were allowed to write supplemental exams. One passed while the other failed again. Al l four failed students were interviewed before they knew their final mark. None appeared to be any more concemed than other students about their grade; indeed, they were indistinguishable from completers in terms of their attitudes and persistence regardless of constraints and problems. A decision was made, therefore, to consider all those who had carried on through to the final exam, regardless of outcome, to be "persisters". This study, therefore, focuses on possible differences in student understandings related to participation of two student groups: "withdrawals" and "persisters". As indicated earlier, there were 69 enrolments in the courses in this study. Since six students were enrolled in two courses each, there were 63 students. Only 56 participated in this study. Table 1 presents information on the status of students enrolled in the courses Table 1 Status of Students in the Study Group Student Status Course lost refusal withdrawal persister Number and Status of Registrations F R S T l l l 2 1 7 16 SOIL 200 1 4 11 ANSC258 3 1 4 PLNT259 1 4 6 AGEC 258 2 6 Total 3 5 18 43 Number and Status of Students F R S T l l l 2 1 6 14 SOIL 200 1 4 10 ANSC258 2 1 3 PLNT259 1 4 6 AGEC 258 2 6 Total 3 4 17 39 Note. Six students were registered for two courses. involved in this study. Three were "lost", that is, two of these were withdrawals who could not be contacted because they had moved with no forwarding address or telephone number, while the third was a completing student who agreed to help by mail when arrangements could not be made to meet in person but who, in spite of phone reminders and apparent good intentions, never returned the questionnaire and MBTI score sheet. Four other students refused to participate in the study; two of these were withdrawals and two were completers. One of these withdrawals, a professional man near retirement, had registered in two courses as a credit student but appears to have done so for the purpose of establishing credibility with the tutor, with whom there was a lot of contact. This student likely had no intention of ever doing the assignments or writing the final exam; he only wanted the knowledge the courses provided. Students could register for these courses either through UBC or through the B.C. Open University. Seventeen of the 69 registrations, representing 15 of the 63 students, enrolled via the B.C. Open University. One of these became "lost", 3 were withdrawals and 11 were completers. There are no differences between the institutions through which the student had enrolled in the relative number of students who were withdrawals or persisters. The participating students lived all over the province: 21 lived in the Lower Mainland area, 2 in the Sunshine Coast area, 2 in the upper Fraser Valley, 6 in the Okanagan, 3 in Victoria, 5 in other Vancouver Island locales, 4 in the Cariboo region, 4 in the Kootenays, 5 in Central B.C., 2 in the north coast area and 1 in the Peace River region. One student lived in Alberta. Epistemology of the Courses All of the courses present hard, applied knowledge, although there is some variation in degree. Almost one half of the content of Soil Science 200 is applied physics, chemistry and biology; this course is somewhat more "hard" than are the dominantiy biology-based Forestry 111, Animal Science 258 and Plant Science 259. Becher (1989) describes biology as more descriptive in nature in comparison to other natural sciences and, because it tends to be between the physical sciences on one side and the human sciences on the other, more heterogeneous and unrestricted, less tied to theory, and therefore less paradigmic than the other sciences. This seems true here. Economics is considered a social science but, since it has become more strongly theory-oriented and mathematical, can no longer be considered so soft (Becher, 1989). Indeed, Agricultural Economics 258 has a strong mathematical foundation and a firm theoretical stance. A key course goal is stated as "analytical methods will be developed to study different issues;" this approach is reflected throughout the course manual in the mathematical relationships, models and formulas presented. Thus, this course has to be considered more hard than soft. Inherent in the hard nature of these five courses is a generally positivistic viewpoint, a quantitative natiu-e and an experimental research approach. Indeed, two of the courses. Forestry 111 and Soil Science 200, have short-term, intense on-campus laboratory components that include experiments. Al l are applied courses by definition in that each is concemed with the application of basic scientific or economic knowledge to practical problems related to effective stewardship of natural resources. None is direcdy practical in the sense of providing simple "how to" information, although Forestry 111, with half the content focussing on tree identification, is close. Instead, since they are introductory courses at a university level, they provide foundation knowledge that can be related to a broader, real world context. They lay the groundwork for more senior courses that do provide the deeper understandings that allow students to make discoveries and to address applied problems. Moreover, the Forestry 111, Soil Science 200, Plant Science 259 and Animal Science 258 courses are particularly amenable to the heuristic, trial and error approaches described by Becher (1989). Al l present a great number of concepts. Most of these are symbolic, mainly in language form, much of it specialized, technical language. There is also a strong presence of the unique symbols of chemistry and mathematics. Agricultural Economics 258 has more abstract concepts than do die other four courses but, on the whole, the concepts in the courses are fairly concrete in nature. Moreover, all the courses exhibit considerable hierarchy in the relationships of the concepts to one another. There are closely patterned sequences of explanation. Many of the conceptual links are dependency or causal relationships. Moreover, each of the courses builds on fundamental concepts from mathematics, chemistry, physics or economics. These concepts are generally not presented; the fundamental understandings are assumed. Some are briefly referred to but there is litde integration of prior knowledge with new concepts. As a consequence, each of the courses, particularly the Agricultural Economics 258, based in economic theory and mathematics, and Soil Science 200, based heavily in physics and chemistry, demands considerable prerequisite knowledge on the part of the student. As Donald (1983) points out, this type of content, in which there is a tight structure with links between concepts, tends to support an all or nothing leaming pattem. They teach effectively only to the initiated. This is so because new information can only be transformed into knowledge when it has been critically analyzed in terms of other information, screened through values and beliefs, related to other knowledge and experience, reworked, and made personal. Information that cannot be linked to prior understandings remains in limbo, meaningless. The highly technical language typical of biology-based courses is evident in Animal Science 258, Plant Science 259 and Forestry 111. There are a great number of terms with discipline-specific meaning and, in the botany-based courses, considerable emphasis on the scientific names of plants and their taxonomy. These courses also contain the unique symbolism of chemistry when discussing nutrition and physiology and draw on mathematics for such aspects as growth rates. Soil Science 200 contains specialized, technical language with a considerable amount of the jargon of chemistry, physics and mathematics. The greatest mathematical component is, however, present in Agricultural Economics 258 where well over half the conceptual content involves models, formulas and other mathematical relationships. The courses' readability and ease of comprehension are negatively affected not only by the use of a great deal of specialized jargon but also by the authors' styles. Each has followed the disciplinary communication conventions typical of scientific papers, with succinctness and precision overshadowing stylistic quality. The writing is fairly dense and formal, with grammatical complexity, and an objective perspective. Although some of the videos are less formal, only two of the course manuals, those for Forestry 111 and Soil Science 200, both written by multiple authors, use personal pronouns at all. There are occasional uses of "we" or "us" in written instructions to students in these courses, v^th the Forestry course also having the odd first person aside. The courses vary considerably in the degree to which they present knowledge as information to be memorized or as understandings to be derived through active abstraction of meaning in a broader context. Since they are university level courses, all make demands (apparent in the assignments, for instance) upon the students that go beyond what could be considered rote leaming. As instructions to students in an assignment in Animal Science 258 put it: "Answer all questions briefly and concisely. Answers to several of the questions will not be found directly in the reference material. These questions will require some thought." Although most of the knowledge demands involved do reflect fairly rote leaming with the student required to regurgitate scientific names, descriptions, and functions and to be able to apply formulas, etc. in solving problems, students must also be able to integrate knowledge, make inferences, conceptualize and hypothesize. Some of the Agricultural Economics 258 assignment questions, for instance, demand a broader perspective through applied questions which have multiple possible answers and which are somewhat more abstract. Plant Science 259 goes even further, however, in demanding some quite abstract and broad application of understandings gained from the course content. For instance, after a comprehensive, specific and highly technical unit on plant metabolism which contains a lot of biochemistry and includes such topics as photosynthesis and photorespiration, one of the assignment questions is "'Plants harvest the sun.' Explain the significance of this statement." This is quite a cognitive leap and requires the application of understandings at the highest cognitive levels. It entails the type of thought that is usually not demanded of students until the senior undergraduate or post-graduate level. Moreover, the courses are very discipline-specific; their focus is narrow and reductionist in nature. Agricultural Economics 258 has a short chapter Ulusti-ating the economic analysis of environmental issues but otherwise there are very few links to concepts from other natural resource disciplinary areas or to the relevant social sciences and humanities. Rather, each course is monodiscipUnary, following its distinct specialization. Missing is the interdisciplinarity which provides students with the holistic view necessary to understand environmental issues and address the goal of sustainable development. Labeyrie (1973) points out that students are incapable of grasping links between subjects when environmental studies are taught as juxtapositioned disciplines, as is the case here. The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), which so clearly linked environment and economics, declared: education should provide comprehensive knowledge, encompassing and cutting across the social and natural sciences and the humanities, thus providing insights on the interaction between natural and human resources, between development and environment, (p. 113) Indeed, environmental education programs are characterized as needing to be holistic, interdisciplinary, problems and issues-focussed, and having a decision-making component (Cowan & Stapp, 1982; Kirts, 1990). The intellectual underpinnings for interdisciplinarity may best be provided by systems theory and decision theory, with a problems and issues orientation, says Francis (1973). Baerwald (1991) urges a strong input from the social sciences because it is peoples' relationship, be it economic, political or esthetic, with natural resources that is central. In summary, it is apparent that the courses reflect the cognitive and affective characteristics typical of the applied natural sciences. The content is discipline-specific, empirical in nature, and is highly structured, full of closely linked technical concepts with some abstraction. This content is presented in dense, formal and complex language full of specialized jargon. It demands considerable prerequisite knowledge as well as literary and numeracy skills. Quantitative Results Demographic Variables There were 20 women and 36 men enrolled in the courses; most were in their 30s, married, were pursuing a degree or professional qualification, and had full-time professional or semi-professional employment. Seventeen of them already had degrees. Gosstabulation tables and results of the Chi Square test of independence of the nominal variables for the different courses are presented as Tables D-1 to D-18. Note that there is some missing data; this is because some students did not know the educational or employment backgrounds of one or both of their parents. Table D-1 reveals that there are significant gender differences in the enrolment in the various courses. More men were enrolled in Forestry 111 and Soil Science 200 whereas there were more women than men in Plant Science 259. As well. Table D-2 shows that only 3 out of 37 registrants in Forestry 111 and Soil Science 200 were of visible minority ethnicity whereas 6 out of 18 enrolled in Plant Science 259 and Agricultixral Economics 258 were members of a visible minority. The proportionally higher number of degree-holding registrants in Forestry 111, most of whom had different backgrounds but were seeking RPF status, is reflected in the significant difference in the educational background of those registered in the various courses (Table D-3). There were no significant differences among the courses in the proportion of students who had previous experience with UBC Access distance education courses (Table D-4), the students' age distributions (Table D-5),-^ their purposes in taking the course (Table D-6), their occupations (Table D-7), their marital status (Table D-8), whether or not they had children (Table D-9), the time they spent at paid employment (Table D-10), their motive for taking the course (Table D-11), their father's (Table D-12) and mother's (Table D-13) level of education, their prerequisite knowledge (Table D-14), or their MBTI psychological types (Tables D-15toD-18). Student Withdrawal/Persister Status in Relation to Other Variables Of particular interest, of course, are possible differences among the courses in the proportion of students who were withdrawals. Table D-19 presents the results of the ^ Note that some data has been treated both as nominal data, with Chi Square analysis used, and as ordinal data, with t-test and Analysis of Variance employed to detect possible differences. crosstabulation of student status by course and the Chi Square statistical analysis. No differences in the proportion of student withdrawals to persisters among the courses are revealed. Possible differences among the courses for the ordinal data were determined using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with student status as a variable. Means and the ANOVA tables are presented as Tables D-20 to D-25. There are no significant differences among courses in student age (Table D-20), the student's educational background (Table D-21), their father's level of education (Table D-22), mother's level of education (Table D-23), father's socioeconomic index score (Table D-24) or mother's socioeconomic index score (Table D-25). Nor are there any differences in student status as withdrawals or persisters, or any interaction effects among these variables and student status as a withdrawal or persister for the different courses. Since there are no significant differences among the courses in the proportion of students who withdrew, data can be combined over all the courses (eliminating, of course, the duplicated data for the double registrants, so that n=56) to determine if there are demographic-type variable effects related to the students' status as withdrawals or persisters. No significant effects of gender (Table D-26), purpose (Table D-27), occupation (Table D-28), marital status (Table D-29), having children (Table D-30), hours of employment (Table D-31), motive (Table D-32) or ethnicity (Table D-33) on withdrawal/persister status are evident using Chi Square statistical analysis. Nor does age (Table D-34), educational background (Table D-35), father's educational level (Table D-36), mother's educational level (Table D-37), father's socioeconomic index (Table D-38), or Mother's socioeconomic index (Table D-39) influence withdrawal/persistence as determined using t-test. Note that 27.5% of fathers and 7.8% of mothers of students in die study group have university education. This compares with 1974-75 and 1983-84 figures where 25% and 34% respectively of fathers of full-time B.C. undergraduates had university degrees compared to 10.3% and 13.6% of men in the general B.C. population, according to the 1976 and 1981 censuses (Porter & Jasmine, 1987). In 1983-84, 14% of Canadian mothers of full-time undergraduates had degrees. The numbers are difficult to compare directly because the study group students are not typical undergraduates in terms of age, they are older, and the proportion of people with university degrees has increased with time. Overall, however, these results suggest that the students are of a similar socioeconomic mix as those who typically attend university. In this case it is apparent that the availability of these courses by distance education has not improved access for the socioeconomically disadvantaged. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Psychological Survey Although Chi Square analysis reveals no significant differences among the courses for the student's psychological types as determined by the MBTI, and no significant differences in personality types between withdrawals and persisters, it is far more sensitive to consider the student's actual scores for the various MBTI personality scales. Results of ANOVA for the extroversion, introversion, sensing, intuitive, thinking, feeling, judging and perceiving scores by withdrawal/persister student status and by course are presented as Tables D-40 to D-47. These analyses reveal no significant differences between withdrawals and persisters for the various personality scales, no differences among courses for the MBTI values, and no significant interaction between student status and course for the personality scale scores. Making the comparison of MBTI scores between withdrawals and persisters over all the courses using t-test reveals exactiy the same results: no significant differences in personality type scores based on student status (Tables D-48 to D-55). Nonetheless, any possible predictive relationship was sought using step-wise backward multiple regression analysis. In this analysis, all possible variables, that is, the eight MBTI personality scale scores, were included in the regression equation. The least significant of these variables was then dropped one at a time with a new regression equation calculated each time. The step-wise dropping of variables proceeds until each remaining variable in the equation is making a significant (p<.05) predictive contribution. This analysis provides some very interesting results. With withdrawal/persister status the dependent variable and extroversion, introversion, sensing, intuitive, thinking, feeling. judging and perceiving scores the independent variables, the resulting equation has a goodness of fit, R^, of .240, which is almost significant (p=.0897). Perceiving and judging scores make significant contributions to the regression equation (p=.0069 and p=.0032 respectively). After two steps, in which feeling and then sensing scores were dropped, the equation has a R2 =.239, and is significant (p=.0303). The variables thinking, intuitive, and extroversion were then successively dropped from the equation as not making statistically significant contributions, with the R^ value lower each for each new regression equation but the significance higher. At this point the equation has the following form: Y(status)=.096685(perceiving score) + .108092(judging score) -.016044(introversion score) -1.906059 with R2=.2076 (P=.0067) Since the introversion score was not making a statistically significant contribution (p=.0721) in comparison to the perceiving score (p=.0024) and judging score (p=.0012), it was dropped and the final equation is: Y(status)=.090165(perceiving score) + .099411 (judging score) -1.928116 withR2=.156(p=.0111) This is a rather unusual result and means that while neither the perceiving score nor the judging score itself is related to student withdrawal/persister status, added together they explain almost 16% of the variability in status, and with the introversion score included, 21%. This is a significant, although not particularly useful, predictive relationship. Using the sum of the perceiving and judging scores as a variable confirms this result: Y(status)=.097098(sum of perceiving and judging scores) -.014596(introversion score) -1.757774 withR2=.183(p=.0067) and Y(status)=.090990(sum of perceiving and judging scores) -1.804179 with R2=.140 (P=.0045) A check using the variables (judging score X perceiving score) or (judging score / perceiving score) did not reveal any non-linear significant relationship with student status. The variable (judging score - perceiving score) was also calculated and included in a step-wise backward multiple regression. The results were identical to those using (judging score + perceiving score) except that the judging score itself was also significant in the equation. This indicates that, indeed, it is the additive effect of the judging and perceiving scores which is key. The correlation matrix for student status and MBTI personality scale scores, including the sum of perceiving and judging scores, is presented as Table D-56. Note that student status is significandy correlated with the combined judging and perceiving score (r=.3740) and that the paired scales for each of the four dimensions are highly significantly related to each other. Additionally, the thinking and feeling scores are significantly related to the judging and perceiving scores, indicating that they reflect some linkage in personality traits. Analyses using the extrovert-introvert, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling and judging-perceiving scores generated by standard MBTI linear transformation of the data did not contribute additional useful information. There were no differences in the four scales of personality type between withdrawals and persisters. Since the data transformation is based on the differences between the paired scores rather than their sum, this result is not unexpected, considering aforementioned results. Only a highly significant relationship between thinking and feeling, and judging and perceiving scores was revealed. No linear relationship between student status as withdrawals or persisters and their personality type on continuous scales was indicated by stepwise backward multiple regression. Although student numbers are small for quantitative analysis, a comparison between withdrawals and persisters for the 16 possible MBTI types revealed no significant differences. The overall data for student types in terms of the four dichotomous scales does provide some interesting information, however. Myers and McCauUey (1985) provide rankings of occupations by MBTI personality preferences for comparison. Students in the study group were 43% extroverts, 48% sensing, 82% thinking and 63% judging in their personality preferences. These proportions are fairly typical of those reported by Myers and McCauUey (1985) for life and physical scientists, biological scientists and computer specialists, for instance; they differ from the proportions found in social workers or in artists and entertainers. Type theory (Myers and McCauUey, 1985) does suggest that technical/scientific aspects will be more important to thiiddng types and communications/interpersonal aspects more important to feeling types. As an example, they report only 36% of social workers as having a thinking personality preference in comparison to feeling. The results found here would seem to confirm that the MBTI is, indeed, as stated by Kalsbeek (1987), a useful tool in portraying and understanding the relationship between personaUty preferences and academic and career interests. The students in this study group seem to be typical of those whose personality types are common in technical/scientific fields. Relationships Among Variables The correlation matrix for the MBTI and demographic-type data is presented as Table D-57. The matrix is based on 55 or 56 cases except for the correlations involving mother's and father's educational levels and mother's socioeconomic index where there are only 49 cases because some students did not know this information. Values based on the maximum number of cases are presented because there were notable differences in a few r values depending on whether n=49 or n=55. For the demographic-type data, some of the relationships that one might expect are evident. They were elucidated, as appropriate, using Chi Square analysis, t-test and Analysis of Variance. There is some relationship between gender and purpose, with proportionaUy more women taking the courses for general interest rather than for a specific qualification. As well, proportionally more women participants than men were of non-English ethnic heritage. Student age is related to their occupation, purpose, marital status, whether or not they have children, their hours of employment, and their motive. This reflects the fact that more of the younger registrants were fuUtime students, unmarried, without children, and pursuing their degrees with the purpose of getting a job. Interestingly enough, but not unexpected since women have increasingly pursued careers in the last two or three decades, age was also related to the mother's socioeconomic status, with younger students, those 20-34, having mothers with higher socioeconomic indices. Marital status and having children are linked, as are hours of employment and occupation. The latter quite naturally reflects the fact that full-time students are generally unemployed. Motive and occupation are linked, with fuUtime students seeking the degree, while those working in professional or semi-professional occupations are much more often seeking a professional qualification. Prerequisite knowledge is somewhat tied to occupation, with fuUtime students having the best prerequisite knowledge base. Father's socioeconomic status and father's level of education are related to marital status. These results are somewhat confusing, however, because those whose fathers had the lowest educational levels strongly tended to be married, but overall those who were married had fathers with significandy higher socioeconomic indices. The father's and mother's educational level are linked, tending to vary together, while both the father and mother's educational levels are linked to their respective socioeconomic status, with the mother's educational level additionally positively linked to the father's socioeconomic status. Prerequisite knowledge is positively related not only to the student's previous education level, as expected, but also to the father's educational level. There are no significant relationships detectable between the MBTI variables and the demographic ones with the exception of student purpose, which is linked to sensing, judging and perceiving personality scores. Those pursuing a professional qualification tend to have higher judging and sensing scores and lower perceiving and intuition scores than those pursuing a degree. A step-wise backward multiple regression of the demographic-type data and the MBTI judging, perceiving and introversion scores as independent variables and student withdrawal/persister status as the dependent variable produced some rather interesting results again. With all 17 variables in the regression equation, the goodness of fit, R^, was .40661 but was not significant (p=.2866). With six variables dropped out step-wise, the equation then included mother's socioeconomic score, employment hours, motive, father's socioeconomic score, purpose, mother's educational level, occupation, father's educational level and the three MBTI scores and had a R^=.39029 with p=.0404. As more variables were dropped the values decreased while the significance increased. When all variables that were not significantly (at p<.05) contributing to the regression equation were eliminated, introversion score being the last, the equation is as follows: Y(status) = .093322(perceiving score) -.170320(occupation) +.107077(judging score) -1.647529 with R2 =.237 (p=.0065). Again, while highly significant, the predictive power of the equation is relatively low (only 24%) and thus it is not a particularly useful tool for detecting students who might be at risk in not persisting. Ethnographic Results The Withdrawals Students who had withdrawn from the courses invariably provided an explanation for their withdrawal early in the course of communication. Some provided it during the introductory phone call, others almost immediately on meeting face-to-face, and some during the course of discussion of the questionnaire and psychological survey instrument. Those who had not volunteered the information previously did so as their first response to the initiating question of the ethnographic interview, "what was yoiu' experience as a distance education student?" Many seemed somewhat anxious to provide their explanation and concemed that it be accepted, as it unequivocally was, with the natural expressions of empathy, and reassurances that the purpose of the study was to determine ways in which development and delivery of distance education courses could be improved, if such reassurances seemed appropriate. The only questions asked regarding these explanations were for clarification. Indeed, as the interview proceeded and the student became more comfortable, revealing further reasons for withdrawal or problems, these were always contextualized by the interviewer within, or as addenda to, the overt explanation for withdrawal. For instance, a student who cited time constraints as the reason for withdrawal and who later revealed problems in doing the assignments, was not challenged as to which was the most compelling reason for withdrawal but rather the problem with the content was accepted and discussed as a compounding circumstance which exacerbated the time constraint. This was an important aspect of the ethnographic technique because 13 of the 17 withdrawal students initially cited some sort of time constraint as their reasons for dropout. The interviews revealed, however, that the students' circumstances that led to withdrawal were much more complex. Problems with a lack of prerequisite knowledge, with the course content itself in terms of both understanding and relevance, lack of support from peers and family, stress, poor marks, lack of time management skills, weak goal commitment, a fear of failure, and other explanations became evident during the interviews. The reasons for non-completion and the problems experienced by these students are so pertinent that they are shown on an individual student basis in Table 2. The table presents the student's initial declarative reason for withdrawal, as well as additional reasons for withdrawal or problems they encountered that were revealed during the in-depth interview. These are grouped by the overt reason for withdrawal under headings descriptive of the type of barrier encountered. As is clear from the above and additional information gleaned during the ethnographic interviews and hermeneutic analyses of the transcribed tapes, there is considerable blurring between the student's declarative reasons for withdrawing and the diverse problems they experienced. In considering appropriate semantic relationships that would provide insights relevant to this study, the cause-effect relationship "withdrawal is a result of " seemed too limiting, as did the rationale relationship " is a reason for withdrawal". For these reasons and additionally because of its symmetry with the understandings emerging from the simultaneous analysis of the ethnographic interviews with persisting students, the strict inclusion semantic relationship " is a kind of problem experienced by those who withdraw" was chosen as the focus of analysis. It should be noted that many other interesting domains of personal knowledge were also evident, e.g., differences between distance education and on-campus study, reasons for not contacting the tutor, kinds of experiences in distance education, and the positive aspects of distance Table 2 Student's Reasons for Withdrawal Student Code Overt Reasons for Withdrawal Problems Revealed During Interview Situational Reasons 111-10 111-06 111-04 852-02 258-04 200-03 259-04 lack of money and time to attend the lab. change in circumstance (started a business but it was a stress not time problem). change in circumstance affecting time (got a field work job out of town, couldn't make lab). lack of time, "I was moving and didn't really seem to have the time, not the mental energy". lack of time (working full time and had to do housework). lack of time (contract extended and health problems). lack of time. 259-03 lack of time/course arrived late. lack of prerequisite knowledge, lack of peer and family support, not scientifically oriented, content not personally relevant, changing view re goal. lack of prerequisite knowledge, problems with theory or abstraction, lack of practical relevance, found the course very difficult: "I just couldn't do it." changing view re goal. decreased motivation (had enrolled to get a professional qualification in order to help get a job but now had a job anyway). wanted a discussion format as had an oral/social/peer support leaming style, problem with technical content, "I decided to drop the course after that because of the questions I didn't quite finish." [unclear but time constraints unchanged from when enrolled]. conflicting [student has very confused goals, priorities and views]. took more time than expected to achieve high standards set for self, fear of letting achievement slip, unclear goal. doing extra work trying to figure out assignments. Table 2 cont'd 200-02 change in circumstances affecting time (spouse got full time job, undertaking a part-time job as well as unexpected work responsibilities). 200-15 lack of time (new baby, start of busy work season, new bosses). problems understanding content, poor mark on first assignment, negative attitude about tutor. taking one course then signed up for second, got behind in both, course not practical, relevant, [spouse also a distance education student with higher achievement], problems with study environment, problem with time management. lack of prerequisite knowledge, problems understanding content, lack of relevance, lack of clear goal, didn't think could pass exam, [knew time constraints when started and had allowed for them]. 200-01 lack of time (signed up for 2 courses, dropped this one). 111-03 lack of time (field job out of town). Institutional Reasons 111-01 course arrived late, lack of time to catch up. concem about personal fi"ee time: "I have become somewhat lazy and worried whether I could carry it out", dropped this one because of epistemology, thought would be too much rote memorization, terms and description, wants theory, abstraction, freer thinldng. procrastinated, "I had more important things to do at the time," admits "I had the place to work and I had the time but I didn't think it was worth it...I had no interest in doing anything academic... I didn't feel like doing it," didn't think course was interesting, had an on-campus option [questionable motivation]. [course arrived 2 weeks late, not the 6 weeks initially stated], problem of time priorities re. established routine, social life, "I wasn't prepared to do the extra work", thought it looked big and hard, having problems with concurrent college courses, unclear on career goal, a social leamer wanting peer support. Table 2 cont'd 852-01 course arrived late, lack of time to catch up. Dispositional Reasons 259-01 failed first assignment and offended by tutor's comments. 111-05 lack of self-discipline. Epistemological Reasons 259-02 course too technical, not practical. had an on-campus option [questionable motivation] had 3 weeks of vacation planned, problem with mathematical and technical content, wanted global, applied issues-oriented content, with immediate practical application, problems understanding content, concem with marks, goal unclear. epistemological problem with course expectations, wanted high marks, need for independence ~ didn't want to have to rely on tutor's help. time constraints, was an oral leamer, procrastinated and preferred to do other things. [no additional problems evident]. Note. Remarks in [ ] brackets are those of the researcher based on observation and inference, not student declarations. education, but these were not analyzed because they were not particularly relevant to this research's concem about student's understandings related to their ability to persist through to completion. The rich taxonomy provided through taxonomic and componential analysis of the domain "problems experienced by those who withdraw from distance education in the natural resource sciences" is presented next. It is worth reiterating at this point that the analysis was performed from the bottom up. That is, all possible stated or inferred problems were first identified; then they were grouped into subsets and contrast sets. The analysis led quite naturally to a constmct in which problems were identified as situational, institutional, dispositional or epistemological in nature. Explanations are provided to clarify many of the identified problems, as are direct quotes from the students themselves. Not all relevant student quotes are given, only those that provide additional insights. Many were repetitious. As expected, many of the identified problems overlap or interact. This is particularly tme for some of the problems identified as situational or institutional in nature; they were often problems only in the context of the student's disposition. In some cases, these overlaps or interrelationships are noted. Note that quotation marks enclose direct unedited statements made by the students, who are identified by their 5-digit (xxx-xx) codes. Phrases in brackets are the interviewer's comments to provide clarification or to maintain confidentiality. Quotes separated by four periods are not continuous in time but were made at separate times in the interview. Problems Experienced bv Withdrawals 1. Situational 1.1 Poor Environment 1.1.1 Lack of support lack of peer support "I had a lot of discouragement from the people and staff (where she works). Their attitude was, you know, why are you doing this, you don't need to do this, you're going to stay (a clerk) sort of thing"...."They weren't encouraging you to, and they said they were"...."I didn't get any encouragement from the people in my office that are at a higher level than I am. What they say, not come right out and say, but what they mean is, don't bother, don't waste your time, you know"...."Maybe they are being kind in telling me this, maybe they just don't want to see somebody get ahead, there are people like that. Most people in general are supportive of this kind of thing but I could definitely notice, there was an underlying, uh, well, I knew it was there. Maybe because I was so discouraged that's what showed up. Well, one fellow came right out and he said, 'maybe you should cut your losses and run.' Nice. 'If you can't go down there and you're not going to go any further, why put out $500 when its already cost you $400. Nothing to say that you're going to pass the course. Nothing to say you're going to get your money back.' That's what it all boiled down to, getting the money back." (111-10) lack of family support "My kids wouldn't let me use the VCR, I was overruled." (lack of support of spouse also inferred from the absence of comment about him and by his somewhat disparaging manner) (111-10) 1.1.2 Poor study environment community "You're cooped up in the bunkhouse all week and the last thing you want to do on the weekend is sit around and study — I'd come to Vancouver for the weekends (for fun only)." (no library access, relatively poor telephone and mail access) (111-03) home "I struggled. I found it very difficult to get away from the normal environment and sort of set time aside and there was another set of deadlines and scheduling into, you know, what was already a busy family life and busy work life." (200-02) 1.2 Lack of Time 1.2.1 Change in circumstances "I found myself, out of necessity, starting a business and its very hard to continue an education and start a business, all at the same time...You need a stable life." (111-06) "I withdrew because of personal circumstances, my wife also had a full-time job which we hadn't counted on, we were also caretaking a (multiple-unit property), my own job — the number of hours I was working per week jumped significantly, etc. and what happened was it just snowballed and all of a sudden I was just too far behind to really comfortably catch up without sacrificing some family goals and at that time we decided that for now it would be best to pull back and that's what my decision was." (200-02) "I was moving and didn't really seem to have time." (852-02) "When I registered for the course I didn't have a job. I ended up getting a job in (a small Interior town) and so I couldn't take the course. I was staying in a motel and doing field work 12-14 hours a day." (111-04) "Being independent and working, if your contract gets extended and you find yourself all of a sudden over your head with work, coinciding with course responsibilities and everything comes together at once, you can find yourself with a real problem