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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Measuring completion rate in distance education Wong, Charles Kit Hung


The purpose of this study was to create and examine the conceptual and psychometric properties of four components that comprise 'programme outcome' sought by distance educators, and to examine the extent to which student (socio-demographic) and programme (e.g. duration) variables related to them. This ex post facto study utilised the records of 773 correspondence students enrolled at The Chinese University of Hong Kong for the 1984 Summer session and who submitted one or more assignments. Four variables were derived from the data set - completion rate, deviation (lateness in submitting assignments), turnaround (time taken to return marked assignments) and grades. These variables were more conceptually defensible than the NUEA or other formulae typically used to measure 'outcomes'. It was hypothesized that when students had to wait longer for the return of their assignments in the first quarter of the course, completion rate would be lower, but this would not happen after the course was half over. When students were late submitting assignments, it was expected that their completion rate would be lower than those submitting on time. It was found that turnaround had a significant association with completion rate throughout the course. Deviation, that is, delays in submitting assignments, was also related to completion. Each of the four variables had significantly different associations with programme outcome. The measures employed here can be used elsewhere as the data that comprise them are found in the records of most distance education programmes. This should facilitate research in distance education and provide practitioners with a way to monitor programmes.

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