A Needs Assessment: A Study of Perceived Need for Student Services by Distance Learners



Amy Raphael, PhD
Director, Career Services
Barry University
11300 NE 2 nd Avenue
Miami Shores, FL 33161
araphael@mail.barry.edu
305-899-3956



Abstract

Education, in its traditional format, has rapidly changed as a result of technological advances. The present study examined what online degree seekers, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, express as their perceived needs for student support services and to what extent participants perceive these needs to be met. This study, the first conducted to investigate student services where participants were completely online degree seekers, utilized an inventory listing 49 potential out-of-class needs for online degree seekers. For all but one item, there was a significant difference between perceived need versus perceived availability of services.

A Needs Assessment: A Study of Perceived Need for Student Services by Distance Learners

Distance learning, and in particular, online education, has recently increased its presence within higher education. In 2000-2001, almost 90% of American public colleges and universities offered electronic distance learning, and 60% of these institutions participated in a distance learning related consortium (Epper & Garn, 2003). At the end of 2004, roughly one million students were enrolled in completely online education programs (Carnevale, 2005). Education, in its traditional format, is changing with the presence of technology in education rising. Meanwhile, society continues to become more accustomed to the increasingly reliable, flexible, and affordable technologies available today (Williams, Paprock, & Covington, 1999). Thus, an even greater growth in distance education enrollment must be anticipated. The purpose of this study was to examine what online degree seekers express as their perceived needs with regard to student support services that exist for students attending on-campus classes and to what extent did participants perceive these needs to be met. The present study is the first conducted to investigate student services where participants were completely online degree seekers.

Despite rapid and significant growth in distance education, the literature in the field of distance education primarily focuses on the in-course experience of students. How students learn best at a distance and technological support for students at a distance compose a large portion of the existing literature. Research has also been conducted on what it takes to create a successful distance education program (Distance Learning Policy Laboratory, June 2002; Krauth & Carbajal, n.d.; Shea & Armitage, 2003).

Bayless (2001) conducted a study on the non-academic needs of distance learners. While this study offers valuable insight into the out of the classroom needs of distance learners, participants included both faculty and students. Furthermore, 25% of the student participants in this study also attended classes on campus. When students participate in online courses at the same time as attending on campus classes, their ability to access campus based student support services becomes less of an issue. A lack of scientific research based literature exists especially studies that solely focus on what do the students perceive that they need. Moreover, the published literature surrounding distance learners has not focused on the needs of those students who are solely seeking degrees online. This study was designed to begin discussion in the literature of student support services needs for online degree seekers from the students' perspectives.

As with traditional college and university campuses, online universities must provide support services for their students. Hruthka (2001) stated “excellence in education means much more than course delivery. An entire support system of academic and student services must go hand in hand with teaching and learning” (¶2). LaPadula (2003) discussed that on a traditional campus, there is usually a division of student affairs that provides support and resources for students. Services such as admissions, student records, financial aid, registration, library services, bookstore services, and counseling are often available to students physically attending classes on campus. “These services are assumed to be part of the educational process” (p. 119).

Student services for this population are only now becoming an issue in the field of distance education, and they have yet to be fully explored in the literature. Within the limited amount of data collected on support services, the focus is on the perceived necessities: online availability of admissions, registration, and financial aid. Important services a student might encounter and utilize in an on-campus situation such as career planning and placement, counseling, and other commonly seen campus-based support services have not been given sufficient consideration (Berge & Mrozowski, 2001).

Moneta (1997) explained that the rapid and constant changes in technology challenge student affairs administrators to offer services in forms different than traditionally seen. While it may be costly to implement student support services in new formats, it is necessary for online education to succeed. Further, student affairs administrators must be open and flexible to this nontraditional service delivery. Bothel (2001) pointed out that few changes are taking place in the overall university to accommodate for the special needs of the distance learning population.

Technology, and distance education in particular, creates a new arena for student affairs administrators who debate if all services traditionally found in a division of student affairs on a college campus can be offered at a distance. LaPaluda (2003) stated that “support readily available to on-campus students is lacking for distance learners and creating further isolation that can be discouraging and lead to failure” (p. 120). Online institutions must find ways of providing services equivalent to those on traditional college campuses. He added that while the most common services provided are financial aid, admissions and registration, online learners needed access to other student support services such as tutoring, academic advisement, personal counseling, career counseling, and library services. Offering these services only if the student comes to campus is counterproductive to distance education. “It is unrealistic to expect students that do not come to campus for their education will travel to campus to access student services” (p. 120).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine what online degree seekers express as their perceived needs with regard to student support services that exist for students attending on-campus classes. This study also explored to what extent online degree seekers, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, express that their student support services needs are being met. The researcher attempted to answer several research questions surrounding the non-academic experiences of online degree seekers. Two such questions explored:

•  What support services that are typically provided through student affairs divisions on a college or university campus do online learners perceive that they need?

•  Are online degree seekers receiving all of the student support services that they feel they need?

Participants

The participants in this study consisted of 272 online, degree-seeking students (males = 80, females = 191). Participants included both undergraduate (N = 72) and graduate level students (N = 199) ranging in age from 18 to 62. One participant did not indicate sex or status. Demographic information of participants is included in Table 1. All respondents were solely seeking their degree via online coursework from traditional, brick and mortar institutions that offer online degree programs for distance students. All four-year institutions, five participating schools were public, while one was private. Participants were not asked to reveal their institution.

Table 1
Demographic Characteristics of the Sample

Variable

n

Percent*

Gender

 

 

Males

80

29.4%

Females

191

70.2%

Status

 

 

Undergraduate

72

26.5%

Graduate

199

73.2%

Age

 

 

18-28 years old

72

26.5%

29-39 years old

78

28.7%

40-50 years old

79

29.0%

Over 50 years old

35

12.9%

Hours Currently Enrolled

 

 

1-3 hours

64

23.5%

4-6 hours

106

39.0%

7-12 hours

55

20.2%

Over 12 hours

22

8.1%

Hours Completed

 

 

1-30 hours

132

48.5%

31-60 hours

20

7.4%

61-90 hours

14

5.1%

91-120 hours

15

5.5%

Over 120 hours

14

5.1%

Work Hours Per Week

 

 

0-15 hours

35

12.9%

16-30 hours

19

7.0%

31-40 hours

97

35.7%

41-50 hours

34

12.5%

Over 50 hours

6

2.2%

Miles from Campus

 

 

0-25 miles

57

21.0%

26-50 miles

20

7.4%

51-100 miles

32

11.8%

101-500 miles

57

21.0%

501-1,000 miles

10

3.7%

Over 1,000 miles

13

4.8%

*Percentages will not always add up to 100% as there is some missing data.

A convenience sample of participants was formed. Although the number of online degree programs is increasing, there are limited degree programs from which participants could be drawn. Therefore, traditional institutions with established online degree programs were contacted to request participation.

The researcher made contact with program administrators within each of the aforementioned degree programs via Email. This correspondence explained the purpose and importance of the study and the criteria for participation. Moreover, this email correspondence sought agreement to participate on behalf of the institution. Participants were solicited from thirteen institutions offering online degree programs with no on-campus requirements. Due to timing and institutional research constraints, students from six institutions participated in this study. An incentive was provided in that participants could enter their name and email address separate from results to be entered into a drawing for two $50 gift certificates to amazon.com.

Instrumentation

The researcher developed an inventory listing potential out-of-class needs for online degree seekers. This instrument examined the needs for support services of these students and to what extent these needs are currently being met. The needs inventory consisted of 49 two-part questions. Each question listed a student service and asked students to what extent they felt (a) distance learners need the service, and (b) is the service available at their institution. A 5-point Likert consisting of strongly agree, agree, no opinion, disagree and strongly disagree was utilized to solicit participants' responses. Seven demographic questions were also asked. Two open-ended questions were included which asked participants to define the phrases ‘flexible services' and ‘student support services'.

This inventory measured the perceived needs of online degree seekers with regard to student support services based upon a review of the limited literature relevant to the student support services needs of distance learners was conducted and utilized in the development of this instrument. As stated above, the inventory consisted of 49 questions, split into 10 categories: Distance Learning – General; Pre-Admission Information, Administrative, and Academic Program Information; Orientation Services; Academic Advising; Career Services; Services for Students with Disabilities; Personal Counseling; Academic Support Services; Opportunities for Community; and Bookstore Services. Table 2 lists each section with a description of the type of information gathered.

Table 2
Descriptions of Information Gathered in Sections Included in Instrument

Section

Description of Information Gathered

Distance Learning – General

General information regarding availability of access and support services

Pre-Admission Information, Administrative, and Academic Program Information

Policies and procedures prior to application; online access to handbook, catalog, and other publications, information regarding what it is like to be a distance learner including personal readiness assessments

Orientation Services

Orientation, including what is discussed (technology, support services, personal development issues); interaction with institution representatives; continuous access throughout the year

Academic Advising

Individual versus group advising; access throughout the year; delivery methods; handbooks and guides

Career Services

Eligibility requirements and descriptions of services; online resources; access to counselors and events or job postings; delivery methods

Services for Students with Disabilities

Eligibility and documentation requirements; policies and procedures; access issues

Personal Counseling

Descriptions of services and access or delivery methods; online self-help tools; confidentiality and referral information

Academic Support Services

Online study tips or writing lab; information regarding learning assistance, tutoring services, or supplemental instruction

Opportunities for Community

Newsletters, announcements or student government; sense of community through an online portal or other methods

Bookstore Services

Online textbook lookup and ordering; clear descriptions of delivery methods; policy statements; online payment and tracking services

Prior to data collection steps were taken to ensure validity. External review of this instrument occurred. Three distance education administrators and two online faculty members reviewed the instrument in regard to face validity prior to distribution.

Data from participants was gathered over a period of seven weeks. During this time period, the researcher-developed needs inventory was available online for participants to access and complete . Following data collection, each set of questions within the instrument was examined and reliability coefficients were created. For the series of questions asking if distance learners need each student service, an alpha of .950 was found. Similarly, for the series of questions asking if participants were receiving these services, an alpha of .931 was found. Therefore, the instrument is highly reliable.

Results

To determine what support services, typically provided through student affairs divisions, online learners perceive that they need, descriptive statistics for the 49 5-point likert-type instrument items were analyzed. The top five reported student services are listed according to descending value of their means in Table 3. The two items with the highest means are Clear, complete, and timely information regarding curriculum requirements (M = 4.56, SD = .541) and ; An online bookstore that includes online textbook lookup and ordering (M = 4.56, SD = .587). Of the top five services perceived by online learners as needs for distance learners, two items are from the Academic Advising section, and three items are from the Bookstore Services section.

Table 3
Top Five Reported Student Services Needs Perceived by Online Learners According to Mean

Item

Section

M

SD

Clear, complete, and timely information

regarding curriculum requirements

Academic Advising

4.56

.541

An online bookstore that includes online

textbook lookup and ordering

Bookstore Services

4.56

.587

Online payment and tracking of orders at the

online bookstore

Bookstore Services

4.49

.578

Access to individual academic advising

Academic Advising

4.49

.656

An online bookstore clearly describes all

delivery methods.

Bookstore Services

4.48

.597


Similarly, the five student services perceived by online learners as needed by distance learners with the lowest means are listed according to ascending value of their means in Table 4. The item with the lowest mean is Orientation as a required, for credit course (M = 2.34, SD = 1.167). Of the five lowest items of the instrument, three items are from the Personal Counseling section. Additionally, one item came from Orientation Services and another item came from Opportunities for Community.

Table 4
Bottom Five Reported Student Services Needs Perceived by Online Learners According to Mean

Item

Section

M

SD

Orientation as a required, for credit course

Orientation Services

2.34

1.167

A distance learning student government

Opportunities for Community

2.89

1.130

A website that links to other colleges and

universities counseling center sites

Personal Counseling

3.21

1.019

Access to information about health and wellness

programs and other health care issues

Personal Counseling

3.33

1.026

Access to self-help tools, online links, and

information regarding locally based

counseling services

Personal Counseling

3.41

.997

Paired t-tests indicated that for all but one item, there was a significant difference between perceived need versus perceived availability of services. The only item not found to be significant was, Orientation as a required, for credit course . For each significant pair, the mean of need scores was rated higher than the mean of availability of services scores.

To further illustrate the differences between the perceived need and availability of services, the top five differences in means per pair are reported in descending rank order in Table 5. The item with the largest different between the mean of need and availability scores, Information regarding learning assistance, tutorial services, supplemental instruction, and other academic support services, M N – M A = 1.182. Three of the top five items in regard to difference between means are from the Career Services section.

Table 5
Top Five Differences in Mean of Need and Availability of Services in Rank Order

Survey Item

Difference in Means

Information regarding learning assistance, tutorial

services, supplemental instruction, and other academic

support services.

1.182

 

 

Access to career self-assessments with tutorials.

1.115

 

 

Access to career services that include self-assessments, goal and decision-making assistance, educational and career planning, and job search information.

1.083

 

 

Access to online academic advising guides.

1.065

 

 

An online comprehensive job search handbook.

1.058

The bottom five differences in means per pair are reported in descending rank order in Table 6. The item with the smallest difference between the mean of need and availability scores, Orientation as a required, for credit course, M N – M A = .080.

Table 6
Bottom Five Differences in Mean of Need and Availability of Services in Rank Order

Survey Item

Difference in Means

Newsletters and announcements regarding

institution related information.

.349

 

 

Online access to the catalog, student

handbook, and information related to

services provided by the institution.

.280

 

 

A distance learning student government.

.261

 

 

Academic honesty policy and information

regarding confidentiality prior to

enrollment.

.153

 

 

Orientation as a required, for credit course.

.080

Discussion & Implications

As previously highlighted, this study is the first conducted to investigate student services where participants were completely online degree seekers. Services explored in this study included pre-admission, administrative, and academic program information, orientation services, academic advising, career services, services for students with disabilities, personal counseling, academic support services, opportunities for community, and bookstore services. The following discussion is meant to begin conversation regarding necessary enhancements to student services for online learners. While this study can assist administrators in prioritizing their work in developing such services, this discussion is preliminary in nature and further research is critical to delve even deeper into the needs of this population.

What services are perceived as needed?

To explore the services that online learners perceive as needed, the researcher utilized descriptive statistics. The mean scores were ranked and both the top and bottom five reported student services needs were stated. Of the top five reported student services perceived as needed, three items were from the Bookstore Services section, and two were from Academic Advising . The item reported with the highest mean score was from the Academic Advising section.

As many distance learners work more than 40 hours per week outside of the home in a job unrelated to their status as a student, they are clearly committed individuals undertaking a variety of roles. (Schwitzer, Ancis, & Brown, 2001; Thompson, 1999). These students want what they need, when they need it, in a variety of formats (Olcott, 1997). Bookstore services are critical to the success of a distance learner in that students must be able to secure books for classes. While students can purchase textbooks online through amazon.com or other vendors, the present study shows that respondents felt that they would benefit from a bookstore service through their respective institution. The researcher expected that three of the top five reported services perceived as needed came from this section. Yet, given the limited amount of data collected on student support services, bookstore services have yet to surface in the literature surrounding student services for distance learners. While many may not consider bookstore service providers as student affairs, the results of this study suggest that online learners perceive these services as a critical part of their experience in relation to other student support services.

Similarly, the Academic Advising category yielded the two remaining items of the top five reported services perceived as needed by participants. The student service with the highest mean overall in regard to perceived need was clear, complete, and timely information regarding curriculum requirements . For similar reasons as to why bookstore services are important, academic advising is crucial for distance learners. In particular, 48.5% of the participants in this study reported that they had completed less than 30 hours towards their degree at the time of survey completion. Students at the beginning of a degree program typically require more intense advising than students further along in the process. These busy individuals hope to enroll in courses that will lead them down their desired paths. They also want to be sure that the degree they seek provides them the training, experiences, or knowledge needed to meet their goals. Without solid academic advising services, online degree seekers inevitably flounder at some point during their distance education experience.

With regard to three of the bottom five reported student services perceived as needed were from Personal Counseling, this population may not consider this a priority due to their full-time employment. If one considers that organizations may offer Employee Assistance Programs which typically include counseling options if needed, then students may perceive that other services are more crucial to obtain from their degree-granting institution.

Treuer and Belote (1997) noted that obtaining a degree at a distance might be an isolating experience. The item within Opportunities for Community in the bottom five reported services was a distance learning student government. While this item addresses only one very specific avenue for building community, it is possible that this activity is perceived to take up more time than these individuals want to invest in community building activities.

The item with the lowest mean was orientation as a required, for credit course . As previously noted, educational environments that provide flexibility such as distance learners remain attractive. As consumers concerned with taking courses to enhance their career and professional development, it is easy to imagine that students in this environment do not deem a required, for credit, orientation course important. With financial aid often at stake, students may not consider an orientation course worthy of taking away from their remaining aid monies, but there are many potential benefits to requiring all students to take an orientation course prior to enrolling in degree related courses. Administrators must examine ways to help distance learners understand and appreciate the value of these courses.

Are online learners receiving what they perceive they need?

The results of this study were significant in that all but one of the 49 likert-type items on the instrument, participants did not perceive to be receiving the service to as high of a degree that they perceived that distance learners need it. It is important to note here that participants did not create the list of services studied. Participants were asked to reflect on their perceptions of each service that was listed in the instrument. Nevertheless, whether a service is ranked first or forty-ninth, if online learners perceive that they are not receiving the service to the same level that they perceive it to be needed, a problem exists. As distance education continues to develop student services for this population, services such as bookstore services and academic advising, should be given first consideration by administrators. Additionally, while in general personal counseling and career services ranked lower in need by participants of this study, these services should also be discussed in order to better serve the needs of online learners.

While there was no significant difference for orientation as a required, for credit course , this is also the only item where the mean of the perceived availability of the service was higher than the mean of the perceived need. Even though this finding was not significant, it is a noteworthy difference in the pattern of responses. Again, distance learners must understand the importance and utility of the information covered in orientation courses.

Implications for Faculty

Faculty in student affairs preparation programs could utilize the results of this study to train new professionals. Many student affairs professionals enter the field to work with face-to-face students in a campus environment. As student support services for online and other distance learners increases, it may be troubling for many masters' students in college student affairs administration. Results such as these can be utilized as a basis for discussion regarding the importance and need for such student services with upcoming new professionals. Marsh (2003) stated that “ student affairs preparation programs need to become better equipped to be able to provide training and knowledge to prepare graduate students and professionals to succeed in student service positions in distance learning” (p. 121).

It is important for faculty in student affairs preparation programs to recognize that new graduates, regardless of the functional area or institution they find employment, will likely be challenged to provide services to distance learners. From the author's experience, introductory student affairs courses serve as the point where students learn the duties and responsibilities related to areas such as residential life, career services, or other traditional student affairs functional areas. Assignments that charge students to think about programs or services in a distance learning appropriate format could be added to the curriculum. For example, exploration of traditional delivery formats versus online would attempt to expand the traditional mindset of entry-level graduate students. Furthermore, as many programs require masters' level students to complete an internship and/or practicum during their program, distance-learning departments are often not included in the list of potential site for these experiences. As the online learning environment grows, faculty should encourage graduate students to select this area during on of their training experiences.

Need for Future Research

As this study begins to fill the gap in the existing literature surrounding student support services for distance learners, it leaves a need for future research in this area, particularly surrounding the needs for services for those students solely seeking their degree online. The present study utilized students from six traditional, campus-based institutions that also include distance degree programs. A similar study could compare how online learners at these institutions compare in perceived need for services with for-profit and virtual distance education institutions that do not have traditional on-campus programs.

Additionally, this study did not consider if participants perceived that they would utilize all services if provided to them. Future researchers might examine if online learners would utilize such services if provided in a manner that meets their needs. Furthermore, researchers might also investigate how the results from this study differ from students taking classes on-line but were not enrolled in an actual degree program.

Finally, future research might explore in what form participants might envision the services they perceive to be of highest need. For example, a qualitative investigation into why bookstore services are a priority for distance learners could help administrators build relevant services. Such a study might analyze in detail the related services and what they may look like in a format that would meet the needs of online learners. The perceptions of distance education administrators and student affairs professionals who work with this population of students could also add value to such a study. For example, a student support service such as orientation may be perceived as necessary by some online learners but in what format? Additional research in attempt to answer such questions is needed.

Limitations

While the results of this study have various implications for student affairs administrators who support online learners and graduate preparation faculty who work with new professionals, there are limitations to this study that must be acknowledged. As stated above, a convenience sample was formed for this study from the limited number of degree programs from which participants could be drawn.

Limitations also exist in regards to the data collection process. Invitations to participate were sent via email to students at each institution. Only one institution provided email addresses of participants to the researcher. The remaining institutions forwarded the invitation to potential participants due to confidentiality and privacy constraints regulated by each campus' Institutional Review Board. While the numbers of students who were invited to participate was known, it is unknown how many emails were returned to sender, unopened, or directly places in a junk mail folder and deleted. Consequently, a return rate was not calculated. As this study was developed to enhance student support services for students who were solely seeking their degree via online coursework, the findings and discussion must be considered in light of these limitations.

Conclusion

Participants of this study indicated that for 48 of 49 surveyed items, the need surpassed the availability of student support services. As distance education continues to expand its course offerings, student services must catch up and alter the traditional format of support services to meet the needs of this newest population of learners. With the aforementioned limitations in consideration, this study can provide a solid framework for administrators to begin conversations to enhance or create services appropriate for online learners. Additional research is necessary to determine in what format would online learners most benefit from these services. We cannot continue to offer support services in their traditional format when our students are becoming anything but traditional.


References

Berge, Z. L., & Mrozowski, S. (2001). Review of research in distance education, 1990-1999. The American Journal of Distance Education, 15 (3), 2-16.

Bayless, L.A. (2001). What are the non-academic needs of distance learners? (Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Tech, 2001). Dissertation Abstracts International, 62 , 396.

Bothel, R. (2001). Bringing it all together. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, IV (I), Article 3. Retrieved on September 16, 2002 from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring41/bothel41.html.

Carnevale, D. (2005, July 8). Online courses continue to grow, reports say. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved August 8, 2005, from http://chronicle.com/prm/weekly/v51/i44/44a02902.htm .

Distance Learning Policy Laboratory. (2002, June). Anytime, anyplace services for the21 st century student: A report by the distance learning policy laboratory student services subcommittee. Retrieved on September 16, 2002 from http://www.electroniccampus.org/policylab/Reports/Services%20Draft_LG.pdf .

Epper & Garn, (2003). Virtual College & University Consortia: A National Study.

Krauth, B. & Carbajal, J. (n.d.). The Guide to Developing Online Student Services.

Retrieved on October 29, 2003 from Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET) Web site: http://www.wcet.info/resources/publications/guide/guide.htm .

LaPadula, M. 2003. A comprehensive look at online student support services for distance learners. The American Journal of Distance Education 17 (2) , 119-128.

Marsh, S. R. (2003). Online students services for distance learners . Unpublished Dissertation.

Moneta, L. (1997). The Integration of Technology with the Management of Student Services, New Directions for Student Affairs: Using Technology to Promote Student Learning: Opportunities for Today and Tomorrow , 78 ,
5 – 16 .

Olcott, Jr., D. (Fall 1997). Renewing the vision: Past perspectives and future imperatives for distance education. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education , 2 – 13.

Schwitzer, A. M., Ancis, J. R., & Brown, N. (2001). Promoting student learning and student development at a distance: Student affairs concepts and practices for televised instruction and other forms of distance learning. Lantham, MD: American College Personnel Association.

Shea, P. & Armitage, S. (2003). Guidelines for Creating Student Services Online. Retrieved on October 29, 2003 from http://www.wcet.info/projects/laap/guidelines .

Thompson, M. M. (1999). Distance learners in higher education. In C. C. Gibson (Eds.).Distance learners in higher education: Institutional responses for quality outcomes (pp. 9 – 24). Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.

Treuer, P. & Belote, L. (1997). Current and emerging applications of technology to promote student involvement and learning. In C. M. Engstrom, K.W. Kruger (Eds.), New Directions for Student Affairs: Using Technology to Promote Student Learning: Opportunities for Today and Tomorrow: Number 78, (pp. 17 – 30). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Williams, M. L., Paprock, K., & Covington, B. (1999). Distance learning: The essential guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Appendix A

Needs Instrument, Abridged Version

The purpose of this study is to examine what online learners express as their perceived needs with regard to the usual student support services that exist for students attending on-campus classes. This study will also explore to what extent online learners, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, express that their student support services needs are being met.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

1 = Strongly Disagree 2 = Disagree 3 = No opinion 4 = Agree 5 = Strongly Agree

Distance Learning - General

Access to student services beyond 8am – 5pm.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Interactive student services, allowing for self-services as well as live support.

Distance Learners need these.

These are available to me.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Pre-admission information, administrative, and academic program information

Online information about what it is like to be a distance learner in general, as well as specific to the institution.

Distance Learners need this.

I was provided with this.

 

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Online access to the catalog, student handbook, and information related to services provided by the institution.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Orientation Services

An orientation that gives details of all policies and student services.

Distance Learners need this.

My institution has this.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Orientation as a required, for credit course.

Distance Learners need this.

My institution has this.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Academic Advising

Access all year to one-on-one and/or group academic advising.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Access to real time academic advisors.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Career Services

Access to real time career counselors.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

An online comprehensive job search handbook.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Services for Students with Disabilities

Information on eligibility and documentation requirements for disability services.

Distance Learners need this.

I was provided with this.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Descriptions of what are reasonable and appropriate accommodations available through disability services.

Distance Learners need these.

These are available to me.

 

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Personal Counseling

Access to referral information, community information, and contact information for staff.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Information regarding confidentiality in regard to counseling services.

Distance Learners need this.

I was provided with this.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Academic Support Services

An online writing lab.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Information regarding learning assistance, tutorial services, supplemental instruction, and other academic support services.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

Opportunities for Community

A web portal/learning community that helps students to feel connected to other students, faculty, staff, and the institution.

Distance Learners need this.

This is available to me.

 

 

1 2 3 4 5

1 2 3 4 5

A distance learning student government.
Distance Learners need this.

My institution has this.

 

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Bookstore Services

An online bookstore that includes online textbook lookup and ordering.
Distance Learners need this.

My institution has this.

 

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1 2 3 4 5

Online payment and tracking of orders at the online bookstore.
Distance Learners need this.

My institution has this.

 

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Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume IX, Number II, Summer 2006
University of West Georgia, Distance Education Center
Back to the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration Content