Assessing the quality of the integrated tutor model for student support in Open Distance Learning

Keywords: Tutoring, Open distance learning, integrated tutor model and quality.


The demand for university education has put pressure on institutions of higher learning to provide access and quality student support because increased access to higher education should not compromise the quality of student support services. Tutorial support in Open Distance Learning (ODL) is one of the support services used by institutions to ensure increasing academic access and participation. An Integrated Tutor Model (ITM) has been used for this purpose at the University of South Africa (Unisa). However, the quality of the ITM-based tutor support services is not yet known. The aim of this qualitative exploratory study was to assess the quality of tutorial support services offered through the ITM at Unisa. The ITM model is the integration of the face-to-face and online tutor systems adopted by Unisa. Students who were involved in the tutorials of the first and second semesters in 2022 were purposively selected to participate in the study. Data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). We learned that the students hold positive views about the quality of tutorials in terms of time management and the quality of recordings on Microsoft Teams, the tutors who offer the modules and the communication that they receive from the tutors. There were however challenges that the students faced such as load-shedding and network-related and personal issues. The tutors mitigated these challenges by sending the students the recordings of the sessions. The study shares knowledge about the tutors’ skills and creativity in the use of the ITM to provide quality support toward student learning in an ODL higher institutional environment.


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