Study on Predicting ‘at-risk’ Female Learners in BOU-Open School: Who succeeds and Why?
The Open School of Bangladesh Open University (BOU-OS) launched, using self-learning materials, face-to-face tutorials, and ICT (radio-TV broadcasts, SMS technology), its operation in 1995 through enrolling learners in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) programme which is considered at par with the conventional SSC. As of today, it is found that large number of learners do not complete their studies what is called ‘failure’ and some do finish what we call ‘success’. Female learners are found to have higher ‘failure’ rate than their male counterparts. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive approach taking into account all the experiences of distance learners as well as the unique aspects of the distance learning environment in Bangladesh where female students face more factors leading to course withdrawal from their programme than male students. The current research explores the predictive capability, ie "predisposing characteristics" in regard to their chances of successfully completing their programme delivered through distance education. Questions related to why some female students succeed and others fail are of both theoretical and practical significance, as distance education moves from a marginal to an integral role in the educational provision in Bangladesh. This research is descriptive in nature and follows a systematic empirical investigation. It explores the predictive capability of female students in regard to the chances of successfully completing their studies. The survey was conducted on 300 SSC newly-enrolled female students by using questionnaire comprising questions on demographic data (e.g., gender, age, and general educational background) and predisposing characteristics. In addition, selected case studies are used. In order for understanding students’ success and persistence in open school’s SSC programme, a five-point Likert scale questionnaire is used. A range of variables are chosen to measure factors predisposing students toward success or withdrawal/failure in their first SSC programme. The current research has implications in both national and BOU policy formation and practice as it identifies girls’ access and opportunities to ICT vis-à-vis open and distance learning. // Paper ID: 94