Self-regulated learning skills of Grade 10 learners' in open distance learning: a Namibian case
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The Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) is an open distance learning (ODL) institution that was established by an act of parliament (Act 1 of 1997) to provide learning opportunities for adults and out-of-school youths. The NAMCOL programmes are intended for learners who are unable to gain admission to the formal education system for grade 10 (Junior Secondary Certificate - JSC) or grade 12 (Namibia Senior Secondary certificate - NSSC). Despite the value and benefits of open distance learning, many grade 10 learners studying through NAMCOL in Namibia are faced with challenges and demands of ODL which have an influence on their academic achievement. Studying through ODL requires learners to be self-regulated in order to cope with the challenges and demands of ODL. The main aim of the study was to explore whether grade 10 NAMCOL open distance learners have sufficient self-regulated learning skills to cope with the challenges of open distance learning. For the purpose of this study, self-regulated learning was viewed through the lens of the social cognitive theory. Zimmerman's (2000) three phase cyclical model of SRL, which is also grounded in Bandura's (1986) social cognitive theory, formed the theoretical framework of the study. In Zimmerman's (2000) model, three phases are distinguished, namely the forethought, performance and self-reflection phases. Each of the three phases comprises specific processes and sub-processes representing the skills self-regulated learners demonstrate when they are completing tasks. A qualitative research design, guided by an interpretivist paradigm, was used to explore the perceptions of tutors and learners regarding the grade 10 NAMCOL learners' self-regulated learning skills to cope with the challenges of open distance learning. Three NAMCOL centres, six tutors and fifteen learners were conveniently and purposively selected to participate in the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect data. Content analysis was used to analyze the data using a thematic approach. The findings revealed that grade 10 NAMCOL learners to a great extent do not have the abilities to cope with the challenges and demands of ODL. Findings also revealed discrepancies between tutors' and learners' perceptions of grade 10 NAMCOL learners' self-regulated skills to cope with ODL and to achieve academic success. The majority of the grade 10 NAMCOL learner participants perceive themselves to possess the SRL skills to cope with ODL. On the other hand Grade 10 NAMCOL tutors perceive most grade 10 NAMCOL learners to lack many SRL skills to achieve academic success. Recommendations are made to assist grade 10 NAMCOL learners to cope with ODL challenges and to develop their self-regulated learning in order for them to be academically successful.
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