Determining needs and priorities of learners with special needs for support services in an open and distance learning context in Turkey

Hakan Genç, Serpil Koçdar


This study aims to identify needs and priorities of learners with special needs for support services in an open and distance teaching university in Turkey based on disability type. Exploratory sequential design was adopted. In the qualitative phase, semi-structured interviews were performed with six individuals from each group, including hearing impairment, visual impairment, and physical disability to determine the needs of the learners. Data were coded based on a thematic framework involving managerial, pedagogical, social, and technical support. To determine the priorities of the learners with special needs for support services in the quantitative phase, surveys were developed separately for three groups with disabilities based on the qualitative findings. A total of 703 learners took part in the surveys. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Findings of the study revealed that learners with special needs require a wide variety of services regarding managerial, pedagogical, social, technical and vocational support. Existing support systems need to be improved and awareness for these systems should be increased to make services more inclusive.


open and distance learning, learner support services, exploratory sequential design, mixed method, learners with special needs, inclusion at higher education

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