Tutoring support as a predictor of student retention in distance learning: The case of a University in Ghana

Vera Arhin, John Ekow Laryea


The tutor’s role in enhancing student retention in distance learning is paramount. This study aims to predict retention and not actual retention by investigating how tutoring support predicts student retention in distance learning at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. Moore Transactional Distance Theory underpinned the theoretical framework of this study. The correlational research design was adopted for the study. The multistage sampling technique was used to sample 727 student participants from a sampling frame of 8731 out of which 625 was used for the analysis. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings of the study revealed that the respondents had a positive perception towards tutoring support offered at the University. However, at an alpha level of .05 tutoring support made a non-significant contribution to prediction (p = .11). The findings further, revealed that a unit increase in tutoring support will improve student retention by 1.42 times. Implications of the study were also discussed.


distance learning; tutoring; retention; student support

Full Text:



ACT (2010). What works in student retention? Fourth national survey. Iowa City: ACT. Retrieved from http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/Retention-FourYr_BlackEnroll.pdf

Adams, C. J. (2011, September 20). Colleges Try to Unlock Secrets to Student Retention. Education Week, 31(4), 1-16. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/leadership/colleges-try-to-unlock-secrets-to-student-retention/2011/09

Akuamoah-Boateng, C., & Boadu, K. (2013). Reducing distance learners’ attrition rate at the University of Cape Coast: Tutors’/students’ perception. International Journal of Learning and Development, 3(3), 214- 229. http://dx.doi.org/10.5296/ijld.v3i3.4068

Alisha, L. D. (2016). The role of the faculty in retaining students. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Walden University, USA.

Anderson, K. T. (2011). Linking adult learner satisfaction with retention: The role of background characteristics, academic characteristics and satisfaction upon retention. Graduate theses, Iowa State University. Retrieved from https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/12066

Arhin, V., & Wang’eri, T. (2018). Orientation programs and student retention in distance learning: The case of University of Cape Coast. Journal of Educators Online, 15(1). http://doi.org/10.9743/JEO2018.15.1.6

Berger, J. B., Ramírez, G. B., & Lyons, S. (2012). Past to present: A historical look at retention. In A. Seidman (Ed.), College student retention–formula for student success (pp. 7-34). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Bukholder, J. G., Lenio, J., Holland, N., Jobe. R., Seidman, A., Neal, D., & Middlebrook, J. (2013). An institutional approach to developing a culture of student persistence. Higher Learning Research Communications, 3(3), 16-39.

Connelly, L. M. (2008). Pilot studies. Medsurg Nursing, 17(6), 411-2.

Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (4th ed.). Sage.

Freeman, V. S. (2010). Focus: Online education and technology introduction. Supplement Clinical Laboratory Science, 3(23), 51-52.

Grillo, M. C & Leist, C. W. (2013). Academic support as a predictor of retention to graduation: New insights on the role of tutoring, learning assistance, and supplemental instruction. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice, 15(3), 387-408. https://doi.org/10.2190/CS.15.3.e

Harewood Cox. J. A. (2015). Examining the perception of first year students on retention factors at the University of the West Indies. (Doctoral thesis, University of West Indies, Mona). https://doi.org/10.18297/etd/2087

Hupfeld, K. (2007). Resiliency skills and dropout prevention: A review of the literature. Scholar Centric. Retrieved from http://www.scholarcentric.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/SC_Resiliency_Dropout-Prevention_WP_FNL.pdf

Kalsbeek, D. H. & Zucker, B. (2013). Reframing retention strategy: A focus on profile. New Directions for Higher Education, 161, 15-25. https://doi.org/10.1002/he.20042

Kiguwa, P., & Silva, A. (2007). Teaching and learning: Addressing the gap through learning styles. South African Journal of Psychology, 37(2), 354-360.

Kostina, M. V. (2011). Exploration of student perceptions of autonomy, student-instructor dialogue and satisfaction in a web-based distance Russian language classroom: A mixed methods study. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Iowa, Iowa). https://doi.org/10.17077/etd.hxqics0u

Krejcie, R. V., & Morgan, D. W. (1970). Determining sample size for research activities: Educational and psychological measurement. Sage.

McFarlene, D. A. (2011). A comparison of organizational structure and pedagogical approach: Online versus face-to-face. The Journal of Educators Online, 1(8), 1-43. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ917871.pdf

Mori, I. (2015). The effects of supplementary tutoring on students’ mathematics achievement in Japan and the United States. Unpublished discussion paper, University of Tokyo, Japan.

Moore, M. G. (1983). The individual adult learner. In M. Tight (Ed.), Adult learning and education (2nd ed., pp. 153-168). Croom Helm.

Moore, M. G. (2013). Transactional distance. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance education (3rd ed., pp. 66-85). Routledge.

Mustafa, H. (2018, June). Work in Progress: Modeling a Tutoring Center to Improve Retention and Promote Student Success in Lower-level Engineering Classes. Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved from https://peer.asee.org/31296

Noel-Levitz, R.. (2008). Student success, retention and graduation: Definitions, theories, practices, patterns, and trends. Retrieved from https://www.stetson.edu/law/conferences/highered/archive/media/Student%20Success,%20Retention,%20and%20Graduation-%20Definitions,%20Theories,%20Practices,%20Patterns,%20and%20Trends.pdf

Noel-Levitz, R. (2015). Attitudes of second-year college students that influence college completion. Retrieved from http://learn.ruffalonl.com/rs/395-EOG-977/images/2015_Attitudes_of_Second_Year_Students.pdf

Nichols, M. (2011). Intervention for retention through distance education: A comparison study. Laidaw: Ako-Aotearoa.

Osborne, J. (2014). Best practices in logistic regression. Sage.

Pluhta, E. H., & Penny, G. R. (2013). The effect of community college promise scholarship on access and success. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 37(10), 723-734. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10668926.2011.592412

Saba, F. (2012). A systems approach to future of distance education in colleges and universities: Research, development and implementation. Continuing Higher Education, 76, 30-37.

Schlosser, L., & Simonson, M. (2009). Distance education: Definition and glossary of terms (3rd ed.). Information Age Publishing. Review 76, 30-37.

Segoe, B. (2014). Tutor support in open distance learning: Environment for upgrading teachers. Journal of Human Ecology, 48(1), 161-169. https://doi.org/10.1080/09709274.2014.11906785

Seidman, A. (2012). College student retention: Formula for student success (2nd ed.). ACE/Rowman & Littlefield.

Streiner, D. L. (2003). Starting at the beginning: An introduction to coefficient alpha and internal consistency. Journal of Personality Assessment, 80(1), 99-103.

Tschechtelin, J. D. (2011). Increased enrollment + student success - funding = ? New Directions for Community Colleges, 11(156), 49-59. https://doi.org/10.1002/cc.466

Zambrano, V, V. & Gisbert, D. D. (2015). The coordinating role of the teacher in peer tutoring programme. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 19, 2300-2306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.423

Zhan, S., Bray, T. M., Wang, D., Lykins, C. R., & Kwo, O. W. Y. (2013). The effectiveness of private tutoring: students’ perceptions in comparison with mainstream schooling in Hong Kong. Asia Pacific Education Review, 14(4), 495-509. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12564-013-9276-7

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.12.4.1124


  • There are currently no refbacks.