A Comparative Analysis of the Academic Performance of Distance and On-campus Learners


C. M. MAGAGULA
A. P. NGWENYA


ABSTRACT
This study examined (i) the profile of the distance and on-campus learners, (ii) the academic performance of distance and on-campus learners, (iii) the advantages and disadvantages of learning through distance education and on-campus education, and (iv) how the disadvantages of learning through distance education could be reduced. The study found that the majority of distance and on-campus learners were female, single, and unemployed. Most off-campus learners were more than 20 years old, whilst on-campus learners were less than 20 years old. Off-campus learners tended to perform better than on-campus learners. Advantages of distance learning included application of acquired knowledge and skills if working; earning income if working; and studying at own pace, time and place. Disadvantages of studying off-campus included use of all Saturdays for face-to-face tutorials; inability to use library facilities on Saturdays due to tight schedule; some modules were not available on time for learners to use resulting in issue of photocopied handouts and notes by tutors and lecturers; and photocopied handouts were not serving a useful purpose since they were not appropriate for distance learning. Subsequently, off-campus learners suggested that the library should close late on Saturdays; lecturers and tutors should be available in their offices for consultations on Saturdays and during the week; lecturers should pin consultation schedules on their office doors; and lecturers and tutors who absent themselves should be reprimanded and/or requested to repay off-campus learners for the costs incurred travelling to regional learning centres.


KEYWORDS: Distance Education; Distance Learning; On-Campus Learning; Off-Campus; Learning; University Education; Academic Performance; Face-to-Face Teaching

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