Tutors? View : What Tutors Can Do To Care For Learners II

What Tutors Can Do To Care For Learners II

Compiled by Lamjin Atoh (lamjin@oum.edu.my)

Learner attrition may not be uncommon especially in ODL institutions but there are nonetheless key steps that tutors can take to ensure that their learners stay for the long haul. Here are some views from OUM tutors:

Support sessions for learners

Generally, tutors and learners agree that attrition is often related to learners? uncertainties regarding their study programmes and university rules. OUM has introduced many changes to maintain and improve its position locally and globally, among which include changes to the medium of instruction, examination format, course structure, assessment methods, and faculty leadership. If learners are unhappy, alternatives are easily available, even in Sandakan. If a better option presents itself, learners are likely to jump ship.

Because tutors are closely connected to the learners, they play an important role in preventing attrition. Tutors can sense if their learners are having problems if they constantly monitor their learners? attendance and participation in tutorials. The learning centre administrators should be alerted when problems begin to develop. Marketing and promoting new programmes will not help unless the root causes of attrition are discovered.

To combat attrition, every learning centre should conduct support sessions to help learners, especially those who are at-risk. The aim is to provide social support and explain structural changes to the learners. These sessions should be attended by the administrators, tutors, alumni members, and learners. Hopefully this will go some way towards alleviating any fear of change which learners may have.

Dr Ng Kim Choy
Lead Tutor
Sandakan Learning Centre

Show of care

It is not easy to pinpoint one single factor which causes learners to withdraw from their programmes. Many factors could potentially contribute to attrition. Learners may drop out because they lack time to study, are unable to understand the subject, or have low self-esteem. When the going gets tough, some of them may feel that they are just not tough enough to keep on going.

As providers of higher learning, we have to ensure that learners have the best chance to excel in their studies. During tutorials, tutors need to personally engage their learners and challenge them to improve themselves. When learners feel that their tutors care for them, it makes such a positive difference to their morale.

During the first semester, the learners are taken through a course which would supposedly help them cope with their academic life. Once this course is over, they seem to be left to fend for themselves for the remainder of their study duration.

Abraham Maslow believes that every human being needs social support to stay motivated in their quest to improve. Knowing this, OUM should conduct motivational camps and study seminars from time to time. This would constantly remind them that they have plenty of room for improvement. This would make the learners feel appreciated and taken care of. Learners want to feel that they matter over and above any profit-making interest.

Shanmuganathan Ramasamy
Lead Tutor
Kota Kinabalu Learning Centre

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Tutors can ensure that learners continue their studies in OUM by:

Ensuring that learners can reach tutors most of the time for consultation
Making sure that learners understand the course material during tutorials.
Setting easy questions as assessment so that learners are not discouraged by the subject.
Designing the tutorial activities in such a way that learners appreciate the subject.
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