Effect of Contact Class Attendance on the Academic Success of Open Distance Learning Students in Advanced Certificate in Education Programmes


The article first explores open distance learning (ODL) as a delivery mode for professional teacher development programs in South Africa by comparing the ODL models of selected universities in developing, developed, and newly industrialized contexts. The article then reports on an empirical investigation conducted about the effect of contact class and vacation school attendance on the academic success of students (n=1310) who wrote examination papers (n=4931) for a variety of modules in four purposefully selected Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) programs at the School of Continuing Teacher Education (SCTE) of the North-West University in South Africa. Descriptive statistics show the majority of students did not attend any contact classes or vacation schools, while still performing academically above average. Computing Spearman’s rank-order correlations (r), no practically significant correlations were found between contact class and vacation school attendance and the academic success of students. However, ANOVA analyses reveal that it was beneficial for students to rather attend three contact sessions, than two or no contact sessions