Ormond Simpson is a consultant in distance education, specialising in student support and retention. He has worked in distance education for nearly 40 years, at the UK Open University, London University International Programmes, and the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. He has given seminars workshops and keynote lectures in South Africa, Ghana, New Zealand, the West Indies, The Gambia, Korea, Papua New Guinea, Colombia, Brazil, China, Canada, Holland and the US. He has written two books 'Supporting Students in Online, Open and Distance Learning' and 'Student Retention in Online Open and Distance Learning'. NEW - a combined edition is now out (December 2012) http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415509107/

DOWNLOADABLE ARTICLES BY ORMOND SIMPSON

STUDENT RETENTION IN DISTANCE EDUCATION: ARE WE FAILING OUR STUDENTS?
This paper brings together some data on student retention in distance education in the form of graduation rates at a sample of distance institutions. The paper suggests that there is a ‘distance education deficit’ with many distance institutions having less than one-quarter of the graduation rates of conventional institutions.

The paper suggests that one reason for the deficit is the ‘category error’ of confusing teaching with learning, and that institutions have focused too much on the provision of teaching materials, especially online, and too little on motivating students to learn. The paper makes various suggestions for helping students succeed better.
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‘E-LEARNING AND THE FUTURE OF DISTANCE EDUCATION’
Paper explores the economic concepts of ‘return on investment’, ‘willing to pay’, ‘resale value of an education’ and ‘investment risk’ as they apply to e-learning and distance education.
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‘OPEN TO PEOPLE; OPEN WITH PEOPLE - ETHICAL ISSUES IN DISTANCE LEARNING’
Article argues that ethical issues in distance learning need to be reviewed in the light of recent developments. Three examples in distance education are taken: the increasing use of e-learning, dropout rates, and the development of methods of predicting student success.
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‘RETENTION AND COURSE CHOICE IN DISTANCE LEARNING'
Course choice is an important factor in new distance students’ subsequent retention. This article looks at various methods of helping students onto the best course for them.
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‘COST BENEFITS OF STUDENT RETENTION POLICIES AND PRACTICES'
This chapter will suggest that the economics of distance and online learning are very strongly affected by the financial aspects of student retention in distance and online education
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'MOTIVATING LEARNERS IN OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING: DO WE NEED A NEW THEORY OF STUDENT SUPPORT?'
This paper calls for a new theory of learner support in distance learning based on recent findings in the fields of learning and motivational psychology.
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'RESCUING THE PERSONAL TUTOR IN HIGHER EDUCATION'
This article suggests that the effective abolition of the personal tutor in the UKOU has had negative effects on student retention and re-registration
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'THIS DOOR IS ALARMED - WIDENING PARTICIPATION IN THE OPEN UNIVERSITY'
The UK Open University has been attempting to widen participation in higher education for 35 years. This article is a brief history of widening participation in the OU, surveys some of the issues involved including a brief analysis of the costs and benefits, and reports on the successes and failures of recent widening participation projects.
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'PREDICTING SUCCESS IN IN OPEN AND DISTANCE LEARNING'
This paper reviews some of the ways in which student success can be predicted in conventional and distance education. It suggests that statistical methods involving logistic regression analysis are
more useful than questionnaires or tutors’ opinions. Identifying students with low probability of success allows support to be targeted on them.
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'THE IMPACT ON RETENTION OF INTERVENTIONS TO SUPPORT DISTANCE LEARNING STUDENTS'
This article looks at the role of proactive interventions from the institution to its students. It uses the concept of ‘cost per students retained to show that in the case of the UKOU there are clear financial benefits to the institution, the individual and the UKOU’s funding agency, the UK Government.
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IMPROVING STUDENT RETENTION THROUGH EVIDENCE BASED PROACTIVE SYSTEMS AT THE OPEN UNIVERSITY (UK) (with Gibbs and Regan)
This paper outlines the similarities and differences between retention in distance learning in the UK and in US Colleges, illustrate the way a programme of planned interventions was evaluated at the Open University, explain how the cost-effectiveness of interventions was established, and describe the integrated proactive system now in operation.
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'DOES DISTANCE EDUCATION DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD?'
The first term in the Doctor’s Hippocratic Oath is ‘Do no harm’. In distance education it’s axiomatic that we do good but this paper suggests that we may be too complacent about this and that we need to know rather more than we do about what in many cases is our final product – the dropped out student. For there is evidence that dropping out of full time UK higher education has deleterious effects on the students who drop out and on society as a whole.
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'STUDENT-STUDENT MENTORING FOR ENGAGEMENT AND RETENTION IN DISTANCE EDUCATION' (with Boyle, Kwon and Ross)
The article reports on three mentoring projects in the United Kingdom, Korea and New Zealand, and shows that retention gains of up to 20% with a return on investment of the order of magnitude of several hundred per cent may be possible.
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'‘RETENTIONEERING' HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE UK: ATTITUDINAL BARRIERS TO ADDRESSING HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENT RETENTION IN UK UNIVERSITIES' (with Johnston).
This article suggests that the biggest barriers to increasing students retention in UK higher education are the attitudes of staff in higher education institutions.
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'22% - CAN WE DO BETTER?'
This is an literature survey for the UKOU Centre for Widening Participation on international research into retention (copyright UKOU). It concludes that there is very little good evidence of effective retention activities in distance education but that there are a few activities which would be worth developing.
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