In this activity we are asked to reflect on a paper by Dearnley (2003) which discusses student support in the context of mature learners who were practicing nurses and were studying through open learning. Dearnley identifies three types of network which provide support:
- Social (typically family and friends)
- Professional (typically work colleagues)
- Academic (fellow students and personal tutors)
We are asked to consider the following questions:
- Focus on your prospective learners: will they have any of the same issues as the students in Dearnley's paper?
- Which social, academic and professional frameworks do you access as a student – for example, in your study of H807? I'm not assuming that everyone will use all three or will have access to all of them, a point that Dearnley also makes.
Undoubtedly, some of the learners in the group on which I will base my activity will experience many of the same issues as those in Dearnley's paper. Our courses attract significant numbers of part time (day release) students who often have demanding professional jobs. Furthermore we tend to have substantial numbers of mature students who may have family responsibilities to balance alongside their studies. In fact, even many of our younger, school leaving entrants also have to contend with part time employment and family commitments. It is therefore highly likely that the majority of our students will benefit from all three types of support network.
From a personal perspective, I would say that I benefit from primarily from the social and academic networks. My family and friends provide the emotional support that is often essential when the demands of part time study get on top of me. They also keep me grounded when I am perhaps getting things out of proportion. My fellow students on the course are also a valuable source of support. It is always helpful when one is really struggling with workloads, or with understanding a concept, to know that others in the group are going through similar difficulties, or indeed having to cope with much more difficult circumstances than me. I feel that I get the least support from my colleagues at work and there is virtually no allowance made for my studies. This may be my own fault in that I have never really sought support.
Dearnley, C. (2003) 'Student support in open learning: sustaining the process', International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning [online]http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/132/212 (Accessed 29 May 2011)