Student progress in distance education courses: A replication study

David Kember, Tammy Lai, David Mlurphy, Irene Siaw, K. S. Yuen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


A crucial test of the veracity of any theoretical model is replicability. This article describes a replication study of a model of student persistence in distance education. The model had its origins in the influential work of Tinto (1975), as reformulated by Kember (1989) for the special circumstances of distance education students. The essence of the model is that social and academic integration of students are viewed as intervening variables between initial background characteristics and outcome measures (i.e. academic achievement and persistence). A quantitative test of the model, using a Distance Education Student Progress (DESP) inventory developed for this purpose, has been reported (Kember, Murphy, Siaw, & Yuen, 1991). To further test the model, especially in terms of its replicability, minor modifications were made to the DESP inventory in the light of the original findings, and it was applied to a different set of institutions, courses and students. The second study has resulted in a similar path model for student progress. Comparison of the significant paths between the academic and social integration variables and the outcome variables shows a notable degree of similarity between the models. Reliability values for the majority of the sub-scales identified in the original study have improved in the replication. Both studies have revealed the importance of social and academic integration to student progress in distance education. As such, the studies provide a useful framework for further study of what motivates distance education students to persist in their studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-301
Number of pages16
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1994


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