Race, Age, and Gender as Attributes of Student Attrition in an Open Distance E-Learning (ODeL) Landscape


  • Rendani Sipho Netanda University of South Africa




distance education, student dropout, higher education institutions, deficit model, open distance e-learning (ODeL), student attrition


Using the deficit theory, this article explored whether race, age, and gender are determining factors leading to attrition. The study followed a qualitative methodological approach. Data were generated through telephonic and focus-group interviews. To identify suitable honours students who dropped out, the snowball sampling technique was used. Sixteen participants were selected purposively and interviewed. While six of them participated in a focus group, 10 were interviewed telephonically. Findings divulged that many of the students who further their studies in open distance e-learning institutions experience a range of challenges, which, in due course, lead to attrition. Lecturers’ failure to provide feedback on time, amongst other reasons for attrition, was cited as a serious determining factor. Although preceding studies have unveiled that race, age, and gender contribute towards student attrition in higher education, this inquiry uncovered that such is not always the case. To effectively respond to the needs causing attrition, students and lecturers must address these challenges that they encounter in teaching and learning. It is, therefore, of paramount importance to develop and implement training programmes for students and lecturers on aspects such as time management, managing their workload, and encouraging lecturers to provide feedback on time to the students concerned.


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How to Cite

Netanda, Rendani S. “Race, Age, and Gender As Attributes of Student Attrition in an Open Distance E-Learning (ODeL) Landscape”. Commonwealth Youth and Development, 16 pages . https://doi.org/10.25159/2663-6549/14517.



Received 2023-08-28
Accepted 2024-05-14
Published 2024-06-19