Open Universities Australia
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Smarthinking Helps Improve Course Pass Rates
Study ties improved course pass and retention rates to the impact of Smarthinking.
Open Universities Australia (OUA) was founded in 1993 and has provided online educational opportunities to more than 250,000 students. OUA provides access to more than 1700 units and 180 courses from over 20 leading Australian universities and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions. Transforming student lives through education is central to OUA’s mission.Download PDF
Open Universities Australia (OUA) aims at making education a real possibility for a vast range of students; from different backgrounds and at different stages of their lives. This includes students located in remote areas of the country, professionals working full-time, mature-age students and students with no previous family history of university study. By removing barriers to entry for most first-year undergraduate degrees, including entrance scores or previous education history, OUA truly provides “open” access to higher education opportunities. With such a diverse group of students, OUA takes very seriously its commitment and endeavors to support students at various stages of their learning journey. In order to meet this commitment, OUA’s challenge was to provide a range of services to meet the needs of its students.
In 2007, OUA decided to offer its students access to Smarthinking’s 24/7 online tutorial service. Not only can students sharpen their academic writing skills with the Online Writing Lab (OWL) but they can also clarify queries on a range of topics by talking directly to subject matter experts. An analysis of the impact Smarthinking had on students’ engagement and retention between 2011 and 2012 indicated a dramatic connection. Smarthinking users reported a consistently higher percentage of pass rates throughout the year and achieved approximately double the percentage of High Distinction and Distinction grades as non-Smarthinking users. Through ongoing research, OUA concluded that new students who used Smarthinking were far more likely to pass initial study units than their non-Smarthinking counterparts. The results suggested that Smarthinking fosters in students a higher awareness and sense of responsibility towards their own studies, which ultimately increases their commitment to complete their studies. Over all, the likelihood of withdrawal is significantly below the average attrition rate for Smarthinking users.
"OUA is committed to providing our students with the academic support they need to succeed in their studies. The concept of Smarthinking, with its comprehensive range of online tutorial support, is well aligned with the OUA model of online delivery and its educational mission. Together, OUA and Smarthinking assist students to achieve academic success, regardless of physical location and other life commitments."
Dr. Cathy Stone, Director, Student Success & Support Srvs.
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