Assessing the effectiveness of distance education in Ghana: A multi-site case study
Stephen Debar Kpinpuo, Purdue University, United States
Purdue University . Awarded
Over the years, public universities in Ghana have been unable to admit up to half of qualified applicants into their conventional programs. Due to rapid population growth in the country, coupled with an ever increasing demand for higher education in universities with limited physical facilities, several tens of thousands of qualified applicants are denied access to university education which not only creates a kind of unhealthy competition for instructional space but also increases cost of a college education beyond the means of most applicants. The educational authorities of Ghana, in response to this crisis, recently adopted distance education as a second mode of educational delivery with a potential to addressing the problems of the traditional system.
This study assessed the effectiveness of four public university-operated Distance Education Programs (DEPs) in Ghana by examining elements of accessibility, affordability, equity, funding, program offerings, and administration. Using the Logic Model as an assessment tool, the evaluative study adopted a case study approach involving a multi-sited DEP. The study mixed both quantitative and qualitative research methods as well as data collection methods in order to ensure credibility, validity, and reliability of both the data gathered and findings from a comparative analysis of such data. It involved review of DEP records, cross-sectional student survey, and interview of program officials. Analysis of the resulting triangulation of data was conducted at two levels: (1) individual program analysis, and (2) across-program analysis. While the program level analysis provided useful information on the extent to which the individual programs were pursuing their respective objectives, the analysis across programs provided a system-wide overview of the DEPs regarding their pursuit of objectives of national interest.
Findings of the study revealed that the Ghanaian DEPs were largely ineffective in the provision of increased access, reduced participation fees, and equity in the distribution of educational opportunities. It was observed that access to higher education was largely accounted for by only 25% of program offerings (non-degree program) which was found to be both affordable and accessible while the remaining 75% of program offerings (bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs) attracted very limited enrollments, as the majority of students could hardly afford participation in such programs. As a result, access (in its expanded and limited forms) was found to be inequitably distributed among the different DEPs and their program offerings, regional distribution of distance learning opportunities, and program completion rates. For example, in a given year, the certificate/diploma program accounted for 77.3% of total student enrollments into the nation's public sector DEPs, enrollment for the bachelor's program formed 21.5%, the master's program accounted for 1.2%, and the doctoral program had no enrollments. To help increase access system-wide, lower participation cost, and distribute access equitably to the Ghanaian public, a hybrid form of distance education was recommended for the Ghanaian DEP as a transitional strategy.
Kpinpuo, S.D. Assessing the effectiveness of distance education in Ghana: A multi-site case study. Ph.D. thesis, Purdue University.
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