Effect of multiple roles on persistence of female students in distance education programmes in selected public universities in ghana
Somuah, Priscilla Njoki
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Distance education has become more acceptable among many female students globally due to its convenience, flexibility and technological transformation in the teaching and learning modalities. In spite of the favourable learning modalities that seem to characterise distance education programmes, most learners including female students often possess multiple personal and professional life roles such as being a caretaker, parent and employee. These roles usually impact positively or negatively on their successful persistence. This study sought to find out the effect of multiple roles on persistence of female students in distance education programmes at selected public universities in Ghana. The objectives of the study were to: determine the extent to which family responsibilities affect the persistence of female students in distance education programmes; examine how financial responsibilities of female students affect their persistence in distance education programmes; establish the extent to which social responsibilities affect the persistence of female students in distance education programmes and establish the effect of work demands on the persistence of female students in distance education programmes at University of Cape Coast and University of Education, Winneba in Ghana. The study was anchored on the feminist standpoint theory. The embedded mixed methods approach which employed correlational and phenomenological research designs was used for collection and analysis of data. The total target population was 7870 made up of 7,849 second year female students pursuing undergraduate programmes in Education and 21 study centre coordinators. The study centres and participants for the interviews were purposively selected while stratified random sampling was used for sampling female students. A sample size of 447 respondents made of 441 female students and 6 study centre coordinators was used for the study. Instruments for data collection were female student questionnaire and female student and study centre coordinator interview guides. Quantitative data were analysed using frequencies, percentages, means, standard deviation and regression analysis. Results were presented using tables and graphs. Qualitative data were reported in narrative forms based on emerging patterns and themes to support the quantitative results. Using a simple linear regression, the study found that performing family responsibilities positively increased the persistence of female students (p=.155<.001). It was found that financial responsibilities positively increased persistence among the respondents (p=.220<.001). However, the study revealed that respondents‟ participation in social responsibilities had no effect on their persistence (p= .003>.001). The study established that work demands positively increased (p=.313<.001) the persistence of respondents. These results meant that except social responsibilities, all other roles made positive and significant contributions in predicting persistence of female students. In addition, the results from the stepwise multiple regression revealed that, work demands made the largest unique significant contribution (p=.313<05) in the prediction of persistence of female students. It also had a shared significant contribution with financial responsibilities (p=.348<.05). It was recommended that as administrators of distance education institutions formulate policies that focus on females students who enrol with multiplicity of roles such as the introduction of reduced course units for a semester in order to decrease the effect of multiple roles on persistence. Also, female students must be provided with information on strategies that would help them to manage these roles effectively.