Learning Objective 1: understand the concept student support in an open distance learning context and how it contributes to success.
Learning Objective 2: address the question of what is required to assist students in open distance learning to meet their learning outcomes and become successful in their studies.
Methods: A concept analysis was done to elicit the essential attributes of the concept student support in open distance learning (ODL). Data collection for this concept analysis consisted of searching electronic databases. Key terms were used to explore the literature. Data analysis was based on Walker and Avant’s method (2005) to determine common themes, uses of the concept, defining attributes, exemplar cases, borderline cases, contrary cases, antecedents, consequences, and empirical referents.
Results: ODL aims at bridging the time, geographical, economic, social, educational and communication distance between student and institution, student and academics, student and courseware and student and peers. It widens access to learning, provides for flexibility of learning provision, focuses on student centredness, and supports students by constructing learning programmes with the expectation that students can succeed. Student support as a critical factor for teaching and learning in ODL is classified as cognitive support (supporting and developing learning), affective support (that refers to the emotions that support learning and success) and systematic support (managing institutional systems and rules).
Conclusion: Research into student support provides an understanding of the broader context of ODL and the achievement of success. Knowledge of and interest in student learning is likely to have a positive effect on overall student support with a result of quality teaching and learning.