A study on RTVU learners in open learning: Developing learners' skills and capacity for self-directed learning

Danqing Huang
The Open University of China

Beijing, China

This research paper is based on three sources:


Data collected from questionnaire surveys with 803 learners and 156 tutors in China Central Radio & TV University (CCRTVU, now the Open University of China), Shan Xi Radio & TV University (SXRTVU) and He Nan Radio & TV University (HNRTVU), in which stratified sampling and multi-stage sampling techniques were used.

2 Six focus group discussions with learners and three focus group discussions with tutors which adopted snowball and purposive sampling techniques.
3 Ten expert interviews in the three RTVUs.

The learner participants were majoring in Law, Accounting and Chinese Language and Literature.

This paper begins by describing the learners' personal circumstances and reasons for studying at RTVUs; and this is followed by analysing their motivation, the difficulties they encountered in open learning, and their study methods. The paper focuses on discussing how to systematically develop part-time distance learners' skills and capacities for self-directed learning. It concludes that the fostering of self-directed learners needs a joint effort of learners, distance education institutions and tutors. It requires learners to take responsibility for their own learning; and it needs RTVUs to provide them with coherent and integrated support systems, including adequate information and advice on courses, learning strategies and skills, well-designed learning materials, resources and environments, and a suitable assessment system. It also requires tutors to stimulate learners' motivation, enhance their confidence and gradually develop their skills and capacities for self-directed learning. The research findings indicate that the three RTVUs have not yet systematically cultivated a culture of self-directed learning among part-time distance learners. The reported reasons for this include: (1). learners' instrumental motivation, and a lack of time, confidence and capacity to undertake self-directed learning; (2) a shortage of well-designed learning materials and resources suitable for self-directed learning; (3) the influence of tutors' traditional teaching methods; and (4) an inappropriate examination and assessment system in the RTVUs.