The objectives of the study were: (1) To identify academic problems faced by the distance learners. (2) To identify problems related to students’ support services. (3) To identify problem related to evaluation process. (4) To identify problems encountered by distance teachers due to lack of infrastructural facility. (5) To identify problems of co-ordination and management at the study centres. (6) To analyze the identified problem and earmark weak areas.
Sample consisted of 200 students, 32 counsellors and four co-coordinators of 12 study centres located at different places in Bihar. Purposive and random sampling techniques were adopted.
Self made questionnaire was used for data collection. Interview schedule was also used to collect data from counsellors and co-coordinators.
The study was descriptive survey research.Percentages were computed from the collected data.
The findings of the study were: (1) The most important reason given by the respondents for joining the IGNOU was that they got more time for preparation of different competitive examination (43%), 25.5% joined the courses due to their engagement in jobs and home work; only 7% joined IGNOU courses for its quality education. (2) Out of nearly 100 courses offered by IGNOU, admission tests were conducted for about 11 courses. Generally students did not face any sort of mental tension during admission. (3) 79% students studied IGNOU courses in English, due to no choice available nearly 26% of Hindi medium students registered complaint to regional office regarding their difficulties but most of these students did not get any response. (4) ¾ of total student respondents faced IGNOU study materials easy and understandable, but 7% of Hindi medium students found language of study method in Hindi quite difficult; 36% found that concepts were very brief to understand while for 16% students feel insufficiency of examples. (5) About 40% of teachers were not informed about counselling schedule. 305 respondents said that all counseling classes were not held as per given time schedule which resulted in wastage of time; nearly 22.5% respondents said that time schedule changed frequently. 23 to 45% students felt that counsellors did not prepare their lessons properly before taking class and unable to solve the students’ problems. They were also not committed towards counselling job and their approach. About 86% said that counsellors used lecture method during counseling classes. (6) Almost all counsellors were of the opinion that students did not take counselling programs seriously. (7) 69% students did not find any problem in the completion of assignment work. 31% students found problems in the completion of assignment work like difficult assignment work (53.2%), difficult in explaining short answer type (43.5%), and assignments from out of study material (24.1%). (8) Nearly 19.3% expected counselling in how to prepare assignments. (9) Over half of the total student respondents said that detailed comments were not given on evaluation of assignments, 4% felt that given feedback did not help in understanding gaps or mistakes. (10) Counsellors were of the opinion that generally a large number of students submitted their assignments quite late as a result they received assignments late. They were also given assignment in bulk. They were also of the opinion that students did not take feedback seriously. Many of them never turned up to collect evaluated assignment. (11) As far as about availability of support facilities, like, library, audio and video facilities were concerned students and counsellors both were of the opinion that such facilities were very poor or almost absent in most of the centers. (12) The institution wise analysis showed that good support facilities were available at Xavier’s Study Center, Patna. (13) Some felt that study materials were not sufficient (27%) to solve examination questions, delayed results, irregularities and over crowed counselling classes (29%).
Keyword(s): Distance Learners, IGNOU, Bihar, Open Education