Review of Effectiveness of Student Support Services

Prepared by Su-Tuan Lulee for EDTEC 550  Distance Education - Fall 2007

Educational Technology Dept. San Diego State University

Technology Demonstration - Sakai Basic

Comments & Questions on Distance Education - A System View

Review of An Online Course

Top Ten Characteristics of LMS

Top Ten Skills for Effective Distance Teachers

Review of Effectiveness of Student Support Services

Top Ten Issues about Copyright in Distance Edu.

EDTEC Assignments Home

Top 10 Reasons for Effective or Ineffective of Student Support Service Programs


Target Website: http://www.athabascau.ca/  

Institution: Athabasca University (It’s an open university in Canada. The university has been providing hundreds of programs for undergraduate as well as master and doctoral programs since 1960. )

Conclusion: effective

Ten reasons for effective:

1. Student Administrative orientation

The web site of Athabasca university contains detailed information about administrative matters such as administration, registration, tuition, changing, refund or drop out from programs, communication, international student, etc. I think those are pretty much a potential student would want to know before enrolling. After registered in a course, each student will have a myAU as main communication platform between institution and student.

2. Student ID  

Student ID Cards section in Athabasca University web site clearly describes how to obtain a student ID card issued for the academic year from distance via mail or fax. Compare to my experience in SDSU, it looks very convenient and approachable.

3. Financial support

The Education Funding section in the university web site listed many if not all of the financial aids program from provinces in Canada including bank student loans, government sponsored student loans, lifelong learning plan, provincial and territorial workers’ compensation, as well as scholarships, grants, and bursaries.


4. Student Academic Orientation

Athabasca University web site listed all programs and courses that are currently offering. Users can view by levels (undergraduate and graduate), by course name, by years of study, by categories, or search in full text. They also state academic regulations, examination, grading, and faculty information. Students can call the tutor, toll-free, from anywhere in Canada or the United States, during established tutor hours.

5.  Learning Skills


AU Learner Support is a section in the university web site that contains a subsection of Study Skills. Study Skills aims at providing tools and tips for studying smart.


“Am I ready for Athabasca University?” is a section that contains all kinds of learning skills aids and counseling services for students in the university web site. Students can take self-assessments in English, Math, Chemistry, and computer science. Some of them are online quizzes; the other is remedy courses and textbooks.


6. Library

The university provides links to online library where students can search over hundreds of databases including ERIC and First Search. The Digital Reading Room provide access to library and other digital resources that is useful for students who are writing papers and need to find information from other courses and disciplines. Digital Reference Center collects a wide variety of atlases, almanacs, dictionaries, and encyclopedias. Students can register and obtain a library account free; however, subscription to e-book collections is for faculty only.


7. Career center & placement

“Mapping Your Future” section in the university web site provides three exercises that can help students explore personal interests, skills and values. After taking the self-assessment, students can contact Counselors to book an appointment to talk about their career plan. “Career Exploration” section provides resources which contain information on duties, working conditions, skills, salary, and opportunities.   

8. Tutorial services

The university provides tutorials for learning term paper writing, textbook marking, etc. Some courses like Psychology provide online tutorials for fundamental components (tutorials for behaviorism, positive reinforcement, etc) for the disciplines. These very rich-in-content online tutorials can serve as remedy courses for students to reinforce their background knowledge before taking advanced courses.

9. Commencement ceremonies

The university hosts a Convocation web site that delivers information about graduation in detail: the requirements, the process, even the forms. The information is so clear and attractive that I feel like attending the commencement ceremony if I were a student of Athabasca University.

10. Student Governance

There is a students’ union in Athabasca University. The union issues a Voice Magazine, organize Student Council, and conduct course evaluation. I can see some messages for events, contests, and conferences and a response to University’s open letter from chair of university Governing Council on Student Union web site. To a certain level, students seem to speak for themselves even though they are distance students.