External communities, integration and student persistence among distance students at a university in Southern Africa
Niitembu-Nehemia, Martha Megumbo
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Student persistence is a thorn area which did not receive much publication in Namibia and South Africa. Many research focused on why students fail to persist in higher education opposed to why they succeed. This research paper mainly investigated the relationships between external communities, social and academic integration and student persistence among distance students. I used Tinto's theory of student persistence at institutions of higher learning as my theoretical approach. The study employed a qualitative approach with a phenomenological design. I collected data by interviewing senior distance students at a certain public university in Southern Africa. The findings of this research revealed that the majority of students are self-driven which gave an impression that self -motivation and intentions of participants contribute significantly to student persistence. Indications are that informal peer group support contributes considerably to student persistence. The overall outcomes suggest that support from family members and employers positively influence students' academic progress and success. This study generally suggests that there is a positive relationship between external communities and student persistence opposed to what many scholars suggested.