The Academic and Non-academic activities of learner support services

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Learner support is defined in terms of two main contexts, campus-based training and development (also known as “contact teaching”), and distance and network learning. More recent definitions are applicable to the latter (distance and network learning), but could also be successfully used to describe learner support in a campus-based context. Brindley and Paul (2004:39) indicate that learner support is a common challenge for all educational institutions. They emphasise, however, that ‘campus-based universities’ can successfully implement the ‘comprehensive and integrated approach to learner support’ in the same way distance education institutions do. The purpose of learner support in these institutions is “to help students meet their learning objectives and gain the knowledge requisite to course and career success”. An allinclusive learner support service is rendered, focusing on “all those interactive processes intended to support and facilitate the learning process from the student’s first point of contact with the institution”. Kehrwald (2008:479), in support of Brindley and Paul states that “Although formal learner support structures are generally considered an artefact of distance education, learner support is becoming more common in a range of formal and informal learning situations”. According to Kehrwald, learner support is the process of addressing the needs learners may have during the process of intervention. “In contemporary educational programmes, learner support adds value for learners by addressing their needs and promoting learning experiences which are more personally relevant and allow learners to define learning in their own terms”. Tait (2000:289) defined learner support in terms of its functions. The functions are three-dimensional, with the cognitive dimension referring to support provided during the learning process in the utilisation of learning material and resources. The institute and sustainment of a supportive environment underlines commitment and enhances self-esteem – the affective dimension. The systemic dimension refers to the establishment of administrative processes and information management systems which are effective, transparent and learner-friendly. Tait’s definition of learner support will be further unravelled in Chapter 2 of this study.
Brindley’s (2004) definition of learner support is pragmatic and all inclusive. “Learner support is the generic name that has been applied to the range of services that has been developed to help learners meet their learning objectives and gain the knowledge and skills that they need in order to be successful in their courses”. Learner support in this definition includes all the interactive processes aimed at the support and facilitation of the learning process. Interaction begins with the first enquiry by the learner and continues throughout the learning process, differentiating between the activities rendered to the prospective learner and the admitted learner (Brindley, 2004:7-8). Brindley’s definition of learner support will serve as basis for the discourses used in defining learner support as a concept in Chapter 2. According to Lee (2003:182), many researchers have opted for a holistic approach towards learner support and consider it as an inherent part of the total learning intervention. For the purpose of this study, learner support within the police service education and training environment is defined as a comprehensive and rigorous system supporting learning through the provision of a broad spectrum of services (academic and non-academic) that are meant to enable learners to optimise their learning experience. In the new paradigm of education nationally and internationally, training is learnercentred, thus the invaluable importance of learner support. According to Kehrwald (2008: 479), learner support has developed into an active and interactive learnercentred service which is consistent with the constructivist learning theory. Learner support is not only a concept that represents a sub system of the bigger training and development system only; rather, it is a concept underpinned by fundamental reasons and logic which are the cornerstone for the initiation, planning, needs analysis, designing, development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all learning interventions.


Garrison (1989:3) argues that a theoretical framework “represents a broad paradigmatic set of assumptions that provides the elements of the theory but without the detail and completeness (nuances) of a comprehensive theory”. The learning theories which survived many verbose attempts are the theories which are based on the principles of Constructivism. “These principles posit that learning is achieved by the active construction of knowledge supported by various perspectives within meaningful contexts”. In the constructivist context social interaction plays a critical role in the process of learning, as does cognition (Oliver & Herrington, 2003:12). Oliver and Herrington (2003:12) too, favour Constructivism as a learning theory, arguing that its usefulness lies in its definition of learning: “learning as a process of personal understanding and meaning making which is active and interpretative” and learning as “the construction of meaning rather than the memorisation of facts”. Zhan and Le (2004:4) contribute to the debate by stating that a learner’s mind is not a clean slate that needs to be filled with information passively received from the teacher; on the contrary, the teacher has to facilitate and support the learner in the process of constructing his/her own knowledge in his/her own unique way, by linking it to the learner’s former knowledge and experience.
Constructivism is one of the latest approaches in the field of learner-centeredness and is defined by Henson (2003:8) as “a learner-centred educational theory that contends that to learn anything, each learner must construct his/her own understanding by tying new information to prior experience”. According to Young and Marks-Maran (1998:31), the point of departure of Constructivism is that people create their own understanding of the world and this subsequently influences their actions in relation to the world. New knowledge is therefore linked to old knowledge by cognitive constructs which assist individuals in their efforts to create meaning of the world. During the process of knowledge construction in search of understanding, successful learners are influenced by cognitive, motivational and meta-cognitive factors. Cognition entails the revision of old knowledge through reorganisation and reinterpretation, thereby aligning old and new knowledge. Motivation is basically intrinsic to the learning process since mankind has an inherent desire to search for knowledge and understanding of its world. Meta-cognition is all about understanding and is an important factor in the acquisition of higher order intellectual skills, like problem solving, decision making and critical thinking. According to Tam (2000:2), learning, in the context of Constructivism, is an active process, and the learner is central in the learning process. “Constructivist instruction asks learners to use their knowledge to solve problems that are meaningful and realistically complex”. The problem provides the context for the learner to apply his/her already acquired knowledge and to take ownership of his/her acquisition of new knowledge. Constructivism supports interaction with other learners and other role players since the learner is granted the opportunity to test and fine-tune his/her understanding as the learning process continues.

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1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background to the study
1.3 Purpose statement of the study
1.4 Problem statement and research questions
1.5 Clarification of the concept learner support
1.6 Constructivism as theoretical framework for learner support
1.7 Research design and methodology
1.8 Significance of study
1.9 Outline of study
2.1 Introduction
2.2 The rationale for learner support
2.3 Defining learner support
2.4 Learner support strategies
2.5 The Academic and Non-academic activities of learner support services
2.6 The different stages of learner support
2.7 An integrated learner support framework
2.8 A proposed model for learner support
2.9 Conclusion
3.1 Introduction
3.2 An overview on police education, training and development
3.3 The police trainee profile
3.4 The SAPS as a service provider of education and training to its employees
3.5 A model for police training and development
3.6 The Basic Police Development Learning Programme (BPDLP) in SAPS
3.7 The learner support function in the Basic Police Development Learning Programme (BPDLP)
3.8 Conclusion
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Survey research as research design
4.3 The elements of survey research
4.4 The survey research process
4.5 The target population of the research study
4.6 The sampling process of the research study
4.7 Representivity of the sample
4.8 Data collection
4.9 The questionnaire as data collection instrument
4.10 Validity and reliability of the questionnaire
4.11 Piloting the questionnaire
4.12 Construct validity
4.13 Administration of the questionnaire
4.14 Data processing and analysis process
4.15 Conclusion
5.1 Introduction
5.2 The data processing and analysis process
5.3 The type of information solicited by the questionnaire
5.4 The themes/factors/constructs of the learner support experience
5.5 The usefulness/helpfulness of the themes/factors/constructs of the learner support experience
5.6 Timeless of learner support/assistance
5.7 Establishing a score for measuring the timeliness of which support and assistance rendered to respondents during the academic programme
5.8 Influence of academy attended upon the timeliness of learner support or assistance
5.9 Incidents of non-timeous experience of service
5.10 Reasons for joining the South African Police Service
5.11 Frequency of use of Learner Support Services
5.12 Additional Support Services received by respondents
5.13 Summary of respondents’ suggestions for the improvement of Learner Support Services In BPDLP (Academic phase)
5.14 Conclusion
6.1 Introduction
6.2 The validity and reliability of the measurement instrument
6.3 The seven themes/factors/constructs of learner support experience
6.4 Variability in the scores of learner support themes/factors/constructs
6.5 Usefulness/helpfulness of the themes/factors/constructs of the learner support experience
6.6 The timeliness of learner support services
6.7 Correlation between the timeliness of themes/factors/constructs of learner support services
6.8 Investigation into the variation of timeliness scores
6.9 Association between the usefulness/helpfulness and the timeliness of learner support services  6.10 Frequency of use of learner support services at academies
6.11 Conclusion
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Research questions
7.3 Conclusions of the study
7.4 Reconceptualised strategy, definition and model of learner support for SAPS
7.5 Recommendations of the research study
7.6 Limitations of the research study
7.7 Final conclusion of the research study
7.8 Directions for future research


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