Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Distance Learner Demographics

Did you know that most students who take only distance education classes are female, live in the Metroplex area, are 31+ in age and are here to attend graduate school? Our distance learners are somewhat varied in regards to instructional method, location, age and academic level. *

“We are seeing two different types of students enrolling in TWU’s DE courses. The first group--students taking DE courses only--tend to be older, have jobs and family, and are seeking advanced degrees and skills. The second group consists of students who take a mixture of DE and face-to-face courses. These students are the traditional 18 to 20 year olds enrolled in undergraduate programs and take DE courses in order to gain some flexibility in their class schedules,” said Director of Distance Education, Dr. Lynda Murphy.

As noted Monday, students who are enrolled in DE Only account for the majority of the total DE enrollments. Fifty two percent of DE enrollments are students who are only taking distance education courses. The other 48 percent are students taking a mixture of distance education and face-to-face (F2F) courses.

Fifty-two percent of students enrolled in DE Only live in the Metroplex, followed by 22 percent who live in the Gulf Coast Region (Houston area), followed by our third largest group, out-of-state students, who account for 11 percent of the DE Only population. In the DE/ F2F combination group, the three largest populations live in the following regions: 79 percent live in the Metroplex, 12 percent live in the Gulf Coast region and two percent live in the Northwest Texas Region and Upper East Texas.


Age is another interesting trait to look at when studying our distance learner demographics. For students who are enrolled in DE Only, 948 of them are in the 31 to 40-year-old age bracket, followed by 937 who are 22 to 30 years of age. In the 41 to 50 age group there are 594, followed by 277 who are 51 and over. Students who are 21 years old and younger are not as highly represented in the DE Only category with only 26 enrolled. The DE/F2F combo is a very different story. The 22 to 30 year old students are the ones who most prefer this combination of learning with 1,282 of them. They are followed by the 21 and under group with 635. There are 401 combination learners who are in the 31 to 40 year old age group, followed by 203 who are 41 to 50 years of age. Finally, the 51 and over group is moderately represented with 80 students.

Seventy-seven percent or 2,156 of students enrolled in DE Only are graduate students. In the DE/F2F combo, the majority of those students, 1,949 or 75 percent, are undergraduates.

Our distance learners come from a variety of backgrounds and locations, and they are here for different goals. Distance Education appeals to the more non-traditional group of students, probably because of its flexibility and the fact that it can be done at home. Our age statistics show that even as they get older, more people are willing and able to pursue their academic goals thanks to distance education.

* All data referring to TWU distance education was taken from the Fall 2007Distance Education Snapshot Report. To request a copy of this report, please email DE@twu.edu.