To improve student retention in distance education, Simpson suggested in 2003 that institutions analyse their own retention characteristics and 'spot the leaks.' In 2008 the Centre for Distance Learning at Laidlaw College, New Zealand, employed two part-time academic support coordinators in an effort to improve student retention and success. This study compares the retention statistics for first-time student outcomes across two semesters, one without and one with specific course retention interventions. Results are benchmarked across national data. Interviews with students who were retained revealed that students frequently attribute their success to their own efforts. Student support services in distance education might therefore be perceived by its beneficiaries as a 'hygiene' factor (Herzberg, 1968, 2008) in that their presence is not generally appreciated by students. However, their absence is noticed. The similarity of this finding with Shin's institutional transactional presence (2002, 2003) is also explored.
Nichols, M. (2010). Student perceptions of support services and the influence of targeted interventions on retention in distance education. Distance Education, 31(1), 93-113.