Student engagement, a student’s emotional, behavioural and cognitive connection to their study, is widely recognized as important for student achievement. Influenced by a wide range of personal, structural and sociocultural factors, engagement is both unique and subjective. One important structural factor shown in past research to be a barrier for distance students is access to quality space and time. This qualitative study followed 19 mature-aged distance students and their families, exploring how they learned to manage their space and time throughout their first semester at university. Institutions often claim that distance study and the increased use of technology overcomes barriers of space and time; however, the findings from this study suggest it merely changes the nature of those barriers. The ideal space and time for these students was individual and lay at the intersection of three, sometimes competing, demands: study, self and family. A critical influence on success is family support, as is access to financial resources. Learning what constitutes ideal space and time for engagement is an important part of the transition to university. The institution has a vital role to play in aiding this process by ensuring flexibility of course design is maintained, providing more flexible advice and targeting support at this important issue.
International Journal of Lifelong Education, 2014, pp. ? - ? (20)
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Lifelong Education on 2014, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02601370.2014.884177