The Challenges Facing Distance Students in Undertaking Geography Field Practical Projects: The Case of the Open University of Tanzania Students
This paper discusses the challenges facing distance students in Geography field Practical projects (GFPs) at The Open University of Tanzania (OUT). A random sample size of 19 students who participated in GFP1 in 2009 and 2010 were selected from randomly sampled regional centres of Singida, Dodoma, Njombe, and Morogoro centres of OUT. The respondents were interviewed using questionnaires on their experience in GFP. They also formed a focused discussion group (FDG) for this study. Both content analysis and descriptive analysis were used. Findings showed a downward trend of students’ attendance to fieldwork as compared to the early years when GFPs was introduced. The study sample revealed that, in 2006 the four selected regional centres recorded 375 (76.5%) students attended fieldwork out of 490 (100%) students who registered for GFP. In year 2010, only 132 (53.9%) attended out of 245 students who registered for GFP. Besides, 63.2% of the respondents in the study sample said they were supervised in GFP1 under limited time of 2-3 days as supervisors had to leave fieldwork due to time constraint. The paper recommends the urgent need to improve GFP organization, especially adherence to 21 days allocated for GFP and financial support in order to achieve its established objectives and goals at large.
Key words: The Open University of Tanzania, Geography field Practical projects, challenges, distance education