Eleanor Kahu

Doctor of Philosophy, (Psychology)
Study Completed: 2014
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Inviting study in: The engagement of mature-aged distance students in the transition to university

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Mature-aged distance students make up a sixth of the New Zealand university student population and have a high dropout rate in their first year. Ms Kahu used three research tools to understand these students’ engagement with their study more fully: an exploratory analysis of existing survey data, the development of a comprehensive theory of student engagement, and a qualitative study following mature-aged distance students and families throughout their first semester. Her findings highlight the importance of emotion and show that engagement is multifaceted, contextual, and dynamic. Ms Kahu’s thesis makes valuable contributions to both theory and practice. The conceptual framework of student engagement provides valuable insights to guide future researchers. In addition, the findings regarding the particular challenges of the transition period for mature-aged distance students give rise to suggestions regarding how these students can be better prepared for, and better supported in, their learning.

Professor Christine Stephens
Associate Professor Nick Zepke
Dr Linda Leach