Problems Encountered by Undergraduate Students while Conducting Research Projects: A Case Study of the Zimbabwe Open University

  • Manyanhaire Itai Offat Zimbabwe Open University
  • Mtezo Justina Zvidzai Zimbabwe Open University
Keywords: Zimbabwe Open University, Distance learners, Undergraduate, Research problems, Project supervision


This case study had examined undergraduate research projects within the Zimbabwe Open University to study the problems encountered by students while conducting research at Harare region. In this case study secondary data sources such as research guidelines, copies of research projects, research methods modules triangulated, with key informant interviews with programme coordinators, supervisors, and selected students were used. The general observations were that the research process is arduous, costly, problematic and time-consuming for undergraduate students. This was evidenced through high non-submission and failure rates. Project supervision experiences varied greatly in the different faculties although it was not correlated to high quality passes. Part-time supervisors found it difficult to balance the research demands of students with the demands of their full time jobs. The communication between student and supervisor was generally ineffective. It was suggested that there is a need to develop comprehensive research guidelines for students, programme
coordinators and supervisors with a view to improving the quality of research and pass rates in research projects. 

Author Biographies

Manyanhaire Itai Offat, Zimbabwe Open University

He is Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science and Technology of the Zimbabwe Open University. 

Mtezo Justina Zvidzai, Zimbabwe Open University

She is the Regional Director of Harare Region of the Zimbabwe Open