Distance education MBA students: An investigation into the use of an orientation course to address academic and social integration issues.
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Distance education programs warrant the use of innovative intervention practices to enhance student learning experiences. Academic and social empathy by faculty has been shown to enhance student retention in programs along with their critical thinking abilities. Using Holmberg’s (2001) theory of teaching-learning conversations as the guiding theoretical framework, the purpose of this study was to assess whether an intervention activity (a week-long orientation course) increases academic and social empathy for students entering a distance-delivered MBA programme. Empathy was measured through seven academic and social integration indicators. Using pre and post surveys (n=102), the results reveal that an orientation intervention can be effective for facilitating social and academic empathy.