Investigating Online Student satisfaction: causes and impacts

online learning

How student-driven is your institution?

The e-learning industry is expanding rapidly, especially following Covid-19 and the necessity of switching to remote learning for many schools. Being student-driven and market-oriented is key to gaining a competitive advantage for today’s online distance learning.

The author designed a study to add to the collected wisdom in this area, as part of DBA qualification and following FOUR key concepts:

  • Expectation Confirmation Theory (Bhattacherjee,2001)
    a cognitive theory which seeks to explain post-adoption satisfaction as a function of expectations, perceived performance, and disconfirmation of beliefs;
  • Transactional Distance Model (Moore, 1972)
    a pedagogical theory derived to analyse learning conducted through technology using structural, interactive and individual learner factors;
  • Technology Acceptance Model (Davis, 1989)
    an information systems theory that models how users accept and use a technology; and
  • Information Systems Success Model (DeLone and McLean, 1992)
    an IS success model identifies and describes the relationships among six critical dimensions of IS success: information quality, system quality, service quality, system use/usage intentions, user satisfaction, and net system benefits.

E-word of Mouth

The study considered the role of learner satisfaction and school reputation and its relation to perceived use characteristics, perceived quality, expectation and interaction characteristics in an online learning context. In this respect, the main question raised concerns how to reduce the dropout rate and increase retention in schools.

The author researched students of different AUNEGE member schools. The findings suggest that learner satisfaction directly affects positive online e-word of mouth (eWOM), and perceived use characteristics have an essential effect on learner satisfaction.

The study results also reveal that schools with e-learning programs have to focus on the effects of interactions between instructors and students. These interactions affect the quality of information, system and service (perceived performance).

The study contributes to a better practical and theoretical understanding of the factors that drive learner satisfaction and, by extension, e-WOM behaviours. With the strong impact of learner satisfaction on e-WOM behaviours, practitioners like school directors, stakeholders, and researchers should pay attention to the long-term effects of e-WOM on e-loyalty. These are essential features for the retention of the students and longer-term affinity to the school.

What’s next for research?

Examining the literature shows that transactional distance perception has been generally measured by quantitative rather than by more qualitative methods. This issue highlights many research gaps that need exploration to develop the quality of online education design.

In post-COVID models for online education, we cannot underestimate the importance of online education research.