Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to introduce a conceptual model of student satisfaction with their higher education (HE) experience, based on the identification of the variable determinants of student perceived quality and the impact of those variables on student satisfaction and/or dissatisfaction with the overall student experience. The paper will also identify those determinants most likely to have either a positive or negative impact on subsequent student loyalty behaviours. Design/methodology/approach – This paper reports the results of a study of 163 undergraduate students at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, which utilised Critical Incident Technique (CIT) as the method that encouraged the recording of situations that the students themselves perceive as critical incidents. It is envisaged that these situations have occurred in their experience of HE teaching, learning and assessment and their experience of other university ancillary service aspects, i.e. within and beyond the classroom experience. Findings – The results of this study indicate that responsiveness, communication and access are the critical areas that Education Managers need to focus upon. Also the CIT method of data capture could be adapted and adopted by the wider Higher Education sector. Research limitations/implications – There are a number of limitations with this study. For the quantitative results, the sample size was relatively small and involved only one Faculty within a University. There is also an assumption that the statements made in relation to the loyalty behaviours would actually be acted upon, i.e. they would do what they say. The study is based on the respondents' recollections of past events and it is assumed that these were accurate. Practical implications – The implications for university managers are that creating and maintaining a responsive, communicative and useful environment is necessary across the teaching, learning and assessment areas, whilst within the Ancillary areas responsiveness, access and socialising are the important factors. Reducing the number of dissatisfying experiences may not be an easy task, but if successful, then improved student recruitment, retention and ultimately financial stability for the Institution should ensue. The wider implication is that CIT should be considered by HEIs as a means of collecting student intelligence. Originality/value – Critical Incident Technique is a method that is already attractive to many researchers. However, within higher education, the norm is to use traditional student feedback questionnaires which restricts the student to questions that have been predetermined. CIT allows respondents to freely describe their experiences and unreservedly express their feelings without being constrained to specific areas.
Quality Assurance in Education – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 2008
Keywords: Critical incident technique; Students; Experience; Quality standards; Higher education; United Kingdom
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