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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details

 

Loyalty to the Distance Learning Program

Najmuddin Shaik.


Current distance education technologies have the potential to transform both the educational process and products, which will create a competitive environment that extends beyond traditional boundaries. The end result is a need to compete for students on a national and international basis. To retain competitiveness and instil brand loyalty, institutions are offering quality distance education programs and services not only to attract and retain prospective students but also realizing that these students serve as unofficial ambassadors promoting the program to their peers. The literature in this area identifies service quality as one of the major determinants of customer loyalty. One of the problems with service quality is its elusive nature and unique characteristics such as intangibility, heterogeneity, perishability, and inseparability of production and consumption. Although a number of studies have examined the determinants of brand loyalty in goods and services, very little research has examined the relationship between brand loyalty and distance learning environments. To address this deficit, the influence of students' perceptions of service quality, satisfaction, and attainment of learning on their loyalty to the distance learning program was examined. A likert-scale questionnaire was developed to measure students' perceptions of the distance learning environment. Over a period of three years this questionnaire was administered at the end of the 16 week long semester to 256 students enrolled in a variety of courses at a large Midwestern university. Exploratory factor analysis methods were used to validate the constructs, to facilitate valid cross-study comparisons, and move beyond the 'What' question to 'Why' questions. The results of the statistical analysis addressed the issue of whether a students' decision to enrol in another course offered by the same department was influenced by their satisfaction with course facilities and services. Prior experience in a distance learning course and its role as a moderating factor was also examined. A t-test suggests that there is a significant difference between the two student groups, and prior experience with the distance learning course did not moderate the effect on students satisfaction with the course. A Logit regression was performed next. The dichotomous coding of the "Decision to enrol in another course" and "Consider recommending this course" made this model, using a maximum likelihood criterion, a better choice for estimating model parameters. Results of the Logit analysis with ‘decision to enrol in another distance learning course at the same institution' as a dependent variable suggests that the impact of course on student learning attainment and satisfaction with course facilities and services were both positive and significant. The quality of course and the prior experience with online courses variables were not significant with the dependent variable. Logit analysis with ‘consider recommending this course' as a dependent variable showed similar results. This study provided positive confirmation of relation between student satisfaction with course facilities and services, and factors that have an impact on their learning attainment and decision to enrol in future courses. This study represent a first step in an area that will continue to be one of great interest as the distance education market increases and the natural boundaries and barriers continue to shrink.

Presenters

Najmuddin Shaik  (United States)
Research Programmer
Division of Academic Outreach, Office of Continuing Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Najmuddin Shaik is a Research programmer with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has a Ph.D in Human Resource Education from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a MS in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University. He has been active in the areas of designing e-learning system, program evaluation, and psychometrics of scale development. His recent presentations were in the Academy of Human Resource Development 1999, American Dairy Association 1999, International Learning Technology 2000 Conference, WebNet 1999 and WebNet 2000 World Conference on WWW and Internet, International Lerning Conference 2001 and 2003, International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities 2003, Online Conference on Teaching and Learning 2003, Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning 2003. His recent publications are in the Journal of Interactive Learning Research and The American Journal of Distance Education. His publications covered the areas of scale development, program evaluation, and computer-mediated communication.

Keywords
  • Brand Loyalty
  • Distance Education
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Quality of Education Services
Person as Subject
  • Students enrolled in distance learning courses



(Virtual Presentation, English)