Distance Learner Expectations for Quality, Technology-enabled, Support Services

Distance Learner Expectations for Quality, Technology-enabled, Support Services

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Distance learning is an accepted means for delivering higher education. Expanded options for distance education require a focus on meeting student expectations for the total learning experience, yet research suggests that nonacademic aspects of distance education are not being adequately addressed. In response, this study investigated learner expectations for quality, technology-enabled support services in graduate-level programs at a distance-based university. The research questions aimed to evaluate expectations for service quality, determine if gaps in service performance existed, and assess differences in expectations by demographics. A case study was conducted using a survey based on the SERVQUAL model, interviews with former students, and review of historical documents. SERVQUAL is used in the commercial sector to test consumer expectations against service performance. Descriptive statistics, Spearman rank order correlation, and Kruskall-Wallis tests were used to evaluate the data. Factor analysis was used to test the dimensionality of SERVQUAL. Participants expressed very high expectations in 6 out of 7 service quality dimensions. Performance gaps were reported in all 7 service quality dimensions. Differences in expectations by gender, age, program affiliation, and time in program were found. No differences based on education level were found. It is recommended that service providers evaluate support services using gap analysis with demographic differences in students' expectations in mind and provide better defined processes and technology-based systems. From a social change perspective, as distance education extends its reach, placing a greater focus on the total learning experience is an important step in helping students persist and succeed.He used an example of how this strategy supports more direct feedback from the customer to the organization thereby ... vendors incorporate best practices in product and service delivery along with the technology needed to support theanbsp;...

Title:Distance Learner Expectations for Quality, Technology-enabled, Support Services
Publisher:ProQuest - 2007


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