Student Satisfaction with Online Learning: Is it a Psychological Contract?

Charles Dziuban, Patsy Moskal, Jessica Thompson, Lauren Kramer, Genevieve DeCantis, Andrea Hermsdorfer


The authors explore the possible relationship between student satisfaction with online learning and the theory of psychological contracts. The study incorporates latent trait models using the image analysis procedure and computation of Anderson and Rubin factors scores with contrasts for students who are satisfied, ambivalent, or dissatisfied with their online learning experiences. The findings identify three underlying satisfaction components: engaged learning, agency, and assessment. The factor score comparisons indicate that students in the general satisfaction categories characterize important differences in engaged learning and agency, but not assessment. These results lead the authors to hypothesize that predetermined, but unspecified expectations (i.e., psychological contracts) for online courses by both students and faculty members are important advance organizers for clarifying student satisfaction.


Student satisfaction; online learning; psychological contract

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