Quality of student–faculty interaction at university: an empirical approach of gender and ICT usage
Iniesta-Bonillo, M. Angeles
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Purpose—This paper studies the relationship of gender and ICT usage as significant variables in the formation of perceived value, satisfaction and loyalty to educational institutions, and in the quality of the student-faculty interaction to discuss how these variables determine the bond between students and the University, in order to improve this interaction. Design/methodology/approach—The empirical research designed to test the proposed model was conducted in two Spanish universities (a random sample of 1000 graduates—500 from each university—from two academic years, all areas of knowledge and proportional for men/women). They were individually interviewed by personnel of an external market research institute, using CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview). For the measurement of the latent variables in the proposed model, we use an 11-point Likert scale (adapted to the particular context of the present study by means of several in-depth interviews with students and academics). ICT usage—classified in communication, author and administration tools, supporting the teaching, research and administrative management processes of the educational service—was measured with a scale of 7 items, which cover the main ICT used by students during their learning process and checked by an expert panel. These items were also examined more rigorously to validate their psychometric properties with the estimation of a confirmatory factor analysis via the maximum-likelihood method of structural equation modeling with LISREL 8.5. The evaluation of discriminant validity was testing by the AVE for each construct, which exhibited all of the constructs, discriminant validity in the model. Moreover, it was also verified through analysis of the confidence interval for the correlation coefficient between ICT usage and quality of interaction, and performing a model with construct correlations constrained to 1.00 was compared to an unconstrained model. Findings—Internal consistency of the scales and the results for discriminant validity allowed the estimation of the structural model, confirming the proposed hypothesis. Thus, ICT usage shows a positive influence on the quality of the student-faculty interaction, and there are significant differences in the quality of interaction by gender, since this one is higher in women than in men. Research limitations/implications—The proposed model and associated measurement instruments can reliably and consistently be applied for higher educational institutions, providing useful information for strategic decisions of universities. It would be interesting to replicate and extend this study to other contexts, including other related and moderating variables. Practical implications—These results have several academic and managerial implications for universities and nonprofit organizations. The findings show that the level of the student’s ICT usage contributes to create and maintain the link or closeness between students and their University. Successful ICT integration is clearly related to the learning process in terms of the student-professor relationship, and that there are differences in the way men and women develop their academic relationships. Originality/Value—This study contributes to the development of educational literature, providing a scale of the quality of the interaction in this context, which has never been tested before in this field. The same happens with the analysis of the effects of using ICT in the student perception of that interaction, as well as differences between men and women, tested for the first time in this context.
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