Factors Contributing to Student Satisfaction and Academic Experience: A Rural Community College Correlational Study

Factors Contributing to Student Satisfaction and Academic Experience: A Rural Community College Correlational Study

Author: 
Ashley Mallett
Program of study: 
Ph.D./HEA
Abstract: 
Student satisfaction at higher education institutions involves multiple contributing factors, including the educational learning environment, but evidence has primarily focused on 4-year universities, not 2-year community colleges. The purpose of this quantitative correlational study was to assess the factors contributing to student satisfaction and academic experiences at a rural community college in the western United States. A sample size of 140, drawn from the population of 2,500 undergraduate students, was used to determine if a correlational relationship existed between the criterion variable of student satisfaction and seven predictor variables: (a) student demographics, (b) academic advising experience, (c) traditional classroom environment, (d) academic programs offered, (e) course availability, (f) faculty course delivery, and (g) faculty interaction. Reliability and validity of the developed survey tool was tested through Cronbach’s Alpha (α). Results from a Spearman’s Rho (rs) correlation analysis determined that no statistically significant relationship existed between student satisfaction and student demographics, accepting the null hypothesis associated with the research question. Remaining results from Spearman’s Rho (rs) correlation analysis determined a statistically significant relationship between the criterion variable of student satisfaction and the remaining six predictor variables, rejecting the null hypotheses associated with the research questions. Future efforts of rural community college administrators looking to increase student satisfaction through academic experiences among the student population may consult published research for support.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation, and my entire doctoral journey, to my parents, who supported me, inspired me, and brought me back down to earth when the challenges seemed too great to conquer. Through professional struggles, daily responsibilities, and unknown pathways, my parents were there to lend a listening ear, provide common sense lectures, and address any doubts or concerns that I had. While the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” still remains unanswered, my parents have been patient enough to sort through potential answers with me. For that and so much more I sincerely thank you and whole heartedly appreciate all of your love and support along the way.
Acknowledgements: 
A journey of this magnitude does not go unnoticed or unsupported by the network of family, friends, and colleagues who witness the sacrifice of time, personal and professional growth, and maturity upon reflection of completion. For their patience, time, and encouragement I am forever grateful and indebted. I would like to first acknowledge and thank my dissertation chair and committee members – Dr. Dale Crowe, Dr. Darryl Draper, and Dr. Robert Amason. I cannot express enough how much I appreciate your patience while I traveled down the doctoral path, facing frustrations, changes, doubt, and the unknown. What I thought would be a project educating others turned into a project that educated myself. Thank you for your undivided attention, devotion of time and sacrifice, and willingness to see me through to the end no matter how long it took. Because of you, I believe I am starting to fit into the role of scholar, practitioner, and learner. I am forever grateful and thank you for providing me with the opportunity to challenge myself on a daily basis. A special thank you to my statistical tutor, Dr. Tom Granoff, who explained in very simple descriptions what all the numbers means. You helped me take a learning weakness and use it to my advantage. I appreciate all of the time you spent chatting with me so that I could fully understand what the research was saying. And finally, to my family and friends - Without your support, encouragement, and teasing words of “are you done yet?” I don’t know that I would have found the ability to laugh and smile during the stressful and less than encouraging times. Thank you for your patience and willingness to let me go to my corner and work when I need to, knowing how important the completion of this degree is to me. The program may be over but the journey is just beginning.