Student satisfaction is one of the primary concern among higher education institutions worldwide since it supports the stable performance of educational institutions. Increased customer satisfaction and positive feedback from student and graduates help to keep the classrooms full. Even though the primary goal of any public school is to provide quality education, it is also crucial to remain financially sustainable. Therefore, research is needed to figure out if increasing the cost of courses significantly affects student satisfaction. The present paper proposes a research design to assess the correlation between the average cost of education and the satisfaction of undergraduate students. The sample of the current research will include psychology students attending four-year bachelor programs in the schools of Georgia, US. Psychology students are more likely to appreciate the purpose of the study and adhere to the rules of the procedure. The hypothesis is that there is a significant correlation between the cost of education and students’ satisfaction.
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Readily Available Data
The present research uses data provided by the U.S. Department of Education, which is publically available online on the official website. As the purpose of the present research is to find out if average annual cost affects student satisfaction using the sample of public schools in Georgia, the website was accessed and information about the average cost in universities retrieved. The search for public schools that have 4-year bachelor programs in psychology yielded 22 results (U.S. Department of Education, n.d.). The data was most likely acquired through accessing school databases since billing information is generally stored by organizations for a long time. Since the data is reported by the US government, which is a reliable source, the information is to be considered trustworthy. It is also valid for the present project, as it offers a decent sample of data relevant to the research subject.
While the average annual cost by school is provided by the official website of the U.S. Department of Education, there is no data about student satisfaction. Therefore, the present research should include a survey of students in the 22 schools in Georgia to determine the satisfaction level of the graduates. The questionnaire will consist of eight items, and the responses will be based on the 5-point Likert scale. The questions are based on the UK National Student Survey (“National Student Survey,” n.d.):
- Question 1: “How effectively is your university course taught?” This item helps to identify students’ satisfaction with the program.
- Question 2: “How well do the classrooms at this university meet the learning needs of students?” This matter provides insights into the graduates’ assessment of the furnishing of classrooms.
- Question 3: “How helpful is your academic advisor?” This inquiry is vital for understanding how students evaluate the proficiency level of the academic staff,
- Question 4. “How easy is it to register for courses at this university?” The question provides an appreciation of how the technical side of the university performs.
- Question 5. “How safe do you feel on campus?” The item helps to evaluate how the security work and how calm was the atmosphere in the school.
- Question 6: “How helpful is the staff at the campus health center?” The rationale for using this question lies in figuring out how satisfied are the students with the healthcare services provided.
- Question 7: “How useful are the services provided by the campus career center?” The inquiry is designed to figure out how satisfied are the graduates with the career opportunities provided by the university.
- Question 8. “Overall, are you satisfied with your experience at this university?” The rationale behind this question lies in letting the students evaluate the performance of their universities without based on their emotions and factors that were not mentioned in the survey.
The questionnaire will be published online, and students will be provided links to it. The sample will be chosen randomly, and every participant will be allowed one week to complete the form. According to O’Sullivan, Rassel, and Taliaferro (2011), such a method of data collection is the most efficient since it allows the participant to fill in the form at any time in the natural environment. These conditions lead to increased efficiency of the instrument, and there will be no exclusion criteria except being able to understand the questions and the English language. The gathered data will be collected anonymously and stored on a password-protected laptop.
For the data analysis, the average annual cost of education will be juxtaposed with the results of the survey. Before trying to correlate these variables, the survey scores will be added up, and the sample mean will be evaluated. Since there are eight questions, scores will vary between 8 and 40. Therefore, the average cost will be compared to the average test results, and analytical software will be used to analyze the data. The proposed software for the project is Microsoft Excel 2016, Minitab, PHStat, MegaStat, or SPSS. The results will be presented both in tables and graphs and summarized in a narrative.
To test the statistical significance, the present project proposes the use of the Pearson correlation coefficient (Pearson’s r). According to O’Sullivan et al. (2011), this method is the most appropriate since the two variables are continuous, they are believed to be normally distributed, and the correlation is assumed to be linear. The confidence level is 95%, as it is most commonly used in similar research designs, and there are no determined reasons for the value be different from standard.
One of the problems that may be encountered during the data collection and analysis is the difference in sample sizes among different schools. Undergraduates of some schools may be more willing to fill in the form than others. The matter may lead to significant deviations in calculated means of student satisfaction. Therefore, the research design should be specific in the sample size for each university and ensure that there will be no inequity in this parameter. Even though the number of applicants does not need to be exactly the same among schools, the samples are to represent a statistically significant part of all the students at the time. The consideration is crucial for receiving relevant results.
Research Method Validity
Internal validity stands for being sure that the research established trustworthy correlations between variables. Since the cost of education varies for all the students, the acquired data may be bias due to interviewing students of the same group in terms of income level. Student satisfaction may also differ depending on this parameter. Therefore, the critical characteristic of the research method is a random selection of participants to avoid getting unreliable results. Additionally, the data should be gathered simultaneously or in a strictly limited timeframe to avoid the factor of historical events. According to Heale and Twycross (2015), construct validity is ensured by homogeneity, which is one of the characteristics of the proposed instrument. In short, the research method is designed to ensure internal validity.
The primary weakness of the research method in terms of external validity is the features of the sample. As mentioned in the first section of the present paper, the information will be gathered from undergraduates studying in the state of Georgia. Since the sample is clustered in a specific geographical location, the generalizability of the findings will be limited (O’Sullivan et al., 2011). However, the matter will be balanced with other features, such as the exclusion of situational factors and psychological realism. The survey will be completed in a friendly natural environment without any distraction or tension. Additionally, the students will be told a cover story to ensure the sense of realism of the situation. In brief, even though there are evident flaws of the research method in terms, they are complemented with measures that improve external validity.
The proposed method follows all the guiding principles of conducting research. First, participants are treated with respect to their privacy an autonomy. All the participants will be asked to sign an informed consent form online and will be informed that they can quit at any time. Second, the research aims at benefiting society as it provides significant insights about efficient ways of managing public organizations. Third, the quality and integrity of the method are ensured by the features discussed in the previous sections. Finally, the research is independent and impartial since there is no conflict of interest.
Heale, R., & Twycross, A. (2015). Validity and reliability in quantitative studies. Evidence Based Nursing, 18(3), 66-67. Web.
National Student Survey. (n.d.). Web.
O’Sullivan, E., Rassel, G. R., & Taliaferro, J. D. (2011). Practical research methods for nonprofit and public administrators. New York, NY: Routledge.
U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). College scorecard. Web.