Psychological predictors of National Student Survey course satisfaction

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David Peter Bowles


Course satisfaction has been linked independently to University provision quality, student self-efficacy and basic psychological need fulfilment. In the current paper we seek to unite those disparate areas with a view to understanding how University factors interact with psychological factors in the determining of student satisfaction, as measured by the National Student Survey (NSS). Study one was focused on data from the NSS itself (N = 1321), in which it was demonstrated that variance in overall course satisfaction is mostly driven by satisfaction with teaching quality and the students' personal development. Study two (N=250) was focused on the psychological factors that relate to students’ personal development that might influence course satisfaction. This questionnaire-based study indicated that self-efficacy, skill confidence and the three basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness were associated with course satisfaction. However, those variables shared much variance and only the fulfilment of the need to feel competent uniquely predicted levels of course satisfaction. We conclude that efforts to maximise student satisfaction should focus on enabling academic staff to excel as inspirational tutors, tutors who foster competence and confidence in their students' academic journey.

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