Student Satisfaction of Technology

Studies done by Balakrishnan and Pierre (2007), Arbaugh (2001), An and Frick (2006), Comeaux (1995), Benoit and Benoit (2006), and Hemmer, Benoit, Benoit, and Benoit (2006) and Witt and Schrodt (2006) have researched student’s satisfaction of technology in online classes and face-to-face classrooms.  The students’ levels of satisfaction with the classes were based on the teachers’ behaviors.   The online students showed more satisfaction when teachers showed strong immediacy behaviors, and the face-to-face students showed more satisfaction when the teachers showed proficiency in using the classroom technology.  Overall the research shows students get more satisfaction from classes where the teachers have a strong proficiency in working the technology hardware and engaging the students, or the classes where the teachers do not use technology at all.  All the studies that focused on satisfaction tended to show the students had poor satisfaction when working with technology.  Other studies that do not focus on satisfaction tended to show students were mostly satisfied in classes where technology was being used.

Web-based Classrooms: It’s All about the Teacher

The teacher’s involvement in the class has played a significant role in student satisfactions with web-based classrooms.  Balakrishnan and Pierre (2007) and Arbaugh (2001) conducted studies that focused on satisfaction of students in online environments.  Both studies had similar findings involving immediacy behaviors.   Teachers engage learning by using immediacy behaviors that resulted in higher satisfaction.   According to Balakrishnan and Pierre’s (2007) study, positive student satisfaction in online courses was based on “teacher presence and interaction and engagement” (p. 18).  The teachers’ presence, interaction, and engagement can be defined as immediacy behaviors because they “serve to reduce the psychological distance between people” (Messman & Jones-Corley, 2001, p. 187).  

A study done by Arbaugh (2001) found that teacher’s immediacy behaviors were positive influences on student satisfaction like Balakrishnan and Pierre’s (2007) study also found.  Both Balakrishnan and Pierre (2007) and Arbaugh (2001) found the immediacy behaviors teachers used, the more satisfied students were with the courses.  Immediacy behaviors are much easier for students to read in face-to-face classrooms.  Teachers must emphasize their immediacy behaviors in online environments so their students feel they are in a more human-centered environment instead of technology-centered environment (Balakrishnan & Pierre, 2007).  When teachers efficiently emphasize their immediacy behaviors the students report higher satisfaction with the class.

The immediacy behaviors displayed by the teachers in Balakrishnan and Pierre’s (2007) and Arbaugh’s (2001) studies increased the students’ satisfaction of the courses and therefore increased the students’ learning outcomes.  Satisfaction was shown to be an important need for students in online classes to consider their classes effective.  The students did not have positive learning outcomes when they were not satisfied.

Satisfaction in Face-to-Face Classrooms:  It’s All about the Teacher’s Efficiency with the Technology

Witt and Schrodt’s (2006) research found that students reported more satisfaction in face-to-face discussions when teachers used high level of immediacy behaviors with their technology use.  Although immediacy was mentioned in Witt and Schrodt’s research, the teachers’ technology proficiency was shown to be the most important factor when determining student satisfaction in face-to-face classes. 

An and Frick (2006), and Comeaux (1995), both conducted studies that focused on student satisfaction of technology in face-to-face discussions.  An and Frick’s (2006) study determined the students preferred not to work with technology in the classroom because their teachers were not proficient with the technology.  The students found face-to-face discussions to be “faster, easier, and more convenient” (An & Frick, 2006, p.496).  When teachers used technology it the classroom ran slower because the teachers would be trying to figure out how to use it.  

Comeaux’s (1995) study looked at two classrooms that used an interactive distance-learning network to connect classes together into one discussion.  The students in Comeaux’ study were found to be frustrated when their teachers could not proficiently work with the technology.  There were complaints the teachers did not know how to work the hardware of the technology and also did not know how to incorporate all students into the discussions (Comeaux, 1995). 

Both An and Frick’s (2006) and Comeaux’ (1995) studies showed students were easily frustrated with their teachers who did not have extensive experience with the technology.  The more experienced teachers are with technology the more satisfaction students report as having.  The more satisfaction the students report the better their learning outcomes in the classes that use technology will be.  Therefore when teachers are more experienced with the technology the students have better learning outcomes because they report more satisfaction.

Comparison of Satisfactions in Web-assisted Classes and Traditional Classes

Benoit and Benoit (2006) and Hemmer, Benoit, Benoit, and Benoit (2006) conducted studies on student satisfaction in web-assisted classes versus traditional classes.  Results in both  Benoit and Benoit’s (2006) and Hemmer, Benoit, Benoit, and Benoit’s (2006) studies strongly emphasized students received higher satisfaction  from traditional classrooms than in web-assisted classrooms.  The students in both studies found traditional classrooms to be easier and more convenient.  This could be due to the fact that web-assisted classrooms are a new way of learning they are not used to and students are more comfortable in traditional classrooms.

Benoit and Benoit’s (2006) study looked at six variables including “speech quality, examination grades, student satisfaction, communication apprehension, attitudes toward course, and instructor evaluation” (p.1).  From the six variables Benoit and Benoit concluded there was no difference in the quality of instruction between face-to-face and web-assisted classrooms.   Benoit and Benoit found students reported having more satisfaction from the traditional class. 

Hemmer, Benoit, Benoit, and Benoit’s (2006) study researched the “impact of web-assisted instruction on learning and student satisfaction” (p. 1).  Like Benoit and Beniot’s (2006) study, Hemmer, Benoit, Benoit, and Benoit’s (2006) study showed there was no difference in the quality of instruction, or in the learning scale of the students.   Their results indicated student satisfaction was lower in web-assisted classrooms than in traditional classrooms (Hemmer, Benoit, Benoit, & Benoit, 2006).   This could be due to students’ frustrations with technology. 

Benoit and Benoit’s (2006) and Hemmer, Benoit, Benoit, and Benoit’s (2006) studies were similar with the same outcomes.  Both studies demonstrated that student satisfaction was higher in traditional classroom settings.  This could be due in large part to the students’ unfamiliarity of the technology.  Students feel more comfortable in the traditional classrooms and report more satisfaction for that reason.