Rating students’ satisfaction with academic service quality on the whole and physical education and sport service in particular

PhD, Associate Professor N.A. Vakhnin1
PhD, Associate Professor A.B. Makhovikov1
PhD V.V. Sharok1
1St. Petersburg Mining University, St. Petersburg

Keywords: higher education, contentment, physical education and sport service, health, healthy lifestyle.

Background. University student communities have always been considered the future economic, labor and cultural elite by the national society, and this is the reason for a special attention being given by the educational system to their social, physical and mental health standards of direct influence on the academic progress and competency for the future service. It is commonly acknowledged that intellectual work shall be prudently and harmonically combined with physical trainings and work to secure good health, high working capacity and stamina. It is the academic physical education and sport service that is central for the students’ health protection and improvement, with its quality and comfort for the students being rather important for success of the academic studies. The issue of the student’s contentment with the academic education on the whole and physical education and sport service in particular has long been of great interest for the research community. Thus V. Humboldt in XVIII-XIХ century offered the idea of an ideal university meeting every need of the student and society [2]. I. Bentham and J. Mill, proponents of the utilitarian concept, came up with a set of the university performance criteria including its benefits for the practical needs and missions of the society, with the education service being ideally designed to facilitate the students’ spiritual development and meet their socializing agenda in the context of the vocational service requirements and responsibilities. The national sociology has studied the social issues faced by the student communities since the 1900-1920s. After some historical recession in the studies, they were resumed in 1960s and are still in progress. Thus P.A. Sorokin in his studies of the university-public-institutions’ cooperation and synergy found that the students’ intellectual progress largely depends on their contentment with the academic education service quality and climate [6]. Of high interest for the national research community were also the studies of the student’s contentment related issues by the leading national universities and youth research centers in Moscow and Saint Petersburg [1]. A special priority in this context has long been given to healthy lifestyle – commonly viewed by the health specialists as the best tool to secure high physical and intellectual capacity and necessary physical activity in the academic studies.

Objective of the study was to analyze the students’ contentment with the academic physical education and sport service quality.

Methods and structure of the study. Sampled for a questionnaire survey were students of Saint Petersburg Mining University (n=769, including 358 males and 401 females; with 319, 106, 82, 152 and 98 first-, second-, third-, fourth and fifth-year students; and 517, 225, 17 and 8 bachelor, specialty, master and unspecified course students, respectively). The questionnaire survey form offered general and confidential questions to explore their contentment with the academic service quality. Responses of the sample were averaged and scored on a 5-point scale as follows: 2 – fully disagree; 3 rather disagree than not; 4 – rather agree than not; and 5 – fully agree; with the uncertain responses omitted by the averaging procedure.

Results and discussion. The survey and analysis found the sample being most happy (25% of the 4.30+ points) with the following aspects of the education service: sport facilities and conditions (4.72); including the indoor sport gyms and outdoor grounds (4.57); selection commission service (4.67); university library with its digital databases (4.55); university campus (4.49); multiservice center operations (4.44); faculty’s appreciation of the student progress (4.37); good information on the off-class physical education and sport activity, sport group services, student clubs etc. (4.37); good support for the individual initiatives in every field and aspect (4.30); and the group supervisor’s service, support, academic progress control and practical help (4.30). The academic physical education and sport service quality, therefore, was rated fairly high by the sample, with the academic sports found heavily contributing to the students’ overall contentment with the education [3-5, 7-9].

Let us now consider and analyze the age-specific contentment with different academic education service quality aspects. The data dispersion analysis found the 1-year students being highly happy with virtually every aspect of the academic service albeit still unprepared to decide whether or not their expectation come true – in contrast to the 2-year group generally prepared to compare the expectations with reality. It may be pertinent to mention that the same finding was made for some other universities [5, 7-9]. Generally the same trend was found for the other responses to the survey form – i.e. the elder is the student, the lower is his/ her degree of contentment. This finding also applies to the sport aspects of the service albeit with some specifics: see Table 1 hereunder.

Table 1. Age-specific academic service contentment rates

Rated service issues

Academic year

1

2

3

4

5

F

information on the off-class physical education and sport activity, sport group services, student clubs, events and practical support for them

4,60

4,34

4,24

4,10

4,13

11,44*

Sport service and facilities

4,83

4,83

4.65

4,56

4,57

7,53*

Indoor sport gyms and outdoor facilities

4,67

4,68

4.42

4,42

4,50

5,37*

Note: *p ≤ 0.01

As demonstrated by the above survey data, the 1- and 2-year students are virtually equally and highly happy with the indoor sport gyms and outdoor facilities and the academic sport services on the whole. It may be due to the fact that the junior students are served by one physical education and sport service center, and the senior ones by another, with the junior physical education and sport service being apparently better equipped and managed. The finding may be also due to the fact that the senior students are generally less happy with different aspects of the academic service just because it is no more new for them.

On the issue of the information on the off-class physical education and sport activity, sport group services, student clubs, events and practical support for them, the survey found the following general logic: the higher is the student age, the less he/she is happy on the issue – probably due to the fact that the senior students are well informed and/or specialized in the academic sports and, hence, more indifferent to the service range and quality beyond their scope.

The course- and age-specific survey data dispersion analysis found the bachelor students being the most happy with the academic service quality aspects. Partially it may be due to the domination (56%) of the 1-year students in the group – as compared to the specialty group with only 7.59% of the 1-year students. As was demonstrated above, the differences in responses were found largely age-specific. To double-check the finding, we formed a 1-4-year bachelor group and 1-4-year specialty group for comparisons – and found that the bachelor group was even less happy with some of the education service aspects. Therefore, we confirmed once again that the overall happiness with the education service quality is mostly age-specific. It should be underlined that we found no meaningful intergroup differences in responses of the bachelor, specialty and master course students.

A comparative analysis of the gender subgroup survey data found the male subgroup being higher content with the purely academic education service aspects whilst the female subgroup was happier with the university infrastructure. No gender-specific differences were found on the sport aspects of the survey.

Conclusion. The questionnaire survey data showed the physical education and sport service quality playing the key role for the general students’ contentment with the academic service quality as it encourages the healthy lifestyle and facilitates the efforts to mobilize the individual resource, improve communication and friendship with the peer students and, hence, contributes to the academic progress and quality on the whole. The 1-year students were tested with the highest contentment rates – apparently due to the natural adaptation sensitivity. The statistical age- and course-specific data analyses help find the key logics in the low and high contentment rates to provide a sound basis for the initiatives to correct drawbacks in the academic service and improve the students’ contentment with its quality.

References

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Corresponding author: curgan57@mail.ru

Students’ contentment with the academic service quality is ranked among the key indicators of the education system efficiency, with the contentment interpreted as the individual emotional comfort associated with the educational environment and its products meeting the individual expectations, hopes and needs. Academic progress and comfort may be measured by a variety of factors including the educational process design and content, quality of the public catering service, health service, accommodation and the physical education and sport services – intended to promote healthy lifestyle and cater for the students’ needs including the self-assertion, self-fulfillment and self-respect agenda; and the needs for friendship, teamwork, communication, mental comfort etc. This means that the academic physical education and sport service quality may be viewed among the key factors for the students’ contentment with the academic service quality on the whole.

Sampled for a questionnaire survey were 769 students of Mining University, with the questionnaire survey form offering general and confidential questions. The questionnaire survey data showed the physical education and sport service quality playing the key role for the general students’ contentment with the academic service quality as it encourages the healthy lifestyle and facilitates the efforts to mobilize the individual resource, improve communication and friendship with the peer students and, hence, contributes to the academic progress and quality on the whole.