What matters most

O'Driscoll, Finian (2012) What matters most. Quality Assurance in Education, 20 (3). pp. 237-258. ISSN 0968-4883


Purpose; – This study presents institutional research and aims to explore the underlying factors that contribute to hospitality management students' satisfaction and perceptions of service quality at a higher education college in Ireland. Research focusing on hospitality and leisure management education argues for greater cognisance of the relevance of students' experience with third level education. Therefore, the current paper seeks to address the issue of student feedback and satisfaction measurement in light of recent proposals.; ; Design/methodology/approach; – The responses to a “course satisfaction questionnaire” taken from a database of first year students (n=263) were factor‐analysed using the principal component technique, the purpose of which was to identify latent explanatory variables of the student satisfaction concept as applied in a hospitality management context. Descriptive analysis was used to examine the level of satisfaction within the data. Tests for gender and nationality differences were conducted. Correlational analysis along with multiple regression techniques were applied to the data set to explore the salient relationships between satisfaction variables.; ; Findings; – Analysis reveals a multidimensional structure of student satisfaction. Six underlying factors accounted for a high percentage of variance in explaining student satisfaction. Academic support, welfare support and course communication structures are identified as being significant determinants while differences based on nationality are observed, particularly in relation to pre‐placement support.; ; Practical implications; – Issues such as quality of student life and other non‐institutional factors need to be accounted for in offering a more comprehensive explanation of student satisfaction. The role of pre‐work placement preparation is emphasised. The potential to chart the level and structure of student satisfaction throughout the whole institution is suggested. Furthermore, the prospect of conducting longitudinal research serves as a unique opportunity. The use of quantitative techniques, bolstered by qualitative methods, is recommended as a future direction for data collection, analysis and synthesis.; ; Originality/value; – This paper attempts to fill a gap in student satisfaction research from a hospitality and tourism management perspective.

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