Student satisfaction and persistence: Imperative features for retention in open and distance learning

Maximus Gorky Sembiring
Universitas Terbuka


This paper is concerned with assessing the overall service quality as evidence of student satisfaction in the open and distance learning mode. It was also interested in discover the links between student satisfaction and their grade point average, and student persistence and retention. The research, which was conducted at Universitas Terbuka, utilized a quantitative approach and data were collected through questionnaires. The population for the study was 1,154 Universitas Terbuka graduates attending a commencement day in May 2014. Three hundred questionnaires were distributed and 218 of them were returned and processed. Student satisfaction was assessed by scrutinizing the dimensions of service quality (reliability, assurance, tangible, empathy and responsiveness attributes). Important Performance Analysis and a Customer Satisfaction Index were first applied concurrently to measure student satisfaction and the level of its importance. A structural equation model was then utilized to verify influencing features related to satisfaction: the grade point average, persistence and retention. Eight hypotheses were formed and scrutinized and six of them were found to be statistically validated by the analysis. It was seen that empathy, responsiveness and reliability were related to student satisfaction; and persistence and retention were visibly affected by satisfaction.