Background: Student satisfaction is related to experiences and expectations. It is challenging for educational administrators to deliver quality experiences without student expectation insight. Without this insight, student satisfaction is at risk. Aim: This study aims to develop a better understanding of the gaps that exist between student expectations and student experiences in a nursing program to inform and potentially improve student satisfaction in undergraduate nursing programs.
Methods: This research was a mixed methods survey undertaken at an Australian regional university. A total of 82 nursing students completed the survey, which contained open and closed questions addressing various domains of course experience. The questions were mostly categorical (respondents selected from predetermined ordinal options), with opportunities to elaborate on some questions.
Findings: The survey responses showed that flexibility in subject requirements, the helpfulness of academic/teaching staff (lecturers and tutors), and clarity of teacher communications correlated strongly with satisfaction in those respective areas. Expectation-experience discrepancy correlated strongly with satisfaction in these areas: support to navigate university systems, the timing of subject availability, the helpfulness of academic staff, and timetable suitability. The strongest predictor of students’ overall satisfaction with their course was the extent to which they felt “supported to navigate university systems.”
Conclusion: The findings indicate that a better understanding of student course expectations can lead to better student satisfaction and, as such, educational administrators should work to innovate methods to discover and address student expectations.