Students’ Social Well-Being As An Educational Process Effectiveness Indicator At The Universities

Abstract

The article analyses the connection between students’ social well-being and the efficiency of the educational process at the university. The social well-being integral indicator has been evaluated. As the special data was available it was possible to identify the connection between social well-being and other educational process indicators, for example, the studying process, the material and technical base, the staff. The data was received on the basis of the representative sampling of the Russian students. The results of the analysis help to reduce the lack of understanding of the students’ social well-being in the fields of science focusing on education (philosophical anthropology, education psychology and pedagogics), the theory of total quality management. The authors also focus on the mechanism of students’ evaluation of their teachers’ work viewed as a method employed to study these students’ social well-being and also as an instrument of the human resources management. The results of the analysis make it possible to understand the construction (structure) of the students’ social well-being.

Keywords: Students’ social well-beingeducationeducational processthe effectiveness of the educational process at universitythe learning processsocial well-being indicators

Introduction

For more than twenty years the Russian higher education system has been under the ever-changing conditions and requirements imposed by the state authorities and labour market regarding the organisation of the educational process. This has created certain problems in education and social well-being of students as actors of the educational process.

Research Questions

In the period of instability, one of the most precise reference points in the managerial decision making and evaluating the effectiveness in the sphere of higher education is the social well-being of students or the degree of their satisfaction with the organisation of the educational process. In this regard, it is particularly important to study the social well-being of students and its influence on the effectiveness of the educational process at the university.

The main concepts or terms used to describe the problems are "social well-being" and "educational process".

Theoretical and methodological part of the study is based on the philosophical anthropology that examines the development of a man as a result of his self-determination; on Educational Psychology and Pedagogy branch based on this approach; the theory of total quality management, the provisions of which formed the basis of international and domestic regulatory documents on assessing the quality of higher education; the results of interdisciplinary research of higher education describing the system performance factors of the educational process at a higher education institution.

The evaluation of social well-being, among other factors (labour market needs, the requirements of the authorities, the material and technical base, staff, etc.) of influence on the effectiveness of the educational process at university, makes it possible to make informed management decisions in the field of higher education.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose is to analyse interrelation of social well-being of students and effectiveness of educational process in a higher education institution.

Research Methods

The authors use the analysis, surveys of students, compilation of rating of the characteristics of the organization of the educational process in a University.

Findings

Social well-being is a concept that has a variety of meanings used primarily in social psychology. It has also been used in sociology and has a wide range of meanings from the emotional sphere of a person’s life, when he or she is viewed as a representative of a particular social group, to macro-sociological characteristics of large social categories, such as socio-economic status of students in a certain country and to the welfare defining the standards of consumption and affiliation to a particular class. In addition to defining the theoretical framework, some authors refer to it as social well-being, while others may use the terms "social mood", "social perceptions", "social feelings", "public mood", "social consciousness", "public opinion", "satisfaction with life"," subjective well-being", "socio-psychological climate", etc. Social well-being can be considered as a political science concept characterising the political and legal regime of the state. This approach involves the assessment of such indicators as, for example, "the degree of protection of the population against the main dangers: crime, poverty, the arbitrariness of officials, environmental threats" and "the degree of independence of people in solving their problems" (Toshchenko, 1996).

In this case, the concept of the students' social well-being will be considered as the students’ evaluation of their social status and social roles they perform, their individual goals, values and personal characteristics.

The second basic concept, as previously noted, is the "educational process", which includes a set of methods used to create the necessary and sufficient conditions for the students’ learning activity.

In the Russian Federation, the general principles of the educational process organisation and management in educational institutions is described in the official documents. The current official document is called the Federal State Educational Standards.

The effectiveness of the educational process in a high school institution lies in the quality of students' competencies. The competencies are established for each of the educational programmes by federal executive bodies in accordance with the professional roles. A specific educational programme is designed to provide the ability to perform these roles.

This trend leads to a change in the principles of assessing the effectiveness of the educational process in high school according to the data on the students’ social well-being (the extent to which the educational process corresponds to individual educational goals of students based on specific competencies and conditions of acquiring them).

Students’ social well-being and the effectiveness of the educational process at the university are interrelated.

One of the conditions of such a relationship is a reflexive attitude to the actual and the desired characteristics of the educational process shown by the participants of this process - teachers and students - as well as the administrative and managerial staff of universities. This affects the organisation of the educational process indirectly by administrative methods.

The second condition - the independence of students and teachers, enabling students to choose their educational trajectory (place, form, content, intensity and duration of training), and enabling a teacher to choose training methods, depending on the needs and abilities of each student.

One reason for the Russian university authorities’ increasing interest in the study of students’ social well-being is the desire to comply with the international quality standards of higher education, developed by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA). In the “Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European Higher Education Area” (ESG) developed by ENQA it is stated that the quality of higher education should be assessed by the methods involving the participation of students in the assessment process and the information submitted by the institution about its activities, to make the evaluation of the quality of higher education possible (Douglas, Douglas, Barnes, 2006; Fonseca, 2015; Korovkin, Mogilnitsky, Chuchalin, 2015; Marsh, 2007; Mertens, 2014; Tsinidou, Gerogianni, Fitsilis, 2010; Berndt; Kubinski, 2011; Cicognani et al., 2008; Social determinants of health and well-being among young people, 2010). Information on the activities of the university includes "students' progress and achievement levels; demand for graduates in the labour market; student satisfaction with educational programmes; teaching effectiveness; different types of students; availability and cost of education resources; the main indicators of the university activity " (Belekhova, 2015).

Assuming that the demands of the students of Russian universities for the quality of higher education are similar to the ENQA standards and based on the criteria for these standards, developed by the National Center of Public Accreditation - Russian member of ENQA - we can operationalize the concept of social well-being as the students’ assessment of whether the educational programmes meet the following criteria:

  • Students’ participation in the process of setting goals and strategies of the educational programme;

  • consideration of the students’ views regarding the curricula for the subjects of the educational programme;

  • the focus of the working curricula and subjects of the educational programme on the competency programmes that are in demand in the labour market in the respective professional field;

  • independence and objectivity of competence assessment procedures;

  • The level of teachers’ competence: the level of competence and the level of pedagogical skills;

  • Provision of the educational programme with appropriate material and technical base;

  • availability of modern information and library resources, including the availability of the materials necessary for the implementation of the educational programme in the local university network;

  • the conditions for independent study and research for students;

  • conditions for students with disabilities;

  • the effectiveness of the feedback system that would allow students to assess the realisation of the educational programme;

  • full and accurate information about the educational programme at the university site (Lapin, 2007).

In spite of the fact that there is the variety of approaches to the definition of quality management concepts of the university, there is an international standard of management, operating with the concept of quality as a universal indicator, applicable for the assessment of the organization of any type, including university, all structural divisions of the organization and all employees of the organization - ISO 9000. The implementation of this standard in the university life involves, among other requirements for the university management, certain activities "for monitoring consumers' perception to understand to what extent their needs and expectations are met." (Standards and guidelines for Quality Assurance in Higher Education in the European space, 2008). Students are referred to as consumers, as according to the total quality management theory (TQM), which formed the basis for the ISO 9000, the educational process is considered as the production process, the university is viewed as an organisation, a product is an educational service (National Center for professional public accreditation, 2016). The survey is mentioned among the methods of carrying out this type of monitoring. In this case, the study of the social well-being of students can be seen as a marketing strategy aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the university in the educational market.

To analyse the social well-being of students as an indicator of the effectiveness of the educational process at university, we could turn to the results of the empirical research of students’ social well-being, conducted at Russian universities.

Attendance is an important characteristic of the student behaviour and it is one of the most important factors of the educational process effectiveness. Attendance may be considered as an indicator of the relevance of the educational process in high school to individual goals and characteristics of students, because the idea to attend all classes without exception is usually considered by the students who associate potential social success (financial well-being, getting moral satisfaction from the professional activity, etc.) with the fullest possible involvement in the educational process at university. Polls have shown that 33% - 39% of the students responded that they attend (or claim to attend) all classes, 52% - 54% of students miss classes periodically (1 to 8 classes per month). The rest of the students (10% - 14%) have missed 9 classes or more, which may affect the educational process.

The proportion of students skipping a number of classes critical for the effectiveness of the educational process is not large, and it can be concluded that the students and teachers are motivated to interact regularly within the framework of the educational process, and absenteeism is not encouraged.

Creating a timetable in a large university requires significant effort, and a well-functioning electronic schedule allows to make changes and to inform students and teachers on time. This has a positive impact on the effectiveness of the educational process, as it allows to avoid disruption of classes because of the absence of teachers, who did not get the information on changes in the schedule and reduce students’ absenteeism and lateness. According to the majority of students (64% - 82%), information on changes in timetable was available on time.

One of the important factors of the educational process efficiency is the organisation of exams. The degree, to which students will be able to demonstrate their objective competence at the exam depends on how well they are informed about the date, time and the exam format, marking criteria. Most of the students appreciated the organisation of the examinations during the session period. However, 11% of respondents noted, that the examinations were badly organised.

Students’ satisfaction with organising the resist showed that 16% of respondents were not satisfied with the organisation of resit during the extra session (exams for students who did not attend the examination session or received a failing grade).

This percentage cannot be considered high, given that the students who have failed an exam may be inclined to negatively evaluate various aspects of the educational process.

Students’ satisfaction with the time when they were given examination and semi-examination questions. The survey showed that one-third of students (33%) are not satisfied with the time when they were given examination and semi-examination questions, which may affect the efficiency of the educational process.

One of the key factors of students’ social well-being is the work of the scientific supervisors, and, consequently, the effectiveness of the educational process, because it is in the process of writing course (term) papers and diploma papers that a number of general and specific competences are formed. If the interaction of the supervisor with the student does not encourage the student to systematically and productively conduct research and write on a regular basis, the work quality may deteriorate, sharply reducing the level of the student’s work and making it possible for the student to be dismissed from a university. The results of the survey show that 25% of the students are not satisfied their course paper/ diploma paper supervision. Such numbers may indicate serious organisation deficiencies of the educational process, and reduce the level of students' well-being.

Student internships are important for the educational process productivity. One-third of those surveyed (35%) is not satisfied with the way internships are organised.

Students’ satisfaction with individual consulting sessions performed by the teachers

Social well-being of students and, consequently, the effectiveness of the educational process depends on whether the teacher-student interaction continues after the training sessions. 17% of the students surveyed noted that they were not satisfied with individual consulting sessions performed by the teachers.

Organisational process characteristics rating based on students’ satisfaction

In the course of the research, the organisational process characteristics rating based on students’ satisfaction was created.

The value of a collective characteristic evaluation was calculated in the following way. A four-termed scale was used: the answer "bad" received the coefficient (factor) - "1", which corresponded to the minimum quality of the characteristic being researched (satisfaction), the answer "rather bad" - the coefficient "2", "rather well" - "3" and the answer "good" became "4" corresponding to the maximum expression of this characteristic. The proportion of respondents (percentage) was multiplied by the corresponding response coefficient. The resulting products were summed.

For example, if the answers were distributed as follows:

  • good - 34.7%

  • rather well - 39.4%

  • rather bad - 18.1%

  • bad - 7.8%

The value of the collective evaluation will be

34.7 * 4 + 39.4 * 3 + 18.1 * 2 + 7.8 * 1 = 301

As a result of this calculation the following educational process characteristics rating organisation can be formed:

1. Organisation of exams during the session - 335.8

2. Punctuality of the teachers - 334.7

3. Organisation of a resit during the extra session - 322.4

4. Individual consulting sessions performed by the teachers - 320

5. Receiving the information on changes in the schedule and the quality of the course paper /diploma paper supervision - 301

6. Examination and semi examination questions received on time - 285.7

7. Internship - 277.6

The last place in the characteristics of the of the educational process organisation ranking is occupied by the Internship organisation. It is a weak point in the educational process in the absolute majority of Russian universities.

It is interesting to look at the variation of the collective evaluation among the students of different years of education. Satisfaction decreases from the first year to the last one:

  • 1 year (Bachelor and Master students) - 326.3

  • 2 year (Bachelor and Master students) - 309.8

  • 3 year (Bachelor students) - 301.2

  • 4 year (Bachelor students) - 296.1

Discussion

This trend can be interpreted as declining compliance of the educational process with individual inclinations and interests of students from the first year of education to the last one, which can be caused by the increased demands of students as they grow older (17-year-old first-year students demand less from their teachers and from the educational process itself as compared to the experienced 21-year-olds).

The degree of compliance of the educational process characteristics to the interests of students depends partly on the effectiveness of the Student Council. 37% of students do not know anything about the activities of the University Student Council, 22% assess this activity negatively. 41% of the students appreciated the activities of the student council. These results show that the Student Council, one of the most important tools of students' participation in decision-making, is under development.

30% of the surveyed students noted that their academic attendance was monitored by teachers from time to time, or not controlled at all.

Teachers’ control over cheating. One in six students (30%) of respondents indicated that cheating teachers do not control whether the students are cheating or control it from time to time. Cheating is common among the students of Russian universities and is forming a certain type of academic culture which has a negative impact on the educational process. Tolerance to various forms of students’ violations of academic ethics, and particularly to cheating leads to the pure imitation of a variety of learning activities by some students.

Using the library. The study found that visiting an university library is not a priority for students: 70% of the students use the library no more than once a month, and 15% of the students do not use the library. The most actively used type of library resources is electronic library resources.

Students’ social well-being is largely determined by the possibilities to spend their free time. The survey showed that a high proportion of students do not know that there are certain opportunities for useful pastime at the University. About half (49%) of the students do not know that the University has interest groups, and 55% have not heard anything about the University countryside health centre and discounts it offers to students.

Students’ satisfaction with the dormitories they live in is a significant factor influencing the social well-being of students. 31% of the surveyed students live in the dormitory. The answers to the question about their satisfaction with the dormitories have shown that: 25% are mostly satisfied, 21% are not satisfied, and the rest were undecided.

Student satisfaction rates regarding the quality of food and a variety of sanitary and hygienic conditions in the university canteens and cafeterias. The greatest dissatisfaction about the university canteens and cafes was connected to the prices (66% of the respondents are dissatisfied with them).

Xenophobia among students and teachers at the University. Among the students surveyed one in ten indicated the fact that he or she has faced with the manifestations of hostility towards them on a national basis by other students, each 12th noted, that they faced with the manifestations of xenophobia on the part of teachers. Such manifestations have a totally negative effect on the social well-being of students and generally on the effectiveness of the educational process.

Conclusion

One of the strongest factors that worsen the social well-being of students is corruption at the University. 36% of respondents indicated that they were faced with corruption during their studies at the University or have heard about the facts of corruption at the University of other students.

Thus, the students’ social well-being is a measure of an university efficiency, and if this information is used properly the educational process at an university can be improved.

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Publisher

Future Academy

First Online

18.12.2019

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2017.08.50

Online ISSN

2357-1330