The influence of perceived institutional support and social competencies on online learning satisfaction: A private higher education student perspective

Main Article Content

Eng Mun Khong
Ai Na Seow
Siew Yong Lam


COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised higher education delivery through online learning. While it offers flexibility and accessibility, it also challenges social interaction and satisfaction. To address this challenge, this study adopted the Community of Inquiry framework as a valuable lens to investigate the relationship between perceived institutional support, social competencies with classmates and instructors, and online learning satisfaction. A quantitative approach was used to analyse and explore the proposed hypotheses through Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling. Students with prior experience in online learning from private higher education institutions were approached as the respondents. A total of 419 samples were selected through purposive sampling. The results indicated a positive relationship between perceived institutional support and online learning satisfaction. Perceived institutional support is positively related to social competencies of classmates and instructors. The research found that social competencies with classmates and instructors significantly mediated the association between perceived institutional support and online learning satisfaction. The findings from the study have implications for educational institutions, instructors, and students.

Article Details

How to Cite
Khong, E. M., Seow, A. N., & Lam, S. Y. (2024). The influence of perceived institutional support and social competencies on online learning satisfaction: A private higher education student perspective. Issues and Perspectives in Business and Social Sciences, Advance online publication. Retrieved from
Advance Online Publication
Author Biography

Eng Mun Khong, Faculty of Business and Finance, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia

Research Scholarship Scheme (RSS) Holder, Faculty of Business and Finance, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).

2021-Present: Candidate of Master of Philosophy at UTAR. RSS is awarded by UTAR under UTAR Research Fund (UTARRF). Project title: “The changing patterns of online learning behaviour among Malaysian university students due to Covid-19 pandemic: The mediating role of desire” (Project No. IPSR/RMC/UTARRF/2020-C2/L01).

Conference Proceedings:-
Khong, E. M., Seow, A. N., & Lam, S. Y. (2023). Students’ perception of higher institutional support towards online learning satisfaction: The mediating effect of self-regulated learning. In F. Chen, W. K. S. Choo, V. H. Lee, & C. Y. Wei (Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Business, Accounting, Finance and Economics (BAFE 2022) (Vol. 671, pp. 414–443). Atlantis Press.
Recipient of the Best Paper Award (October 2022)

Khong, E. M., Seow, A. N., & Lam, S. Y. (2022). The effects of student online learning competencies on satisfaction and retention: A conceptual paper. In K. W. Hen, H. C. Chin, & N. C. Aik (Eds.), Proceeding of the International Conference on Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Economic Development (pp. 121–133). Selangor, Kajang: Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman.


Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (2008). The development of a community of inquiry over time in an online course understanding the progression and integration of social, cognitive and teaching presence. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12(3), 3–22.

Al-Fraihat, D., Joy, M., Masa’deh, R., & Sinclair, J. (2020). Evaluating e-learning systems success: An empirical study. Computers in Human Behavior, 102(Jan), 67–86.

Alenezi, A. R. (2022). Modeling the social factors affecting students’ satisfaction with online learning: A structural equation modeling approach. Education Research International, 2022(6), 2594221.

Alshehri, A. F. (2017). Student satisfaction and commitment towards a blended learning finance course: A new evidence from using the investment model Abdulrahman. Research in International Business and Finance, 41(Oct), 423–433.

Amoozegar, A., Daud, S. M., Mahmud, R., & Jalil, H. A. (2017). The contribution of institutional factors to course satisfaction with perceived learning as a mediator among students in Malaysian research universities. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 7(1), 217–236.

Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001). Assessing teaching presence in a computer conferencing context. Online Learning, 5(2), 1–17.

Arokiasamy, L., Ismail, M., Ahmad, A., & Othman, J. (2009). Background of Malaysian private institutions of higher learning and challenges faced by academics. The Journal of International Social Research, 2(8), 60–67.

Ayanbode, O. F., Fagbe, A., Owolabi, R., Oladipo, S., & Ewulo, O. R. (2022). Students’ interactions, satisfaction and perceived progress in an online class: Empirical evidence from Babcock university Nigeria. Cogent Education, 9(1), 2060783.

Ayuni, D., & Mulyana, A. (2019). Applying service quality model as a determinant of success in e-learning: The role of institutional support and outcome value. Review of Integrative Business and Economics Research, 8(1), 145–159.

Azman, N., & Abdullah, D. (2021). A critical analysis of Malaysian higher education institutions’ response towards COVID-19: Sustaining academic program delivery. Journal of Sustainability Science and Management, 16(1), 70–96.

Baber, H. (2020). Determinants of students’ perceived learning outcome and satisfaction in online learning during the pandemic of COVID19. Journal of Education and E-Learning Research, 7(3), 285–292.

Bali, S., & Liu, M. C. (2018). Students’ perceptions toward online learning and face-to-face learning courses. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1108, 012094.

Bangert, A. (2008). The influence of social presence and teaching presence on the quality of online critical inquiry. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 20(1), 34–61.

Bolliger, D. U., & Halupa, C. (2012). Student perceptions of satisfaction and anxiety in an online doctoral program. Distance Education, 33(1), 81–98.

Borup, J., West, R. E., & Thomas, R. (2015). The impact of text versus video communication on instructor feedback in blended courses. Educational Technology Research and Development, 63, 161–184.

Castro, M. D. B. (2019). A literature review: Efficacy of online learning courses for higher education institution using meta-analysis. Education and Information Technologies, 26(2), 1367–1385.

Chin, W. W. (1998). Issues and opinion on structural equation modeling. MIS Quarterly, 22(2), 7–16.

Cho, M. H., & Cho, Y. (2017). Self-regulation in three types of online interaction: A scale development. Distance Education, 38(1), 70–83.

Chung, E., Subramaniam, G., & Dass, L. C. (2020). Online learning readiness among university students in Malaysia amidst COVID-19. Asian Journal of University Education, 16(2), 45–58.

Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Eresia-Eke, C., Ngcongo, N., & Ntsoane, T. (2020). The nexus of service quality, student satisfaction and student retention in small private colleges in South Africa. Education Sciences, 10(7), 179.

Eze, S. C., Chinedu-Eze, V. C. A., Okike, C. K., & Bello, A. O. (2020). Factors influencing the use of e-learning facilities by students in a private higher education institution (HEI) in a developing economy. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 7, Article 133.

Falk, R. F., & Miller, N. B. (1992). A primer for soft modeling. Akron, OH: The University of Akron Press.

Fatani, T. H. (2020). Student satisfaction with videoconferencing teaching quality during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Medical Education, 20, 396.

Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18(1), 39–50.

Fredericksen, E., Pickett, A., Shea, P., Pelz, W., & Swan, K. (2019). Student satisfaction and perceived learning with online courses: Principles and examples from the SUNY learning network. Online Learning, 4(2), 7–41.

Garrison, D. R. (2009). Communities of inquiry in online learning. In Rogers, P. L., Berg, G. A., Boettcher, J., Howard, C., Justice, L., & Schenk, K. D. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of distance learning (2nd ed., pp. 352–355). IGI Global.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2–3), 87–105.

Geng, S., Law, K. M. Y., & Niu, B. (2019). Investigating self-directed learning and technology readiness in blending learning environment. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 16, 17.

Gray, J. A., & Diloreto, M. (2016). The effects of student engagement, student satisfaction, and perceived learning in online learning environments. International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 11(1), 98–119.

Hair, J. F., Hult, G. T. M., Ringle, C. M., & Sarstedt, M. (2017). A primer on partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Hair, J. F., Ringle, C. M., & Sarstedt, M. (2011). PLS-SEM: Indeed a silver bullet. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 19(2), 139–151.

Henseler, J., Ringle, C. M., & Sarstedt, M. (2015). A new criterion for assessing discriminant validity in variance-based structural equation modeling. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 43, 115–135.

Hirner, L. J. (2008). Quality indicators for evaluating distance education programs at community colleges [Doctoral Dissertation]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database.

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020, March 27). The difference between emergency remote teaching and e-learning. Educause Review.

Jaggars, S. S., & Xu, D. (2016). How do online course design features influence student performance? Computers & Education, 95(2), 270–284.

James, P. C. (2021). What determines student satisfaction in an e-learning environment? A comprehensive literature review of key success factors. Higher Education Studies, 11(3), 1–9.

Jones, S. M., Barnes, S. P., Bailey, R., & Doolittle, E. J. (2017). Promoting social and emotional competencies in elementary school. The Future of Children, 27(1), 49–72.

Kang, M., & Im, T. (2013). Factors of learner-instructor interaction which predict perceived learning outcomes in online learning environment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(3), 292–301.

Kanuka, H., & Garrison, D. R. (2004). Cognitive presence in online learning. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 15(2), 21–39.

Kock, N. (2015). Common method bias in PLS-SEM: A full collinearity assessment approach. International Journal of E-Collaboration, 11(4), 1–10.

Kozan, K. (2016). A comparative structural equation modeling investigation of the relationships among teaching, cognitive and social presence. Online Learning, 20(3), 210–227.

Kuo, Y. C., Walker, A. E., Schroder, K. E. E., & Belland, B. R. (2014). Interaction, internet self-efficacy, and self-regulated learning as predictors of student satisfaction in online education courses. Internet and Higher Education, 20(Jan), 35–50.

Lau, Y., Tang, Y. M., Chau, K. Y., Vyas, L., Sandoval-hernandez, A., & Wong, S. (2021). COVID-19 crisis: Exploring community of inquiry in online learning for sub-degree students. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 679197.

Lee, S. J., Srinivasan, S., Trail, T., Lewis, D., & Lopez, S. (2011). Examining the relationship among student perception of support, course satisfaction, and learning outcomes in online learning. Internet and Higher Education, 14(3), 158–163.

Lin, H.M., Lee, M.H., Liang, J.C., Chang, H.Y., Huang, P., & Tsai, C.C. (2020). A review of using partial least square structural equation modeling in e-learning research. British Journal of Educational Technology, 51(4), 1354–1372.

Lowenthal, P. R., & Dunlap, J. C. (2018). Investigating students’ perceptions of instructional strategies to establish social presence strategies. Distance Education, 39(3), 281–198.

Lowenthal, P. R., Fiock, H. S., Shreaves, D. L., & Belt, E. S. (2022). Investigating students’ perceptions of screencasting style of video feedback in online courses. TechTrends, 66, 265–275.

Lytras, M. D., Serban, A. C., Ruiz, M. J. T., Ntanos, S., & Sarirete, A. (2022). Translating knowledge into innovation capability: An exploratory study investigating the perceptions on distance learning in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic - the case of Mexico. Journal of Innovation and Knowledge, 7(4), 100258.

Martin, F., & Budhrani, K. (2019). Award-winning faculty online teaching practices: Roles and competencies. Online Learning, 23(1), 184–205.

Mtebe, J. S., & Raphael, C. (2018). Key factors in learners’ satisfaction with the e-learning system at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 34(4), 107–122.

Nagadeepa, C., Mohan, R., Raji, S., & Kamal, R. (2021). Students’ understanding and learning: Mediation effects of cognitive engagement in online classes. Turkish Journal of Computer and Mathematics Education (TURCOMAT), 12(6), 2932–2939.

Nasir, M. K. M. (2020). The influence of social presence on students’ satisfaction toward online course. Open Praxis, 12(4), 485–493.

Nolan-Grant, C. R. (2019). The community of inquiry framework as learning design model: A case study in postgraduate online education. Research in Learning Technology, 27, 2240.

Nunnally, J. C. (1978). Psychometric Theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Orpinas, P. (2010). Social competence. In Weiner, I. B. & Craighead, W. E. (Eds.), The Corsini encyclopedia of psychology (4th ed., Vol. 4, pp. 1623–1625). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Pham, L., Limbu, Y. B., Bui, T. K., Nguyen, H. T., & Pham, H. T. (2019). Does e-learning service quality influence e-learning student satisfaction and loyalty? Evidence from Vietnam. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 16, 7.

Phirangee, K., & Malec, A. (2017). Othering in online learning: an examination of social presence, identity, and sense of community. Distance Education, 38(2), 160–172.

Picciano, A. G. (2002). Beyond student perceptions Issues of interaction, presence, and performance in an online course. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 6(1), 21–40.

Rajabalee, Y. B., & Santally, M. I. (2021). Learner satisfaction, engagement and performances in an online module: Implications for institutional e-learning policy. Education and Information Technologies, 26(3), 2623–2656.

Ranadewa, D. U. N., Gregory, T. Y., Boralugoda, D. N., Silva, J. A. H. T., & Jayasuriya, N. A. (2021). Learners’ satisfaction and commitment towards online learning during Covid-19: A concept paper. Vision: The Journal of Business Perspective 27(5), 582–592.

Rawashdeh, A. Z. Al, Mohammed, E. Y., Arab, A. R. Al, Alara, M., & Al-Rawashdeh, B. (2021). Advantages and disadvantages of using e-learning in university education: Analyzing students’ perspectives. The Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 19(2), 107–117.

Richardson, J. C., Maeda, Y., Lv, J., & Caskurlu, S. (2017). Social presence in relation to students’ satisfaction and learning in the online environment: A meta-analysis. Computers in Human Behavior, 71(June), 402–417.

Ringle, C. M., Wende, S., & Becker, J. M. (2022). SmartPLS 4. Oststeinbek: SmartPLS GmbH.

Rotar, O. (2022). Online student support: A framework for embedding support interventions into the online learning cycle. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 17, 2.

Rourke, L., & Kanuka, H. (2009). Learning in communities of inquiry: A review of the literature. Journal of Distance Education, 23(1), 19–48.

Saadatmand, M., Uhlin, L., Hedberg, M., Abjornsson, L., & Kvarnstrom, M. (2017). Examining learners’ interaction in an open online course through the community of inquiry framework. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 20(1), 61–79.

Satuti, J. R., Sunaryanto, S., & Nuris, D. M. (2020). Does student satisfaction mediate the correlation between e-learning service quality, academic engagement and academic achievement? Journal of Accounting and Business Education, 5(1), 38–53.

She, L., Ma, L., Jan, A., Sharif Nia, H., & Rahmatpour, P. (2021). Online learning satisfaction during COVID-19 pandemic among Chinese university students: The serial mediation model. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 743936.

Shea, P., & Bidjerano, T. (2009). Community of inquiry as a theoretical framework to foster ‘‘epistemic engagement” and ‘‘cognitive presence” in online education. Computers & Education, 52(3), 543–553.

Shen, D., Cho, M. H., Tsai, C.-L., & Marra, R. (2013). Unpacking online learning experiences: Online learning self-efficacy and learning satisfaction. Internet and Higher Education, 19(Oct), 10–17.

Simui, F., Mpolomoka, D., Sakakombe, L., & Mhango, L. (2020). Exploring presence of interactivity in distance education instructional materials using the community of inquiry model at four universities in Zambia. Zambian Journal of Educational Management, Administration and Leadership (ZJEMAL), 1(1), 207–222.

Sirat, M., & Wan, C. D. (2021). Higher education in Malaysia. In Symaco, L. P. & Hayden, M. (Eds.), International handbook on education in South East Asia (pp. 1–23). Springer Nature Singapore.

Stanton-Salazar, R. D. (2011). A social capital framework for the study of institutional agents and their role in the empowerment of low-status students and youth. Youth and Society, 43(3), 1066–1109.

Strong, R., Irby, T. L., Wynn, J. T., & McClure, M. M. (2012). Investigating students’ satisfaction with elearning courses: The effect of learning environment and social presence. Journal of Agricultural Education, 53(3), 98–110.

Swan, K., Garrison, D. R., & Richardson, J. C. (2009). A constructivist approach to online learning. In Payne, C. R. (Ed.), Information technology and constructivism in higher education: Progressive learning frameworks (pp. 43–57). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Taft, S. H., Perkowski, T., & Martin, L. S. (2011). A framework for evaluating class size in online education. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 12(3), 181–197.

Wan, C. D. (2007). Public and private higher education institutions in Malaysia: Competing, complementary or crossbreeds as education providers. Kajian Malaysia, 25(1), 1–14.

Weidlich, J., & Bastiaens, T. J. (2019). Designing sociable online learning environments and enhancing social presence: An affordance enrichment approach. Computers & Education, 142(Dec), 103622.

Wright, S. (1921). Correlation and causation. Journal of Agricultural Research, 20(7), 557–585.

Yan, L., Whitelock-Wainwright, A., Guan, Q., Wen, G., Gasevic, D., & Chen, G. (2021). Students’ experience of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: A province-wide survey study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52(5), 2038–2057.

Yilmaz, R. (2017). Exploring the role of e-learning readiness on student satisfaction and motivation in flipped classroom. Computers in Human Behavior, 70(May), 251–260.

Yu, Z., & Li, M. (2022). A bibliometric analysis of community of inquiry in online learning contexts over twenty-five years. Education and Information Technologies, 27(8), 11669–11688.

Zhao, X., Lynch, J. G., & Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and truths about mediation analysis. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(2), 197–206.