This study investigated the overall quality of the interpersonal relationship students have with faculty and staff, that is, relationship quality (RQ). In relationship management research, RQ is paramount for the creation of bonds with customers, which in turn is necessary for the sustainability of organizations, that is, continuity and growth. In higher education, it is not only recent changes in funding of education that urge us to further investigate RQ, as students having relational bonds with their teachers and faculty/staff is important as well. These relationships are expected to positively influence students’ college experiences. Although educational literature addresses the importance of student–faculty relationships, little is known about students’ perceptions of the quality of their relationship with their program. The aim of this study was therefore to get a more in-depth understanding of the concept and measurement of RQ within a higher education context. To that end, an existing RQ scale was used measuring five dimensions: trust in honesty, trust in benevolence, satisfaction, affective commitment, and affective conflict. A confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted on survey responses of 551 students from a Dutch university of applied sciences. Next to the CFA, a small-scale focus group discussion was held to validate the quantitative findings of students’ perceptions on RQ. The findings confirm that the RQ instrument is an adequate instrument to investigate RQ in a higher education context. Additional qualitative findings also suggest that students acknowledge the relevance of RQ and the need for having a good relationship with their faculty and staff.

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Higher Education Research and Development
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Snijders, I. (Ingrid), Rikers, R., Wijnia, L., & Loyens, S. (2017). Relationship quality time: the validation of a relationship quality scale in higher education. Higher Education Research and Development, 1–14. doi:10.1080/07294360.2017.1355892