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British Journal of Educational Technology
doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.00937.x

Vol 41 No 2 2010

307–323

The impact of individual differences on e-learning system
satisfaction: A contingency approach

Hsi-Peng Lu and Ming-Jen Chiou
Hsi-Peng Lu is a professor of Information Management at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. Ming-Jen Chiou is a PhD student at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and a lecturer at St. John’s University. Address for correspondence: Ming-Jen Chiou, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, St. John’s University, No. 499, Sec. 4, Tam King Road Tamsui, Taipei, Taiwan. Email: chiou@mail.sju.edu.tw

Abstract
This study investigated the impact of contingent variables on the relationship between four predictors and students’ satisfaction with e-learning. Five hundred and twenty-two university students from 10 intact classes engaging in online instruction were asked to answer questionnaires about their learning styles, perceptions of the quality of the proposed predictors and satisfaction with e-learning systems. The results of analysis of variance and structural equation modelling analyses showed that two contingent variables, gender and job status, significantly influenced the perceptions of predictors and students’ satisfaction with the e-learning system. This study also found a statistically significant moderating effect of two contingent variables, student job status and learning styles, on the relationship between predictors and e-learning system satisfaction. The results suggest that a serious consideration of contingent variables is crucial for improving e-learning system satisfaction. The implications of these results for the management of e-learning systems are discussed.

Introduction
During the past 20 years of Web technology development, a web-based learning system has been widely used in higher education (Kim & Bonk, 2006). There are many benefits to using e-learning systems (Joint Information Systems Committee, 2007). One is that it can be used at any time and place, allowing learners to proceed at their own pace and facilitators to track the basic trajectory of each learner’s progress more easily and objectively. e-Learning can also include various media, such as text, audio, graphics, video and animation, and facilitators can enrich the course content by linking students with other Web sources. Another benefit is that online courses allow learners to form learning communities by using Web technology and tools such as instant messaging © 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 Becta. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.

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British Journal of Educational Technology

Vol 41 No 2 2010

and discussion boards, with the result that learners can cooperate and help one another in learning. Finally, e-learning allows for a learner-centred approach that can take into account the many differences between learners, with the result that learners can use their favourite methods to take in and process course contents or information (Masiello, Ramberg & Lonka, 2005). Because of these widely recognised advantages, many universities in recent years have begun to offer their students online courses through e-learning systems (Allen & Seaman, 2004; Gallagher, 2004; Zhang & Nunamaker, 2003). Gartner Group’s research report (Zastrocky, Yanosky & Harris, 2004; Yanosky, 2004) discussed how higher education had brought e-learning into the mainstream and incorporated it into the physical campus.

As the use of e-learning has increased, so has research into those factors affecting learners’ satisfaction with e-learning systems (Chiu, Hsu, Sun, Lin & Sun, 2005; Lee, Tseng, Liu & Liu, 2007; Wang, 2003). One reason for gaining a better understanding of learners’ satisfaction with e-learning system is to help managers improve e-learning system quality and...
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