The lights and darks of unlimited access to information, social media and word of mouth in higher education marketing: Why better-informed students may be less satisfied.

Andreas Zehetner, Ilona Pezenka

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsConference contributionpeer-review


Students today are better informed than ever before when deciding on a university or course of study. Media, social networks, word of mouth, reviews, ratings, etc. allow for quick and comprehensive screening of facts and findings. However, many first-year students are not completely satisfied with their decision. This exploratory study examines the causes of dissatisfaction of first-year students with their chosen degree program caused by expectations that are not fulfilled. Using thematic content analysis, essays of 66 students were analysed, and 800 codes related to the reasons for negative expectation-confirmation as well as remedies to achieve satisfaction were identified and classified. The top reasons for disappointment were content mismatch between promise and delivery at the level of course content and organization, but also personal reasons, availability of attractive alternatives, and lack of feedback on complaints and concerns. Also, students suggested ways to escape the unpleasant mental state resulting from negative expectation-disconfirmation. As remedies, students suggested a realistic relationship between promise and performance; honest information prior to enrolment; making better use of the opportunities offered by modern communications technology and improved feedback systems; better maintained relationships, networks, and communities; and success stories through trusted testimonials. The main contribution of this study is to add both a predictive and prescriptive dimension to the existing knowledge of expectation-disconfirmation theory.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2022 8th International Conference on Frontiers of Educational Technologies, ICFET 2022
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781450396400
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2022
Event8th International Conference on Frontiers of Educational Technologies, ICFET 2022 - Virtual, Online, Japan
Duration: 10 Jun 202212 Jun 2022

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


Conference8th International Conference on Frontiers of Educational Technologies, ICFET 2022
CityVirtual, Online


  • Digital marketing
  • Expectation-confirmation theory
  • Higher Education Marketing
  • Satisfaction
  • Social Media

Cite this