Quality Assessment of Staff in-service training from View Points of Employees Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences

Document Type: Original Article

Author

Department of Education Development Center, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, IRAN

Abstract

Background: Medical sciences universities have great mission to train efficient, professional and committed human resources to solve the health need of people. This research aimed to study the quality assessment of staff in-service training from viewpoints of employees Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences based on servqual model between 2011-2015.
Methods: This is a descriptive, cross-sectional study which was conducted in December 2015. Its population included 1210 persons who were formal staffs or contractors of central university and colleges located on campus, with at least a bachelor's degree. The sample size was estimated 292 persons based on Cochran formula. Then, the sample of each course (public, professional and computer) were selected randomly. The data was collected by using Servqual questionnaire. In order to analyze the data, descriptive and inferential statistics (including frequency, frequency, density, standard deviation, SD) and given to abnormal distribution of data, Kolmogrov Smirnov test and nonparametric tests of Wilcoxon and Kruskal-Wallis were used with the software of SPSS V 21.
Results: The results showed that from the 5 dimensions of the service quality, two dimensions of empathy and reliability have no negative gaps, the dimensions of credibility(-1.44), tangible (-0.66) and responsiveness (-0.41) have negative gaps and there are no significant differences between the quality of public, professional and computer educational services(P>0.05).
Conclusions: It is recommended that this university prioritize those dimensions that had the highest gap (Tangibles, Responsiveness and Creditability) to allocate the resources and effort to address problems and enhance the quality of education.

Keywords


Introduction

Educating and training human resources in organization was not concerned regularly and scientifically before the birth of scientific management school in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century's. With the rapid growth of cities, bigger government and more complex management of public affairs in the early twentieth century, training staff become more important. The first signs of regular training of human resources can be seen in the school of scientific management. In Iran, before 1930s, the common of training staff was the way of teacher-student, but from the early mentioned decade, the new and organized training of staff was begun sporadically (1). In the third millennium, the firms and educational centers face with huge challenges such as globalization and internationalization of trade and also the revolution of information technology. The organizations will have to match with changing environment quickly and improve the quality of their training continually to protect themselves from destruction and promote the special place earned in the past (2). The quality of services is one of the important factors for growth, success and sustainability of the service organizations. Many studies showed that providing high quality services impacts on profitability, market share and reduction of costs directly and also it can impact on the satisfaction and behaviors such as loyalty and convert the customer to a good marketing agent in addition to ensuring the continuity of the order (3). The performance of employees of government offices and agencies is annually assessed. One of the criteria for this assessment is in form of a number of periodic in-service training courses that are related to the employees’ jobs and general information (4). In-service  education  is  one  of  the  best  and  major methods  to  provide,  train  and  improve  the  performance  of  the staffs (5). According to Parasuraman and et al., the service quality is defined as the degree and direction of the difference between customers’ expectations and perceptions which called expectation-perception gap (6-7). In fact, customer’s expectations are opinions about service delivery. These opinions act as the reference points and standard when the customer evaluates the performance of service providers (8 , 9). Given that customers compare their perception of performance with these reference points to evaluate service quality, understanding customer’s expectations exactly in order to provide high quality services is important and necessary (10). In other words, lack of knowledge of what the customer wanted means using resources on things that are not important to customers and this could be leading to the loss of customer. At the same time, the customer’s perception of service means how customers evaluate the received service. Perceived quality is defined as the judgment of the customer on top of the nature or excellence and it is different from objective quality which includes an objective or structural dimension of thing of event (11-12). Perceived quality is a form of an attitude related to satisfaction and the comparison between expectations and perceptions of performance. Normally, the customer's perception of service is influenced by 2 important factors of moment of contact and evidence of service (including processes, physical dimensions and individuals) (13). It must be noted that customer perception is always associated with his/her expectations relatively. Also, given to the dynamic nature of expectations, evaluating the service by customer has changed over time and changes from one person to another or one culture to another one (14). Over the years, researchers has measured the service quality by using one-dimensional scales, while one-dimensional scales are not appropriate to measure multidimensional concept such as quality. For the reason, often, there is no appropriateness between the knowledge of management on consumers’ perceptions and their actual perceptions and this causes damage to the quality of services (15, 16). In the past few decades, due to profound changes in markets and increasing competitive pressures, the quality of service has become an important issue in managed researches and many tools have been developed to measure it. These tools are different in terms of definition, content and type of assessment, but, up to now, the tool of Servqual designed based on gap model in 1988 by the marketing team of Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry has been the most highly applicable tool for measuring the quality of services (5, 14, 17). This means evaluates the quality of service by comparing the customers’ expectations and perceptions in different dimensions (12, 17). Researchers believe that the quality is achieved when the proper response is given to customers’ expectations (8, 18). The quality of educational services is determined by surveying the gap between the students’ expectations (ideal situation) and provided educational services (existing situation). If the gap between the students’ expectations and provided educational services is less, the quality of educational services is desired. Tan and Pavitra believed that Servqual model is a detection technique that helps organizations to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the quality of services. So, it can be used as a tool for direction, innovation and continuous improvement (19). Servqual is a valid tool for evaluating the quality of services and in comparison other assessment methods of quality it has advantages such as the possibility of matching size with a variety of service environments, high reliability and reputation in comparing customers’ perceptions and expectations, considering 5 important dimensions in understanding the quality of services, having ability to analyze according to demographic, psychological characteristics and other fields (12, 17). Servqual model has 5 dimensions: physical and tangible factors (physical appearances of facilities, equipment, personnel and means of communication), reliability (the ability to provide the promised services actually and surely); responsiveness (the willing of staffs to help customers and provide services immediately); competence (knowledge and competencies of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence) and sympathy (the care and personal attention to customers). Given the importance of monitoring the quality of educational services, different studies were conducted to study the educational services in the view of students in the world and Iran. In the medical sciences university's of Tehran, Shiraz, Mazandaran, Arak, North Khorasan, Zahedan, Kerman, Zanjan, Qom and Urmia, this method was used to evaluate the used educational system that implied on the negative gap between 5 dimensions of educational services quality (20-30). Gilavand et al. (2015), in their study on the effectiveness of in-service educational courses on the empowerment of employees (case study: National Iranian South Oilfields Company), showed that educational courses are effective in the empowerment of employees (leadership, organizational commitment and specialized information) (31). Gilavand et al. (2014) assessed the satisfaction of the employees of Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (AJUMS) from virtual in-service courses and concluded that a significant number of employees have been satisfied from these courses (1).

Medical sciences universities have great mission to train efficient, professional and committed human resources to solve the health need of people Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (AJUMS) is one of the most prestigious universities in Iran and also bridge 1 of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education that has nearly 650 faculty members, 7000 students and 15000 non-faculty employees who are eligible to be educated with various tasks throughout Khuzestan Province. Its name was taken from the university with same name established 1745 years ago in the north of Khuzestan Province which is remembered as the first university of medical sciences (32, 33). In order to prevent a low quality of human resources in organizations Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (AJUMS) held training courses to empower its employees at the vast level and with relatively high costs. This study is a descriptive, cross-sectional which was conducted in December 2015.This research aimed to study the quality assessment of staff in-service training from viewpoints of employees Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (in three areas: public, professional and computer) based on servqual model between 2011-2015 and compare the quality of provided services by them and provide the background to improve the quality of educational services.

Methods

This study is a descriptive, cross-sectional which was conducted in December 2015 and aimed to study the quality assessment of staff in-service training from view points of employees Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (AJUMS) in southwest Iran (in three areas: public, professional and computer) based on servqual model between 2011-2015. Its population included 1210 persons who were formal staffs or contractors of central university and colleges, located on campus, with at least a bachelor's degree. According to Cochran formula, the sample size was estimated 292 persons at the error level of 0.05. Then, the sample size of each educational courses (public, professional and computer) was determined based on the percentage of its students in the population and respondent were randomly selected and in order to collect the data, three questionnaires of demographic characteristics, current situation and ideal situation were used based on Servqual gap analysis model. The questionnaire has 26 items that assesses the quality of educational services in term of 5 dimensions of physical and tangible factors (6 items), reliability (5 items), responsiveness (5 items) and competence (5 items) and scores based on 5-point Likert scale. Servqual questionnaire is a standard questionnaire that the reliability and validity of such questionnaire have been approved more in Iran and abroad) 20-30). In this study, its  validity was approved based on the viewpoints of expert faculty members and its reliability was confirmed through Cronbach's alpha coefficient (0.81). In order to analyze the data, descriptive and inferential statistics (including frequency, frequency, density, standard deviation, SD) and given to abnormal distribution of data, Kolmogrov Smirnov test and nonparametric tests of Wilcoxon and Kruskal-Wallis were used with the software of SPSS V.21 (Table1). To collect data, the students were asked to comment on the present situation of educational services and determine their expectations from ideal educational services based on Likert scale with the one of the options of very high (5), high (4), average (3), low (2), very low (1) for each phrase. The gap of the quality of educational services was achieved by the difference between perception and expectation scores. Positive score show that the quality of educational services is beyond the expectations of students and negative score indicates that there is a quality gap, in other words, the level of educational services has been lower than the expectations of the students.

 

Table1. The population and sample size based on educational centers (Percentage)

Educational center

Population

Sample size

N

percentage

N

percentage

Public job training

796

65.40

191

65.40

Professional job training

296

24.32

71

24.32

Computer job training

125

10.27

30

10.27

Total

1217

100

292

100

 

Results

The results showed that of 292 persons of sample size, 87% persons were men and 13 % persons were women, 77% persons were married and 23% persons were single. Also, 14% persons of them were of employees with education and culture, 8% information technology, 37% health, 40% administrative and financial and 1% social and service job category, respectively.

Also, 20.90% persons of them were younger than 30 years old, 56.20% between 31-40 years old, 14.70% between 41-50 years old and 8.20% between older than 50 years old, respectively. 26.40% persons of them had less than 5 years, 30.10%  between 5-10, 25% between 11-20 and 18.50% more than 20 years of working experiences (Table2).

Table2. Frequency of age and working experiences of sample’s members

 

Age

Working experience

Younger than 30

31-40

41-50

Older than 50

Less than 5

5-10

11-20

More than 20

Relative frequency

61

164

43

24

77

88

73

54

Relative frequency

20.90

56.20

14.70

8.20

26.40

30.10

25

18.50

Also, in this study, of 292 persons of sample size, 191 (40.65) persons of them spent at least 100 hours of public job training of staff which includes the courses such as introduction to the rights of patients and clients, introduction to first aid of rescue, English, article writing and proposal writing, business ethics, … and 30 (10.30%) of them spent at least 100 hours of computer training courses such as introduction to administrative automation, ICDL, … and 71 (24.30%) of them spent at least 100 hours of professional job training such as accounting, employment, administrative services and now, they are operators of them.

In the study, the results indicated that the difference between the mean and standard deviation of students’ perceptions and expectations from the quality of in-service educational services of staffs were positive in two dimensions of  empathy (+0.27) and competence (+0.09) and negative in 3 dimensions of reliability (-1.44), tangible (-0.66) and responsiveness (-0.41) (Table 3).

Table 3. Descriptive evaluation of the dimensions of service quality in Department of Education and Development according to the viewpoint of students

Dimension of quality

Mean of expectations

Standard deviation

Mean of perceptions

Standard deviation

difference

Tangibles

4.41

0.628

3.75

0.721

-0.66

Reliability

3.48

1.651

3.57

1.387

+0.09

Responsiveness

4.45

0.610

4.04

0.697

-0.41

Creditability

4.10

1.155

2.66

1.197

-1.44

Empathy

4.25

1.060

4.30

0.677

+0.27

total

4.44

0.526

4.01

0.588

-0.43

In order to determine the significance of difference between the averages of expectations and perceptions based on five mentioned dimensions, the Wilcoxon test was used. The results showed that the level of students’ expectations was significantly higher than the level of students’ perceptions in terms of three dimensions of reliability, tangible and responsiveness at the error level of 0.05 (P- =0.001), but the level of students’ perceptions was significantly higher than the level of students’ expectations in terms of two dimensions of empathy and competence at the error level of 0.05 and the students’ expectations were fully provided in two dimensions of empathy (P =0.379) and competence (P =0.757). The result of Wilcoxon test for all dimensions of the quality of educational services at the Department of Education and development for the current and desired situations showed that the value of the test (Z= -10.220) is significant at the error level of 0.05. So, with confidence coefficient of 95%, it can be said that there is a difference between the perceptions and expectations of students, who spend the courses of in-service training of staff, in existing and desired situations (P = 0.001). In fact, the findings showed that the desired situation was beyond current situation and provided training has failed to meet the expectations of students (Table 4). Also, no significant differences are seen between the means of opinions of different job categories (educational, cultural, information technology, health, administrative, financial, social and services job categories) (P>0.05). and also between men and women. And this indicates that the age, gender and job category had no impact on employees’ opinions (P>0.05).

 

Table 4. The results of Wilcoxon test on the existing and desired situations of educational service quality in Department of Education and Development

Dimension of Servqual

P-Value

Tangibles

0.000

Reliability

0.757

Responsiveness

0.000

Creditability

0.000

Empathy

0.379

total

0.000

Kruskal-Wallis test was used to determine the significance of the difference between the quality of provided educational services in three areas of public and professional job training and computer (Table 5).

Table5. Kruskal-Wallis test to compare the quality of educational services at educational centers of Department of Education and Development

Educational center

Mean

Standard deviation

Mean of rank

Statistics of Kruskal-Wallis

Significance level

Public job training

4.32

0.61

152.95

4.409

0.110

Professional job training

4.21

0.50

136.34

Computer job training

4.13

0.63

129.47

According to Table 5 and Kruskal statistics (4.409) which is significant at the error level of 0.05, with the confidence coefficient of 95%, it can be said that there are no significant differences between the quality of triple in-service educational services provided to the staffs (public, professional and computer) of Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (P =0.110).

Discussion

In general, the analysis of the quality of in-service educational services provided to staffs and its dimensions showed that based on the Servqual model, the current situation of service quality has a mean of 4.10 and the desired situation has the mean of 4.44 out of the maximum score of 5 and this shows that there is a little difference between the current situation of in-service educational services provided for staffs and their expectations and this is mainly due to differences in the type and level of training, facilities, equipment, personnel and training teachers and cultural, social, economic and demographic characteristics (such as gender, age, social class, etc.) in different societies that vary the views of service recipients about the quality of services and their perceptions and expectations. By observing the results of research conducted in other educational and service centers, it can be found that there is a quality gap in most educational centers, although there are differences between dimensions in some cases according to the old of centers and experiences of human resources who work in them. However, the significant difference between students’ perceptions and expectations indicates that in the context of fulfilling obligations and meeting the expectations of students who use in-service training in Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (AJUMS), especially in the dimensions of credibility, indicating the competence of staffs in instilling a sense of confidence to the learner on the learning and development and the dimension of tangibles, including the existence and appearance of work facilities and equipment and communication and leisure goods, and the dimension of responsiveness, willing to cooperate and help the learners, didn’t act as the expectations of the students due to the lack of customer-oriented system and comprehensive quality management and the high volume of executive works and high ratio of students to staffs. The results of the study are consistent and matched with the results of the studies conducted by Shams et al. (20), Kavosi et al. (21), Enayati et al. (22), Changyzi et al. (23), Mohamadi et al. (28), Kebriaei et al. (25), Mohebbi et al, Ayatollahi et al. (34), Markovice et al (35) and Hang et al. (11). They found that there is a negative gap between the students’ expectations and perceptions from the service quality. Based on the study’s findings, the highest gap of the quality of educational services was in the dimension of credibility. This dimension of quality emphasizes on the competence of staffs in instilling a sense of confidence and having necessary knowledge and skills to provide the services and respectful behavior of staffs with customers and enticing their trust. The components of credibility include the activities which are necessary to keep, sustain and improve the quality. According to the results, it seems that in this dimension, nothing acted as the expectations of the students due to the lack of customer-oriented system and comprehensive quality management and the high volume of executive works and high ratio of students to staffs. In this regard, the results of the study is consistent with the results of the studies conducted by Kavosi et al. (21), Ayatollahi et al. (34) Enayati et al. (22), Barnes (36),Gilavand  et al(37-42)and Lewinski(41).They believed that there is a difference between the students’ expectations and perceptions in term of credibility. The study showed that despite the fact that the staffs have relative satisfaction from the current situation of the quality of in-service educational services, there is a large gap to achieve ideal situation and complete satisfaction of them. Observed differences between the five dimensions of the quality of education can be used as a guide for planning and allocation of resources. In this regard, as the significance of the differences between the means showed, 5 dimensions of service quality can be prioritized in 3 groups for allocation of the resources and efforts of the university to solve problems and enhance the quality, that the highest priority is the dimension of creditability, the dimension of tangibles is placed after it and the lowest priority is the dimension of empathy. If such priority be carried out, the dimensions which have the lower quality will be addressed initially. Along with raising the quality in these dimensions, other dimensions will be improved in the view of staffs, because the defect (unlike the quality) in one dimension produces a resonance effect which means reduction in quality in the other dimensions in the viewpoint of customers.

Limitations of the study

Due to the diversity of majors and educational levels in other universities with different facilities, equipment, staff and faculty members, the results of this study cannot be generalized to all. Hence, it is recommended that a similar study should be carried out in each university so that a model with more conformity is produced for planning to improve educational services quality. This research aimed to study the quality assessment of staff in-service training from view points of employees Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (AJUMS). Then the results of this study are not generalizable to other educational environments.

Recommendations

The author suggests that similar studies be performed in other educational contexts in Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences (AJUMS) in order to reach better conclusions about of educational services quality in this university.

Financial support

This research was carried out without the financial support of certain institutions.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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