2020, Cilt 10, Sayı 2, Sayfa(lar) 205-214
School Culture as a Predictor of Student Loyalty in a Turkish University
Esra TEKEL1, Miṫhat KORUMAZ2
1Afyon Kocatepe University, Sandikli School of Applied Sciences, Department of Social Service, Afyonkarahisar, Turkey
2Yildiz Teknik University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences, Istanbul, Turkey
Keywords: Student loyalty, Organizational culture, University
The aim of this study is to determine the regression levels of perceived school culture to university students loyalty levels. This research
is designed in correlational design. School culture is an independent variable, and student loyalty is a dependent variable. The sample of
the study consists of 382 university students determined by a stratified sampling method. School Culture Scale and Student Loyalty Scale
were used to collect data. According to the findings of the study, the level of student loyalty varies according to faculty type, class level,
and taking the course at a regular time. Multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine whether school culture factors predict
student loyalty. It was concluded that instructor-student relationship, commitment, structure/process, and support factors predicted 38%
of student loyalty, respectively.
Universities have played a crucial role in the development of
society in Turkey with their teaching and research missions for
several years. When considered from the perspective in the field of education, Darülfünûn what we call university today
is one of the most important institutions inherited from the
Ottoman Empire in modern Turkey. It is possible to say that
Darülfünûn to start with states modernization process as planned in 1845 as the first university in Turkey similar to
Western examples in the modern sense and as a result can be
opened in 1863 (Gündüz, 2013). The first university in Turkey
as part of the establishment of the Republic as a new (modern)
state regime is Darülfünûn, which was transformed to the
university by the 1933 reform. Since this university reform, the
area of higher education has changed rapidly, and there has
been a rapid increase in both the number of universities and
the students in higher education. In recent years, the Turkish
economy in the category of developing countries has been one
of the fastest countries to increase investment in universities
(OECD, 2018). In 2019, the total number of universities in Turkey
had risen to 206. While 129 of these universities are public
universities, 77 are foundation universities (Turkish Higher
Education Council (YÖK), 2019). This increase in the number
of universities also has brought high competition in terms of
which institutions the most successful students would prefer
as a result of a central assessment. When considered in this
context, although universities promise academic authenticity
and uniqueness to their students, Aypay (2001) argues that
the attempt to construct universities to a high degree leads to
inevitable homogeneity in structure, culture, and outcomes.
Powell and DiMaggio (1991) conceptualized this situation as
isomorphism, which leads to the emergence of mirror image
universities, both structurally and in terms of the content of
the service provided. On the other hand, the most important
feature of the post-modern era is that it is unique and revealing
innovations. This homogeneity of the universities also seems to
contradict that promises to be the unique status of universities
in Turkey. According to Fornell, Johnson, Anderson, Cha and
Bryant (1996), the most important reasons for choosing
something are satisfaction, commitment, and loyalty. Loyalty
to service is basically one of the most important final objectives
for the service providers (Kiran & Diljit, 2011). In fact, this
term, conceptualized as customer loyalty expresses all of the
related behavioral tendencies referring to the re-use of the
service offered (Oliver, 1997), the tendency to prefer it again
(Cronin, Brady & Hult, 2000), and the service recommendation
to others (Zeithaml, Berry & Parasuraman, 1996). Customer
loyalty, defined as repeated purchasing of the same-brand
(Tellis, 1988), might be explained as the relationship between
a relative attitude and repeat patronage (Annamdevula &
Bellamkonda, 2016). As a marketing activity, customer loyalty
has been defined differently. One of the most known definitions
by Oliver (1997) viewed customer loyalty as a deeply held
commitment to rebuy or re-patronize a preferred product or
service consistently in the future, despite situational influences
and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching
behavior (p.392). The common aspect of these definitions
is that customer loyalty includes attitudinal and behavioral
components (Hennig-Thurau, Langer & Hansen, 2001;
Marzo-Navarro, Pedraja Iglesias & Rivera Torres, 2005). In an
educational context, student loyalty needs to develop a solid
relationship with students for future university attendance. A
university needs to have loyal students not only when they are
formal attendees, the gaining of a university also depends on
the loyalty of former students (Annamdevula & Bellamkonda,
The most basic measure of loyalty for the profit-oriented
organizations is profitability ratio while as a non-profit
organization in universities (in the context of Turkey, universities
are either public schools or foundation schools free of charge)
the most basic criterion is the level of student loyalty (Korumaz
& Tekel, 2017). It is possible to say that the quality of the
education service provided in higher education institutions,
the image of the institution and the program, and the
commitment of the students are the main variables of student
loyalty in higher education (Helgesen & Nesset, 2007). Service
quality in the university is defined and discussed by many of
the researchers because of its importance and outcomes for
sustaining students loyalty. Service quality in university seems
like a multi-faceted concept (Harvey & Green, 1993). Students
receive teaching and learning experiences offered by the
university or their departments. Hence it is possible to state
that students are the preeminent customers of educational
activities among other stakeholders in higher education
(e.g., students, parents, government, other institutions,
and employers) (Marzo-Navarro et al., 2005). ONeill and
Palmer (2004) defined the service quality in university as the
difference between what a student expects to receive and his/
her perceptions of actual delivery. On the other side, the
concept of satisfaction of students which is defined as
the favorability of a students subjective evaluation of the
various outcomes and experiences associated with education.
Student satisfaction is being shaped continually by repeated
experiences in campus life (Elliott & Shin, 2002), which
has also been discussed recently to the context of higher
education. Another variable which changes students loyalty is
the image of the university. The term image can be defined as
ones general impression of a certain object (Kotler & Karen,
1995). So, the image of the university contains every one of
the students insights for their university (Chandra, Hafni,
Chandra, Purwati & Chandra, 2019). Another important factor
determining student loyalty in higher education is the quality
of the education service provided. It is possible to talk about
many preferences, such as preferred teaching principles and
methods, educational technologies, and the suitability of
educational environments (Rashid & Raj, 2006). The last factor
affecting student loyalty in higher education is the commitment
of the student to his/her institution (Helgesen & Nesset, 2007;
Strauss & Volkwein, 2004).
When the image of the institution affecting the loyalty levels
of students in higher education, the quality of the education
service provided, and the commitment of the student to the
institution, the relationship between the school culture and
students loyalty seems to be worth examining. The reason
for this is that, in recent years, school culture has been
handled in a multidimensional way as opposed to usual,
and universities have promised a unique cultural pattern
to their students. Organizational culture is concerned with
the underlying assumptions, values , and practices shared
by individuals (all formal and informal rules, norms, values ,
and traditions) (Hofstede, 2001; Schein, 1985). According to
Schein (1984), these values include organizational culture, the
stories of the organization, myths, symbols, and the dominant discourse of the organization. When the organizational culture
of higher education is taken into consideration, it is possible
to say that not only the academics and managers working in
that organization but also the students, internal and external
stakeholders, business world and a significant part of the
society on a larger scale affect the culture of the universities in
a complex relationship network (Alemen, Freire, McKinney &
Bernal, 2017). In this context, higher education institutions are
expected to create a unique cultural pattern by combining social
values and norms and the culture that they form within their
own organizational structure (Demirtaş & Ekmekyapar, 2012).
Modern point of views on university culture was characterized
as the accumulation of bits of knowledge and as conceptual
structures that were meaning the practices and behaviors in
the schools (McLaren, 1991). On the other hand, postmodernist
views have explained culture in plural form. That means there
is no one exact definition of school culture; rather, cultures
are tried to be defined. This new form of defining the culture
of the university is given great importance in terms of creating
a school desired by each of the stakeholders (Deal & Peterson,
2016). The current studies have shown that University culture
positively strengthens service quality to achieve and sustain
student satisfaction and affects students loyalty to university
(Saleem, Moosa, Imam & Ahmed Khan, 2017). The results of
this study, in which the effects of university culture, which
is assumed to be an important variable affecting students
loyalty, are expected to be useful for university administrators,
university policymakers, families, and students who would
prefer university. The aim of this study is to determine the level
of school culture to predict students university loyalty levels.
This research is designed as a correlational design which
investigates whether school culture is a predictor of student
loyalty. The purpose of the correlational design is to determine
whether and to what degree a relationship exists between two or more variables or to use these relations to make predictions
(Gay, Mills & Airasian, 2009; McMillan & Schumacher, 2006).
In this study, a multiple regression model was used to discover
whether and to what degree the sub-dimensions of the school
culture predict student loyalty. Therefore school culture is
an independent variable, and student loyalty is a dependent
Population and Sample
The population of the study is 22.201 students (presented in
Figure 1) who continue to study in an undergraduate program
in a University in the Western part of Turkey. The sample of the
study is 382, which is enough for Krejcie and Morgan (1970).
Participants were defined by a stratified random sampling
method. In stratified random sampling, the population is
divided into subgroups on the basis of a variable chosen by
the researcher. After the population has been divided into
subgroups, samples are drawn randomly from each subgroup
(McMillan & Schumacher, 2010). Researchers use this sampling
method when the percentage of some subgroups of the
population is low, and this may cause these subgroups may not
be in the sample (Neuman, 2006). In this study, faculties were
defined as a subgroup. Because some faculties such as Faculty
of Arts and Science and Faculty of Naval Architecture and
Maritime have few students relatively (Figure 1). Demographic
information of the sample was presented in Table 1.
According to Table 1, at least 2% of each faculty participate
to the study. While 36.1% of the participants is in the senior
class, 35.6% is in junior class, 23.3% is sophomore class and
5% is in freshman. The percentage of the female is 34.87 while
males is 65.2. Also 78.4% of the participants did not attend
any project, and 53.7% of them do not have a membership of
any student communities. Finally, 70.4% of the participants do
not find the universitys social and cultural facilities enough,
and 47.8% of the participants take courses at a regular time
while 45% of them retake failed courses, and 6.3% of them
take courses from the upper classes.
Data Collection Tools
Two scales were used for the data collection process. School
Culture Scale (Kantek, Baykal & Altuntaş, 2010) was used to
measure students perception of school culture. To measure
participants loyalty perception Student Loyalty Scale (Helgesen
& Nesset, 2007) which was adapted to the Turkish language by
Korumaz and Tekel (2017) was used.
School Culture Scale
It was developed by Kantek, Baykal, and Altuntaş (2010)
to define students perception of school culture. The scale
has 50 items and 8 factors such as (i) relationship between administrator-students, (ii) commitment, (iii) relationship
between instructor-students, (iv) present/change, (v) structure/
process, (vi) relationship intra instructors, (vii) relationships
intra students and (viii) support. The highest point is 150, while
the lowest point is 0 that the participant can get from the scale.
The reliability values were presented in Table 2.
Student Loyalty Scale
It was developed by Helgesen and Nesset (2007) and was
adopted into the Turkish language by Korumaz and Tekel (2017)
to discover to what degree students are loyal to their schools.
The scale has 25 items and 6 factors such as (i) facilities, (ii)
service quality, (iii) satisfaction, (iv) image of the university, (v) image of the study program, and (vi) loyalty. The highest
point is 175, while the lowest point is 25 that participants can
get from the scale. Cronbachs Alpha reliability values were
presented in Table 3.
Independent group t-test and one way ANOVA tests were
conducted to discover whether students loyalty point
differentiate according to gender, faculty, class, attending to
a project, finding social and cultural facilities sufficient, being
a member to student communities and getting courses in a
regular time variables. In addition, regression analysis was
conducted to understand whether school culture is a predictor
of student loyalty. Before these analyses, to understand the
level of students loyalty and school culture perceptions,
descriptive statistics were conducted and presented in table 4
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 4: Descriptive Statistics Results of Student Loyalty and School Culture
According to Table 4 it can be said that students loyalty
perceptions (25-75= low, 76-125=medium, 126-175=high) and
their school culture perceptions (0-50=low, 51-100=medium,
101-150=high) are medium level.
T-test analysis was conducted to understand whether students
loyalty differentiates according to gender, attending to the
project, finding social and cultural facilities sufficient and being
a member to the student communities and there are not any
significant differences on students points according to these
To determine whether students loyalty points differentiate
according to faculty, class and taking a course in regular time
variables, One Way ANOVA tests were conducted and results
were presented on table 5. According to results, there are
significant differences in students loyalty points according to
these three variables.
According to Table 5 students loyalty points differentiate
significantly according to faculty variable (p<.05). To discover
in which groups there are differences, Bonferroni test was
conducted. According to Bonferroni test results, students in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering has significantly
more loyalty than students in the Faculty of Chemical and
Metallurgical Engineering. Students in the Faculty of Art and
Design have significantly more loyalty than students in the
Faculty of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering. And finally
students in the Faculty of Art and Design have significantly more
loyalty than the students in the Faculty of Civil Engineering.
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 5: One Way ANOVA Results to Determine Whether Student Loyalty Points Differentiate according to Faculty Variabl
On Table 6, it is presented the one way ANOVA test results
that were conducted to determine whether student loyalty
differentiates according to the class variable. According to Table
6 students loyalty points differentiate significantly according
to a class variable (p<.05). According to Bonferroni test results,
the freshmen have significantly more loyalty than the juniors.
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 6: One Way ANOVA Results to Determine Whether Student Loyalty Points Differentiate according to Class Variable
On Table 7, it is presented the one way ANOVA test results
that were conducted to determine whether student loyalty
differentiates according to taking courses in a regular time
variable. According to Table 7 students loyalty points
differentiate significantly according to taking courses in a
regular time variable (p<.05). According to Bonferroni test
results, students who take courses from the upper class have
significantly more loyalty than the students who retake failed
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 7: One Way ANOVA Results to Determine Whether Student Loyalty Points Differentiate according to Taking Course in a Regular Time
Before conducting the regression model, correlation analysis
was conducted to discover whether there is any relationship
between the factors of School Culture Scale and Student
Loyalty Scale total score, and results were presented in table
8. According to Table 8, there is a significant relationship
between the two scales (p<.01). The relationships between
the two scales are between .715 and .258. The relationship
between commitment and present/change, which are factors
of school culture scales, is the highest one (r= .715, p<.01). The
relationship between relationship between instructor-students
and relationship of intra students which are the factors of
school culture, is the weakest one (r=.258, p<.01).
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 8: Correlations Between the Factors of School Culture and Student Loyalty Scales
Multiple regression analysis was conducted to discover whether
school culture factors as (i) relationship between instructor-students, (ii) relationship intra instructors, (iii) relationship
between administrator-students, (iv) support, (v) relationships
intra students, (vi) structure/ process, (vii) commitment, (viii)
present/change predict student loyalty. Multiple regression
analysis results were presented on Table 9. According to Table
9, factors of school culture contributed 38% of student loyalty
(R=.624, R²=.377, F₍8-373₎=29.61, p<.05) which means that the
remaining 62% variations in student loyalty are due to other variables outside the regression model. According to results
commitment, relationship between instructor-students, support,
structure/ process and commitment variables predict
38% of student loyalty. According to standardized coefficient
beta, the best predictor of student loyalty is relationship
between instructor-students with a beta weight of .309. Then
commitment, structure/ process and support predict student
loyalty with beta weight .224, .188 and .160 respectively.
Click Here to Zoom
|Table 9: Regression Analysis Results to Determine Whether School Culture Predict Student Loyalty
The aim of this study is to investigate whether school culture
predicts student loyalty. Before that, it was examined whether
students loyalty points differentiate according to gender,
attending to a project, finding social and cultural facilities
sufficient, being a member to the student communities, faculty,
class and taking course in regular time. According to results
students loyalty points dont differentiate according to gender,
attending to a project, finding social and cultural facilities
sufficient and being a member to the student communities.
Nevertheless, their loyalty points differentiate according to
faculty. Students in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
has significantly more loyalty than students in the Faculty of
Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering. Students in Faculty of
Art and Design has significantly more loyalty than students in the
Faculty of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering. And finally,
students in Faculty of Art and Design has significantly more
loyalty than the students in the Faculty of Civil Engineering.
In previous research antecedents of student loyalty have been identified as service quality and long-term relationships
(Rojas-Méndez, Vasquez-Parraga, Kara & Cerda-Urrutia, 2009).
In educational setting, service quality is referred as peoplebased
rather than equipment-based (Thomas, 1978).
Therefore, it can be said that interaction between members
in school context have a key role in defining and evaluating
service quality. Since university staff are more empowered
than employees in other organizations because of the fact
that they have much more autonomy in communicating with
students (Tang & Zairi, 1998). In the light of these information,
it can be said that the reason of differences in students loyalty
levels according to faculties may stem from their faculty staffs
communication cultures with students.
According to another result of the study, freshmen have
significantly more loyalty than the juniors. There can be two
reasons of this finding. First one is that students loyalty points
can be higher when they start the university that they have
wanted to study in. Second one is that as they spend enough
time in school, they can decide whether this school is sufficient for them or not. Because students are consumer who consumes
educational services (Rojas-Méndez et.al, 2009). If they are not
satisfied with the educational services, they can drop out of
the school. According to Tinto (1993) 75% of the students who
leave from the university drop out in the first two years of the
university in the USA. Therefore, many educational institutions
consider supporting and monitoring the freshmen to predict
rate of dropout rate and to prevent it (Dekker, Pechenizkiy &
Vleeshouwers, 2009). In this context it can be thought that
dropping out from the school much easier for freshmen to start
a new school than juniors or seniors who are still in the school
although they are not satisfied with the educational services. It
can be said that freshmen in the school can be considered that
they are more satisfied with the educational services and much
more loyalty to the school than juniors or seniors.
According to one other finding, there are significant relationships
between all factors of school culture and student loyalty.
Student loyalty total score are correlated with instructorstudent
relationship which is the factor of school culture at
the highest level. In addition, instructor-student relationship
predicts student loyalty at the highest level, as well. Instructor-
student relationship has been studied in different contexts
such as teaching service quality (Hagenauer, Hascher, & Volet,
2015), cross‐cultural comparison (Roach & Byrne, 2001; Roach,
Cornett-Devito & Devito, 2005) or as a central role for motivating
students and rising students satisfaction (Wentzel,
2016). These studies showed that students satisfaction and
their perceptions on service quality may be correlated with
the instructor-student relationship as a part of school culture.
According to Jo Hatch and Schultz (1997), identity and image
in an organization increase the levels of communication and
interaction among members and the multiple roles of organizational
members who often act both as insiders and as
outsiders. As a result, instructor- student relationship as a
part of university culture has correlation with student loyalty.
After the best predictor instructor-students relationship,
commitment, structure/ process and support predict student
loyalty respectively. Since commitment and the loyalty
complete each other, commitment predicts student loyalty.
Even though there is not accessed any study that examines
the relationship between colleges organizational structure or
process, there are limited studies that examine the relationship
between school structure and teachers loyalty. According to
Hoy, Newland and Blazovsky (1978) teachers are less loyalty to
their institutions which are more centralized and formalized.
Miskel, Fevurly and Stewart (1979) found that when school
structure (decision making and supervision) is centralized,
teachers loyalty is getting less. In the same study, it is found
that teachers loyalty is positively correlated with staff and
student climate. These results are meaningful when the items
in structure/process factors in school culture scale which is used
in present study are considered. Since the items in structure/
process factors consisted of both about formalization such as
Business in our school are carried out according to certain
standards and climate such as Memories, stories, etc. about
the history of our school transferred to new arrivals by old
In the support factor of school culture, it is mentioned about
supporting students social and academic developments.
According to Subrahmanyam (2017) students try to fulfill
basic requirements which in turn motivates and helps them to
continue their academic careers and this process affect their
loyalty to their schools. Therefore, it can be said that as students
are supported by the institution especially for their academic
development, their loyalty levels are getting higher. This result
was supported by Frankola (2001) and Tinto (1987) who think
that educational outcome is influenced by emotional and
motivational factors which enhance academic achievement
and prevent students from dropping out of colleges. In sum,
there are relationship between student motivation, satisfaction
and loyalty (Annamdevula & Bellamkonda, 2016). As a result,
it can be said that students loyalty are predicted by instructorstudents
relationship, commitment, structure/ process and
support which are factors of school culture.
Limitations and Future Directions
The study has some limitations as the other studies. The
first limitation is that the sample was drawn from a single
university. Due to the fact that this university is very popular
among nominees of university students and the university
accepts students from all over the Turkey, it can be said that
the university represents the population. Nevertheless, future
research should aim to replicate the same study with other
student populations in different geographic locations of Turkey.
Another limitation of the study is that there are differences
in students loyalty points according to faculty variable. It is
thought that the reason of this finding is due to the faculty
staff- student communication culture. Nonetheless, this
culture couldnt be investigated through qualitative approach.
Future studies should conduct a study which is designed with
mixed approach. By this way, the results can be much more
explanatory and meaningful.
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