Exploring the Antecedents of Online Learning Satisfaction: Role of Flow and Comparison Between use Contexts


  • Quan Xiao
  • Xia Li




online learning satisfaction, flow, use contexts, S-O-R framework


Learners’ satisfaction plays a critical role in the success of online learning platform. Many factors that affect online learning satisfaction have been addressed by previous studies. However, the mechanisms by which these factors are associated with online learning satisfaction are not sufficiently clear. Moreover, the difference in the antecedents of online learning satisfaction between two use contexts- Mobile context and PC context, was rarely examined. Based on the Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) framework, we investigate the key factors (self-efficacy, social interaction, platform quality, teacher’s expertise) affecting flow and highlights its role in online learning satisfaction, which is empirically tested through an online survey of 333 online learners. Results show that self-efficacy, teacher’s expertise, platform quality, and social interaction positively affect online learning satisfaction through the mediation of flow. Use contexts not only moderate the relationship between flow and online learning satisfaction, but also between social interaction, platform quality, teacher’s expertise, and flow. These new findings expand educators with ways to increase flow, add to knowledge about the relationship between flow and online learning satisfaction and provide references for online learning platforms to enhance learners’ online learning satisfaction under multiple-version affordances.


[1] Arbaugh, J. B.; Cleveland-Innes, M.; Diaz, S. R.; Garrison, D. R.; Ice, P.; Richardson, J. C.; Swan, K. P. (2008). Developing a community of inquiry instrument: Testing a measure of the community of inquiry framework using a multi-institutional sample, The internet and higher education, 11(3-4), 133-136,2008. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2008.06.003

[2] Bagozzi, R. P. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error: a comment, Oryx Press, 1981. https://doi.org/10.2307/3150979

[3] Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning, Educational psychologist, 28(2), 117-148, 1993. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep2802_3

[4] Bernacki, M. L.; Greene, J. A.; Crompton, H. (2020). Mobile technology, learning, and achievement: Advances in understanding and measuring the role of mobile technology in education, Contemporary Educational Psychology, 60, 101827, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2019.101827

[5] Bhargava, S.; Negbenebor, N.; Sadoughifar, R.; Ahmad, S.; Kroumpouzos, G. (2021). Virtual conferences and e-learning in dermatology during COVID-19 pandemic: results of a web-based, global survey, Clinics in Dermatology, 39(3),461-466,2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2021.06.002

[6] Bhuasiri, W.; Xaymoungkhoun, O.; Zo, H.; Rho, J. J.; Ciganek, A. P. (2012). Critical success factors for e-learning in developing countries: A comparative analysis between ICT experts and faculty, Computers & Education, 58(2), 843-855,2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.010

[7] Buxbaum, O. (2016). Key insights into basic mechanisms of mental activity, Springer international publishing, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29467-4

[8] Cen, X.; Sun, D.; Rong, M.; Fekete, G.; Baker, J. S.; Song, Y.; Gu, Y. (2020). The online education mode and reopening plans for Chinese schools during the COVID-19 pandemic: a mini review, Frontiers in public health, 8,2020. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2020.566316

[9] Chen, G.; Gully, S. M.; Eden, D. (2001). Validation of a new general self-efficacy scale, Organizational research methods, 4(1), 62-83,2001. https://doi.org/10.1177/109442810141004

[10] Chen, S.; Lv, X.; Gou, J. (2020). Personalized recommendation model: an online comment sentiment based analysis, International journal of computers Communications & Control, 15(1),2020. https://doi.org/10.15837/ijccc.2020.1.3764

[11] Cheng, X.; Wang, X.; Huang, J.; Zarifis, A. (2016). An experimental study of satisfaction response: evaluation of online collaborative learning, The International Review of Research in Open and DistributedLearning, 17(1), 2016. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v17i1.2110

[12] Chen, T.;Peng, L.; Yin, X.; Rong, J.; Yang, J.; Cong, G. (2020). Analysis of user satisfaction with online education platforms in China during the COVID-19 pandemic, In Healthcare, 8(3),200,2020. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8030200

[13] Cho, W.; Jung, Y.; Im, J. H. (2014). Students' evaluation of learning management systems in the personal computer and smartphone computing environments, International Journal of Mobile Communications, 12(2):142-159,2014. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJMC.2014.059735

[14] Churchill, Jr, G. A.; Surprenant, C. (1982). An investigation into the determinants of customer satisfaction, Journal of marketing research, 19(4):491-504, 1982. https://doi.org/10.1177/002224378201900410

[15] Compeau, D. R.; Higgins, C. A. (1995). Computer self-efficacy: Development of a measure and initial test, MIS quarterly, 189-211, 1995. https://doi.org/10.2307/249688

[16] Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Beyond boredom and anxiety. Jossey-Bass, 2000. https://doi.org/10.1037/10516-164

[17] Diep, N. A.; Cocquyt, C.; Zhu, C.; Vanwing, T.; De Greef, M. (2017). Effects of core selfevaluation and online interaction quality on adults' learning performance and bonding and bridging social capital, The Internet and Higher Education, 34:41-55, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2017.05.002

[18] do Nascimento; J. C. H. B.; da Silva Macedo, M. A. (2016). Structural equation models using partial least squares: an example of the application of smartpls® in accounting research, Revista de Educaí§ão e Pesquisa em Contabilidade, 10(3), 2016. https://doi.org/10.17524/repec.v10i3.1376

[19] Eom, S. B.; Wen, H. J.; Ashill, N. (2006). The determinants of students' perceived learning outcomes and satisfaction in university online education: An empirical investigation, Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 4(2):215-235, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4609.2006.00114.x

[20] Eroglu, S. A.;Machleit, K. A.; Davis, L. M. (2001). Atmospheric qualities of online retailing: A conceptual model and implications, Journal of Business research, 54(2):177-184, 2001. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0148-2963(99)00087-9

[21] Fornell, C.;Larcker, D. F. (1981). Structural equation models with unobservable variables andmeasurement error: Algebra and statistics, 1981. https://doi.org/10.2307/3150980

[22] Fredericksen, E.; Swan, K.; Pelz, W.; Pickett, A.; Shea, P. (1999). Student satisfaction and perceived learning with online courses-principles and examples from the suny learning network, 1999.

[23] Gao, L.; Bai, X. (2014). Online consumer behaviour and its relationship to website atmospheric induced flow: Insights into online travel agencies in china, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 21(4):653-665,2014. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2014.01.001

[24] Hair, J. F.; Ringle, C. M.; Sarstedt, M. (2011). PLS-SEM: Indeed a silver bullet, Journal of Marketing theory and Practice, 19(2):139-152, 2011. https://doi.org/10.2753/MTP1069-6679190202

[25] Hassanzadeh, A.; Kanaani, F.; Elahi, S. (2012). A model for measuring e-learning systems success in universities, Expert systems with Applications, 39(12):10959-10966, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eswa.2012.03.028

[26] Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond baron and kenny: Statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium, Communication monographs, 76(4):408-420, 2009. https://doi.org/10.1080/03637750903310360

[27] Higgins, C. C. A.(1995). Computer Self-Efficacy: Development of a Measure and Initial Test, Mis Quarterly, 19(2):189-211, 1995. https://doi.org/10.2307/249688

[28] Hiltz, S. R.(1994). The virtual classroom: learning without limits via computer networks , Intellect Books, 1994.

[29] Hogan, T; Rabinowitz, M; Craven, III. J. A. (2003). Representation in teaching: Inferences from research of expert and novice teachers, Educational Psychologist, 38(4):235-247, 2003. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15326985EP3804_3

[30] Hong, K. S.(2002). Relationships between students' and instructional variables with satisfaction and learning from a PC-based course , Internet & Higher Education, 5(3):267-281,2002. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(02)00105-7

[31] Hsu, C. L; Lu, H. P.(2004). Why do people play on-line games? An extended TAM with social influences and flow experience, Information & Management, 41(7):853-868, 2004. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.im.2003.08.014

[32] Huang, C.; Wang, Y.; X, Li; Ren, L.; Cao, B. (2020). Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in wuhan, china, The lancet, 395(10223):497-506, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30183-5

[33] Jackson, S. A.; Roberts, G. C. (1992). Positive performance states of athletes: Toward a conceptual understanding of peak performance, The sport psychologist, 6(2):156-171, 1992. https://doi.org/10.1123/tsp.6.2.156

[34] Jiang, H.; Islam, A. A.; Gu, X.; Spector, J. M. (2021). Online learning satisfaction in higher education during the covid-19 pandemic: A regional comparison between eastern and western chinese universities, Education and Information Technologies, 1-23, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-021-10519-x

[35] Kangas, M.; Siklander, P.; Randolph, J.; Ruokamo, H. (2017). Teachers' engagement and students' satisfaction with a playful learning environment, Teaching and Teacher Education, 63:274- 284, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2016.12.018

[36] Kao, C. P.; Wu, Y. T.; Tsai, C. C. (2011). Elementary school teachers' motivation toward webbased professional development, and the relationship with internet self-efficacy and belief about web-based learning, Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(2):406-415, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2010.09.010

[37] Ke, F.; Kwak, D.(2013). Constructs of Student-Centered Online Learning on Learning Satisfaction of a Diverse Online Student Body: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach, Journal of Educational Computing Research, 48(1):97-122, 2013. https://doi.org/10.2190/EC.48.1.e

[38] Kim, J.H.; Kim, M.S.; Hong, R.K.; Ko, J.W. (2019). Continuous use intention of corporate mobile sns users and its determinants: application of extended technology acceptance model, Journal of System and Management Sciences, 9(4):12-28, 2019.

[39] Kotler, P.; Turner, R. E.(1997). Marketing management: Analysis, planning, implementation, and control,Upper Saddle River, Prentice hall Upper Saddle River, 9, 1997.

[40] Koufaris, M.(2002). Applying the technology acceptance model and flow theory to online consumer behavior. Information systems research, 13(2):205-223, 2002. https://doi.org/10.1287/isre.

[41] Lee, W. H.; Kuo, M. C. (2014). An NFC E-learning platform for interactive and ubiquitous learning, 2014 International Conference on Education Reform and Modern Management (ERMM- 14), Atlantis Press, 2014. https://doi.org/10.2991/ermm-14.2014.74

[42] Li, S; Xiao, Q. (2020). Classification and Improvement Strategy for Design Features of Mobile Tourist Guide Application: A Kano-IPA Approach, Mobile Information Systems, 2020(20):1-9, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8816130

[43] Liaw, S. S.; Huang, H. M. (2013). Perceived satisfaction, perceived usefulness, and interactive learning environments as predictors to self-regulation in e-learning environments, Computers & Education, 60(1):14-24, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.07.015

[44] Likert, R.(1932). Technique for the measurement of attitudes, Archives of psychology, 140,1932.

[45] Lin, Y. M.(2005). Understanding students' technology appropriation and learning perceptions in online learning environments , University of Missouri-Columbia, 2005.

[46] Lonn, S.; Teasley, S. D.; Krumm, A. E. (2011). Who needs to do what where?: Using learning management systems on residential vs. commuter campuses, Computers & Education, 56(3):642- 649, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.006

[47] Ma, J.; Luo, S.; Yao, J.; Cheng, S.; Chen, X. (2016). Efficient opinion summarization on comments with online-LDA, International journal of computers Communications & Control, 11(3):414-427, 2016. https://doi.org/10.15837/ijccc.2016.3.700

[48] Mahmoud, S.S.A. (2008). Proposed Model for Distributing e-Courses Content through Mobile Technology Architectures , World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, 27:274-289, 2008.

[49] Martin, B. L. (1994). Using distance education to teach instructional design to preservice teachers, Educational Technology, 34(3):49-55, 1994.

[50] Mehrabian, A.; Russell, J. A.(1974). An approach to environmental psychology, the MIT Press, 1974.

[51] Miller, E. D.(2020). Fierce Debates About Online Education in the Age of COVID-19, The National Teaching & Learning Forum, 30(1),1-3,2020. https://doi.org/10.1002/ntlf.30259

[52] Mutambara, D.; Bayaga A.(2021). Determinants of mobile learning acceptance for STEM education in rural areas, Computers & Education, 160:104010, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2020.104010

[53] Novak, T. P.; Hoffman, D. L.(1997). Measuring the flow experience among PC users, Interval Research Corporation, 31(1):1-35, 1997.

[54] Ogedengbe, F.A.(2021). Management of Educational Organization: The Effectiveness of Soft Skill on Rejuvenating Education Curriculum, Journal of Logistics, Informatics and Service Science, 6(1):15-37, 2021.

[55] Ozkan, S.; Koseler, R.; Baykal, N.(2009). Evaluating learning management systems: Adoption of hexagonal e-learning assessment model in higher education, Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, 3(2):111-130,2009. https://doi.org/10.1108/17506160910960522

[56] Preacher, K. J.; Hayes, A. F.(2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models, Behavior research methods, 40(3):879- 891, 2008. https://doi.org/10.3758/BRM.40.3.879

[57] Ramayah, T.; Lee, J. W. C. (2012). System characteristics, satisfaction, and e-learning usage: a structural equation model (SEM), Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET, 11(2):196-206, 2012.

[58] Riva, G.; Mantovani, F.; Capideville, C. S.; et al.(2007). Affective interactions using virtual reality: the link between presence and emotions, Cyberpsychology & behavior, 10(1):45-56, 2007. https://doi.org/10.1089/cpb.2006.9993

[59] Rodrí­guez-Ardura, I.; Meseguer-Artola, A. (2016). E-learning continuance: The impact of interactivity and the mediating role of imagery, presence, and flow, Information & Management, 53(4):504-516, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.im.2015.11.005

[60] Roshier, A. L.; Foster, N.; Jones, M. A. (2011). Veterinary students' usage and perception of video teaching resources, BMC medical education, 11(1):1-13, 2011. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6920-11-1

[61] Sandu, I. E.; Smada, D. M.; Dumitrache, M.(2019). An affordable Web-based Grant Management Software Designed to Support Romanian Scholarly Publications, Studies in Informatics and Control, 28(1):95-103, 2019. https://doi.org/10.24846/v28i1y201910

[62] Shih, H. F.; Chen, S. H. E.; Chen, S. C;et al. (2013). The relationship among tertiary level EFL students' personality, online learning motivation and online learning satisfaction, Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 103:1152-1160, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.442

[63] Siritongthaworn, S.; Krairit, D.; Dimmitt, N. J.; Paul, H. (2006). The study of e-learning technology implementation: A preliminary investigation of universities in Thailand, Education and Information Technologies, 11(2):137-160, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11134-006-7363-8

[64] Su, C. Y.;Chen, C. H. (2020). Investigating university students' attitude and intention to use a learning management system from a self-determination perspective, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 1-10, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2020.1835688

[65] Sun, P. C.; Tsai, R. J.; Finger, G.; Chen, Y. Y.; Yeh, D. (2008). What drives a successful e-Learning? An empirical investigation of the critical factors influencing learner satisfaction, Computers & education, 50(4):1183-1202, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2006.11.007

[66] Tse, D. K.; Wilton, P. C.(1988). Models of Consumer Satisfaction Formation: An Extension, Journal of marketing research, 25(2):204-212, 1988. https://doi.org/10.1177/002224378802500209

[67] Udroiu, A. M.; Dan-Uteu, T. A.(2020). IT Solutions Designed for the Management of Activities in the Romanian Public Institutions, Studies in Informatics and Control, 29(1):87-98, 2020. https://doi.org/10.24846/v29i1y202009

[68] Um, N. H.; Jang, A. (2021). Antecedents and consequences of college students' satisfaction with online learning, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 49(8):1-11, 2021. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.10397

[69] Valenti, S.; Lund, B,; Wang, T.(2020). Virtual reality as a tool for student orientation in distance education programs, Information Technology and Libraries, 39(2), 2020. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v39i2.11937

[70] Wang, C.; Hsu, H. C. K.; Bonem, E. M.; Moss, J. D.; Yu, S.; Nelson, D. B.; Levesque-Bristol, C. (2019). Need satisfaction and need dissatisfaction: A comparative study of online and face-to-face learning contexts, Computers in human behavior, 18(2):151-163, 2002.

[71] Wang, A. Y.; Newlin, M. H.(2019). Predictors of PC-student performance: the role of self-efficacy and reason for taking an online class, Computers in Human Behavior, 95:114-125, 2019.

[72] Wei, H. C.; Chou, C.(2020). Online learning performance and satisfaction: do perceptions and readiness matter? Distance Education, 41(1):48-69, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2020.1724768

[73] Wlodarczyk, J. R.; Alicuben, E. T.; Hawley, L.; Sullivan, M.; Ault, G. T.; Inaba, K. (2021). Development and emergency implementation of an online surgical education curriculum for a General Surgery program during a global pandemic: The University of Southern California experience, The American Journal of Surgery, 221(5):962-972, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjsurg.2020.08.045

[74] Wold, H.(1982). Soft modeling: the basic design and some extensions, Systems under indirect observation, 2:343, 1982.

[75] Wu, W.; Hwang, L. Y.(2010). The effectiveness of e-learning for blended courses in colleges: A multi-level empirical study, International Journal of Electronic Business Management, 8(4):312, 2010.

[76] Xiao, Q.(2021) Understanding the asymmetric perceptions of smartphone security from security feature perspective: A comparative study, Telematics and Informatics, 58:101535, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2020.101535

[77] Lin, Y. M.; Lin, G. Y.; Laffey, J. M. (2008). Building a Social and Motivational Framework for Understanding Satisfaction in Online Learning, Interactive Learning Environments, 28(5):586- 601, 2020.

[78] Yoon, Seung-Won.(2006). Instructional and Learner Factors Influencing Learning Outcomes within Online Learning Environment, IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 7(7):6360-6368, 2006.

[79] Zhai, X.; Wang, M.; Ghani, U.(2020). The SOR (stimulus-organism-response) paradigm in online learning: an empirical study of students' knowledge hiding perceptions, Interactive Learning Environments, 28(5): 586-601, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2019.1696841

[80] Zhan, Y.;Li, P.; Qu, Z.; Zeng, D.; and Guo, S. (2020). A learning-based incentive mechanism for federated learning. IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 7(7), 6360-6368, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1109/JIOT.2020.2967772

Additional Files



Most read articles by the same author(s)

Obs.: This plugin requires at least one statistics/report plugin to be enabled. If your statistics plugins provide more than one metric then please also select a main metric on the admin's site settings page and/or on the journal manager's settings pages.