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Measuring undergraduate student perceptions of service quality in higher education

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Title:
Measuring undergraduate student perceptions of service quality in higher education
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Book
Language:
English
Creator:
Kelso, Richard Scott
Publisher:
University of South Florida
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Tampa, Fla
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Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Customer service
Measurement
Service quality
Student opinions
Institutional effectiveness
Dissertations, Academic -- Adult, Career and Higher Education -- Doctoral -- USF   ( lcsh )
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non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary:
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine undergraduate student satisfaction with college services and environment at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university (target university), with the long-term intent of minimizing detractors to providing exceptional service quality, positively influencing customer satisfaction, and building loyalty intentions among students. The ACT Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) was used to find the level of student satisfaction with the college services and environment. A stratified random sample of 468 undergraduate students responded to the survey. Three research questions guided the investigation. The study examined the general level of satisfaction with the support services, compared satisfaction levels to those of similar institutions of higher education, and examined whether satisfaction varied based on a student's age, gender, or ethnicity.Two-tailed t-tests showed significant differences in the mean satisfaction scores of the target university and ACT national norms, and one-way ANOVAs indicated significant differences based on a student's age, gender, and ethnicity. The results indicated that students were satisfied with the library, and dissatisfied with parking and course availability at the target university. Students were significantly less satisfied with one-fifth of all support services and all the environmental categories, but significantly more satisfied with their library than those in the ACT national norm. A relatively small number of significant differences existed in student satisfaction with the college services and environment based on a student's age, gender, or ethnicity. Of the nearly 200 ANOVA analysis conducted to explore this research question, only 11 showed significant differences, and in almost every case, the differences were small.Specific student comments regarding campus parking, advising, class availability, facilities, and staff deportment are provided. The results of the study create an awareness of student needs and offer useful feedback to college administrators and institutional planners in their efforts to improve service quality in higher education.
Thesis:
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System Details:
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Richard Scott Kelso.
General Note:
Title from PDF of title page.
General Note:
Document formatted into pages; contains 131 pages.
General Note:
Includes vita.

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aleph - 002020940
oclc - 427558951
usfldc doi - E14-SFE0002507
usfldc handle - e14.2507
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SFS0026824:00001


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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine undergraduate student satisfaction with college services and environment at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university (target university), with the long-term intent of minimizing detractors to providing exceptional service quality, positively influencing customer satisfaction, and building loyalty intentions among students. The ACT Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) was used to find the level of student satisfaction with the college services and environment. A stratified random sample of 468 undergraduate students responded to the survey. Three research questions guided the investigation. The study examined the general level of satisfaction with the support services, compared satisfaction levels to those of similar institutions of higher education, and examined whether satisfaction varied based on a student's age, gender, or ethnicity.Two-tailed t-tests showed significant differences in the mean satisfaction scores of the target university and ACT national norms, and one-way ANOVAs indicated significant differences based on a student's age, gender, and ethnicity. The results indicated that students were satisfied with the library, and dissatisfied with parking and course availability at the target university. Students were significantly less satisfied with one-fifth of all support services and all the environmental categories, but significantly more satisfied with their library than those in the ACT national norm. A relatively small number of significant differences existed in student satisfaction with the college services and environment based on a student's age, gender, or ethnicity. Of the nearly 200 ANOVA analysis conducted to explore this research question, only 11 showed significant differences, and in almost every case, the differences were small.Specific student comments regarding campus parking, advising, class availability, facilities, and staff deportment are provided. The results of the study create an awareness of student needs and offer useful feedback to college administrators and institutional planners in their efforts to improve service quality in higher education.
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Measuring Undergraduate Student Perceptions of Service Qu ality in Higher Education by Richard Scott Kelso A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Department of Adult, Career, and Higher Education College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Donald A. Dellow, Ed.D. Deirdre L. Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D. Jerry W. Koehler, Ph.D. W. Robert Sullins, Ed.D. William H. Young III, Ed.D. Date of Approval: June 5, 2008 Keywords: Customer Service, Measuremen t, Quality Service, Student Opinions, Institutional Effectiveness Copyright 2008, Richard Scott Kelso

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Dedication To my beautiful daughter, Jessica, who is th e joy of my life. In loving memory of my best friend and father, William Kelso ( 1929-2001), and to my mother, Dorothy Kelso, for her loving suppor t throughout my life.

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Acknowledgements My heartfelt thanks to my dissertation committee, Dr. Donald A. Dellow, Dr. Deidre L. Cobb-Roberts, Dr. Jerry W. Koehler, Dr. W. Robert Sullins, and Dr. William H. Young, for their extraordinary support. My deepest gratitude and a ppreciation to my dissertati on chairman, Dr. Donald A. Dellow, who was my wellspring of inspira tion, encouragement, and guidance. His unwavering support, invaluable mentorshi p, and insightful ideas shaped both my dissertation and my character. My genuine thanks to the doctoral cohort faculty, Dr. James A. Eison, Dr. Jan M. Ignash, and Dr. Michael R. Mills, all of wh om were instrumental in influencing my thinking about higher education. Special thanks to my do ctoral friends (you know w ho you are) for loaning me your books and exam answers, but more importa ntly, for believing in me every step of the way. Finally, thank you to all the students that generously provided their thoughts and opinions on the satisfaction survey.

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i Table of Contents Table of Contents ................................................................................................................. i List of Tables ..................................................................................................................... iii List of Figures ................................................................................................................... vii Abstract ........................................................................................................................... vi ii i Chapter One : Introduction .................................................................................................. 1 Background of the Problem ............................................................................................ 2Significance of the Problem ............................................................................................ 4Purpose of the Study ....................................................................................................... 5Research Questions ......................................................................................................... 5Methodology ................................................................................................................... 6Assumptions .................................................................................................................... 6Delimitations ................................................................................................................... 7Limitations ...................................................................................................................... 7Definitions of Concepts and Constructs ......................................................................... 8Organization of the Study ............................................................................................. 10 Chapter Two: Literature Review ...................................................................................... 11 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 11Overview of the Quality Movement ............................................................................. 11Theoretical Foundations of Service Quality ................................................................. 17Dimensions of Quality in Higher Education ................................................................. 18Service Quality in Higher Education ............................................................................ 21Service Quality and Institutional Effectiveness Efforts ................................................ 25The Relationship Between Service Quality and Satisfaction ....................................... 32Service Quality Outcomes ............................................................................................ 33Service Quality Measurement ....................................................................................... 34Contribution to the Literature ....................................................................................... 40Summary ....................................................................................................................... 40 Chapter Three: Methods ................................................................................................... 42

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ii Introduction ................................................................................................................... 42Research Design ............................................................................................................ 43Population and Sample ................................................................................................. 43Instrument ..................................................................................................................... 44Reliability and Validity of the Survey Instrument ........................................................ 46Data Collection Procedures ........................................................................................... 48Data Organization ......................................................................................................... 49Data Analysis Methods ................................................................................................. 49Summary ....................................................................................................................... 51 Chapter Four: Presentation and Analysis of the Data ....................................................... 53 Introduction ................................................................................................................... 53Survey Participants Demographic Information ............................................................ 55Discussion of Research Questions ................................................................................ 60Research Question One ................................................................................................. 60Research Question Two ................................................................................................ 67Research Question Three .............................................................................................. 71Tailored Survey Questions ............................................................................................ 88Discussion of Survey Respondent Comments and Suggestions ................................... 89 Chapter Five: Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations ..................................... 100 Introduction ................................................................................................................. 100Discussion of Research Findings ................................................................................ 100Research Question One ............................................................................................... 100Research Question Two .............................................................................................. 101Research Question Three ............................................................................................ 102Recommendations and Implications ........................................................................... 108Limitations .................................................................................................................. 110Recommendations for Further Study .......................................................................... 111Conclusions ................................................................................................................. 112 References ....................................................................................................................... 114 Appendices ...................................................................................................................... 120 Appendix A: Instrument--Student Opinion Survey .................................................... 121Appendix B: Student Opinion Survey Record Layout ............................................... 123Appendix C: Letter of Instruction ............................................................................... 127Appendix D: List of College Majors and Occupational Choices ............................... 130 About the Author ................................................................................................... End Page

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iii List of Tables Table 1. The Critical Factors of Custome r-Perceived Service Quality ............................ 22 Table 2. Analysis Plan of Hypothesis Testing .................................................................. 52 Table 3. Personal Demographic Characteristics for Age, Race, Class Level, Gender, and Material Status of Survey Respondents ........................................................ 56 Table 4. Personal Demographic Characteristics for Employment and Residence of Survey Respondents ..................................................................................................... 57 Table 5. Personal Demographic Characteristics for College Major of Survey Respondents ................................................................................................................... ... 58 Table 6. Personal Demographic Characteristics for Occupational Choice of Survey Respondents ................................................................................................................... ... 59 Table 7. ACT Student Opinion Survey Likert Scores ...................................................... 60 Table 8. Section II: Usage of College Services and Programs ......................................... 61 Table 9. Section II: Mean Level of Satisfacti on Score for Each College Service or Program ....................................................................................................................... ...... 63 Table 10. Section III: Mean Level of Satisfaction Score for Each College Environment Variable ....................................................................................................... 65 Table 11. Section III: Mean Level of Satisfaction Score for Each College Environment Category ...................................................................................................... 67 Table 12. Section II: Comparison of Mean Level of Satisfaction Scores for College Services and Programs at Target University and National ACT Norms for Public Colleges ........................................................................................................... 69 Table 13. Section III: Comparison of Mean Level of Satisfaction for College Environment Scores at Target University and National ACT Norms for Public Colleges............................................................................................................................. 70

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iv Table 14. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Leve ls of Academic Advising Services for Traditional and Non-Traditional Students .................................................... 72 Table 15. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Academic Advising Services for Traditional and Non-Traditional Students ........................................................................ 72 Table 16. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Le vels of Library Facilities and Services for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ...................................................... 74 Table 17. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfac tion Levels of Library Facilities and Services for Caucas ian and Ethnic Minority Students ............................... 74 Table 18. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels of Student Health Services for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ...................................................... 75 Table 19. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels of Student Health Services for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students .......................................... 75 Table 20. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels of College Orientation Program for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ..................................................... 75 Table 21. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satis faction Levels of College Orientation Program for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students .................................. 75 Table 22. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels of Student Health Services for Male and Female Students ............................................................................ 77 Table 23. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels of Student Health Services for Male and Female Students ................................................................ 77 Table 24. Descriptive Statistic s of Satisfaction Levels of Food Services for Male and Female Students ................................................................................................ 77 Table 25. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels of Food Services for Male and Female Students ............................................................................ 77 Table 26. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Out-of-Class Availability of Your Instructors for Tr aditional and Non-trad itional Students ................ 79 Table 27. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Sa tisfaction Levels with the Out-of-Class Availability of Your Instructors fo r Traditional and Nontraditional Students .......................................................................................................... 79

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v Table 28. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Your Instructors for Traditiona l and Non-traditiona l Students .................................... 79 Table 29. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfac tion Levels with the Availability of Your Instructors for Tr aditional and Non-trad itional Students ................ 79 Table 30. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Va lue of the Information Provided by Your Advisor for Traditional and Non-traditional Students ............................................................................................................................. 80 Table 31. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Value of the Information Provided by Your Advisor for Traditional and Non-traditional Students ................................................................................................... 80 Table 32. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Student Housing for Traditiona l and Non-traditiona l Students .................................... 80 Table 33. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfacti on Levels with the Availability of Student Housing for Trad itional and Non-trad itional Students ................ 80 Table 34. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Your Advisor for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ......................................... 82 Table 35. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfac tion Levels with the Availability of Your Advisor for Ca ucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ..................... 82 Table 36. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Value of the Information Provided by Your Advisor for Caucasia n and Ethnic Minority Students ............................................................................................................................. 82 Table 37. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Le vels with the Value of the Information Provided by Your A dvisor for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ............................................................................................................................. 82 Table 38. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the General Admissions Procedures for Caucasia n and Ethnic Minority Students .............................. 83 Table 39. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Le vels with the General Admissions Procedures for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ................ 83 Table 40. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Financial Aid Information Prio r to Enrolling for Caucasian a nd Ethnic Minority Students.............................................................................................................. 83

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vi Table 41. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Financial Aid Informa tion Prior to Enrolling for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ........................................................................................... 83 Table 42. Descriptive Statistic s of Satisfaction Levels with the Oppor tunities for Personal Involvement in Campus Activities fo r Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students.............................................................................................................. 84 Table 43. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfac tion Levels with the Opportunities for Personal Involvement in Campus Ac tivities for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ........................................................................................... 84 Table 44. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Religious Activities and Programs for Caucasia n and Ethnic Minority Students ............................. 84 Table 45. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfacti on Levels with the Religious Activities and Programs for Ca ucasian and Ethnic Minority Students ............ 84 Table 46. Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Courses You Want at Times You Ca n Take Them for Males and Female Students ............................................................................................................... 86 Table 47. One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Courses You Want at Times You Can Take Them for Males and Female Students ......................................................................................................... 86 Table 48. Summary of Hypothesis Tests .......................................................................... 87

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vii List of Figures Figure 1. Measurement of service quality ......................................................................... 35 Figure 2 SERVQUAL model ........................................................................................... 38

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viii Measuring Undergraduate Student Perceptions of Service Quality in Higher Education Richard S. Kelso ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to examin e undergraduate student satisfaction with college services and environment at a larg e southeastern doctoral/research extensive university (target univ ersity), with the long-term inte nt of minimizing detractors to providing exceptional service quality, positively influencing customer satisfaction, and building loyalty inten tions among students. The ACT Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) was used to find the level of student satisfaction with the college servic es and environment. A stratified random sample of 468 undergraduate students responded to the survey. Thr ee research questions guided the investigation. The study examined the general level of satisfaction with the support services, compared satisfaction levels to those of similar institutions of higher education, and examined whether satisfaction va ried based on a students age, gender, or ethnicity. Two-tailed t-tests showed significant differences in the mean satisfaction scores of the target university and ACT national norms, and one-way ANOVAs indicated significant differences based on a student s age, gender, and ethnicity. The results indicated that students were satisfied with the library, and dissatisfied with parking and course availa bility at the target universit y. Students were significantly

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ix less satisfied with one-fifth of all support services and all the environmental categories, but significantly more satisfied with their lib rary than those in the ACT national norm. A relatively small number of significant differences exis ted in student satisfaction with the college services and environment base d on a students age, gender, or ethnicity. Of the nearly 200 ANOVA analysis conducted to explore this research question, only 11 showed significant differences, and in almost every case, the differences were small. Specific student comments regarding campus parking, advising, cl ass availability, facilities, and staff de portment are provided. The results of the study create an awaren ess of student needs and offer useful feedback to college administrators and instit utional planners in their efforts to improve service quality in higher education.

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1 Chapter One Introduction It is likely that students base their continued enrollment at higher education institutions, in part, on how well an ins titutions programs and services meet their expectations (Plank & Chiagouris, 1997). When students are di ssatisfied with an institutions services, they are more likely to defect to competitive institutions (Plank & Chiagouris, 1997). Some academicians have suggested that institutional efforts to measure service quality and student satisfacti on have fallen short (Lewis & Smith, 1989). In an effort to stem possible student defecti ons, it is imperative that universities measure the quality of the services they provide in an effort to improve on them. Oftentimes, institutions measure things that may not be important to their primary customers, the students. Students perceptions of the quality of their service experiences should be assessed. Each time a student experiences some occurrence of an in stitutions service, that service is judged against their expect ations (Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry 1985, 1988, 1991). In an increasingly competitive high er education arena, research indicates that service quality is an important determ inant of student satisf action (Young &Varbel, 1997). Institutions should be held accountable for effectively meeting or exceeding students expectations of the quali ty of services it provides.

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2 Background of the Problem The genesis of service quality analysis is rooted in the business community in the early 1990s, when increased foreign compe tition and deregulation forced a greater emphasis on providing quality customer service. Many businesses recognized that their continued profitability depended on customer satisfaction and loyalty, which, in turn, resulted from the customers perception of value received. In an effort to increase market share, businesses focused on meeting or exceed ing their customers expectations (Berry, 1995). Many higher education institutions, faced with a similarly growing competitive environment, took notice of the success in th e for-profit arena, and began to replicate business models measuring serv ice quality (Milakovich, 1995). Higher education institutions share the same characteristics as those of other service businesses. From the students vantage point, the perception of institutional services is inseparable from the people who de liver those servicesthe service providers. Their services are intangible heterogeneous, variable, and perishable and the students themselves participate in the service delivery process because they must interact with the service providers (Gronroos 1992). Unlike other service businesses, however, many higher education institutions erroneously view students as a captive audience and consider the demand for their educational services as inelastic. As competition intensifies between private, public, and online education prov iders, the business methods for measuring customer satisfaction will prove valuable to higher education institutions (Shank, Walker, & Hayes, 1995). In a competitive higher education marketpl ace, the quality of services delivered separates an institution from its compet itors (Weideman, 1989). Providing an

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3 institutional service that exceeds students expectations does not happen automatically; rather, it must be deliberately managed. In order to effectively ma nage the quality of services, management must first ascertain a comprehensive unders tanding of students needs and expectations. Then they must formulate a distinctive service propositiona proposal regarding how they will choose to serve students, and finally implement it through a strategy of student-friendly polic ies, practices, and pr ocedures (Kotler & Fox, 1995). Measuring service quality in higher edu cation institutions continues to be a challenging and incommodious endeavor. A lthough there have b een numerous studies and continuous efforts on the part of many institutions to improve the quality of their services, much of this improvement has been driven by regional and national accrediting agencies using tangible quality measures. As a result, much of the focus on service quality measurement has been on technical quality inputs and occasionally on student outputs, rather than on student satis faction (Darlene & Bunda, 1991). Measuring the quality of teaching in hi gher education has been a contentious issue, with little agreement on what it is or how to measure it (Gage, 2001; Huber, 2000; Ramsden, 1991). Undoubtedly, despite the chal lenges of measuring teaching quality, the primary mission of higher education instituti ons remains focused on student learning. The institutional services that support student learning are changing based on growing student demands in service areas su ch as admissions and registration, academic advising, food services, and financial aid, among others. Higher education leaders must be attuned to these changing demands to main tain student loyalty a nd ensure that their institutions are meeting or exceeding student expectations (Hanna & Wagle, 1989). The

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4 importance of effectively responding to st udent needs cannot be overstated, because students perceptions of services are likely to impact their choice of continued enrollment or defection to another institution (Plank & Chiagouris, 1997). Significance of the Problem The importance of measuring student sati sfaction with university services has evolved beyond theoretical discussion. Th e consequences of increased competition among higher education instit utions, diminished state funding, mounting attention by governing bodies on institutional accountab ility, and changes in student body demographics have all contributed to an atmosphere of growing public scrutiny of institutions of higher edu cation (Athiyaman, 1997; Coo il et al., 2007; Seymour, 1993; Watty, 2006). To respond to this heightened interest, in stitutional research departments at many universities are considering a multitude of measures designed to satisfy their diverse constituents. State legislatur es, regional boards, university administration, faculty, staff, students, parents and employers may all have distinctively different expectations. Commonly, the measurement of institutional quality in higher education is defined predominantly by the institutions rather than by the students. Consequently, measures of quality in higher education often focus on areas that contribute to institutional prestige and national stature like test scores of incoming first year students, the level of research expenditures, and the number of national acad emy faculty and national student scholars. Many of these institutional measures of quality may be of limited importance to students. Students come in contact with the ins titution in a variety of ways, each time forming impressions about the service encount ered. These encounter s are what should be

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5 measured to gauge student perceptions. Sin ce the delivery of a hi gher education occurs through many different service providers over ma ny years, there are a number of decision points at which the student has the opportunity to remain with the current institution or defect to another. Despite the importance of measuring student satisfaction in institutions of higher education, many institutions are measuring quality indicators other than student perceptions of institutional services. There is limited literature related to the impact of service quality measures on specific student demographic variables. The research on student satisfaction measures with university services in higher educ ation is lacking, and thus warrants further study. Purpose of the Study This study examined undergraduate student satisfaction with college services and environment at a large southeastern doctor al/research extensive university (Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, 2000), with the long-term intent of minimizing detractors to providing exceptio nal service quality, positively influencing customer satisfaction, and building loyalty intentions among students. Research Questions Several research questions were used to guide the investigation: 1. What is the general level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large sout heastern doctoral/research extensive university as measured by the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.)?

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6 2. What is the level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university in relation to students at similar institutions nationwide? 3. What is the relationship between the pe rsonal characteristics of undergraduate students and student satisf action with the college services and environment derived from comparisons among subgroups? Methodology Perceptions of service qu ality were gathered from a self-reported survey instrument, the Student Opinion Survey which is developed, normed, and scored by the American College Testing Service (ACT, Inc. ). The survey instrument examined a random sample of student opinions on a 5-point Likert scale with reference to the importance and satisfaction students place on un iversity services in such areas as academics, admissions, rules and polici es, facilities, a nd registration. Additionally, the survey collected studen t background and attitude information in an effort to better gauge specific aspects of the college environment, along with the individual student impressions and experien ces at the institution. These ratings were compared with national norms compiled by Act, Inc. of similar institutions nationwide. The study examined the relationship betw een institutional serv ice quality relative to several variables, includi ng age, gender, and ethnicity. Assumptions There are four assumptions underlying this research on service quality in higher education:

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7 1. The Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) will reflect participants perceptions regarding their experiences with a la rge southeastern doctoral/research extensive universitys (Carnegie classi fication) services and environment. 2. The students surveyed will be representa tive of undergraduate students at the selected institution. 3. The students responded accurately and truthfully to the se lf-reported survey, and that they comprehend the survey items. 4. The motivations driving the response s of the respondents are unknown to the researcher. Delimitations The study was delimited based on the scope of the population for this research study. The participants were randomly selected from a data base of all undergraduate students enrolled at a large southeastern doc toral/research extensiv e institution. Only currently enrolled students were randomly selected to participate in the online Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.). Limitations The findings of this study were limited to undergraduate students at one large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university located in a major urban setting in the spring of 2008, and were not necessarily genera lizable to other groups or institutions. The results were limited by the validity and re liability of the survey instrument and the timeframe in which the data is gathered. Th e data for this study were collected using an online, self-reported survey que stionnaire. Sample particip ants had the option to choose to participate, or not partic ipate, in the questionnaire.

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8 Definitions of Concepts and Constructs To examine the nature of service qua lity, it is helpful to have a common understanding of terminology and usage. Fo r purposes of this study, key terms based on definitions and usage within the literature and within this dissertation are stated: Behavioral intentions are what the customer intends to do after a service encounter, including return, exit, switch, and engage in positive or negative word-ofmouth communications about the organizati on (Zeithaml, Berry & Parasuraman, 1996). Commitment is the customer and service providers desire to continue their relationship (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Customer satisfaction is a value judg ment based on the gap between actual experiences and expectations of the consumer. (Zeithaml et al., 1990). Customer service is an understanding of the needs and expectations of the customer and the response to meet those needs and expectations (Johnston, 1993). Customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction are the consumers judgments regarding a firms success or failure in meeting expecta tions. Met expectations result in customer satisfaction; unmet expectat ions result in customer dissatisfaction (Oliver, 1980). Defection is falling away from loyalty or habit in buying practice (Heskett, Sasser & Schesinger, 1997). It is used interc hangeably with the term switching. Disconfirmation paradigm is the model th at describes the consumers comparison of expected performance to actual perf ormance to determine met expectations (satisfaction) or unmet expectati ons (dissatisfaction) (Oliver, 1980). Expectations are the performance anticipat ed or expected by the consumer. They are formed by word-of-mouth, advertisements and past experiences (Zeithaml et al.,

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9 1990). They form the baseline against which product or service performance is compared (Nolan & Swan, 1985). Loyalty is the degree to which a custom er exhibits repeat purchasing behavior from a service provider, possesses a positive at titudinal disposition toward the provider, and considers using only this provider when a ne ed for this service arises (Gremler, et al., 1996). Perception is the customers judgment a bout the service enco unter (Zeithaml et al., 1990). Service is any activity offered to a custom er that is consumed simultaneously as it is produced. It encompasses the process, de livery, and outcome of the activity (Zeithaml et al., 1990). Service quality is the customers percepti on of the level of success or failure in meeting expectations (Lewis & Booms 1983; Ze ithaml et al., 1990). It is a measure of how well service level delivered matches cust omer expectations on a consistent basis (Webster 1989, 1991). Switching is changing to a new service provider for the same service (Keaveney, 1995). This term is used inte rchangeably with defection. Tangibles are the customers perception of the appearan ce of physical facilities, equipment, personnel, and communicatio ns materials (Zeithaml et al., 1990). Trust is the confidence the customer has in the service provide rs reliability and integrity (Wilson, 1995).

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10 Organization of the Study Chapter 1 contains an introduction to the study, the purpose of the study, a statement of the problem, research questions limitations, definition of terms, hypotheses, and an overview of the study. Chapter 2 will pr ovide a review of the literature. Chapter 3 will describe the methods used in the study, the survey instrument, the research design, and the procedures used to obtain the research data. Chapter 4 will present an analysis of the data. Chapter 5 will contain a su mmary of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations from the study.

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11 Chapter Two Literature Review Introduction This chapter provides the theoretical ba sis for the study, supported by relevant literature, concepts, and instruments of servi ce quality. The overall purpose of this study is to expand on the concept of service quality in higher educ ation, along with its associated implementation strategies and thei r influence on customer satisfaction. This chapter presents a review of the pertinen t literature as relate d to the current study, beginning with the early product-focused quality literature in the United States, followed by a discussion of the theoretical and empirical evolution of se rvice quality measurement. The evolution of service quali ty in higher education is explored, along with a discussion of methods to measure service quality. Overview of the Quality Movement Prior to the Second World War, the idea of quality was based on the physical characteristics of a product. At that time, quality was measured as the variation in the product or service characteristics from a set of standard specifications. Any defects or variations to the quality st andards resulted in changes to the product to bring it up to standard specifications (Tenner & DeToro, 1992). The genesis of the U.S. quality movement can be traced back to the early 1920s to the father of the total quality movement Walter Shewhart of Bell Laboratories, who

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12 invented the statistical pro cess control (SPC) chart to me asure product variation and its associated causes. Two students of Shewhart, W. Edwards Deming and Joseph Juran, further refined quality measurement by applyi ng their quality insights within the U.S. manufacturing industry in the early 1940s. Shewhart believed that manufacturing would be improved through a focus on identifying and correcting problems during the manufacturing process. Most business leader s did not readily accept these early efforts at improving product quality, choosing to simply fix product defects and incorporate the rework costs back into the original pr oduct (Schneider & White, 2004). This was especially prevalent in the auto motive industry at that time. Nearly two decades later, the idea of total quality control entered the manufacturing lexicon. This concept was orig inally attributed to A.V. Feigenbaum in 1951 (Tsutsui, 1996), and fully embraced and adopted in the work of W. Edward Deming. Demings ideas of statistical control were enthusiastically received by Japanese engineers and inspectors after th e war, but were essentially sh unned in the United States. The early quality efforts evolved from mo stly product focused to mostly customer focused in the 1980s as U.S. service busine sses grew to dominate the economy. Pundits of product quality initially held to the noti on that product-based theories of quality would be generalizable to the services business, however, quickly discovered service quality to be vague, nebulous, and some what indefinable. Joseph M. Juran, considered the father of quality, was the first to incorporate the service quality component into quality management, which he coined total quality management (TQM). Juran defined quality as t hose product features which meet the needs of customers and thereby provide sa tisfaction (Juran & Godfrey, 1999). His

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13 concepts of the internal customer service, the Pareto principle, and producing products or services that meet th e customers requirements were we ll received by Japanese industry. Jurans principles of quality effectively infused the voice of the customer into all facets of productionthrough the res earch and development, engineering, and product development stages of production. Juran is credited by many quality practitioners with inspiring the modern day S ix Sigma quality process, a process developed by Bi ll Smith at Motorola to systematically improve processes while eliminating defect s. Defects in this case being the nonconformity of a product or service to meet its specifications. Six Sigma focuses primarily on continuous efforts to reduce variation in process outputs, measuring, analyzing, and controlling those process outputs, and involving the entire organization in the quality improvement efforts, part icularly the top-level management. Deming traveled to Japan to join Jura n just after World War II to support the reconstruction efforts. The Japanese em braced Demings statistical quality control approach to measuring product and service qua lity by naming a national quality award, the Deming Prize, to those ma nufacturers that provided worl d-class quality products. He criticized the TQM efforts be ing implemented in the U.S. as too focused on the methods, rather than the customers. The era of customer-defined quality was born. In the 1980s, Deming introduced his revolutiona ry principles for statistical quality control that he had earlier implemented in Ja pan to U.S. industries. Amid multi-billion dollar losses, Ford Motor Co mpany recruited Deming to oversee its quality movement. Deming talked mostly about improving management, rather than improving quality citing that, The problem is at the top; management is the problem. Just before his death in

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14 1993, Deming published The New Economics for Industry, Government, and Education, which outlined his pioneering work in the f ourteen key principles for management for transforming business effectiveness. These principles transformed American business, and can be grouped into six fundamental themes (Dill, 1992): 1. It is imperative to practice c ontinuous quality improvement if an enterprise is to hold its place in the market. 2. The emphasis should be on obtaining consistent quality in incoming resources through careful management of suppliers. 3. There should be active participation of all members of an organizations productive workforce in the improvement of quality. 4. Meeting customer needs should be the fundamental basis for improving goods and services. 5. Cooperation and coordination should be the basic way in which an enterprise can improve its quality. 6. Quality improvement comes not from inspection, but from design. That is, the establishment of procedures which make it impossible for bad quality to be undetected and encourage the primary aim of continuous quality improvement. Phillip Crosby published his enduring work, Quality is Free at the height of the American quality crisis in the 1980s when American manufacturers were losing market share to the Japanese products largely due to th e superiority of the qua lity of the Japanese products. Crosbys response to the quality crisis was doing it right the first time (Crosby, 1979). His four major principles of quality management were:

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15 1. Quality is defined as conformance to requirements. 2. The system of quality is prevention, not appraisal. 3. The performance standard must be zero defects. 4. The measurement of quality is the price of nonperformance. Crosby asserted that a company that estab lished a quality program would see savings from improved product and service quality ex ceed the cost of implementing the quality program, thereby supporting his declarat ion that quality is free. During the time that Deming was intr oducing his statistica l quality control process to the Japanese following World War II, Armand Feigenbaum was already implementing a similar process in the U.S. at General Electric called total quality control (TQC). Total quality cont rol is an effective system for integrating the quality development, quality maintenance, and quality improvement efforts of the various groups in an organization so as to enable producti on and service at the most economical levels which allow full customer satisfaction (Feige nbaum, 2004). He introduced the idea that so much extra work is performed in correc ting mistakes that there is effectively a hidden plant within any fact ory. He recognized the importa nce of executive support in any quality initiative, Because quality is everybodys job, it may become nobodys jobthe idea is that quality must be activ ely managed and have high visibility at the highest levels of management (Feigenbaum, 2004). He was instrumental in supporting the link between executive involvement in quality improvement initiatives and customer satisfaction and retention. After World War II, Japan looked to tr ansform its industrial sector, which in North America was still perceived as a produc er of cheap wind-up toys and poor quality

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16 cameras. Kaoru Ishikawa joined the Union of Japanese Scientist and Engineers (JUSE), and focused his efforts on quality control re search. He developed the cause and effect diagram (also known as the fishbone diagram) and introduced quality circles. Quality circles began as an experiment to see what effect the leading ha nd (Gemba-cho) could have on quality. Ishikawa stressed executive involvement and a corporate-wide shared vision to mobilize people to reach an organiza tions strategic quality objectives (Hamel & Prahalad, 1989). He deemphasized conformity to standards, stre ssing that standards should be altered based on the environment and needs of the customer. Ishikawa was adamant about infusing the customers views and needs into the product development, holding that customer satisfaction was all-impor tant in the quality process. Many quality practitioners believe that Ishikawas views were simply an extension of his Japanese cultural roots, which emphasized group consensus based on th e collective interests and a long-term vision within workgroups (Hamel & Prahalad, 1989). Genichi Taguchi (1950) developed a methodology for applying statistics to improve the quality of manufactured goods. Simply put, Taguchi argued that the cost of poor quality is the number of items outside specifications multiplied by the cost of rework or scrap. He also proposed that ther e is a cost to society as a result of poor quality. He focused on implementing quality earlier in the product lifecycle, in the design phase rather than in th e later manufacturing stage. He created an equation that quantified perceived quality and costs. The technical details and benefits of Taguchis statistical methods are only now being studied in the West. The quality movement evolved over time us ing a myriad of tools and processes, focused initially on product reliability and pr oduct inspection, and grew to include an

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17 organization-wide process of total quality ma nagement focused on customer satisfaction. This same quality movement has impacted higher education in the United States necessitating the examination of quality from the students perspective. Important theoretical models evolved as part of the service quality movement to explain customer perceptions and expectations and contribute d to a growing body of literature on service quality. Theoretical Foundations of Service Quality Empirical research-based service qualit y models assess the differences between perceptions and expectations utilizing disconfirmation theory which is grounded in the satisfaction literature. Webs ter and Hung (1994) contend that these models highlight the importance of customer perceptions: Quality is what the customer says it is thus total quality companies strive for the most accurate and up-to-date picture of customer perceptions. Whether you measure product quality or service quality, you must deal with how customers think, feel, and behave (p. 50). Service quality is the customers percepti on of the level of success or failure in meeting expectations (Zeithaml, et. al ., 1990). According to the expectationdisconfirmation paradigm (Oliver, 1980), cust omers compare their satisfaction with a product or service with their ex pectations of performance. If perceived performance is greater than what was expected, positiv e disconfirmation results and customer satisfaction is expected to increase. Convers ely, if the product or se rvice performance is less than what was expected, negative disconfirmation occurs, with a corresponding decrease in customer satisfaction (Yi, 1990). Empirical studies confirm that disconfirmation and expectations are significant predictors of customer satisfaction.

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18 In contrast, some scholars consider service quality to be a state of outcome of the service encounter and customer satisfaction to be a respons e to service quality. These researchers typically measure service quality using customer evaluations of tangibles, reliability, empathy, assurance, and responsiven ess (Zeithaml, et. al., 1990). This is the basis of the service delivery gap model, wh ereby customer expectations and perceptions of service quality are gathered before and afte r a service experience. Consistent with the disconfirmation model, perceptions greater than expectations signal satisfactory service quality, and perceptions less than expecta tions indicate unsatisfactory service quality (Parasuraman, Berry & Zeithaml, 1985, 1988; Zeithaml et. al., 1993). The prevailing measurement technique adopted by the majority of researchers today analyzes customer perceptions using only post-ser vice measurements, relying on this singular measure to explain the service delivery gap. This st udy will adopt the met hodology of post-service measures of service qualit y perceptions in a higher education environment. Dimensions of Quality in Higher Education As the exodus of manufacturing an d production of comm odities and goods continues to move offshore from the Un ited States, the U.S. economy has become inescapably defined by its service sector. In todays environment of ever increasing global competition, providing quality service is a key to the survival and success of many organizations, and many experts speculate that delivering superior service quality is the most powerful competitive trend shaping present-day strategy. The definition of service quality in the ter tiary education sector is no less elusive than that in the business world. Service quality is like beautyit lies in the eyes of the beholder; in other words, it is person-depende nt and has different meanings for different

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19 people (Galloway & Wearn, 1998). Most definiti ons of quality when applied to services are customer-centric; however the ambiguous nature of services indicate s that the search for a universal definition of quality and a statement of law-like relationships has been unsuccessful. Despite the lack of a specific definition, according to Sahney, quality in higher education follows the definitions of quality in general. (Sahney et al., 2004). (Quality) has been defined as excell ence in education (Peters & Waterman, 1982); value addition in education (F eigenbaum, 1951); fitness of educational outcome and experience for use (J uran & Gryna, 1988); conformance of education output to planned goals, specifications and require ments (Gilmore, 1974; Crosby, 1979); defect avoidance in the education proc ess (Crosby, 1979) and meeting or exceeding customer expectations of education (Parasuraman et al., 1985). Zemsky (2005), in his vital contribut ion to educational quality entitled, Remaking the American University: Market Smart and Mission Centered, describes higher education quality as calibrated in terms of endowments and expenditures per student, class sizes, faculty-st udent ratios, and the quality of the freshman class as measured by test scores, high-school ranks, and grade-point average (p.140). He indicates that the faculty response to the de finition of quality might likely be the same, with the additional caveat that what really counts is resear ch and scholarshipthe hiring and retaining of a resear ch-productive faculty (which ) drives both prestige and educational quality (p. 10). Zemsky elaborates on the dimensions of service quality in higher education inputs, market power, and the central role of research and scholarship thus, Quality is about money and the resources money can buy, li ke libraries, recreati onal facilities, and lower faculty-to-student ratios. Quality is about credentials, those of the students as well as the faculty. And quality is about the pr imacy of research and scholarship (Zemsky,

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20 2005). He suggests that higher education quality, as seen from the vantage point of an outside observer is bewildering, Upbeat images of record numbers of students crowding college campuses and Americas contin ued leadership in hi gher education and science reinforce the view that U.S. institutio ns are the best in the world. And in some sense they are. However, the traditional uni versitys core competen cy lies in knowledge creation, not in educating larg e numbers of students at the highest quality possible given available resources. Most faculty care about educational quality less passionately than they care about knowledge creation (p. 142). The definition of quality in colleges and universities, therefore, is multifaceted and diverse. Regardless of qualitys definition in the hi gher education arena, it most certainly encompasses more than solely a service com ponent. It includes within its ambit the quality of inputs in the form of students, faculty, support staff and infrastructure; the quality of processes in the form of learni ng and teaching activity; and the quality of outputs in the form of the enlightened student s that move out of the system (Sahney, 2004). The array of potential services and se rvice characteristics can include a wide range of measures, including the institution s emphasis on teaching students well, faculty availability for student consultations, library services, class sizes, information systems, and recreational and classroom facilities. Higher education has a number of complementary and contradictory customers. Being mindful of the large number of stakeholders the education system serves this study defines the service quality dimensions exclusively from the student perspectivewith the student deemed the primary external customer of the educational system.

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21 Service Quality in Higher Education Institutions of higher education serv e students, and may well be considered service organizations similar in characteristic to other service industries. As such, Seymour (1993) proposes that higher education institutions govern themselves by the same general principles as other service industries: In any college or university we (adm inistrators, staff, and professors) provide service to other groups (student s, employers, society) as well as to each other. This is still difficult for many within the campus walls to accept. And even if we accept the noti on that we provide service, that service is often perceived to be unique, so special that none of the standard rules and practices of the service indu stry apply. We believe ourselves to be apart from other institutions in our society. We need an attitude change (p. 31). The change Seymour is suggesting has pr eviously been experienced by financial institutions, telecommunications companies, elec tric utilities, airlines, and a myriad of other service-based industries. Over th e past two decades, many universities have experienced this change as part of their evolution from traditionally strict academic institutions to organizations that more closely pattern service sect or businesses. These changes are driven by external market demands such as increasing capital fund requirements, escalating human resources investments, soaring tuition costs, and higher energy expenses which, in effect, have cause d higher education administrators to more closely pattern corporate pract ices involving customers. Societal trends have also influenced th e acceptance of servic e quality principles in higher education. Kuh (1995) posited that societal trends have influenced the tendency for colleges and universities to operate in a more business-like fashion. These influences include the publics growing dissatisfaction with the performance of higher education

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22 systems, declining enrollments, changing student demographics, increasing market forces and competition, and limitations imposed on the national economy from technological developments and long-distance education. These forces have converged to compel institutions to become more competit ive vis--vis other service providers. Table 1 The Critical Factors of Custom er-Perceived Service Quality Critical Factor Explanation Core Service or service product The core servi ce is the content of a service. It is the what of a service, i.e., the service product is whatever features are offered in a service. Human element of service delivery This fact or refers to all the human aspects of service delivery, including reliability, responsiveness, assuran ce, empathy, moments of truth, critical incide nts, and recovery. Systemization of service delivery: non-human element The processes, procedures, systems, and technology that would make a service a seamless one. Customers would alwa ys like and expect the service delivery processes to be perfectly standardized, streamlined, and simplified so that they could receive the service without hassles, hiccups, or undesired/inordi nate questioning by the service provider. Tangibles of service The tangible facets of the service facility, including equipment, machinery, signage, and employee appearance. Social responsibility The factors that help an organization to lead as a corporate citizen and demonstrating ethical behavior in all its activitie s in an effort to improve the organizations image and provide goodwill that may influence the customer s overall evaluation of service quality and their loyalty to the organization.

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23 Sureshchandar et al. (2002) expands the factors impacting service quality in higher education beyond those of external market and societal demands, and suggests that in todays highly competitive world, the key to sustainable competitive advantage lies in delivering high quality service that will, in turn, lead to satisfied customers (p.15). Sureshchandar describes the fi ve factors of service quality which are deemed critical from the customers point of view are summarized in Table 1. Analogous to their business contemporarie s, many higher education institutions are becoming more attuned to the critical fa ctors impacting service quality and customer satisfaction. Like their business cousins long-standing emphasis on service quality and customer satisfaction, a growing number of uni versities have adopted many of the same measures in an effort to exceed their student s expectations. One key driver influencing university administrators to adopt business practices focused on se rvice quality is the pressure from governing boards of higher e ducation, many of whic h are composed of businesspeople attuned to the paramount importance of championing service quality initiatives in their own workplaces. On the other hand, many institutions are ve ry hesitant to consider themselves as customer-driven entities (p.11). Lewis and Smith (1994) observed that every college and university has a mission, but very few fully identify who they serve (p.12). Academia is inundated with academicians and administrators that do not acknowledge that they serve customers (Lewis & Smith, 1994). In fact, some are offended at the comparison with competitive business enterprises, as Keller (1983) noted: American colleges and universities o ccupy a special, hazardous zone in society, between the competitive profit-making business sector and the government owned and run state agenci es. They are dependent yet free,

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24 market oriented yet outside cultural and intellectual fashions They constitute one of the largest industrie s in the nation but are among the least businesslike and well managed of all organization (p. 5). In institutions that do admit that they ha ve customers, there is general agreement that businesses, government agencies, and the so ciety at large are their customers. More specifically, according to Lewis and Smith (2001), institutions typically serve a consortium of internal customers (e.g. student s, faculty and administrators) and external customers (e.g. government, community, donors, al umni, and accrediting agencies). It is important that institutions clearly identify who their customers are. Lewis and Smith (2001) suggest that student s can be identified as customers of higher education, however, they have several important differences from the archetypal business customer, for example: Colleges and universities often admit students selectively based on certain academic standards and requirements. Businesses usually dont do that. In fact, they do not ordinarily pr event perspective customers from purchasing their products a nd services. Also, in higher education, students do not totally pay for the full cost of th eir tuition and fees. These expenses are sometimes covered by payments from parents, state subsidies, scholarships, and student loans. In business, customers generally pay for their purchases with their own funds Another difference is that once students are admitted they are continua lly tested and graded to determine how well they have learned their less ons. They must maintain their good academic standing in order to be able to take more advanced courses and complete their programs of study. Businesses do not do that to their customers (p. 23). Despite these differences, students ar e generally acknowle dged to be the primary customers of higher education (Hill, 1995; Meirovich & Romar, 2006). Martensen, et al. (1999) stat ed that without students to teach... there is no business for higher education institutions, no research to cond uct or service to provide (p. 372).

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25 Educational institutions that are committed to serving students are often focused on the continuous improvement of the students experience. They strive to understand students expectations and an ticipate their future requirements. To accomplish these tasks, these educational in stitutions strive to listen to their students and gather their feedback regard ing items such as academics, admissions, rules and policies, facilities and registration, to name a few. It is essential to measure students perceived satisfaction with higher education services in order to continuously improve the institutions study programs, teaching, staff, and facilities. Over time, this continuous measurement provides vital information necessary for effective decision making, m onitoring performance, and effectively allocating resources. Service Quality and Instituti onal Effectiveness Efforts Commonplace among institutions of higher educ ation is an office of institutional effectiveness, or similarly named department that is chartered with researching and providing relevant facts and fi gures primarily to institutional leadership, legislative entities, and the public. Ma ny institutions have instituted programs to measure the quality of the services they pr ovide to students. As part of these measurement efforts, student characteristics and dem ographics are often collected for analysis and comparison. The objective of this service quality measuremen t is to measure student satisfaction with instructional programs, student services, and ot her aspects of the college experience in an effort to diagnose opportunities to improve or enhance that e xperience. The ultimate sine qua non is removing barriers in an effort to create satisfied and engaged students that are more likely to learn and persist to ward achieving their academic goals.

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26 A key element of institutional service quality improvement efforts spearheaded by institutional effectiveness departments is to disaggregate the measurement data to provide a break down by race and ethnicity, gender, age, etc to develop a genuine understanding of how different student subgroups are faring at the institution. Unfortunately, it appears that the published results of this research are very limited and typically not available for public consumption, but rather held closely by the institution for purposes of their own internal planning and service quality improvement efforts. Such raw demographic data was available for certain institutions, however the data were not definitively analyzed and no conclusions had been drawn from the data to indicate satisfaction differen ces among subgroups. In higher education, inst itutional research departments nationwide have been collecting and analyzing student opinions relating to the institutional services provided. As service quality has spread from business to education, many in stitutions of higher education have been stimulated and influe nced by a total quality framework for both teaching and administrative support functions (M artensen, et al., 2000). A wide variety of institutions have been measuring service qua lity as a centerpiece of their institutional effectiveness efforts over a considerable amount of time. The State University of New York (SUNY) is one of the largest comprehensive systems of public institutions of higher educ ation in the world. It is comprised of approximately 413,000 students attending universities, colleges, and community colleges in New York. SUNY has four University Centers in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook, each with their respective in stitutional effectiveness offices.

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27 SUNY has implemented a cu stomized version of the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) for a number of years, typically surveying students every three years to collect longitudinal background and attitude information to access college impressions and plans, satisfaction with college servic es and facilities, classroom experiences, financial aid debt, and other aspects of the quality of campus services, programs, and environments. Since there are a wide range of higher education inst itutions within the SUNY system, the results typically cover the ga mut. Nevertheless, it appears that several factors show overriding importance in the SUNY system, including intellectually stimulating class material; having a sense of belonging, and satisfa ction with academic advising services. SUNYs customized surv eys also evaluate sources of funds for college, contact with faculty outside of class, and other predictors of student success. When Thomas and Galambos (2004) mined the student opinion data at SUNYStony Brook Office of Institutional Research us ing regression and decision-tree analysis to analyze student-opinion data, they inve stigated how students' characteristics and experiences affect satisfaction. A data mining approach identifies the specific aspects of students' university experience that most influence the measur es of general satisfaction. These measures have different predicto rs and cannot be used interchangeably. Academic experiences are influential. In particular, faculty prep aredness, which has a well-known relationship to student achievement, emerges as a principal determinant of satisfaction (p. 252). The researchers found th at social integrati on and pre-enrollment opinions are also important. Campus servi ces and facilities have limited effects, and students' demographic characteristics are not significant predicto rs (p.252). They concluded that decision tree analysis of the modified Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.)

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28 data revealed that social integration has mo re effect on the satisfaction of students who are less academically engaged. Northwestern State University (NSU) is a public four-year university primarily situated in Natchitoches Louisiana with a nursing campus in Shreveport and general campuses in Leesville / Fort Polk and Alexandria Louisiana. As pa rt of their quality enhancement plan studying academic and career engagement at NSU, the institutional effectiveness departments focused prim arily on the academic component of the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.). As a result, the grad ing system, instructor availability outside of class, and class si ze relative to type of course were targeted for improvement based on significant disparitie s compared to national norms. The University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) conducted an examination of deep-learning and critical learning skills utilizing the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) and other student opinion instruments. UW-S tout, part of the University of Wisconsin System, was founded 1891 in Menomonie, Wisconsin and enrolls more than 8,400 students. It provides progra ms related to professional careers in industry, technology, home economics, applied art and the helping professions. For three consecutive years from 200406, UW-Stout sophomore and junior level students participated in-class on the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.), and those scores were compared to peer group and nationa l averages in an effort to determine the level of satisfaction with certain services or programs, as well as how satisfied the students were with the overall learning environm ent. Faculty relationships were assessed via student ratings of out-of-cl ass availability of your instructor and attitude of faculty toward students. Students were generally very satisfied with this element of the survey,

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29 however when students were asked addi tional questions about their learning environment, over half indicated that they would have benefited by a freshman seminar course that included information on study skills, career advisement, software training and campus resources. The idea of implementing e-portfolios to document their learning was also highlighted by nearly one-half of the respondents (Greene, 2007). The Southeast Louisiana Universitys Office of Institutional Research and Assessment has received a directive from the St ate Board of Regents to raise the level of (student) satisfaction toward their university as reported by currently enrolled students in Louisianas degree-granting, four-year inst itutions to the national average for each institutions Carnegie classification. The Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) was mandated by the Board of Regents to all pub lic universities in Louisiana to measure student satisfaction. Southeast Louisiana University is a 17,000student state-funded institution located in Hammond, Louisiana. Students rank ed their satisfaction with library services and facilities class size relative to the type of course, recreational and intramural programs and services, and computer services high, however the survey also highlighted several important areas that st udents perceived negativ ely, including parking facilities and services, purpose for which student activity fees are used, availability of courses at the times you can take them, and stude nt voice in college polic ies. In order to establish the mandated rise in student satisfaction levels in these areas, these results have been established as the benchmark against which future improvements will be measured. The Student Outcomes Research Departme nt at the University of Southern California (USC) has offered the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) to their students for over two decades. Established in 1880, USC is Californias oldest private research

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30 university and a leader in student opinion research in higher education, having used the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) instruments since 1984. USC examined factors including student satisfaction with univers ity services and programs, extracurricular participation, and college financing. Interestingly, the differences from year-to-year are rather minor, with the results typically overa ll better than their counterparts at other institutions. The employment and demographic factors had changed over time. Nearly one-half of students were employed, with one -third of those employed on campus. The number of student work hours continues to increase, as do students concerns about financial aid and support. The age of undergra duates is increasing, but slower than at other comparable peer institutions. USC has targeted specific influencers of student satisfaction and dissatisfaction to better unde rstand the reasons stude nts choose to attend the University, and ways in which to retain them and keep them engaged in the learning experience. The North Central Association of Co lleges and Schools (NCA) is one of six regional accreditation organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation Founded in 1895, the NCA accredits over 10,000 public and private educational institutions serving nineteen Midwestern South-Central and a few Western states, including: Arkansas Arizona Colorado Iowa Illinois Indiana Kansas Michigan Minnesota Missouri North Dakota Nebraska New Mexico Ohio Oklahoma South Dakota West Virginia Wisconsin and Wyoming As part of their Commissions institut ional effectiveness efforts to assess the challenges and strategies associated w ith student learning, the Higher Learning

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31 Commission of the North Central Associati on of Schools has highlighted some of the problems associated with probing student atti tudes about their experience with teaching and curriculum in both general education and the students major. Aside from the benefits of employing longitudinal studies of student opinions and comparing the institutional results with p eer institutions using the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.), Lpez (2002) indicates that: The principal problem with over-relian ce on survey instruments (e.g., student, alumni, and employer surveys) is that they yield self-reported data; that is, they provide only particip ants opinions on how much they have learned as well as opinions on other subjects that may not directly relate to their learning. In other words, surveys typically do not focus on what we know from several decades of research is likely to make a differe nce in student persistence and academic achievement as well as those educational practices and strategies that promote learning or affect what the student can do as a result of that learning. While a well-constructed survey does have value as an indirect source of information about factors that contribute to or detrac t from student learning, it is not a direct measure and cannot provide results that s ubstitute for data obtained from the use of direct measures of student learning. Cl early then, survey data are useful when triangulated with data fr om direct measures of student learning (p. 356). As a result of the institutional resear ch on student opinions, Lpez (2002) posits that the five benchmarks of effective e ducational practice are: level of academic challenge; student interaction with faculty members; active and collaborative learning; enriching educational experi ences; and supportive campus e nvironments (p. 361). The benchmarks contribute to institutional understanding of survey results, however as valuable as surveys may be when used in co mbination with direct measures, accreditation teams are consistently critical of heavy or exclusive use of indirect measures such as surveys (p. 361). Nevertheless, the surv eys conducted by myriad higher education institutions have directly impacted the quali ty of services provided and the students satisfaction with those institutional services.

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32 The Relationship Between Serv ice Quality and Satisfaction The service quality literatu re is primarily founded on two themes: service quality and satisfaction. Some scholarly controversy and disagreement surrounds the relationship between the constructs of servi ce quality and customer satisfaction. Despite the fact that these constructs originated from two different research theories, both share the use of perceptions and expectations as the main antecedent constructs. Some scholars claim that service quality is an outcome of the service encounter and that customer satisfaction is related to prior expectations and is conceptualized as a response to service quality in the form of disconfirmation (Oliver, 1980). Many researchers propose that customer satisfact ion and service quality are separate and distinct constructs that shar e a number of similar qualities (Parasuraman et al., 1993). Still other scholars make no distin ction between the two concepts. A wealth of literature exists indicating that customer satisfaction research has been conducted utilizing service quality measures (Oliver, 1980; Oliver & DeSarbo, 1988; Zeithaml et al., 1993). Many organi zations have implemented customer satisfaction and service quality measures interchangeably when assessing service quality (Cronin & Taylor, 1992). Other organizations have not distinguished between customer satisfaction and service quali ty when assessing quality. Models of satisfaction often focus on co mparing customer expectations to the observed service delivered (Oliver, 1980), fre quently referred to as the service quality gap (Parasuraman et al., 1993). Percepti ons of service qual ity are built on prior expectations of what should and will occur compared to the actual service delivery (Boulding et al., 1993). Bouldi ng et al. (1993) offered a model that theorizes that

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33 customer satisfaction demonstrates a cumulative effect that may occur each unique time a customer is exposed to the service. This model assumed that customers make comparative judgments during each of th ese individual service encounters. Empirical evidence has confirmed that th e customers perceptions of service quality and customer satisfaction directly a ffect their intention to positively favor an organization. Zeithaml and Bitnet (2000) e xpanded on this resear ch to show that customers positive behavior toward an organization is evidenced in positive word-ofmouth, intention to return, additional volume purchases, and willingness to pay a premium for the organizations products and services (Zeithaml & Bitnet, 2000). These outcomes may lead to increased cust omer loyalty and profitability. Service Quality Outcomes Many organizations view the delivery of se rvice quality as a strategic intervention for increasing organizational effectiveness a nd gaining competitive advantage in todays competitive environment (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985; Reichheld & Sasser, 1990). Research has traditionally focused on the probable outcomes of service quality, including increased profitability and market share, strength of preference for a service provider, and customer satisfaction. Initia lly, service quality practitioners, both business and academic, focused on defining what service quality was from the vantage point of their customers, and then developing stra tegies to meet their customers needs (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985). More recently, research has focused on the practical influence of service quality on the bottom-line profitability of the organization. The link between service quali ty and profitability is of ten difficult to quantify. Along with service quality, profitability is im pacted by a number of variables including

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34 advertising, pricing, image, and efficiency (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985). Investing human and capital resources into service quality improvement efforts does not necessarily assure profitability, as those efforts can be directly influenced by the organizations strategy and execution as well (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985). In an effort to gauge the effectivenes s of an organizations service quality initiatives, customers perceptions are gathered and measured. This measurement provides the information necessary fo r effective decision making, monitoring performance, and effectively allocati ng resources to enhance profitability. Service Quality Measurement Delivering quality service is considered an essential strategy for success and survival in todays competitive environmen t (Zeithaml, Parasuraman, & Berry, 1990). Several research approaches ar e available to capture the quality of the service delivered, including traditional satisfaction surveys, tracking customer complaints, and market and employee surveys (Grapentine, 1998). Th ese methods are supplemented with other approaches such as mystery shoppers, focu s groups, and customer advisory panels. Early efforts at measuring and quantif ying the results of improved quality came from the private sector. Crosby (1979) defi ned quality as conformance to requirements and doing it right the first time, while Jura n defined quality as those product features which meet the needs of customers and th ereby provide satisfaction (Juran, 1999). Service quality has been more challe nging and elusive to measure than product quality. In their groundbreaking research on service quality, Parasuraman, Zeithmal, and Berry (1985) employed gap analysis to the provisioning of services. They offered a framework for measuring service quality wh ereby it is defined as the gap between

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customer expectations versus their perceptions of how the service is performed as shown in Figure 1 (Gupta & Chen, 1995). The goal of any service organizatio n is to close, or narrow, the gap. Service Quality Expectation of Service Experience What Customers Believe the Service Provider Should Offer Perception of Service Quality What Customers Perceive Service Provider Actually Offered = Figure 1 Measurement of service quality ________________________________________________________________________ Note. From Service quality: implications fo r management development by A. Gupta and I. Chen, 1995, International Journal of Quality and Reliab ility Management, 12(7), p. 33. Copyright 1995 by Emerald Group Pub lishing Limited. Reprinted with permission. Previous research focused entirely on th e desired expectations of customers (i.e. what a customer feels a service provider s hould provide), unintent ionally skirting the importance of actual service performance to cu stomer satisfaction. The current research supports the utilization of multi-expectation standards in service quality models (Boulding et al., 1993; Parasuraman, Zeithmal, and Berry, 1994; Zeithmal, Parasuraman, and Berry, 1993). Parasuraman, Berry, and Zeithmal (1991) tested the multi-expectation model for a variety of service organizations, including ba nking, credit card, repa ir and maintenance, and long-distance telephone services. The at titudes of customers toward these service 35

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36 organizations reflect the combination of individual customers successful and unsuccessful experiences with the organization. Parasuraman, Berry, and Zeithmal (1991) found that despite the service organization measured, customers shared similar criteria in evaluating service quality. These cr iteria initially fell into ten key dimensions: 1. Tangibles 2. Reliability 3. Responsiveness 4. Competence 5. Courtesy 6. Credibility 7. Access 8. Security 9. Communication 10. Understanding the customer Through the use of extensive factor anal ysis, the ten dimensions were later consolidated into five dimensions (Parasuraman et al., 1985, 1988, 1991): 1. Tangiblesthe appearance of physic al facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication materials. 2. Reliabilitythe ability to pe rform the services accurately and dependably. 3. Responsivenessthe willingness to help customers and ability to provide prompt service.

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37 4. Assurancethe knowledge and courte sy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence. 5. Empathythe caring, individual ized attention provided to the customer. This early exploratory research form ed the foundation for the SERVQUAL instrument (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berr y, 1988). The SERVQUAL is a conceptual model that defines service quality from the customers vantage point, and consists of 22 similarly worded questions measuring custom er expectations compared to customer perceptions of service quality (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985, 1988). Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (1988) identified five gaps within an organization which could lead to service quality deficiencies perceived by customers: 1. Marketing Information Gapdiscrepancy between customer expectations and management perceptions of customers service expectations. 2. Standards Gapdiscrepancy betw een management perceptions of customer expectations and service quality specifications. 3. Service Performance Gapdiscrepancy between service quality specifications and the service actually delivered. 4. Communications Ga pdiscrepancy between communications to customers describing the service an d the service actually delivered. 5. Service Quality Gapdiscrepancy between customer service expectations and perceptions. The service quality dimensions and ga ps are shown in Figure 2 (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1990).

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Tangibles Reliability Responsiveness Assurance Empathy Word of Mouth Personal Needs Past Experience Expected Service Perceived Service Quality Perceived Service Dimensions of Service Quality External Communications Figure 2. SERVQUAL model ______________________________________________________________________________________ Note From A Conceptual Model of Service Quality and Its Implications for Future Research, by A. Parasuraman, V. A. Ze ithaml, and L. L. Berry, 1985, Journal of Marketing, 49, p. 48. Copyright 1985 by th e American Marketing Association. Reprinted with permission. Researchers have modified the SERVQUAL model to measure service quality in higher education institutions. Boulding et al (1993) found that the higher a students perception was of the institutions service quality, the more apt that student would be to recommend the university and donate mone y to the university. Schwantz (1996) compared traditional and non-traditional st udents perceptions of the service quality provided by faculty and support staff and found th at students consiste ntly ranked faculty higher in every SERVQUAL measure. Hampton (1993) applied a modified SERVQUAL 38

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39 to determine if student satisf action with professional servic es encompassing the quality of education, teaching, social life, campus facilitie s, effort to pass courses, and student advising were linked to student s evaluation of service quali ty. He found that student satisfaction was directly dependent on the quality of service provided and therefore concluded that gap analysis was an effective measure of service quality for the professional services in higher education. Common assessments of quality within higher education institutions include measures of how students rate the quality of instruction, students overall satisfaction with the education they are getting, achi evement of learning outcomes, whether the students would recommend their university to others, graduates pass rate on licensing and professional exams, admissions to graduate and professional schools, and findings of alumni surveys. Frequently, these measures of instituti onal quality are defined predominantly by the institutions and are of limited importance to students. Institutional quality measures often focus on areas that contri bute to institutional prestige; for example, test scores of incoming freshman, the level of research expenditures, and the number of national academy faculty and national student scholars. The Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) is tailored for higher education institutions (Educational Tes ting Service, 1977). This instrument examines student satisfaction with university se rvices in such areas as academics, admissions, rules and policies, facilities, and regist ration while gathering students perceptions and experiences with the institutional environment. Thes e ratings are compared to national norms compiled by the American College Testing Service.

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40 Contribution to the Literature This study is intended to contribute to the development and understanding of service quality and customer satisfaction measurement in higher education, as well as provide a guide to higher education leaders tasked with evaluati ng service quality and customer satisfaction improvement efforts. The model is designed to support higher education management in their quest to expos e service quality problems. This research will evaluate a framework for assessing the impact of student perceptions of college services and college environment on customer satisfaction, with the long-term intent of minimizing detractors to providing exceptio nal service quality, positively influencing customer satisfaction, and building loyalty intentions among students. Summary This chapter began with a literary over view of the quality movement from its early product-focused theories and models through to its cu rrent focus on service quality in United States and Japan. This section re viewed the theoretical foundations of service quality, followed by a chronologi cal evaluation of the histori cal context of key authors contributions to the theories and conceptual frameworks that have defined service quality in higher education. The relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction was examined, along with their impact on service quality outcomes. A viable measure of service quality was proposed in a landmark study by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (1988) that conceptualized se rvice quality gaps between customer expectations and percepti ons. The resulting measurement instrument, SERVQUAL, provides the theoretical framework for measuring service areas in need of improvement. An extension and adaptation of the SERVQUAL model tailored to the

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41 higher education environment was introduced, namely the ACT Service Opinion Survey Based on the research and studies cited in this chapter, the re searcher determined that the method employed by the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) is an appropriate method for assessing service quality in higher education.

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42 Chapter Three Methods Introduction This quantitative study was designed to use a service quality m odel to investigate undergraduate student perceptions of se rvice quality in a la rge southeastern doctoral/research extensive university. A dditionally, this study examined whether undergraduate student satis faction varies based on selected demographic characteristics, and compared student satisfaction with coll ege services and environment to that of similar institutions of higher education. This chapter provides descriptions of the research design, population and sample, instru ment, data collection procedures, data organization and the data analysis methods used in the study. Several research questions were us ed to guide the investigation: 1. What is the general level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large sout heastern doctoral/research extensive university as measured by the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.)? 2. What is the level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university in relation to students at similar institutions nationwide?

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43 3. What is the relationship between the pe rsonal characteristics of undergraduate students and student satisf action with the college services and environment derived from comparisons among subgroups? Research Design Statistical surveys are used to collect quantitative information about items in a population (Weisberg & Krosnick, 1989). Descriptive research describes data and characteristics about the populati on being studied, and is ofte n collected using statistical surveys. Descriptive research answers the questions of who, what, where, when, and how; however, it is not helpful in explaini ng causal relationships, where one variable affects another (Gay, 1992). This study utilizes a descript ive research design which is useful for collecting data about a respondents interests, beli efs, attitudes, and opinions and behaviors (Gay, 1992). Population and Sample The sample size is influenced by a number of factors including the purpose of the study, population size, the risk of selecting an unsuitable sample, and the allowable sampling error. The sample size is determin ed based on the size of the target population and the desired accuracy of the study. Th e target population consisted of a random sample of undergraduate students, 18 years of age and over, attending the main campus of a large southeastern doctoral/research exte nsive university in the spring semester of 2008. The target population is 26,828. In this study, a random sample was selected from the target population usi ng the Random Numbers Generator feature of the SPSS statistical package.

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44 Sampling accuracy is determined by the le vel of precision, the level of confidence or risk, and the degree of variability in th e attributes being measured. The level of precision is sometimes called the sampling error, and is the range in which the true value of the population is estimated to be. The level of confidence is based on the Central Limit Theorem, which states that when a population is repeatedly sampled, the average of the attribute obtained by those samples is equal to the true population value. Finally, the degree of variability in the attributes being measured refers to the distribution of attributes in the population. This study relied on the published tables wh ich provide a sample size for a given set of criteria. The sample size for categor ical variables was determined using Cochrans (1977) formulas, which were calculated and s upplied in a table based on different levels of precision, confidence levels, and variability. Barlett, et al. (2001) provided a table for determining the minimum returned sample si ze for a given sample population size (i.e. 6,000 students) for categorical data, which is 362 student responses with a 95% level of confidence (p. 48). Sample participants had the option of choos ing to participate or not participate in the questionnaire. The students responding to the study constituted a purposeful sample of informants (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2000), which is an appropriate design approach when understanding of a particular phenomenon is desired (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005; Seidman, 1998; Kvale, 1996). Instrument Perceptions of service qu ality were gathered from a self-reported survey instrument, the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.), which is developed, normed, and

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45 scored by ACT, Inc. (See Appendix A: Inst rument Student Opinion Survey). The survey instrument examined a random sample of student opinions on a 5-point Likert scale which indicates the relative importance that students place on university services in such areas as academics, admissions, rules and policies, facilities, and registration. Additionally, the survey colle cted student background and at titude information in an effort to better gauge specific aspects of the institutional environment, along with the individual student impressions and experien ces at the institution. These ratings were compared with national norms compiled by Amer ican College Testing Service of similar public universities nationwide. The normative report is based on 92,251 st udent records obtained from 102 colleges that administered the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) between January 1, 2003 and July 31, 2006. Normative data of this type is often referred to as user norms since they represent a composite of the data obtained by a number of institutions that administered the instrument during a particular period of time rather than a representative sample. A total of 25,236 records were elimin ated from the normative report to ensure that no institution or state w ould be over-represented. Public and private institutions of higher education from 31 states are represen ted in the normative report (ACT Educational and Social Research, 2007). The survey instrument provided information on institutional service quality relative to several subgroups, including age, gender, ethnicity, degree area, cumulative GPA, class level, type of prior school attende d, location of college residence, fullor part-time status, and type of degree.

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46 Reliability and Validity of the Survey Instrument ACT, Inc. has refined and revised the Student Opinion Survey following generally accepted psychometric procedures. This instru ment has been used by a wide variety of institutional research departments at co lleges and universities throughout the United States. Validity issues for the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) have been investigated by researchers to gauge the appropriateness, meaningfulness, and usefulness of the instrument for collecting student opinion data. Reliability in this context is the extent to which a measurement procedure is free from error. All measurement procedures contain some degree of error that causes inconsistencies when attempting to replicate a survey. Several methods exist to estimate the consistency of the measur ement procedure, such as internal-consistency reliability indices (e.g. coefficient alpha), equivalen ce indices, and stability indices. The internal consistency reliability indices are not appropriate for (the Student Opinion Survey) instrument because (1) many inst ruments have no logical scales on which to base a total score, (2) items on (the Student Opinion Survey ) instrument usually represent the objects of measurement, not the conditions of measurement procedure, and (3 ) those investigating (the Student Opinion Survey ) are usually concerned with those measuremen t errors associated with replications of measurement procedure across sample s of responses, measurement locations, or points of time, more than with intern al consistencies among the items. For these reasons, the reliability of (the Student Opinion Survey ) instrument is assessed using the generalizability and stability indices (p.11). The Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) instrument is seldom used to evaluate institutional plans, goals, and impressions of individual students. The data are typically analyzed as generalized estimates of groups of students to form summary information for institutional planning and evalua tion. Institutions gather this information to identify the relative importance of student satisfaction with their myri ad programs and services by

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47 comparing these group means. The major s ource of measurement error occurs when comparing individual survey items and the rank order of items. Therefore the reliability estimates for the Service Quality Survey are based mostly upon the generalizability coefficients grounded in the framew ork of generalizability theory. The ACT Educational and Social Research reported reliability estimates showing the magnitude of the generalizability co efficient based on item and institution measurement, the projected number of students to be surveyed, and the survey results for satisfaction with college services and co llege environment. The generalizability coefficient is similar to the typical reliabili ty coefficient, as it indicates the degree of consistency of the measurement procedur e over many replications. Based on these estimates, this researcher was able to de termine a sufficient sample size and design a study capable of achieving an acceptable level of reliability. Based on this research, to achieve a reliability coefficient above .95 for evaluating programs and services using the College Environment scales on the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.), this researcher randomly selected 5,000 students from the institution (ACT Educational and Social Research, 2007). Accordingly, this research indicates that in situations where rank-ordering of the individual items is of interest, the measurement errors made from the sampling process are relatively small when more than 5,000 students are randomly selected from the sample. Consistent ratings were achieved ev en when different samples of students were selected to respond to the survey, providing no changes had been made to the survey items.

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48 The reliability of the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) can also be accessed through stability estimates by ad ministering the survey to th e same group of students on two different occasions, and then comparing the results. A large, Midwestern university administered the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) to three separate classes. The classes were composed of both graduate a nd undergraduate students enrolled during the summer of 1981. The two administrations of the survey occurred tw o weeks apart. The average percentages of identical item responses on the two administrations were very high: 98 percent for the Demographic Background items, 90 percent for Other Background items, and 93 percent for College Services items. The magnitude of these reliability statistics indicates that the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) exhibits a high degree of consistency and stability (ACT Educational and Social Research, 2007). Data Collection Procedures This researcher submitted the appropriate materials (Student Opinion Survey instrument, procedures used in data collec tion, and reporting proce dures) to the (target university) Institutional Review Board (I RB) on April 3, 2008 seeking approval to conduct the survey before any data was coll ected. IRB approval was received on April 8, 2008. The data collection process consisted of (1) receivi ng IRB approval; (2) e-mailing the initial survey instrumen t; (3) collecting and organizi ng survey responses; and (4) reviewing the survey res ponses for completeness. This is a descriptive, non-experimental exploratory study using survey methods for data collection and quantitative analysis as it relates to service quality in higher education. A link to the survey was emailed to all participants of this study. A letter explaining the study was provided to all of the participants. Each participant was

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49 assigned a unique sign-in identifier. Instru ctions were provided in the letter on how to complete the online survey. Each student was asked to complete the survey. The researcher developed the following procedures to manage and control the quality of data collected and the subject s privacy: (1) E-mail addresses of 6,000 randomly selected (target university) student s was secured from the (target university) Graduate School Office and kept on a personal computer in an encrypted file using AES256 encryption algorithms; (2) A link to the surv ey was e-mailed to participants; (3) The survey instruments was reviewed for completeness. Complete and incomplete responses to the survey instrument were entered into the SPSS program database; (4) Results of the recruitment process were not identif iable to an individual student. Data Organization A codebook was built by this researcher describing each independent and dependent variable in the anal ysis. The responses to the va riables were entered into the statistical application software package SPSS for analysis. Data Analysis Methods Marshall and Rossman (1995) argue that D ata analysis is the process of bringing order, structure, and meaning to the mass of collected data. It is a messy, ambiguous, time-consuming, creative, and fascinating proc ess (p.111). The survey responses were analyzed using a mixture of statistical approaches in an effort to provide order, structure, and meaning to the surv ey data collected. The statistical data were analyzed us ing descriptive statistics (mean, median, mode, standard deviation, range and correlation) and inferential stat istics (independent ttests). Descriptive research answers the que stions of who, what, where, when, and how;

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50 however, it is not used to crea te a causal relationship, where one variable affects another (Gay, 1992). One frequently used form of descriptive research involves assessing attitudes or opinions toward individuals, organizations, ev ents, or procedures (Gay, 1992). Inferential statistics is used to make inferences concerning some unknown aspect of a population from a small random sample drawn from it. The analysis of the data was reported us ing the research questions as a foundation. The analysis plan of hypothesis testing is show n in table 2. The researcher analyzed the data in relation to each research question as follows: 1. What is the general level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large sout heastern doctoral/research extensive university as measured by the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.)? This research question was analyzed using descriptive st atistics (mean, median, mode, standard deviation, range and correlation). 2. What is the level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university in relation to stude nts at similar institutions nationwide? This research question was analyzed using descriptive st atistics (mean, median, mode, standard deviation, range and correlation) and inferent ial statistics (indepe ndent t-tests) to investigate the responses in comparison to other higher edu cation institutions. 3. What is the relationship between the pe rsonal characteristics of undergraduate students and student satisf action with the college services and environment derived from comparisons among subgroups? This research question analyzed the significant differences among stud ent responses based on a variety of

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51 demographic variables using descript ive (mean, median, mode, standard deviation, range and correlation) and infere ntial statistics (indep endent t-tests and one-way ANOVA) to make inferences a bout the population based on the sample. Summary This chapter provided descriptions of the research design, population and sample, instrument, data collection procedures, data or ganization and the data analysis methods to be used in the study to answer the research questions. The next section of the study will offer a presentation and analysis of the data.

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52 Table 2 Analysis Plan of Hypothesis Testing Number Hypothesis Statistical Test H01 There will be no statistica lly significant difference between the target university and national norms for public college students in th eir level of satisfaction with college services and programs. Student t -test H02There will be no statistica lly significant difference between the target university and national norms for public college students in th eir level of satisfaction with the college environment. Student t -test H03There will be no statistica lly significant difference between traditional and non-traditional aged undergraduate students in th eir level of satisfaction with college services and programs. One-way ANOVA H04There will be no statistica lly significant difference between Caucasian and ethnic minority undergraduate students in th eir level of satisfaction with college services and programs. One-way ANOVA H05There will be no statistica lly significant difference between male and female undergraduate students in their level of satisfaction with college services and programs. One-way ANOVA H06There will be no statistica lly significant difference between traditional and non-traditional aged undergraduate students in th eir level of satisfaction with the college environment. One-way ANOVA H07That there will be no statistically significant difference between Caucasian (white) and ethnic minority undergraduate students in their level of satisfaction with the college environment. One-way ANOVA H08That there will be no statistically significant difference between male and female undergraduate students in their level of sa tisfaction with the college environment. One-way ANOVA

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53 Chapter Four Presentation and Analysis of the Data Introduction The purpose of this study was to examin e undergraduate student satisfaction with college services and environment at a larg e southeastern doctoral/research extensive university (Carnegie Classification of Ins titutions of Higher Education, 2000), with the long-term intent of minimizing detractors to providing exceptional service quality, positively influencing customer satisfaction, and building loyalty intentions among students. This chapter contains the data collected from the su rvey of undergraduate students, the statistical treatment, and analysis of the data. The fi ndings of the research questions are presented in sequence. The data were collected from a stra tified random sample of undergraduate students from a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university (i.e. target university) over a two-week period from April 10-24, 2008. The initial email (see Appendix C), along with two reminder emails were sent to students during that period. Of the 4,000 undergraduate students randomly selected to receive the survey, 548 students voluntarily participated in the survey, for a response rate of nearly 14%. Fifteen percent of those responses were incomplete or unusable, for a total of 467 usable survey responses.

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54 Response rates for email and web-based su rveys are often lower than those of other methods, however internet -based surveys offer several benefits according to Kwak, et al. (2002), including reducti on in research costs and effici ent survey administration in terms of time and resource management (p. 257). This researcher posits that the response rate might likely have been slightly higher had the survey not been distributed several weeks before the administration of fina ls week at the target university. Dillman and Bowker (2000) suggest that: We are witnessing an explosion in the use of web surveys to collect sample survey information that was previously collected by other means of surveying. Only a few years a go the use of web questionnaires as a data collection device was not a matter that received re search attention from specialists in survey research. Rather than being at the forefront of this latest innovation in the conduc t of social surveys, survey methodologists are playing catch-up as they learn to master these new survey development tools (p. 1). The frequencies and percentages of the various support services used by undergraduate student respondents were calcul ated. Students indicated whether or not they had used the college services and program s, and further rated th eir perceived level of satisfaction with these servic es and programs on a five point Likert scale from very satisfied to very dissatisfied. The mean and standard deviations fo r the measured levels of satisfaction with the support services in Section II and Sec tion III of survey instrument were calculated for each of the support se rvices (dependent variables). The mean and standard deviations of the dependent variables were also compared with the norms of ACT, Inc.s Normative Da ta Report in an effort to determine how the level of satisfaction with support services at a large southeaste rn doctoral/research extensive university compared to the national norms. Two-tailed t-tests were calculated

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55 to determine the statistical significance fo r mean differences in these levels of satisfaction. The normative report is based on 92,251 student records obtained from 102 colleges that administered the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) between January 1, 2003 and July 31, 2006. To make inferences vis--vis the level of satisfaction of students with different demographic attributes, one-way ANOVA calculations were employed to test the hypotheses based on the survey respons es using SPSS statistical software. Several research questions were us ed to guide the investigation: 1. What is the general level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large sout heastern doctoral/research extensive university as measured by the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.)? 2. What is the level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university in relation to students at similar instit utions nationwide? 3. What is the relationship between the pe rsonal characteristics of undergraduate students and student satisf action with the college services and environment derived from comparisons among subgroups? Survey Participants Demographic Information An estimate of the nature of the popula tion in this study is provided in this section. Table 3 provides personal demographic informati on regarding the age, race, class level, gender, and material status of the 467 respondents to the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.). The majority of responde nts can be characterized as white, unmarried, traditional-aged st udents. Twelve students in dicated their class level as

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56 Table 3 Personal Demographic Characteristics for Age, Race, Class Level, Gender, and Material Status of Survey Respondents Personal Demographic Variable N Percent Age 18 or under 19 20 21 22 23-25 26-29 30-39 40-61 62 or Over 459 17 34 39 80 71 97 42 52 27 0 3.7% 7.4% 8.5% 17.4% 15.5% 21.1% 9.2% 11.3% 5.9% 0.0% Race African American or Black Native American Caucasian or White Mexican American, Mexican Origin Asian American, Oriental, Pacific Islander Puerto Rican, Cuban, Other Hispanic Other Did Not Respond 462 40 0 321 7 19 40 12 23 8.7% 0.0% 69.5% 1.5% 4.1% 8.7% 2.6% 5.0% Class Level Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Graduate or Professional Other/Unclassified 467 32 39 117 266 12 1 6.9% 8.4% 25.1% 57.0% 2.6% 0.2% Gender Male Female 457 145 312 31.7% 68.3% Marital Status Unmarried Married Separated Did Not Respond 466 380 80 1 5 81.5% 17.2% 0.2% 1.1%

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57 graduate or professional on th e self-reported surv ey instrument, possibly reflecting their enrollment as undergraduate students in the accelerated Masters programs. Over fourfifths of the respondents were junior or senior up perclassman, while more than twice the number of females responded to the survey than males. Nearly one-third more junior and senior upperclassman, about 7% more females, and approximately 2% more minorities responded to this survey than the national user norms, however there were about 8% less Table 4 Personal Demographic Characteristics for Employment and Residence of Survey Respondents Personal Demographic Variable N Percent Employment Per Week (Hours) 0 or Only Occasional Jobs 1 to 10 11 to 20 21 to 30 31 to 40 Over 40 467 137 33 65 90 96 46 29.3% 7.1% 13.9% 19.3% 20.6% 9.9% Enrollment Status Part-Time Student Full-Time Student 464 355 109 76.5% 23.5% Residence Classification In-State Student Out-of-State Student International Student (Non U.S. Citizen) 465 452 12 1 97.2% 2.6% 0.2% College Residence College Residence Hall Fraternity or Sorority House College Married Student Housing Off-Campus Room or Apartment Home of Parents or Relatives Own Home Other 465 52 2 0 196 95 104 16 11.2% 0.4% 0.0% 42.2% 20.4% 22.4% 3.4%

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58 traditional students and 6% less unmarried students responding to this survey when compared to the national norms. These num bers support the established demographic composition of a large metropolitan university. The employment and residential charact eristics of the survey respondents are included in Table 4. Over two-thirds of the student respondents have jobs in addition to attending school part-time, with nearly half working over 20-hours each week. The vast majority are in-state students (97% in-state students) that lived o ff-campus (85% offTable 5 Personal Demographic Characteristics fo r College Major of Survey Respondents (N=452) Major N Percent Business and Management 78 17.3% Social Sciences 74 16.4% Biological and Physical Sciences 55 12.2% Health Sciences and Allied Health Fields 50 11.1% Engineering 35 7.7% Communications 29 6.4% Visual and Performing Arts 22 4.9% Education 19 4.2% Community and Personal Services 18 4.0% Teacher Education 15 3.3% Computer and Information Sciences 9 2.0% Letters 9 2.0% Cross-Disciplinary Studies 8 1.8% Engineering-Related Technologies 7 1.5% Marketing and Distribution 5 1.1% Architecture and Environmental Design 4 0.9% Business and Office 4 0.9% Philosophy, Religion, and Theology 4 0.9% Undecided 3 0.7% Mathematics 2 0.4% Agricultural 1 0.2% Foreign Languages 1 0.2%

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59 campus residences) and commuted to the unive rsity. The employment and residential characteristics of survey respondents at the ta rget university are reas onably comparable to those of typical students attending la rge, public metropolitan universities. The large southeastern doctoral/resea rch extensive institu tion under study has 200 degree programs in 11 colleges for undergraduat es. A list of majors reported by survey respondents is shown in Table 5. Each of the 22 majors may contain a series of concentration areas. For example, the business and management major includes 20 specialized concentrations, from accounting and economics to management information systems and marketing. Table 6 Personal Demographic Characteristics for Occupational Choice of Survey Respondents (N=359) Occupational Choice N Percent Business and Management 72 20.1% Health Sciences and Allied Health Fields 62 17.3% Social Sciences 36 10.0% Engineering 27 7.5% Biological and Physical Sciences 26 7.2% Education 20 5.6% Communications 19 5.3% Community and Personal Services 18 5.0% Visual and Performing Arts 18 5.0% Teacher Education 17 4.7% Undecided 8 2.2% Engineering 8 2.2% Letters 6 1.7% Computer and Information Sciences 5 1.4% Architecture and Environmental Design 4 1.1% Business and Office 3 0.8% Marketing and Distribution 3 0.8% Mathematics 3 0.8% Cross-Disciplinary Studies 2 0.6% Agricultural 1 0.3% Home Economics/Family and Consumer Services 1 0.3%

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60 Students from four colleges represented over half of the survey respondents, with the majority indicating their primary occupati onal choice in one of those areas as well. Nearly a third of the students did not indica te their occupational choice. Respondents occupational choice is containe d in Table 6. A list of co llege majors and occupational choices is included in Appendix D. Discussion of Research Questions This study employed quantitative analysis techniques to examine three research questions. The questions are presented w ith a summary of fi ndings and relevant supporting tables for each question. The level of satisfaction scores from the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) are presented in Table 7, along with the Likert scale verbal meaning and range of scores. These satisfac tion scores were used to address the three research questions. Table 7 ACT Student Opinion Survey Likert Scores Verbal Satisfaction Leve ls Range of Scores Very Dissatisfied Dissatisfied Neither Satisfied or Dissatisfied Satisfied Very Satisfied 0.00 1.00 1.00 1.99 2.00 2.99 3.00 3.99 4.00 5.00 Research Question One The first question was What is the general level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergradua te students at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive uni versity as measured by the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.)? The college support services and programs listed in section II and the college

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61 environment responses in section III of the Student Opinion Survey for Four Year Institutions (ACT, Inc.) instrument was used to investigate this question. The university offered all 23 services and programs contained in section II of the survey instrument, including day care services under contract with an external vendor. Table 8 contains the details of college support services and th e percentage of students that have used these services. Table 8 Section II: Usage of College Services and Programs Support Service and Programs Students Who Have Used the Services N Percent Academic advising services 408 87.4% Parking facilities and services 406 86.9% Library facilities and services 405 86.7% College orientation program 302 64.7% Food services 298 63.8% Computer Services 293 62.7% Financial aid services 287 61.5% Student health services 232 49.7% College sponsored social activities 193 41.3% College mass transit services 178 38.1% Residence hall services and programs 140 30.0% Recreation and intramural programs 137 29.3% Cultural programs 105 22.5% Career planning services 85 18.2% Personal counseling services 84 18.0% Honors programs 77 16.5% Student employment services 57 12.2% Job placement services 47 10.1% Credit-by examination program 43 9.2% College-sponsored tuto rial services 42 9.0% Student health insurance program 32 6.9% Veterans services 15 3.2% Day Care Services 8 1.7%

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62 The top three college services and progr ams had been used by over 85 percent of survey respondents during their tenure on campus. Academic advising services experienced the highest usage, due in large part to the mandatory requirement that all freshman undergraduate student s participate in advising. Si nce the vast majority of students lived off-campus and likely commute d to school, many made use of the parking facilities and services. The library, with over 2.3 million volumes, nearly 32,000 periodicals, and 635 specialized databases, o ffers a plethora of useful information and was widely utilized by students. Of the three most frequently used college services and programs, students indicated that they were most satisfied w ith the library facilities and services ( M =4.2, SD = .83), as shown in Table 9. Although heavily utilized, academic advising was ranked eighth in terms of mean satisfaction score ( M =3.7, SD = 1.03). Of the 23 college services and programs surveyed, 85% of student respondents ranked thei r satisfaction with parking facilities and services ( M =2.4, SD = 1.23) at the very bottom of the list, signifying their general dissatisfaction with this service. This may be due to the student perception that there is a lack of adequate parking spaces conveniently located on campus. Aside from library facilities and serv ices, students indicated higher satisfaction levels with only two other college su pport services, com puter services ( M =4.0, SD = .92) and college sponsored social activities ( M =4.0, SD = .87). Nearly one-third of student respondents had used half of the 23 colle ge services and programs listed. Lower satisfaction scores on the remaining items ma y present an opportunity for the target

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63 university to establish service quality impr ovement initiatives de signed to increase student satisfaction in these areas. Table 9 Section II: Mean Level of Sa tisfaction Score for Each College Service or Program Support Services and Programs N Mean Rank Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Library facilities and services 424 1 4.2 0.83 0.04 Computer Services 312 2 4.0 0.92 0.05 College sponsored social activities 222 3 4.0 0.87 0.06 Recreation and intramural programs 182 4 3.9 0.82 0.06 Financial aid services 311 5 3.8 1.06 0.06 Student health services 256 6 3.8 1.02 0.06 Cultural programs 149 7 3.8 0.90 0.07 Academic advising services 426 8 3.7 1.03 0.05 College mass transit services 212 9 3.7 1.00 0.07 College orientation program 321 10 3.6 1.04 0.06 Honors programs 119 11 3.6 1.02 0.09 Food services 320 12 3.5 1.03 0.06 Residence hall services and programs 170 13 3.4 1.08 0.08 Credit-by examination program 83 14 3.4 0.97 0.11 Student health insurance program 72 15 3.4 0.97 0.11 Personal counseling services 128 16 3.3 1.07 0.09 Student employment services 99 17 3.3 1.05 0.11 College-sponsored tutorial services 86 18 3.3 0.93 0.10 Career planning services 122 19 3.2 1.09 0.10 Veterans services 61 20 3.2 0.97 0.13 Job placement services 92 21 3.1 1.00 0.11 Day care services 53 22 3.1 0.72 0.10 Parking facilities and services 431 23 2.4 1.23 0.06

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64 The first research question also explor ed survey respondents general level of satisfaction with the college environment. Section III of the survey instrument is composed of 42 aspects of the college environment. These aspects of the college environment were grouped by ACT, Inc. into six categories, and descriptive statistics were computed for each variable as shown in Table 10. Students responded favorably to the campus bookstore ( M =3.9, SD = .92), campus media such as the student newspaper and campus radio (M =3.9, SD = .79), and the attitude of facu lty towards students ( M =3.9, SD = .90). In addition, the instruction ( M =3.9, SD = .90) and course content in the students major field ( M =3.9, SD = .90), along with the out-of-class avai lability of instructors ( M =3.9, SD = .90) all were rated satisfied with student respondents. Student respondents were dissatisfied with only one environmental variablethe availability of the course s students want at the times they can take them ( M =2.8, SD = 1.27). An unremitting challenge for many universities is balancing the proper mix of course offerings, departmental scheduling, and suitable facilities so that students are able to complete required courses and electives in their degree programs in a timely manner, however the level of satisfaction for this vari able at the target university was below the national norm for other public universities ( M =3.1, SD = 1.16).

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65 Table 10 Section III: Mean Level of Sa tisfaction Score for Each College Environment Variable Category Variables N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Academic 1. Testing/grading system 447 3.68 0.84 0.04 2. Course content in your major field 449 3.87 0.90 0.04 3. Instruction in your major field 446 3.87 0.96 0.05 4. Out-of-class availability of your instructors 446 3.85 0.89 0.04 5. Attitude of the faculty toward students 451 3.92 0.90 0.04 6. Variety of courses offered at this college 451 3.68 1.04 0.05 7. Class size relative to the type of course 453 3.67 1.03 0.05 8. Flexibility to design your own program of study 424 3.40 1.07 0.05 9. Availability of your advisor 448 3.52 1.12 0.05 10. Value of the information provided by your advisor 445 3.65 1.14 0.05 11. Preparation you are receiving for your future occupation 445 3.39 1.08 0.05 Admission 12. General admissions procedures 445 3.73 0.87 0.04 13. Availability of financial aid information 416 3.61 1.00 0.05 14. Accuracy of college information you received before enrolling 435 3.67 0.94 0.05 15. College catalog/admissions publications 433 3.73 0.85 0.04 Rules and Policies 16. Student voice in college policies 393 3.09 0.97 0.05 17. Rules governing student conduct at this college 410 3.48 0.83 0.04 18. Residence hall rules and regulations 247 3.29 0.80 0.05

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66 19. Academic probation and suspension policies 333 3.37 0.83 0.05 20. Purpose for which student activity fees are used 419 2.99 1.00 0.05 21. Personal security/safety at this campus 438 3.44 1.01 0.05 Facilities 22. Classroom facilities 447 3.40 1.05 0.05 23. Laboratory facilities 361 3.52 0.95 0.05 24. Athletic facilities 351 3.74 0.90 0.05 25. Study areas 434 3.58 1.00 0.05 26. Student union 364 3.53 0.86 0.05 27. Campus bookstore 445 3.93 0.92 0.04 28. Availability of student housing 236 3.36 0.89 0.06 29. General condition of buildings and grounds 446 3.64 0.94 0.05 Registration 30. General registration procedures 447 3.67 0.99 0.05 31. Availability of the courses you want at times you can take them 448 2.76 1.27 0.06 32. Academic calendar for this college 448 3.81 0.88 0.04 33. Billing and fee payment procedures 444 3.61 1.03 0.05 General 34. Concern for you as an individual 445 3.15 1.05 0.05 35. Attitude for the college nonteaching staff towards students 441 3.46 0.99 0.05 36. Racial harmony at this college 442 3.81 0.86 0.04 37. Opportunities for student employment 318 3.34 0.89 0.05 38. Opportunities for personal involvement in campus activities 399 3.74 0.83 0.04 39. Student government 379 3.29 0.90 0.05 40. Religious activities and programs 332 3.45 0.81 0.04 41. Campus media (student newspaper, campus radio, etc.) 422 3.93 0.79 0.04 42. This college in general 447 3.94 0.87 0.04

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67 On average, students were most satisfi ed with the academic environmental category shown in Table 11. The mix of academic, admissions, rules and policies, facilities, registration, and ge neral informational categories provides a snapshot of the current college environment at the targ et university in the spring of 2008. Table 11 Section III: Mean Level of Sa tisfaction Score for Each College Environment Category Category Satisfaction Mean Academic 3.87 Admission 3.74 Rules and Policies 3.39 Facilities 3.65 Registration 3.57 General 3.65 In general, students indicated that they were satisfied with the overall college environment at the target university, which were analogous to the satisfaction level results with college services and programs. Research Question Two The second question was What is the le vel of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergradua te students at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive uni versity in relation to stude nts at similar institutions nationwide? The level of satisfaction w ith both the college support services and programs listed in section II and the college environment responses in section III of the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) instrument was used to investigate this question. The target universitys mean level of satisfaction scores with the college services and programs listed in section II of the survey instrument were compared to those of the

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68 y eling ACT national user norms and are presented in descending rank order in Table 12. The ACT normative report is based on 92,251 student records obtained from 102 colleges that administered the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) between January 1, 2003 and July 31, 2006. Significance was established using twotailed t-tests at the p < .05 significance level. The null hypothesis (H01) is that there will be no statistically significant difference between the target university and national norms for public college students in their level of satisfaction with college serv ices and programs. Students at the target university indicated sign ificantly higher levels of satisfa ction with library facilities and services when compared to the national ACT norms of public colleges, and significantl lower level of satisfaction w ith recreational and intramural programs, personal couns services, career planning se rvices, and job placement services when compared to the national ACT norms at the p < .05 level. The null hypotheses of these five variables were rejected. Students perceived level of satisfaction with the remaining 18 college services and programs were either equal to, or less than, those of the na tional ACT norms, except for college sponsored social activities and financial aid se rvices, which were slightly higher than the national norms. These t-tests failed to reject the null hypothesis between the target university students and national norms for public college students. Based on this analysis, students at the target university are likely to be less satisfied with support services and programs overall than thos e at other public un iversities.

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69 Table 12 Section II: Comparison of Mean Level of Sat isfaction Scores for College Services and Programs at Target University and National ACT Norms for Public Colleges Support Service and Programs Satisfaction Level Target University Mean Target University SD ACT Norms Mean ACT Norms SD Mean Difference Library facilities and services 4.2 0.83 4.1 0.84 0.1* Computer Services 4.0 0.92 4.0 0.90 0.0 College sponsored social activities 4.0 0.87 3.9 0.81 0.1 Recreation and intramural programs 3.9 0.82 4.1 0.82 -0.2* Financial aid services 3.8 1.06 3.7 1.10 0.1 Student health services 3.8 1.02 3.8 1.07 0.0 Cultural programs 3.8 0.90 3.9 0.87 -0.1 Academic advising services 3.7 1.03 3.8 0.99 -0.1 College mass transit services 3.7 1.00 3.7 1.07 0.0 College orientation program 3.6 1.04 3.7 0.94 -0.1 Honors programs 3.6 1.02 4.0 0.97 -0.4 Food services 3.5 1.03 3.5 1.09 0.0 Residence hall services and programs 3.4 1.08 3.4 1.10 0.0 Credit-by examination program 3.4 0.97 4.0 0.96 -0.6 Personal counseling services 3.3 1.07 3.9 1.01 -0.6* Student employment services 3.3 1.05 3.8 1.07 -0.5 College-sponsored tutorial services 3.3 0.93 3.9 1.00 -0.6 Career planning services 3.2 1.09 3.8 0.98 -0.6* Veterans services 3.2 0.97 4.0 1.09 -0.8 Job placement services 3.1 1.00 3.6 1.12 -0.5* Day care services 3.1 0.72 3.7 1.18 -0.6 Parking facilities and services 2.4 1.23 2.5 1.25 -0.1 *Statistically significant difference in m eans at p < .05 using a two-tailed t-test.

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70 Section III of the survey instrument is composed of forty-two aspects of the college environment. These aspects of th e college environment were grouped by ACT, Inc. into six categories (see Table 10). The le vel of satisfaction of students at the target university was compared with those of the ACT national norms in Table 13. Two-tailed t-tests were used to compare the me ans at the p < .05 significance level. The null hypothesis (H02) is that there will be no statistically significant difference between the target university and national norms for public college students in their level of satisfaction w ith the college environment. Table 13 Section III: Comparison of Mean Level of Satisfaction for College Environment Scores at Target University and National ACT Norms for Public Colleges Categories Satisfaction Level Target University Mean ACT Norm Mean Mean Difference Significance (2-tailed) Academic 3.68 3.87 -0.19 0.016* Admission 3.69 3.74 -0.05 0.004* Rules and Policies 3.28 3.39 -0.11 0.010* Facilities 3.59 3.65 -0.06 0.005* Registration 3.46 3.57 -0.11 0.010* General 3.57 3.65 -0.08 0.007* *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 The differences in the perceived level of satisfaction of students at the target university were significantly lower in all six environmental categories when compared to the national ACT norms for public colleges. The null hypothesis for each of the six variables was rejected. This research finding most likely in dicates that students at the target university are likely to be less satisfi ed with their college environment overall than those at other public universities.

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71 ir e is. Research Question Three The third question was What is th e relationship between the personal characteristics of undergraduate students and student satisfaction with the college services and environment derived from comparisons among subgroups? The student age, ethnicity, and gender subgroups were expl ored. The student demographics listed in section I, the level of satisfaction with college support se rvices and programs listed in section II, and the college environmen t responses in section III of the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) instrument were used to investigate this question. Section II of the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) is composed of twenty-three college services or programs. Students indi cated if they have used the services or programs (see Table 8), and if so, ranked their level of satisfaction with those services and programs on a five point Likert scale from Very satisfied with 5 points, to Very dissatisfied with 1 point (see Ta ble 12). If a service is not av ailable or if the student had not used the service, they did not mark their level of satisf action. Students indicated that they had used all 23 support services and programs in section II of the instrument. The null hypothesis (H03) is that there will be no statistically significant difference between traditional and non-traditional aged unde rgraduate students in the level of satisfaction with college services a nd programs. The satisfaction levels of the college services and programs were treated as the dependent variables, whereas the ag (i.e. traditional and non-traditional aged students) was treated as an independent variable for purposes of testi ng the null hypothes In an effort to accurately characterize traditional and non-traditional students, a traditional student was defined as less than 26 years old, whereas a non-traditional

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72 student was grouped as 26 and over. Over a decade ago, full-time students under the age of 25 comprised fewer than half of the students in Americas colleges and universities. Although the debate continues over the best definition of nontraditional aged students, issues of data availability have resulted in a prac tice of defining students 25 years of age or older as nontraditional (Senter & Senter, pp. 270-271). To establish the significance of the mean differences between traditional and nontraditional aged undergraduate students, descri ptive statistics were calculated and a oneway analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted on the 23 college services and programs. Only one, academic advising services, showed significant differences utilizing the one-way ANOVA analysis. The desc riptive statistics of satisfaction levels of academic advising services for traditional a nd non-traditional students is contained in table 14, with a one-way ANOVA for the same in table 15. Table 14 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels of Academic Advising Services for Traditional and Non-Traditional Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Academic advising services Traditional 310 3.6 1.03 0.06 Nontraditional 109 3.8 1.00 0.10 Total 419 3.7 1.02 0.05 Table 15 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Academi c Advising Services for Traditional and NonTraditional Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 4.31 1 4.31 4.14* Within Groups 433.90 417 1.04 Total 438.21 418 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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73 ir level of Significant differences were found in th e level of satisfaction with academic advising services as non-traditional aged unde rgraduate students in dicated a higher level of satisfaction than traditional aged undergraduate students Non-traditional undergraduate students represented one-qua rter of the survey respondents. The remaining 22 ANOVA tests conducted on the othe r college support service and programs contained in section II of the instrument failed to reject the null hypothesis between traditional and non-traditional students. Student satisfaction with college services and programs based on ethnicity were examined. Nearly 70 percent of the student respondents indicated thei r racial or ethnic group as Caucasian or white (see Table 3), over-representing the 65 percent Caucasian students enrolled at the target university in 2007-08. An analysis was conducted to determine if ethnicity impact ed student perceptions of sa tisfaction with the college support services and environment. Students were classified as eith er Caucasian (white) or ethnic minority, with a bout one-quarter of the res pondents representing minority ethnicities including African Americans, Na tive Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics and others. The ethni c minorities were combined to simplify the analysis, however differences between these subgroups might exist. Five percent of students were not included in the analysis be cause they did not specify their ethnicity. The null hypothesis (H04) is that there will be no statistically significant difference between Caucasian and ethnic minorit y undergraduate students in the satisfaction with college servic es and programs. The satisfaction levels of the college services and programs were treated as the dependent variables, whereas the student

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74 ethnicity (i.e. Caucasian and ethnic minority) was treated as an independent variable for purposes of testing the null hypothesis. To establish the signif icance of the mean differen ces between Caucasian and ethnic minority undergraduate students, descrip tive statistics were ca lculated and a oneway analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted on the 23 college services and programs in section II of the survey instrument. The three dependent variables of library facilities and services, student health insurance program, and college orientation program revealed significant differences following one-way ANOVA computations at an alpha level of .05, and are shown with their respective descriptive sta tistics in tables 16 through 21. Table 16 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels of Librar y Facilities and Services for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Library Facilities and Services Caucasian 291 4.1 0.82 0.05 Ethnic Minority 107 4.3 0.79 0.08 Total 398 4.2 0.81 0.04 Table 17 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels of Library Facilities and Services for Caucasian and Ethni c Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 2.67 1 2.67 4.06* Within Groups 260.37 396 0.66 Total 263.04 397 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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75 Table 18 Descriptive Statistics of Satis faction Levels of Student Hea lth Services for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Student Health Services Caucasian 169 3.7 1.06 0.82 Ethnic Minority 70 4.0 0.88 0.11 Total 239 3.8 1.02 0.07 Table 19 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels of Student Health Services for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 4.36 1 4.36 4.25* Within Groups 243.04 237 1.03 Total 247.41 238 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 Table 20 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction L evels of College Orientation Program for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error College Orientation Program Caucasian 216 3.5 1.05 0.07 Ethnic Minority 84 4.0 0.81 0.09 Total 300 3.6 1.01 0.06 Table 21 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels of College Orientation Program for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 4.36 1 4.36 4.25* Within Groups 243.04 237 1.03 Total 247.41 238 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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76 tion and Significant differences were found in th e level of satisfact ion with library facilities and services, student health services, and college orientation program as ethnic minority undergraduate students indicated a high er level of satisfaction than Caucasian undergraduate students on all three of thes e college services and programs. The null hypotheses for these three variables were rejected. The remaining 20 ANOVA tests conducted on the other college support servic e and programs contained in section II of the instrument failed to reject the null hypothesis between Caucasian and ethnic minority undergraduate students. Gender was explored to determine if signi ficant differences existed between male and female perceptions of satisfaction with college services and programs. Nearly 70 percent of the student respondents were fema les (see Table 3), over-r epresenting the 58% female undergraduate students at the target university in the 2007-08 year. The null hypothesis (H05) is that there will be no statistically significant difference between male and female undergraduat e students in their level of satisfac with college services and programs. The sati sfaction levels of the college services programs were treated as the dependent variab les, whereas the student gender was treated as an independent variable for purpos es of testing th e null hypothesis. To establish the signifi cance of the mean differences between male and female undergraduate students, descrip tive statistics were calculate d and a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted on the 23 colle ge services and programs in section II of the survey instrument. Two dependent va riables, student hea lth services and food services, showed significant differences upon analysis with a one-way ANOVA at the p <

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77 .05 level, and are shown with their respective descriptive st atistics in tables 22 through 25. Table 22 Descriptive Statistics of Sa tisfaction Levels of Student Health Services for Male and Female Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Student Health Services Male 69 3.6 0.88 0.11 Female 181 3.9 1.04 0.08 Total 250 3.8 1.10 0.06 Table 23 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels of Student Health Services for Male and Female Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 4.84 1 4.84 4.83* Within Groups 248.62 248 1.00 Total 253.46 249 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 Table 24 Descriptive Statistics of Sa tisfaction Levels of Food Services for Male and Female Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Food Services Male 98 3.3 1.08 0.11 Female 216 3.6 1.00 0.07 Total 314 3.5 1.03 0.06 Table 25 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels of Food Services for Male and Female Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 5.79 1 5.79 5.53* Within Groups 326.66 312 1.05 Total 332.45 313 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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78 ir A lue The Significant differences were found in the level of satisfaction w ith student health services and food services as female underg raduate students indica ted a higher level of satisfaction than their male counterparts on bot h of these college services and programs. The null hypotheses for these two variable s were rejected. The remaining 21 ANOVA tests conducted on the other coll ege support service and progra ms contained in section II of the instrument failed to reject th e null hypothesis between male and female undergraduate students. One-way ANOVAs were carried out on th e forty-two aspects of the college environment in section III of the Student Opinion Survey (see Table 10). The individual aspects of student satisfaction scores in the academic, admissions, rules and policies, facilities, registration, and ge neral categories were tested among the age, ethnicity, and gender subgroups to determine if a signifi cant difference existed in their level of satisfaction with the college environment. The null hypothesis (H06) is that there will be no statistically significant difference between traditional and non-traditional aged unde rgraduate students in the level of satisfaction with the college environment. Of the forty-two possible ANOV test combinations, significant differences at the p < .05 level of satisfaction were manifested between traditional and non-traditio nal students in the college environment aspects of out-of-class availability of your inst ructors, availability of your advisor, va of the information provided by your advisor, and availability of student housing. descriptive statistics and th e ANOVA analysis for these asp ects of college environment are presented in tables 26 through 33.

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79 Table 26 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Out-of-Class Availability of Your Instructors for Traditional and Non-traditional Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Out-of-class availability of your instructors Traditional 322 3.8 0.90 0.05 Nontraditional 116 4.0 0.83 0.08 Total 438 3.9 0.89 0.04 Table 27 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Out-of-Class Availability of Your Instructors for Traditional and Non-traditional Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 3.06 1 3.06 3.93* Within Groups 339.44 436 0.78 Total 342.50 437 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 Table 28 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels wi th the Availability of Your Instructors for Traditional and Non-traditional Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Availability of Your Instructors Traditional 323 3.4 1.11 0.06 Nontraditional 117 3.8 1.10 0.10 Total 440 3.5 1.12 0.05 Table 29 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Your Instructors for Traditional and Non-traditional Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 9.03 1 9.03 7.34* Within Groups 538.75 438 1.23 Total 547.77 439 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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80 Table 30 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels wi th the Value of the Information Provided by Your Advisor for Traditional and Non-traditional Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Value of the Information Provided by Your Advisor Traditional 322 3.6 1.14 0.06 Nontraditional 115 3.9 1.08 0.10 Total 437 3.7 1.13 0.05 Table 31 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfacti on Levels with the Value of the Information Provided by Your Advisor for Tr aditional and Non-traditional Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 9.25 1 9.25 7.35* Within Groups 547.88 435 1.26 Total 557.13 436 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 Table 32 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels wi th the Availability of Student Housing for Traditional and Non-traditional Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Availability of Student Housing Traditional 196 3.4 0.93 0.07 Nontraditional 38 3.0 0.43 0.07 Total 234 3.4 0.88 0.06 Table 33 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Student Housing for Traditional and Non-traditional Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 4.90 1 4.89 6.43* Within Groups 176.67 232 0.76 Total 181.56 233 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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81 Significant differences were found in the level of satisfactio n with out-of-class availability of your instructors, availability of your advisor, and value of the information provided by your advisor as non-traditional aged undergraduate st udents indicated a higher level of satisfaction than traditional aged undergraduate students. Traditional aged undergraduate students showed significantly higher levels of satisfaction with the availability of student housing. The nu ll hypotheses for these four variables were rejected. The remaining 38 ANOVA tests conducted on the other aspects of college environment contained in section III of the instrument failed to re ject the null hypothesis between traditional and non-traditional students Attributes of the college environment were examined for differences based on stude nt ethnicity employing statistical analysis with one-way ANOVAs. The null hypothesis (H07) is that there will be no statistically significant difference between Caucasian (white) and ethnic mi nority undergraduate students in their level of satisfaction with the college environment. A number of significant di fferences in student perceptions of their college environment were evident in relation to their ethnicity. Significant differences existed among six of the forty-two test combinat ions between student s in this subgroup. Availability of your advisor, value of the information provided by your advisor, general admissions procedures, availability of fina ncial aid information prior to enrolling, opportunities for personal involv ement in campus activities, and religious activities and programs all showed significant differences. The descriptive statistics and the ANOVA analysis for these aspects of college environment are presented in tables 34 through 45.

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82 Table 34 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Your Advisor for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Availability of your advisor Caucasian 305 3.5 1.13 0.07 Ethnic Minority 115 3.8 0.98 0.09 Total 420 3.6 1.10 0.05 Table 35 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Your Advisor for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 10.28 1 10.278 8.63* Within Groups 497.86 418 1.19 Total 508.14 419 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 Table 36 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels wi th the Value of the Information Provided by Your Advisor for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Value of the Information Provided by Your Advisor Caucasian 304 3.6 1.17 0.07 Ethnic Minority 115 3.9 0.96 0.09 Total 419 3.7 1.12 0.06 Table 37 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfacti on Levels with the Value of the Information Provided by Your Advisor for C aucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 9.38 1 9.38 7.54* Within Groups 518.50 417 1.24 Total 527.88 418 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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83 Table 38 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the General Admissions Procedures for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error General Admissions Procedures Caucasian 305 3.7 0.91 0.05 Ethnic Minority 112 3.9 0.76 0.07 Total 417 3.7 0.87 0.04 Table 39 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the General Admissions Procedures for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 3.13 1 3.13 4.12* Within Groups 314.90 415 0.76 Total 318.03 416 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 Table 40 Descriptive Statistics of Sa tisfaction Levels with the Av ailability of Financial Aid Information Prior to Enrolling for C aucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error General Admissions Procedures Caucasian 281 3.5 0.99 0.06 Ethnic Minority 108 3.8 0.98 0.09 Total 389 3.6 1.00 0.05 Table 41 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Financial Aid Information Prior to Enrolling for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 6.93 1 6.93 7.10* Within Groups 378.02 387 0.98 Total 384.95 388 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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84 Table 42 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels with the Opportunities for Personal Involvement in Campus Activities for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Opportunities for Personal Involvement in Campus Activities Caucasian 267 3.7 0.84 0.05 Ethnic Minority 105 3.9 0.76 0.07 Total 372 3.7 0.83 0.04 Table 43 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfacti on Levels with the Oppor tunities for Personal Involvement in Campus Activities for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 5.36 1 5.26 8.00* Within Groups 247.87 370 0.67 Total 253.22 371 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 Table 44 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Level s with the Religious Activities and Programs for Caucasian and Ethni c Minority Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Religious Activities and Programs Caucasian 216 3.4 0.73 0.05 Ethnic Minority 94 3.7 0.85 0.09 Total 310 3.5 0.78 0.04 Table 45 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfacti on Levels with the Religious Activities and Programs for Caucasian and Ethnic Minority Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 4.85 1 4.85 8.27* Within Groups 180.536 308 0.59 Total 185.384 309 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05

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85 nment. Ethnic minority students indica ted a significantly higher leve l of satisfaction with the availability of their advisor, value of the information provided by their advisor, general admissions procedures, availability of financial aid informati on prior to enrolling, opportunities for personal involv ement in campus activities, and religious activities and programs than their Caucasian contemporar ies. The null hypotheses for these six variables were rejected. The remaining 36 ANOVA tests conducted on the other aspects of college environment contained in section II I of the instrument failed to reject the null hypothesis between Caucasian and ethni c minority undergraduate students. The final area earmarked for statistical analysis was the re lationship between the college environment and students gender. One-way ANOVAs were calculated for all 42 aspects of the college environment to explore differences in male and female satisfaction. The null hypothesis (H08) is that there will be no statistically significant difference between male and female undergraduat e students in their level of satisfaction with the college enviro Of the 42 dependent variables, only one, availability of courses when students want at the times they can take them, showed statistically significant differences between the sexes. The descriptive statistics and th e ANOVA analysis for this aspect of college environment are presented in tables 46 and 47, respectively. Male students indicated a significantly higher level of satisfaction with the availability of courses they wanted at th e times they could take them than female students. The null hypothesis fo r this variable was rejected.

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86 Table 46 Descriptive Statistics of Satisfaction Levels wi th the Availability of Courses You Want at Times You Can Take Them for Males and Female Students Dependent Variable Independent Variable N Mean Std. Dev. Std. Error Availability of Courses You Want at Times You Can Take Them Male 137 2.9 1.30 0.11 Female 301 2.7 1.25 0.07 Total 438 2.8 1.27 0.06 Table 47 One-Way Analysis of Variance of Satisfaction Levels with the Availability of Courses You Want at Times You Can Take Them for Males and Female Students Source of Variance Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Between Groups 6.23 1 6.23 3.89* Within Groups 698.55 436 1.60 Total 704.78 437 *Statistically significant diffe rence in means at p < .05 The remaining 41 ANOVA tests conducted on the other aspects of college environment contained in section III of the instrument failed to re ject the null hypothesis between male and female undergraduate student s. A summary of the hypotheses tests is included in table 48.

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87 Table 48 Summary of Hypothesis Tests Number Hypothesis Statistical Test H01 There will be no statistica lly significant difference between the target university and national norms for public college students in th eir level of satisfaction with college services and programs. Reject H0 H02There will be no statistica lly significant difference between the target university and national norms for public college students in th eir level of satisfaction with the college environment. Reject H0H03There will be no statistica lly significant difference between traditional and non-traditional aged undergraduate students in th eir level of satisfaction with college services and programs. Reject H0H04There will be no statistica lly significant difference between Caucasian and ethnic minority undergraduate students in th eir level of satisfaction with college services and programs. Reject H0H05There will be no statistica lly significant difference between male and female undergraduate students in their level of satisfaction with college services and programs. Reject H0H06There will be no statistica lly significant difference between traditional and non-traditional aged undergraduate students in th eir level of satisfaction with the college environment. Reject H0H07That there will be no statistically significant difference between Caucasian (white) and ethnic minority undergraduate students in their level of satisfaction with the college environment. Reject H0H08That there will be no statistically significant difference between male and female undergraduate students in their level of sa tisfaction with the college environment. Reject H0

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88 Tailored Survey Questions Aside from examining undergraduate student satisfaction with college services and environment at a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university (target university), the additional raison d'tre for the study was to bette r understand the longterm intent of minimizing detractors to providing exceptional service quality, positively influencing customer satisfaction, and build ing loyalty intentions among students. Students were asked three additional tail ored questions in section IV of the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.). Fully four-fifths of the undergraduate students at the target university rep lied yes when asked, If you had it to do again, would you attend this college? This may indicate satisfa ction with the univers ity as a whole which could influence student loyalty intentions. To determine if students were genera lly satisfied, the survey asked, How satisfied are you with the college as a whol e? Again, four-fifths (N=450) of students responded that they were satisfie d with the college as a whole ( M =4.0, SD = .85). Nearly one-quarter of the respondent s were very satisfied. The underlying purposes of the study may be influenced by students perceptions regarding how they are treated and cared fo r by university staff and faculty. Students were asked, Do you feel that university pe rsonnel are caring, warm people who are willing to help individual students? Over 90 percent of students responded yes (N=450). Of those, about 16 percent of stude nts replied yes, always, with nearly twothirds indicating yes, sometimes and 13 per cent yes, but seldom. Less than 8 percent of students answered no to that question ( M =3.8, SD = .85). Consistently delivering

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89 friendly, caring service to students may positiv ely impact student satisfaction, and would likely influence student loyalty intentions to the university in the long term. Discussion of Survey Responde nt Comments and Suggestions As part of the study de sign, section V of the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.) offered an opportunity for students to re spond with written, open-ended qualitative feedback on their perceptions of the target universitys college services and college environment. One quarter of the survey respondents (N=117) pr ovided this written feedback concerning their interests, beliefs attitudes, opinions, and behaviors (Gay, 1992). These student comments and suggestions helped further inform and support the research questions in this study. The student comments and suggestions were examined and grouped into a collection of summative categories in an effort to discern relevant trends or themes contained in the qualitative feedback. So me students offered comments that spanned multiple categories myriad issues. The most frequently cited comments and suggestions are summarized, along with selected excerpt s from the student comments. Students commented mostly about parking, advising, class availability, facilities, and the deportment of college staff. Students described the availability of ca mpus parking facilities as horrible, ridiculous, horrendous, a disaster and a nightmare. There were no positive comments recorded in this category, which rank ed the lowest of all college services and programs surveyed. The primary concern was a lack of available parking spaces for commuter students. Additional concerns voiced were expensive parking fees, plentiful

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90 vacant staff parking spaces, and a lack of conveniently located parking garages on campus. Students commented: Parking situation needs to be dealt with. The campus is crazy strict on parking, yet there is not enough of it many people will never give any money to this school because they were sucked dry when they were students. Parking sucks, but I think it s like that everywhere. I would like the meters removed from th e student parking areas. I think it is unfair to make students buy parking decals and on top of that make them pay additional monies to park in th eir designated area. Parking is horrendous. They take away parking lots to build more housing units more places to house students a nd less parking bad logic there. Parking is a nightmare because the school allowed more students to attend than they had parking available. Many parking spaces for teachers sit empty while students have to park further away, could be a safe ty risk and an inconvenience for some. Every day I go to class and half of th e staff/faculty parking spaces are empty, and at the same time I have to fight with 25,000 other full-time, non-resident students to get a parking space within a mile of my class. For at least the first six weeks of a ne w semester it was not uncommon for me to spend over 30 minutes looking for an open (p arking) space, every day. I have missed class, quizzes and important lectures because of (a) lack of parking. I dont think freshman should be able to park on campus when I am spending so much for a parking spot I cant get, its a problem.

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91 The parking issue is becoming ridiculous and honestly it has been one of the reason(s) why I have considered attending (another uni versity in the area) instead of (the target university). Though I paid for my pe rmit, I am unable to find parking (on campus) and have to resort to parking at the mall and catching the shuttle bus. The parking (situation) really makes us students feel like the university does not care about us at all. Several students commented about handicapped parking on campus: Handicapped parking should be free for handicapped students with proper I.D. We dont take any parking spaces fro m students who are not disabled. Academic advising commonly supports students by helping them select relevant and required courses for a plan of study, ev aluating the acceptability of course credits transferred from other institutions, and guiding them with course sequencing and timing so that students might graduate in a timely manner. Feedback gathered from students with regard to academic advising services, used by nearly 90 percent of all survey respondents, varied. Most comments centered on advisors that we re unacquainted with the course requirements for the major, offere d conflicting or incorrect advice, or were unresponsive to student needs. Some student s commented on a scarcity of advisors in their colleges and departments, which they observed were insufficiently staffed to accommodate all the students, resulting in ru shed meetings and prolonged wait times. Many students indicated satis faction with academic advising services. Students commented: My advisor has seldom ever (given) me useful information and has actually steered me in the wrong direction entirely.

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92 I see a definite lack of caring advisors that are willing to work with individuals. I hate getting the run around from advisors, leading me to ask three different people for one valid answer to a question. Freshman advisors should not advise st udents against doing what they want. I had more academic advising from the inst ructors that was useful then (from) the academic advisors who are getting paid to do a job. I did not care for my advisor meeti ng. I properly scheduled my appointment and while I was there, he ended up advisi ng someone else over the phone he was mouthing to me the classes he wanted me to take while on the phone with the other student! I waited over 20 minutes while he was advising another st udent and I was then rushed out due to another appointment coming in. This is very unsatisfactory and I am disappointed in my advisors lack of professionalism. I took several classes that I did not need that were satisfied at my community college, but the general advisors said that I needed and placed me into. Providing undergraduate academic counselors that have expert knowledge in certain majors could be improved. I dont know what the ratio is of advisors to students, but it is evident that there (are) too many students for the advisors to handle. Advising in the business building during re gistration is unreal. Ive waited over 3 hours to see an advisor during walk-in only times. Hire more advisors or hire temporary advisors who can answer general questions and help speed up the process.

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93 We have one single advisor for our entire art program. He works very hard to help us all but he cannot do it all on his own. With the gr owing number of art students we seriously need more advisors and more guidance with what classes to take. Several students praised the academic advising services they received: I have, so far, been extremely satisfi ed with my programs advising staff. My advisor has been very helpful. The only statistically significant finding regarding the target university environment was that students were dissatisfie d with the availability of courses at times they were able to take them ( M =2.8, SD = 1.27), which was statistically below the national norms for this registration item at other public universities. More student feedback was provided on course availability than in any ot her qualitative category. In addition, students noted that classes required for their major were limited or unavailable and that preferential regist ration treatment was extended to certain classifications of students (i.e. Honors and ROTC undergradua tes), thereby extending their time until graduation. Students remarked: (The target universitys) new class scheduli ng is the worst thing to happen to this college. While it may not want to be seen as a commuter school, adding so many Friday sections and 7:30 a.m. sections is just going to end up losing students and thereby revenue for the college. Budget cuts a nd ignorant decisions regarding losing the commuter college image have made it so much harder to create my fall 2008 class schedule. I considered switching to another coll ege just so I could take the classes I need at the times I needed them.

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94 (The target university) needs to seriously address their class availability situation I am a senior and it appears it may take me a year or more to get my last four classes due to availability issues. I work full time and it appears that (the target university) could care less about those students who work full time. for seniors who need classes to gradua te on time, the university makes it very difficult to schedule the classes you need. Fo r instance, this upcoming semester I can only take one of the four classes I need to take because th ey are all at the same time during the same day my graduation date is being pushed back another semester or two. The budget cuts for the state have had a detrimental effect on the education of many of the students. It makes sche duling classes much more difficult there is not enough class time variety in the College of Business. Now that we can see ahead on the class sc hedule search, I looked up a class for fall 2008 and fall 2009, since its not offered in the summer and it is at the same time for both semesters. There are three sections: two are at night, and one is late in the day. None of them will work with my schedule. More seats in the introductory scie nce courses and enough lab seats for each student in the lecture should be available. When registering for courses, the professor teaching the course should be listed in the schedule at the time the course schedule becomes available. Its frustrating when registering for cla sses (when) the subjects you are interested in and/or were planning on taking are no longer offered. I would appreciate more flexibility in the hours offered for classes.

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95 I transferred in and had problems registering. Two semesters I didnt attend because I couldnt get the classes I needed. I understand that with the many budget cu ts it may be difficult to offer as many classes as before. However, one of the things that slowed me down was the overlapping of class times for the classes I needed or an insufficient number of class sections for certain high demand classes. (The target university offers) a substantia l surplus of gen ed courses, but only one class per semester for core classes that people must take in order to graduate. I have seen (in college emails) that th e number of classes offered per course are going to be cut in half, and Ive also seen encouragement from College of Education advisors to take as many courses at community colleges while at (the target university) because there will not be enough classes for all of the enrolled students. That scares me a bit as I will be entering my senior year and I am on a specific course plan. I would be very upset if I wasnt able to get a course that I needed and I had to spend an extra semester in college. It is very difficult to find classes that are available. Th ere are limited classes being offered for each section. So, many st udents are not able to graduate on time. Even if you happen to find a few classes that interest you (and get credit for), there is always a good chance it will be closed by the time you can register. It is incredibly unfair that an honors freshman can register before a non-honors senior. No wonder people ever graduate from here. (Target university) registration proce ss is ridiculous. Honors freshman have priority registration over regular seniors. So meone isn't doing their job to assist students

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96 properly. For a sopho more, junior, or senior it is very difficult to register for courses due to the horrible registration policies at (the targ et university). Priority registration either should not be allowed (except when graduation is an issue), or it should be limited to being below upperclassmen. For ex ample, an honors freshman (or ROTC freshman for that matter) should not be granted priority regist ration over sophomores, ju niors, and seniors. By doing this, they are making it very difficu lt for the upperclassmen to graduate on time, or take the classes they want and/or need. Student perceptions about college facilities covered the gamut, from a dismal to superb. Survey respondents commented on the condition and maintenance of the buildings and grounds, as well as lab equipment and desk chairs. Students wrote: Some of the buildings are quite old and could use some renovation. Exterior buildings look great. Interiors need some atte ntion. Cleanliness is not always a top priority. I am not satisfied with the fact that the school would rather build a new gym, or new parking garages, when Social Work st udents and Arts & Science students do not have the proper classrooms of their own. I have been here for four years, and still the girls ba throom (seats) havent been fixed yet near the lab rooms. The school of music we have now is terrible. There are not enough classrooms, rehearsal rooms, practice rooms, or recital halls. There are classrooms with mold and water leaks. there are some really nice buildings and classrooms on campus. These nice facilities, however, are not available to students of the social sciences.

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97 The physical structures used in so cial sciences are old and pitiful. The Fine Arts building is rotting before my very eyes, while a new student union is erected! (The College of Arts and Sciences building) is a monolithic testament to the McCarthy era! My biochemistry lab was grossly unequipped for the handling of the toxic chemicals which experiments required (gloves, pipet tips, etc...). It is frustrating to spend 4-5 hours in a lab with a broken sink and broken lab equipment There are no accommodations for students who do not comfortably fit into (the desk chairs) and few, if any, desks for left-h anded (students). Stude nts with disabilities are instructed to notify instructors or disabi lity services with special needs, but large students may not consider themselves disab led and/or may be embarrassed to make such a request. It would be helpful to ha ve a few different accommodations other than the small desks in the classrooms available. For the most part, the campus is very modern looking. The classrooms just need some spring cl eaning done, and some brighter lights. There are not any windows in any classe s, so (better ligh ting would be) good The vast majority of students res ponded in uncomplimentary terms when describing the service they received from non-teaching college support staff, using language such as rude, impolite, and uncaring to articulate their experiences. Like most consumers, students prefer service prov iders that offer friendly and caring service, help solve their problems, and are flexible when confronted with bureaucratic policies, practices, or procedures. Along t hose lines, students commented:

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98 Non-teaching staff are constantly rude and could care less if your problem is resolved. At this school a student is a drop in the ocean (of tuition money) and if they are unsatisfied that is too bad. Although the staff I have spoken to in (t he financial aid office) have been friendly, they have not always been helpful. Encourage staff to be more helpful and pleasant when students need them most. Staff sometimes forgets that their job is to address students and their concerns. People are rude and slow. You always get different stories from different people. Honestly, the one thing that bothered me more than anything about the (target university) is the people in the golf carts zooming around (campus). First, it (doesnt) make for a comfortable surrounding and second, these people have no regard for students walking on sidewalks. Extremely rude people. For some reason, they feel the golf cart gives them some sort of power believe it or not. Staff (are) not polite with students. One of the main issues I have with the (target university) is non-academic staff. I never have a satisfying time dealing with registrars, financial aid, or the cash group. They are always very rude and dont feel it is necessary to go above and beyond anyones expectation. If you call over the phone, it is worse because you will wait on hold for a long period of time, and when you get to so meone, they dont understand how to resolve the issue most of the time. They will tran sfer you to another person ever if it says on (the) form to call that particular office. If this could be changed, this would be a great college.

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99 Sometimes it feels like you are just a number. It seems that the departments dont communicate, such as the academic and financial aid departments, or the fina ncial aid and admissions departments. I love this school so muc h, but I think it is sometimes hard to be considered a person here. Generally, I know that many people feel that they are just a (student) number and another source of money for the college. I think some of the support staff such as in the registration office and in financial aid are burnt out and have developed bad att itudes towards students. Additionally, some of the policies are unnecessar ily confusing and the staff are not clear communicators and so (theyre) unable to clarify policy for students. The end result is that students often have to figure things out for themselves. I think some staff in some offices of this university could benefit from further training and attitude adjustments. I feel the attitude from most of the faculty and staff is apathy and egocentrism. It is almost impossible to get in touc h with anyone live, you can leave messages for weeks and no one gets back to you. Many from the staff do not know how to respectfully talk to people. Give your staff some customer service training. The next chapter will present a discussi on of the above findings along with their implications for practice. In addition, limitations of the study will be addressed, recommendations for future research offere d, and a conclusion presented to summarize the study.

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100 Chapter Five Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations Introduction The purpose of this study was to use a service quality model to investigate undergraduate student perceptions of se rvice quality in a la rge southeastern doctoral/research ex tensive university. In additio n, this study examined whether undergraduate student satis faction varied based on selected demographic characteristics, and compared student satisfaction to that of similar institutions of higher education. This chapter presents an analysis and interpretation of the st udy findings in relation to the three research questions and ei ght hypotheses, discusses the implications and offers ideas for additional research. Discussion of Research Findings Using quantitative research analysis t echniques, this study addressed three research questions. Each research question is presented, followed by a discussion of the findings. Research Question One What is the general level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a large sout heastern doctoral/research extensive university as measured by the Student Opinion Survey (ACT, Inc.)?

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101 The question was designed to ascertain the general level of satisfaction with college services and programs, as well as the college environment, at the target university. Academic advising, parking services, and the libra ry were the most heavily utilized services on campus. Of the twenty-three support services examined, students were satisfied with only one, the library, and dissatisfied with only one, parking. The student library is modern, convenient, and stocked with a plethora of useful publications and databases, however some st udents commented that the library operating hours should be extended. Like the library, campus parking is also used by over 85 percent of students; however it was ranked at the very bottom of the list for student satisfaction. This is most likely due to the perception that there is a lack of adequate parking spaces conveniently located on campus. This perception may be shared by others, as parking was also ranked very low on the satisfaction scale nationwide by students, likely signaling a widespread problem at many universities. One of the 42 measures of the college e nvironment, the availability of courses students want at the times they can take them, showed marked dissatisfaction by the majority of student respondents, and ranked well below the national norm of other public universities. Some students i ndicated that the lack of flexible class times and limited course availability had preventing them from graduating in a timely manner, while others considered defecting to nearby institutions to complete their degrees. Research Question Two What is the level of satisfaction with the college services and environment among undergraduate students at a la rge southeastern doctoral/res earch extensive university in relation to students at similar institutions nationwide?

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102 Satisfaction levels with s upport services for the students at the target university were compared to those of over 92,000 other st udents. Again, only satisfaction with the library was ranked significantly higher than the national norm, with recreational and intramural programs, personal counseling services, career planning services, and job placement services significantly below the national norms. Generally regarded as a commuter school with a comparatively small on-campus population, many off-campus students at the target university ma y not avail themselves to the many on-campus recreational activities, as they might do in a college town where the university is the focal point of student life in the community. Since nearly three-fifths of all survey respondents were seniors, and over 90 percent indicated that their primary purpose in college was to obtain a bachelors degree, suggests that a number of these students may well be preparing for life be yond graduation. As such, help with career planning and job placement might be considered critical el ements to securing a new job in their chosen profession. The lower sa tisfaction scores in these areas might be attributed to students entering the work for ce at a time of slow ec onomic growth in the local metropolitan area, and if unable to secure employ ment, concluding that these support services were ineffec tive and unsatisfactory. Overa ll, students at the target university are significantly less likely to be satisfied with the college environment than those at other public universities in the ACT national norms. Research Question Three What is the relationship between the pe rsonal characteristics of undergraduate students and student satisfacti on with the college services and environment derived from comparisons among subgroups?

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103 Student satisfaction with the college se rvices and environment were compared among the age, ethnicity, and gender subgroups. Twenty-five percent of the respondents were non-traditional students, those 26 years and older. They showed a significantly higher level of satisfaction with academic advising services than their junior counterparts. This may be a result of some traditional students displeasure over mandatory first-year advising at the target university, a product of maturity and academic savvy among nontraditional students to discern accurate information from erroneous advice, or possibly non-traditional students confidence to bypass the academic advising services and plot their own plan-of-study. Although 70 percent of the students who responded to the study were Caucasian, ethnic minorities were significantly more satisfie d with the library facilities and services, student health services, and the college or ientation program than were their white colleagues. The minority population of the ta rget university is ar ound 31 percent, one of the highest in the state. The target univer sity has been ranked in national publications, and received numerous awards, for its inclusiveness and diversit y. Many ethnic minority students transfer in from th e surrounding community colleges, where the library holdings and health care services are far more limite d, and the orientation programs perhaps less comprehensive, so they might be inclin ed to view these services favorably. Female students were significantly more satisfied with both student health services and food services than their male counterparts, with females comprising nearly 70 percent of survey respondents. Each te rm, students pay a mandated health fee and receive unlimited doctors visits, reduced cost s for laboratory tests and medications, and health education programs. The treatment provided is individualized and personalized to

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104 each patient, regardless of sex, depending on th eir unique symptoms. Female students at the target university were offered speci al gender-based services from medical practitioners that have unde rgone special training in wo mens health care, including gynecological procedures and contraceptive c ounseling. Their higher satisfaction may be explained, in part, to the positive reception of the practitioners in this specialized area of medicine. The significant difference in stude nt satisfaction with food services between the sexes requires additional research into food preferen ces, including healthy menu options and available food choices. The 42-individual aspects of the college environment were examined based on the age, ethnicity, and gender student subgroups. Significant differences in satisfaction levels were manifest in all three subgroups, with ethnicity showing the greatest number of significant differences (p. 74) and gender the least (p. 78). Traditional students (aged 18-25) were si gnificantly more satisfied with student housing than non-traditional students (aged 26 a nd over). This finding is consistent with the ACT national norms. Although only 12 pe rcent of all survey respondents lived on campus, three times more traditional students than non-traditional students responded to the question regarding satisf action with student housing, possibly indicating a higher degree of familiarity among traditional stud ents with the accommodations offered. It is likely that traditiona l students are the primary re sidents of on-campus student housing, and thereby more aware of the accomm odations and features of student housing than non-traditional students. In fact, one-hal f of all incoming freshman students lived on campus. Student housing is clustered into four centers of community activity, essentially offering an academic support community along with simple immersion into campus life

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105 activities and events. Notably, the target university offers learning communities and separate accommodations for students with shar ed interests in both academic majors and philosophy. These accommodations and features of student housing may contribute to the higher level of satisfaction among the pr imary residents, traditional students. Closely patterning an earlier finding on th e topic of academic advising services, non-traditional students had significantly higher satisfa ction scores than traditional students in the availability of academic advi sors and the value of information provided by those advisors. Non-traditional student respondents are mostly upperclassman, with generally easier access to registration and cour se choices since they register for classes ahead of freshman and sophomores. When courses are unavailable for these late registrants, they are sometimes encouraged to register for courses that may not be relevant or required for their major, thus delaying their time-to-graduation and possibly negatively impacting their level of satisfaction with the advising services. More courses are being offered to meet this shortfall at th e target university in an effort to improve graduation rates and capture a portion of the States performance funding tied to improved graduation rates. Non-traditional students who completed the survey instrument are working, on average, at least 10-hours more each week than traditional students, and it is conceivable that they are also enrolled in more even ing and weekend classes to accommodate those demanding work schedules. As a result, the possibility exists that non-traditional students are more satisfied with the guidan ce they are receiving from academic advisors, since the courses they are advised to take are available and relevant to the major.

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106 Students differed significantly in their sa tisfaction level with several aspects of the college environment based on their ethnic ity, Caucasian or ethnic minority. Ethnic minority students noted a significantly higher le vel of satisfaction with the availability of their advisor, value of the information provided by their advisor, general admissions procedures, availability of financial aid in formation prior to enrolling, opportunities for personal involvement in campus activities, a nd religious activities and programs than Caucasians. In an effort to support and retain mi nority students, the target university has established a number of special programs fo r ethnic minorities that provide individually assigned mentors and advisors, minority-based scholarships, special interest newsletters and workshops, and personal one-on-one counseli ng, all in an effort to closely monitor and guide minority students. In a 2004 report entitled, A Propos ed Action Plan to Enhance Student Academic Persistence and Suc cess at (the Target University) indicated that some special minority programs have a st udent to advisor ratio of 80 to 1, whereas many other advisors support as many as 600 to 1,100 students each term (subsequently reduced with the addition of more academic advisor). Advisors are rewarded for satisfying special populations as part of their performance surveys. The higher levels of satisfaction with the adviso r availability and the value of the information they provide might be attributed, in part, to the more pe rsonalized attention pr ovided to this group of students. Procedures to streamline admissions for minority candidates, and make financial aid readily available, have been instituted by th e target university in an effort to remove barriers to admission and attract ethnic mi nority students to the university, thereby

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107 enjoying the benefits of a diverse student body. The target university is committed to providing educational opport unities and financial support for all students; however particular predilection is extended to qualif ied ethnic minorities, which might explain their higher satisfaction with ad missions procedures and availability of information prior to enrolling. Opportunities for personal involvemen t in campus activities was also ranked significantly higher among ethnic minority student s than Caucasian students. The target university has an extraordinary array of oppor tunities for students of every background and ethnicity to become involved in campus activities. A student involvement center supports volunteer efforts in the community, various Greek organizations cater to specific ethnic minorities, and the univers ity offers a myriad of colle ge sports, performance arts, guest speakers, and events throughout the ye ar. All students are offered a wide assortment of activities, however many activ ities are tailored to specific ethnic groups, possibly fostering a sense of belonging and incl usion. As a result, some ethnic minorities might be more satisfied with their opport unities to become involved in campus life and activities. Few differences in student percepti ons of the college environment based on a students gender were revealed in the c ourse of this study. Males experienced a significantly higher level of satis faction with the availability of courses they wanted at the times they could take them than female s (if equal variances are assumed). Both genders were dissatisfied with this aspect of the college environment, however males were slightly less dissatisfied. This satisfa ction ranking between the sexes is patterned in the national ACT norms as well.

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108 Over two-thirds of the students who re sponded to the availability of courses aspect of the college environment were female. One explanation for the higher dissatisfaction among female respondents might be explained by the unavailability of courses in specific high demand ma jors that have a higher proportion of female students. Two-fifths of all student re spondents were either business or science majors, both with majority female populations at the target un iversity. These majors may offer too few required courses, inadequate lab sections, or inconvenient class tim es in comparison to other male-dominated majors like engineering and mathematics. A relatively small number of significant differences ex isted in student satisfaction with the college serv ices and environment when compar ed among the age, ethnicity, and gender subgroups. Of the nearly 200 ANO VA analysis conducted to explore this research question, only 11 showed significant differences in satisfa ction levels, and in almost every case, the differences were small. Recommendations and Implications The important role of measuring service quality in achieving student satisfaction is often understated, misunderstood, or disregar ded in higher education. There is a need for staff, faculty, and administrators to be held accountable for effectively meeting or exceeding student service quali ty expectations. Students form perceptions of their service experience each time they come in cont act with the university, and it is the results of these perceptions that driv e the following implications and recommendations for this study: 1. There is a need for university leaders to take a decisive role in removing barriers to student satisfaction by listening an d responding to student expectations,

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109 continuously measuring student percepti ons, implementing a customer-focused mission statement, rewarding service orie nted departments and support staff, and revising policies, practices, and procedures that interfere with satisfying students. 2. There is a need to respond to student feedback. The simple act of surveying student opinions regarding their level of satisfaction with college services and programs shows that the university cares. However, if administrators do not make improvements based on their feedback, it is likely student sa tisfaction will not improve. Specifically, student satisfaction at the target university would likely improve with the addition of more park ing spaces, additional academic advisors, and more required classes. Several new pa rking garages are in various stages of completion at the target university, and a number of additional academic advisors are now in place to explicitly address and improve students satisfaction with these support services. 3. There is a need for university service provi ders to participate in service quality training that promotes friendly and cari ng service, problem solving, flexibility, and recovery from mistakes, which are critical elements to building student satisfaction and stemming student defections to competitors. 4. Students expect the university to be focused on their academic, social, and emotional needs. As such, there is a need for the universitys executive management team to develop a student-centr ic mission statement if they expect to satisfy these student needs. Playing lip service to serving students will not suffice, or lead to greater levels of student satisfaction. Executive managers

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110 should have a portion of their compen sation tied to the improvement of quantitative student satisfac tion results for their key areas of responsibility. 5. The individuals and department s that provide consistently higher levels of student satisfaction should be rewarded. Support staff that are not focused on student satisfaction should be mentored and coached to provide a higher level of service quality. Student satisfaction measures s hould be an integral part of studentcontact employees performance plans. 6. There is a requirement to eliminate unnecessarily burdensome or overtly bureaucratic university policies, pract ices, and procedures throughout the enterprise. Student satisfac tion will likely increase wh en they are presented with organizational flexibility choices, and options. Limitations Study limitations are due primarily to the recall design of the research and the problems inherent in st udying perceptions. These limitations include: 1. Limited generalizability of the study exists because the findings were limited to undergraduate students at one large sout heastern doctoral/re search extensive university located in a major urban sett ing in the spring of 2008, and were not necessarily generalizable to ot her groups or institutions. 2. The results were limited by the validity a nd reliability of the survey instrument and the timeframe in which the data was gathered. 3. The data for this study were collected using an online, self-reported survey questionnaire.

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111 4. Sample participants had the option to choose to participate, or not participate, in the questionnaire. Recommendations for Further Study Specific research suggestions that emer ged from this empirical investigation include: 1. Further studies using the same methodol ogy at the target university to examine the long-term implications of serv ice quality improvement efforts. 2. Expansion of the study to include all pub lic and private institutions of higher education in the State to establish competitive benchmarks, track student defections to other institutions caus ed by poor service delivery, and promote a statewide service quality measurement and compensation system. 3. Additional exploratory, qualitative, and em pirical research on the impact of student satisfaction vis--vis the wide variety of stude nt demographic variables. 4. Further studies of the many types of serv ice encounters, incl uding service failures and recoveries, present in higher education. 5. An examination of the linkages between service quality measures, performance plans, and compensation in higher education. 6. An extension and testing of a model to measure internal customer satisfaction between service providers and institutional departments. 7. A comparison, evaluation, and cross-vali dation of the most common service quality measurement instruments in higher education.

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112 Conclusions This study of undergraduate student perceptions of service quality and satisfaction in a large southeastern doctoral/research extensive university yi elded support for the model tested, and expanded on previous service quality rese arch in business and higher education. All hypotheses were supported, and significant differences in student satisfaction levels were mani fest based on selected demographic characteristics and comparisons to similar institutions of higher education. It is likely that students base thei r continued enrollment at higher education institutions, in part, on how well an ins titutions programs and services meet their expectations (Plank & Chiagouris, 1997). When students are di ssatisfied with an institutions services, they are more likely to defect to competitive institutions (Plank & Chiagouris, 1997). Some academicians have suggested that institutional efforts to measure service quality and student satisfacti on have fallen short (Lewis & Smith, 1989). In an effort to stem possible student defecti ons, it is imperative that universities measure the quality of the services they provide in an effort to improve on them. Oftentimes, institutions measure things that may not be important to their primary customers, the students. Students perceptions of the quality of their service experiences should be assessed. Each time a student experiences some occurrence of an in stitutions service, that service is judged against their expect ations (Parasuraman, Zeithaml & Berry 1985, 1988, 1991). In an increasingly competitive high er education arena, research indicates that service quality is an important determ inant of student satisf action (Young &Varbel,

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113 1997). Institutions should be held accountable for effectively meeting or exceeding students expectations of the qua lity of services it provides.

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120 Appendices

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Appendix A: Instrument--Student Opinion Survey 121

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122

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123 Appendix B: Student Opinion Survey Record Layout Variables Field Position Start End Field Length Format Code/ Comments Record Type 1 1 1 N School Code 2 5 4 N Institution/Composite Code Section I-A 6 14 9 N Social Security Number Section I-B 15 15 1 Age 1=18 or Under 2=19 3=20 4=21 5=22 6=23 to 25 7=26 to 29 8=30 to 39 9=40 to 61 0=62 or Over Section I-C 16 16 1 N Racial/Ethnic Group 1=African American or Black 2=Native American (Indian, Alaskan, Hawaiian) 3=Caucasian or White 4=Mexican American, Mexican Origin 5=Asian American, Oriental, Pacific Islander 6=Puerto Rican, Cuban, Other Latino or Hispanic 7=Other 8=I prefer not to respond. Section I-D 17 17 1 N Class Level at This College 1=Freshman 2=Sophomore 3=Junior 4=Senior 5=Graduate or pr ofessional student 6=Special student 7=Other/unclassified

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124 8=Does not apply to this college Section I-E 18 18 1 N Purpose for Entering This College 1=No definite purpose in mind 2=To take a few job-related courses 3=To take a few courses for selfimprovement 4=To take courses necessary for transferring to another college 5=To obtain or maintain a certification 6=To complete a Vocational/Technical Program 7=To obtain an Associate Degree 8=To obtain a Bachelors Degree 9=To obtain a Masters Degree 0=To obtain a Doctor ate or Professional Degree Section I-F 19 19 1 N Sex 1=Male 2=Female Section I-G 20 20 1 N Marital Status 1=Unmarried 2=Married 3=Separated 4=Prefer not to respond Section I-H 21 21 1 N Hours Per Week Currently Employed 1=0 or only occasional jobs 2=1 to 10 3=11 to 20 4=21 to 30 5=31 to 40 6=Over 40 Section I-I 22 22 1 N Enrollment Status 1=Full-time 2=Part-time Section I-J 23 23 1 N Type of Tuition 1=In-State 2=Out-of-State 3=Does not apply to this college

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125 Section I-K 24 24 1 N Residence Cl assification at This College 1=In-State 2=Out-of-State 3=International Section I-L 25 25 1 N Type of Sc hool Attended Prior to Attending This School 1=High School 2=Vocational/Technical School 3=2-Year College/University 4=4-Year College 5=Graduate/Professional College 6=Other Section I-M 26 26 1 N Current College Residence 1=College Residence Hall 2=Fraternity or Sorority House 3=College Married Student Housing 4=Off-Campus Room or Apartment 5=Home of Pare nts or Relatives 6=Own Home 7=Other Section I-N 27 27 1 N Receiving Financial Aid 1=Yes 2=No Section I-O 28 30 3 N College Major (400-934) (See List of College Majors and Occupational Choices for codes.) Section I-P 31 33 3 N Occupational Choice (400-934) (See List of College Majors and Occupational Choices for codes.) Section II-A 34 56 23x1 N College Serv ices, Part A-Usage (23 Items) 1=Not available at this college 2=I have not used this service. 3=I have used this service. Section II-B 57 79 23x1 N College Services, Part B-Satisfaction (23 Items) 1=Very satisfied 2=Satisfied 3=Neutral

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126 4=Dissatisfied 5=Very dissatisfied Section III 80 121 42x1 N College Environment (42 Items) 1=Does not apply 2=Very satisfied 3=Satisfied 4=Neutral 5=Dissatisfied 6=Very dissatisfied Section IV 122 151 30x1 A Additional Questions (30 Items) (Coded A, B, C, L.) Header info 176 200 Header Information 201 210 10 Miscellaneous Field 211 1210 1000 Comments

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127 Appendix C: Letter of Instruction Dear (Target University)Student: Researchers at the (Target Univ ersity) study many topics. To do this, we need the help of people who agree to take part in a research study. This form tells you about this research study. We are asking you to take part in a research study that is called Measuring Service Quality in Higher Education . The person who is in charge of this research study is Richard Kelso, a Ph.D. student and Principal Investigator, as part of his doctoral dissertation research. Other re search staff may be involved and can act on behalf of the person in charge. The research will be done online. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to examine student satisfaction w ith programs and services at (the target university). Your opinions are very important to us in assessing the quality of your educational experience at this University. Study Procedures If you take part in this study, you will be asked to take 15 minutes to share your opinions with us by taking the online survey referen ced within this email. You have the alternative to choose not to pa rticipate in this research study. If while completing the survey, you decide you would like to stop the pr ocess and continue taking the survey at another time, your responses will be saved IF you have used the CONTINUE button at the end of each survey section you completed. Instructions for Completing the Survey Make a note of your password listed below. Copy the USER ID written below in order to log on to the Student Opinion Survey. Click on the link below to go to the ACT we b site. Paste the USER ID into the appropriate space and enter the password. Click the "SUBMIT" button to proceed to the survey. Benefits and Risks We dont know if you will get any benefits by taking part in this study. There are no known risks to those who ta ke part in this study. Compensation

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128 We will not pay you for the time you volunteer while being in this study. Confidentiality We must keep your study records confidential. Your responses will be kept encrypted on the Principle Researchers personal computer for three years; however certain people may need to see your study records. By law, anyone who looks at your records must keep them completely confidential. The only peopl e who will be allowed to see these records are: The research team, including the Principal Investigator, study coordinator, and all other research staff Certain government and university people who need to know more about the study. (For example, individuals who provi de oversight on this study may need to look at your records. This is done to make sure that we are doing the study in the right way. They also need to make sure that we are protec ting your rights and your safety.) These include the (Target University) Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the staff that work for the IRB. Other individuals who work for (the target university) that provide other kinds of oversight may also need to look at your records. We may publish what we learn from this study. If we do, we will not let anyone know your name. We will not publish anyt hing else that woul d let people know who you are. Voluntary Participation / Withdrawal You should only take part in this study if you want to volunteer. Y ou should not feel that there is any pressure to take part in the st udy, to please the investig ator or the research staff. You are free to participate in this res earch or withdraw at any time. There will be no penalty or loss of benefits you are entitled to receive if you stop taking part in this study. As a student, the decisi on to participate or not participate will not affect your student status (course grade). New information about the study During the course of this study, we may find mo re information that could be important to you. This includes information that, once le arned, might cause you to change your mind about being in the study. We will notify you as soon as possible if such information becomes available. Questions, concerns, or complaints

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129 If you have any questions, concerns or compla ints about this study, call Richard Kelso at (principle inves tigators telephone). If you have questions about your rights as a pa rticipant in this study, general questions, or have complaints, concerns or issues you want to discuss with someone outside the research, call the Division of Research Inte grity and Compliance of the (target university) at (Division of Research Inte grity and Complia nce telephone). If you experience an adverse ev ent or unanticipated problem, please call Richard Kelso at (principle inves tigators telephone). Consent to Take Part in this Research Study It is up to you to decide whether you want to take part in this study. If you want to take part, please complete the online survey fo llowing the link above. In so doing, you acknowledge that you freely give your consent to take part in this study and understand that you are agreeing to take part in the research. Please print a copy of this form to take with you, Thank you again for your participation! Sincerely, Richard S. Kelso Principle Investigator

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Appendix D: List of College Majors and Occupational Choices 130

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About the Author Richard S. (Rick) Kelso received a Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree in Economics from The University of Florida, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of South Florida. Following a successful business career w ith IBM, Achieve Global, DDI, and after building several small businesses, Rick bega n a second career in higher education. He has served as an adjunct faculty memb er at the University of South Florida teaching strategic and human resource manageme nt courses, where he also worked with the offices of the Provost and Chief Financial Officer. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Florida Southern College where he taught fina nce, investment, and statistics courses.