Publication Date

Fall 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Aaron Hughey (Director), Dr. Monica Burke, and Dr. Kimberlee Everson

Degree Program

Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The importance of customer service quality in business industries has long been understood and studied, but to a lesser extent in higher education. The usage and application of the term customer service in higher education has been debated by those in academia. Using a correlational research design, this quantitative, descriptive study was conducted at a two-year community college and a four-year public university. A modified version of the Perceived Service Quality (PSQ) instrument was used to survey full-time, undergraduate students at each institution to examine perceptions of service quality and whether those perceptions impact a student’s decision to return the next semester. T-tests were used to compare service quality perceptions of different groups based on the variables of race, first-generation college status, and Pell Grant eligibility status.

The research reveals, overall, students at both institutions in the study have a high level of satisfaction in all three primary dimensions of service quality. No significant differences exist in the way in which service quality is perceived by students based on race, first-generation status, or Pell Grant eligibility status at either institution. However, first-generation and Pell Grant-eligible students feel less welcomed at the four-year university compared to non-first-generation and non-Pell-eligible students. This aligns with previous research indicating students from these groups often struggle with belongingness on college campuses. Correlational analyses in this study also reveal a relationship for both institutions between students’ perceptions of interaction quality, physical environment quality, and outcome quality relative to students’ intention to return the following semester to the same institution.


Educational Leadership | Higher Education

Available for download on Friday, January 03, 2025