Service quality in higher education: expectations and perceptions of traditional and non-traditional students



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Texas Tech University


The study and implementation of forms of Total Quality Management in higher education has been a response to many of the challenges of a tightening economy and a greater demand for accountability from the public. At the same time, there has been a growing number of non-traditional students, students 25 years of age or older. Research suggests these older students, who often have challenges of home and work in addition to being a student, demand more from their educational experience. Considering the amount of work and study done with TQM in education, and the growing needs and demands of the changing student population, very little has been done in examining the needs and the satisfactions of the student customer.

The purpose of the present study was to investigate students' views of service quality at one higher education institution two ways: (1) to compare undergraduate upper class traditional students [age 24 and under] with undergraduate upper class nontraditional students [age 25 and over]; and (2) to compare the students' views of service quality from support staff with that of faculty.

The study was based on responses fi*om 92 traditional students and 116 nontraditional students selected from full-time, upper class students. The students responded to a revised SERVQUAL instrument, a 7-point Likert-type scale designed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry. The instrument, designed for use in business, has several items that compare customer perceptions with expectations. Items were worded so respondents could compare the service quality expected and received from support staff with that from faculty.

Findings revealed no significant difference in the expectations or perceptions of traditional versus non-traditional students. There were no significant differences in students' expectations for support staff versus faculty. However, there was a significant difference in the students' perceptions of service quality from support staff versus service quality from faculty, staff scoring below faculty in every area included in the instrument.



Students -- Services for, College student development programs, Students -- Attitudes, Adult education, Student evaluation of teachers