An educational institution's quest for service quality: customers’ perspective

Mathew Joseph (Mitchell College of Business, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, USA)
Mehenna Yakhou (School of Business, Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville, Georgia, USA)
George Stone (McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Publication date: 1 March 2005



The purpose of the current study is to assess some of the self‐reported factors that students in the study used as choice criteria in making their school selection.


The results of this study were obtained by conducting a series of focus groups involving incoming freshmen at a small liberal arts university located in the south eastern part of the USA. The focus groups were conducted to obtain insight into the factors that led this particular group of freshmen to the school and, second, to determine what areas were not living up to their expectations. The authors later surveyed a large sample (450 students) of the incoming freshman class using a questionnaire that was developed from the input obtained during the focus groups.


Analysis of gap scores for the student population used in this study indicates that the current group does not consider their university a “quality” institution. Additionally, the importance‐performance grid (I‐P grid) points towards a lack of perceived quality, as only two of the dimensions considered actually fall into the “keep up the good work” quadrant.

Research limitations/implications

The primary limitation of this study is the scope and size of its sample. Because the study involved a single group of university students from one university, the results cannot be generalized across a university‐wide spectrum. Nonetheless, the study does provide evidence for the development and use of the I‐P grid on those occasions calling for preliminary identification and assessment of student measures of service quality.


By demonstrating the feasibility of the approach taken by the authors, it should be possible for university officials to utilize similar procedures when evaluating the overall satisfaction levels of their students’ educational experience.



Joseph, M., Yakhou, M. and Stone, G. (2005), "An educational institution's quest for service quality: customers’ perspective", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 66-82.

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