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Quality as a gap analysis of college students' expectations

Mary Jo Jackson (John H. Sykes College of Business, University of Tampa, Tampa, Florida, USA)
Marilyn M. Helms (School of Business, Dalton State College, Dalton, Georgia, USA)
Mohammad Ahmadi (College of Business Administration, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 27 September 2011




This paper aims to address students' expectations of classroom pedagogy. It suggests that meeting students' specific expectations of teaching, one of the core educational processes, could impact the perception of the overall quality of the educational experience.


A survey was administered to 372 first‐year college students addressing their expectations regarding the use of various instructional pedagogies within the classroom and their desired or ideal classroom environment. A gap analysis was conducted between students' responses of the expected and the actual classroom environment.


For eight of the 15 pedagogies, 25 percent or more of the students had a significant gap (greater than or equal to two) between their expected and actual classroom. The largest gap occurred in accessing the internet from class (34 percent) followed by the use of videos or DVDs (33 percent) and outside classroom assignments (30 percent).

Research limitations/implications

A broader sample could be explored as well as how classroom environment impacts learning.

Practical implications

This paper explores the impact of the expectations of one aspect of a student's educational experience, the pedagogies used in the classroom, and considers the impact on the perception of overall quality.


Awareness of the gap between expectations of ideal classroom pedagogies and the actual learning environment is useful for educators to consider as they plan courses. Information on pedagogies to be used, presented early in the course, is suggested as a way to manage the gap.



Jo Jackson, M., Helms, M.M. and Ahmadi, M. (2011), "Quality as a gap analysis of college students' expectations", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 392-412.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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