Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

December 1999


The purpose of this study was to determine if a gap analysis model (SERVQUAL) of service quality measurement could be appropriately applied to higher education. The researcher asked doctoral students from six doctoral-granting, state-supported universities in Tennessee to complete a service quality survey, comparing their experiences with their expectations, thereby giving a measure of gaps in educational service quality at their institution. The research design included five research questions, with five null hypotheses testing the relationship between students' expectations and experiences, between overall satisfaction and service gaps, and between overall satisfaction and certain demographic variables (age, gender, ethnicity, type of degree, and class load). Analysis of the data revealed gaps between students' expectations and their actual experiences with services delivered at their university. A comparison of mean expectation scores to mean experience scores revealed a statistically significant difference between the two scores for 25 of the 26 items on the scale. Expectation scores exceeded experience scores for all items. The researcher found a statistically significant relationship between only one demographic variable (age) and overall satisfaction scores. The researcher also found a statistically significant relationship between the gap scores for scale dimensions and some demographic variables. However, because of the strength of the relationship between the demographic variables and either gap scores or overall satisfaction, the researcher concluded that none of the demographic variables were of practical value in predicting gap scores or overall satisfaction. In addition, a statistically significant relationship was found between overall satisfaction and the composite gap score for the scale. This indicated that gap scores, as produced by this scale, can be a valid measurement of the overall satisfaction of doctoral students with the delivery of services by their university. Because the gap scores were inversely related to the overall satisfaction of doctoral students, this would seem to indicate that university programs designed to reduce the size of expectation/experience gaps, thereby improve service quality, would also enhance the overall satisfaction of doctoral students.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted