Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

College of Technology

Committee Member

John Dugger

Committee Member

Giri Jogaratnam

Committee Member

Robert Chapman

Committee Member

Anne L. Balazs

Committee Member

Tanya McFadden


Background: Low persistence rates have continued to plague community colleges. A framework linking perceived service quality, satisfaction, and behavioral intent has been identified in the existing literature and found to be useful in various service sectors outside of higher education. Purpose: To explore the relationship between community college students’ perceptions of service quality, satisfaction, and behavioral intent (intent to persist) regarding first interactions with their colleges. Setting: Three community colleges representing large, medium, and small enrollment headcount from a Midwestern state were selected to represent that state’s community college student population. Subjects: A proportional number of students were selected randomly from each college relative to the population of community college students attending small, medium, and large colleges in the state. Invitations were sent to 8,000 large college students, 2,160 medium college students, and 700 small college students actively enrolled students in the winter 2016 semester. Survey: A response rate of approximately 8% (resulting in 889 useable responses) was achieved. All responses were collected in the winter semester of 2016. Data Collection and Analysis: The constructs were measured using factors identified in a review of the literature and a panel of experts for item fit in a community college. Survey data were analyzed using an EFA to identify factors related to the perceived service quality construct. A CFA and tests for convergent and discriminant validity were then performed. The reduced model was used to test for significant relationships, mediation, and moderation.

Due to the presence of possible measurement anomalies, multiple linear regressions were used to explore the total aggregation models for the EFA generated factors and the literature suggested factors. Findings: This study revealed that a significant relationship exists between the three constructs. However, the number of factors representing perceived service quality were reduced to a single factor. This is a good starting place for future research efforts but additional factors and items should be identified prior to wide-scale use of the questionnaire.