School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Alan Wimberley


college quality, student perceptions, NSSE, ex post facto, causal comparative


Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership


Understanding the undergraduate student’s perception of institutional quality is important to university administrators. This understanding can assist the university administrator in adjusting and improving relevant areas that aid in retention of current students and increase their satisfaction with the educational experience. Furthermore, the undergraduate student’s perception of institutional quality could be useful in motivating future students to select the institution as their college choice. Unfortunately, perception of institutional quality is not among the factors of consideration when incoming undergraduate students make their college selection. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assist the educational administrator in understanding whether the student’s perception changes or develops across the term of the four-year undergraduate experience by exploring whether a statistically significant difference exists in the perception of college quality between undergraduate freshman and undergraduate seniors. Twenty-two factors identifying student perceptions of college quality were established using Kealy and Rockel’s (1987) model of student perceptions and, by applying the results of the 2017 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) at a large public university in the midwestern region of the United States, this causal-comparative ex post facto study answered four research questions associated with changes in undergraduate students’ perceptions of institutional quality between their first year and senior year in college. Results indicated no statistically significant difference between first year and senior year students in sum total, or categorically in academic or social factors. However, results did indicate a statistically significant difference between the two student groups in the location category, but with a small effect size.