Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Susan Korach, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Virginia Maloney

Third Advisor

Roger Salters

Fourth Advisor

Amy Berk-Anderson


Customer service, Importance and performance, Parent satisfaction, Satisfaction survey, School improvement, Service quality dimensions


Over the recent years an observable trend has emerged in the field of education. Parents are empowered and encouraged to make school choice decisions for their children and have become consumers of the educational delivery system. They are inundated information regarding the “product” of the school - student achievement scores and overall performance rankings. Do parents value other things beyond academic performance rankings and student achievement ratings? How do parents perceive the importance of the quality of the delivery of educational services? In a competitive educational marketplace, attracting and retaining families is essential to a school’s ability to survive and succeed.

This mixed-method study draws from research on customer service from the business field. It was designed to learn more about parental perceptions of the service quality dimensions: Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, and Responsiveness (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Barry, 1985). In schools, these dimensions correspond to issues of school safety, culture and climate of the learning environment, communication and parental involvement. Parents from four elementary schools in a large urban school district participated in this study by completing a survey designed to solicit information about parental perceptions of the importance and performance of these service quality dimensions in relation to their experiences with their child’s school. Interviews with the school principals before and after survey administration identified their current practices and perceptions regarding parental feedback and evaluated their school’s survey results as a tool to identify areas for school improvement.

The findings of this study indicate that parents of all socioeconomic levels and ethnicities consider Assurance (the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to inspire trust and confidence) and Empathy (the school’s ability to provide caring and individualized attention) as being more important to them than school performance indicators specifically related to student achievement. In most instances, parents’ ratings of the importance of a service quality indicator were higher than their ratings of their school’s performance on that indicator. These findings suggest that school leaders should balance their efforts toward improving student achievement with efforts toward improving customer service.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Shannon Leigh Hagerman


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

177 p.


Educational administration, Education, Business education