A discrepancy analysis approach for determining undergraduate student satisfaction with their life on campus

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Higher Education


James F. Collins


Campus, Undergraduate, Discrepancy analysis, Student satisfaction

Subject Categories



This study addresses undergraduate student satisfaction with life on campus. It utilized a discrepancy analysis approach to examine how the respondents rated their satisfaction with life on campus based on either:

A comparison of their expectations with their actual experiences, or A comparison of their experiences with those that they perceive their peers are experiencing.

The researcher used an adaptation of a questionnaire used by Michalos (1991) which the researcher expanded to explore three key domains of life on campus, namely, residential arrangements, academic life, and social/cultural life, more in depth.

The utility of a discrepancy analysis approach was examined both as a means of examining how undergraduate students rate their life on campus, as well as a means of gathering data that campus administrators would perceive to be useful, trustworthy and applicable as they develop and improve student programs on campus. It was concluded that a discrepancy analysis approach has considerable utility and potential for determining and improving undergraduate student satisfaction with life on campus.

The respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with life on campus by making two comparisons; what they were experiencing with what they expected, and what they were experiencing and what they perceived that their social peers were experiencing. The study found that regardless of which comparator was used the student ratings of their satisfaction with undergraduate campus life was similar and consistent.

In terms of student ratings of key domains of student life, the respondents tended to indicate lower levels of satisfaction with domains that students viewed as more tangible and measurable (i.e., finances, transportation, and residential arrangements). They tended to rate their satisfaction with less tangible domains (i.e., religion, family relations, and Friendships), higher.

Based on this study the researcher firmly believes that a discrepancy analysis approach is a very promising methodology for examining undergraduate student satisfaction with life on campus. This is an approach that greatly reduces the ambiguity that characterizes most of the approaches to undergraduate student satisfaction that have been used in the past.


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