About the author: Michael Delucchi is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. He received his PhD in sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. His areas of research, writing, and teaching include sociology of education, complex organizations, and social statistics. He has published numerous articles in peer review journals and he is currently involved in research on student consumerism in higher education.2003 0-7734-6689-4
This study investigates student satisfaction with postsecondary education in the 1970s by using a wide range of individual and organizational characteristics obtained from the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972. The results favor a conceptualization of student satisfaction as a product of both collegiate institutional forces linked to wider societal definitions of the outcomes of higher education, and organizational processes that enhance access to social an structural support of the student role. The former is inspired by institutionalist theory, the latter by organizational inequality perspectives. These two approaches are integrated into a model to examine student satisfaction along the social dimensions of race, class, and gender. Student satisfaction is fundamental to a better understanding of educational process and quality as it relates to groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. It may also be a critical mediating variable between students’ entering characteristics (i.e., race, class, and gender) and academic achievement and degree attainment. Also, accountability pressures from state legislatures on postsecondary education have placed increasing importance on the enrollment, retention, and satisfaction of minority students. Within this context, student ratings of their educational experience contribute to a better understanding and assessment of the outcomes of higher education. Finally, satisfaction is an important component of organizational analysis.