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Decision-making processes and factors in Catholic high school selection

Thomas J Puccio, Johnson & Wales University


Catholic high school students (n = 788) and their parents (n = 546) from five private, Catholic schools in eastern United States, when asked to indicate decision-making processes and factors on Catholic high school selection, demonstrate significant differences in responses with respect to the importance of sources of information used and of decision factors. Parents rate “conversations with teachers and administrators” (M = 7.22 on a scale of 1–10, least to most important), “conversations with friends or relatives” (M = 6.62), and “open houses” (M = 6.59) as the most important sources of information, while students rate “conversations with friends or relatives” (M = 6.24), “sporting events” (M = 5.71), and “older students from the high school” (M = 5.44) as their top three information sources. The most important decision factors for parents are a cluster of academic and affective reasons: “quality of instruction” (M = 9.22), “atmosphere of respect” (M = 9.07), and “academic reputation” (M = 9.01); top factors for students include “better college entrance opportunities” (M = 8.74), “academic reputation” (M = 7.95), and “quality of teachers' care” (M = 7.40). Significant differences also emerge between parents of different schools with respect to decision factors on Catholic high school selection, but not with respect to sources of information. Parents of different races, income level, and educational level share the same strong interests in most of the top-ranked decision factors. The survey methodology of this study combined quantitative and qualitative techniques using a questionnaire that included a free-response question. Mean responses were arranged and rank ordered; data was subjected to paired and independent t tests as well as to ANOVA. Theme analysis of free responses identified heuristics for school choice. The emerging descriptive and inferential profile of students and parents may serve to acquaint Catholic high school administrators with information valuable to marketing their schools.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Secondary education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Puccio, Thomas J, "Decision-making processes and factors in Catholic high school selection" (2000). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI9999556.