Characterizing quality dimensions of local graduates and comparing the rankings of their relative importance among the stakeholders

Pak Chun Tillotson LI

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Massification of higher education in Hong Kong and elsewhere has trigged concern about the possible fall or already falling in its quality. To gauge higher education quality, a set of quantifiable attributes is needed. The purposes of this study are to construct a quality hierarchy consisting of quality dimensions, quality aspects, and quality attribute items; identify quality dimensions, group quality aspects into the dimensions, and prioritize quality attribute items among stakeholders – employers, academics and college administrators, college graduates, and tertiary students. The study also seeks suggestions from stakeholders how higher education quality can be maintained with a rapid and abrupt increase in the number of students. Definitions of quality education are visited, and suggestions to ensure higher education quality are provided by stakeholders. A questionnaire containing 9 attribute aspects and 46 items was given to potential respondents through an online program and hard-copies. A total of 530 valid responses were used. To triangulate quantitative findings, 15 respondents from the 4 groups were interviewed through email, telephone, or face-to-face. ii Ordinal Likert scale data were converted into interval-ratio logits using Rasch Winsteps. Two dimensions of the nine attribute aspects were identified using SPSS factor analysis. One dimension consists of Chinese, English, arithmetic, and information technology. Another dimension consists of analytical and problem-solving abilities, work attitude, inter-personal skills, management skills, and technical skills. Multidimensionality for the attributes was found using Rasch factor analysis. Correlations between attribute aspects were also found. The samples collectively have ranked “sense of responsibility and commitment” under “work attitude” quality aspect as the most important. However, when stakeholder groups are examined separately, only Employers have ranked the same item as the most important. Academics and Graduates have ranked “problem-solving ability” under “analytical and problem-solving abilities” aspect as number one important. Students have ranked “expression of ideas in oral English” under “English language proficiency” as top important. At the 0.05 level, SPSS nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis test has found stakeholders’ views are significantly different for English, Chinese, and numerical competency. Rasch differentiating item functioning (“DIF”) has identified 15 DIF items. Two quality dimensions were run separately. Item measures indicate that Employers and Academics groups have wider ranges and larger standard deviations than Graduates and Students. Possible reasons are that employers and academics have more understanding of the attribute items or they in fact have wider views of the attribute items. For the definition of quality education, most people have chosen “quality as fitness for purpose”, marginally more than “quality as transformation”. Finally, interviewees have provided suggestions to ensure higher education quality in this mass higher education era. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • WANG, Wen Chung, Supervisor
  • TAM, Siu Ling Maureen, Supervisor
Award date27 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • College graduates
  • Education, Higher
  • Hong Kong
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2013


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