Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

First Advisor

Gary Malaney

Second Advisor

Ryan Wells

Third Advisor

Robert Nakosteen

Subject Categories



Scholars have documented the ways in which the influence of neoliberal ideology, and particularly the extension of free-market logic, has resulted in meaningful changes within colleges and universities in the United States. However, largely omitted from these discussions is the impact of neoliberal ideology on college students. Concurrent with the discussion concerning neoliberalism and higher education, a separate dialogue focusing on the rise of the conceptualization of students as customers has been occurring amongst higher education scholars. Such an understanding of college students is consistent with free-market logic, as the relationship between students and their institutions become defined in economic terms. While many scholars have lamented about the rise of this new approach towards education, few have connected it with larger changes in higher education or with the influence of neoliberal ideology. More importantly, researchers have yet to measure reliably the extent to which students actually express a customer orientation. The purpose of this dissertation is to provide the first measure of a customer orientation, and in the process help describe the impact neoliberal ideology, and freemarket logic in particular, has had on college students.


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