Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Sherryl Houdek


The purpose of this study was to investigate parent decision-making regarding school choice. Data were collected through a survey on how parents approached the decision making task of choosing a school for their child. Parents of kindergarten and first grade students in one public school district in Minnesota and five private schools in surrounding communities were invited to participate.

Four bodies of literature provide the theoretical basis of the study. They are education reform; school choice in Minnesota; factors parents consider when choosing schools; and decision-making theory.

Satisficing, a concept drawn from Herbert Simon's (1955, 1956) theory of bounded rationality became a key variable in the study. The Maximization Scale short (Nenkov, Morrin, Ward, Schwartz, & Hulland, 2008) was used to identify individuals who maximize, or continually look for the absolute best options in decision-making. Satisficers, in contrast, accept the first best option.

The first research question addressed the relationship between the decision-making process parents use to select a school for their children, and the choice they make regarding the school in which they enroll their student(s). Chi-square analysis found a significant difference (X2 = 11.182, df = 4, p < .02) between maximizers and satisficers in regard to the number of schools parents considered before choosing a school. However, there was no significant difference between maximizers and satisficers in the rates at which they enroll their children in schools outside of neighborhood schools. While maximizers considered more school options, these considerations did not translate into leaving the neighborhood school.

The second research question examined whether or not there was a difference between parents of first grade students classified as satisficers and those classified as maximizers when asked how satisfied they were with their children's kindergarten. The Chi Square analysis found no statistically significant difference; the satisfaction rates were similar for both maximizers and satisficers. Ninety-one percent (n = 40) of first grade students attended the same school for first grade as they did for kindergarten.

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