Parental involvement in higher education: Using the perceptions of parents and administrators as the basis for improving institutional policy and practice

Angela Muriel Watson, Johnson & Wales University

Abstract

Parental involvement has been a major topic of discussion since the year 2000 when Millennial students first entered higher education (Howe & Strauss, 2000). These students have been characterized as the most intellectual and technologically savvy generation to date; one of their major attributes is their closeness with their parents (Elkind, 1994). Colleges have begun to analyze their relationships with parents more closely in order to develop programs that incorporate parents into the undergraduate experience and form effective partnerships with parents. Research suggests that parent involvement will continue to increase and that institutions will need to intentionally establish programs for their parent populations (Howe & Strauss, 2007; Savage, 2005).^ Administrators struggle with defining boundaries and establishing programs that speak to the growing needs of parents. Parent programs and activities have, in most cases, been established with little or no parent input, and research pertaining to parent programs in general and involving parents in particular, is deficient.^ The purposes of this sequential mixed method study were to address the level of parental involvement, to identify institutional practices and policies, and to utilize suggestions for improvements. Data were collected from parents (N = 546) and student affairs administrators (N = 23) at three participating institutions of higher education. Parents participated in the study through a Web-based questionnaire. Administrators participated through on campus focus groups that assessed existing practices and policies, considered parents' reactions to parent offerings, and provided directions for future initiatives.^ Parents reported their own level of involvement to be at higher level than they had experienced with their own parents. Parents also regarded parent programs offered by the institutions as satisfactory, credited their institutions for the maturity development of the students, and provided institutions with suggestions for improvement regarding initiatives including parent oriented Web sites and parent/family weekend activities. Student affairs administrators supported the parent programs being offered, encouraged change in some existing practices, and recognized the need for more parent assessment regarding parent programs.^ The study provided detailed and useful information for institutions of higher education and their leaders. The findings added to the limited existing research on the topic of parental involvement.^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Angela Muriel Watson, "Parental involvement in higher education: Using the perceptions of parents and administrators as the basis for improving institutional policy and practice" (January 1, 2007). Dissertation & Theses Collection. Paper AAI3315137.
http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/dissertations/AAI3315137

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