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Parent expectations of teaching and caring at different kinds of higher education institutions




Adams, Tyna M., author
Morgan, George A., advisor
Kuk, Linda, committee member
Miller, Lisa A., committee member
Valentine, Deborah P., committee member

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Today's college students arrive at higher education institutions with parents who remain involved well beyond the admissions and financial aid processes. Many of these parents attended college themselves and have strong beliefs about what the college experience is like or should be. Some of these parents will not hesitate to negotiate grades with professors or intervene on behalf of their student when issues arise (Coburn, 2006; Henning, 2007; Wartman & Savage, 2008). Many of today's college students are happy with the amount of parental involvement in their college experience and welcome it (Shoup, Gonyea, & Kuh, 2009). Today's college parent is involved in a myriad of ways with their college student's experience as well as the institution. What remains unclear is what parent expectations are of the college or university and of their involvement in their student's college experience. Understanding parent expectations may help staff and administrators better support and encourage appropriate parental involvement in the student's college experience. This study examined parent expectations of teaching and caring at eleven different institutions, utilizing the Parent Expectations of Collegiate Teaching and Caring (PECTAC) survey created by Wayne Young (2006). The sample included a total of 3,378 participants. The intent of the study was to compare parent expectations regarding the teaching and caring functions of several kinds of institutions, which were grouped by two variables: Sponsorship (public, private non-sectarian, or private religious) and Institution Type (research/PhD or liberal arts). One purpose of the study was to compare expectations of parents who graduated from college with those who did not graduate or attend college. Another purpose of this study was to compare parent expectations of teaching and caring results based on parent gender, parent race/ethnicity, parent education and student classification. The participants in this study were majority female, married, Caucasian, and had a college degree. At least half were first time college parents and were very involved in their student's college choice. Parents continue to play an important role in the relationship between the student, parent, and institution. Their expectations influence how they interact with their student as well as the institution that their student attends. The results of this study suggest that parents have specific expectations of higher education. Mothers, non-college graduates, African American, and Latino parents had higher expectations of overall teaching and caring. Parents of students who attend religious institutions had higher expectations of the overall caring but not the overall teaching functions of the institution. Parents of freshmen students had higher expectations of the overall caring but not the overall teaching of the institution. In general the effect sizes were small to medium but African American parents differed from Caucasian parents with large effect sizes on both the overall caring and teaching functions of the institution. Female parent gender, non-college graduate and non-white race/ethnicity combined to significantly predict parent expectations related to the overall teaching functions of the institution. Parent gender, education, and ethnicity as well as religious institutional sponsorship combined to significantly predict parent expectations of the overall caring functions of the institution, although the effect sizes of the multiple regressions were small. The current study adds to the research conducted on parent expectations and may help administrators and institutions to better understand how parent expectations differ among the various kinds of institutions. Additionally, results of this study may help administrators improve or create services and programs to better serve parents.


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parent involvement
parent expectations
college parent


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