Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Chair; Cheryl A. Getz, EdD, Member; Patricia D. Quijada, PhD, Member


academic achievement, case study, Cross-case analysis, Educational Opportunity Program--EOP, higher education, Latinos, Leadership studies, minority & ethnic groups, parents & parenting, perception, qualitative, retention, universities


Many universities grapple with Latino student retention issues. Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, yet they also are the group that has the least amount of formal education. The literature suggests that parental support helps Latinos succeed academically in elementary, middle, and high schools. However, there has been little research on how or even whether Latino parental support influences academic success at the postsecondary level. Consequently, there is a lack of knowledge about (a) Latino parental behavior and attitudes during the years their children attend college and (b) the relationship between parents' behavior and attitudes, on the one hand, and Latino college student academic achievement and retention, on the other. This study provides information about the role parental support plays in promoting the academic success and retention of Latino students in higher education. Central to this study is qualitative analysis of Latino parent narratives which focus on how parents feel about their children attending college, the impact that college attendance has on their child and the family, and the support they provide their children as they navigate the academic environment. The study also gathered data about parental perceptions of how the University supports—or fails to support—their children while in school, and how these perceptions impacted parents' support efforts and strategies. A case study/cross-case analysis design was used in the study. Parent participants were randomly selected from the parents of students who participate in the Educational Opportunity Program at a public four-year Hispanic Serving Institution. Findings suggest that Latino parents support their children in non-traditional ways. For example, they used, often quite consciously, public expressions of pride in their children's accomplishments to demonstrate support and motivate their children; also promoted self-respect and respect for others as foundational, ingrained values that they believed helped their children navigate through the challenges of university life. Parents also indicated that, in contrast to their direct involvement with schools in the K-12 years, they found few opportunities to be involved with the university. Still, they trusted the university to provide the sort of help that their children required.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies