Title

What My Parents Expect: Why Graduate Students Pursue Postsecondary Education.

Proposal Focus

Research

Abstract

Approximately 30 million graduate students enrolled in programs in Fall 2016 (National Center for Educational Statistics, NCES, 2017). Based on current trends this number is expected to continue to rise due to many reasons (NCES, 2017). Simultaneously, the supply of postsecondary graduates continues to rise to meet the labor demand. Furthermore, employment in the U.S. has drastically shifted from a manufacturing economy to a service and technology economy, both of which call for postsecondary education.

Parents influence the future of their children’s lives. Parents’ involvement in their child’s education often reflects their expectations. Although, much of the parent expectation research pertains to parent-child relationships this research may also contextual the parent-adult child/ parent-graduate student relationship. What is less clear is an understanding of why graduate students are up to the challenge of pursuing a postsecondary education (i.e. graduate school).

It would be helpful to know if parental influence can also help children to continue their education into graduate studies. Thus, providing the supply of highly educated professionals in the workplace that will meet our economy’s demand. Therefore, the purpose of this practitioner research study (using qualitative methods) was to explore the meaning of the relationship between parent expectations and graduate student educational attainment with graduate students at a research-intensive university in the U.S.

Undergirded by the Family Systems Theory (Broderick, 1993) and Self-Efficacy Theory (Bandura, 1997), I conducted a small pilot focus group which fits the nature of my research objective. Participants included (N = 1; 2 African Americans, 1 European American; 100% female; age range 26-29 years old) 2nd year graduate students enrolled in a Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral program at a Southeastern university in the U.S. The data collection site was my university office because the layout worked well for group discussion and required key access.

Data collection instruments included informed consent, basic information survey, and a focus group interview guide. An example question from the interview guided included, “How did you come to understand your parent expectations?”. Participants were solicited using purposive sampling via. Data instruments and confidentiality were reviewed before audio-recording. The 30-minute pilot focus group interview was recorded on a protected device. I utilized Microsoft Word and a play-back device for transcription (see Figure 1). Using a phenomenological and thematic approach to code the interview, codes were compared back to my research purpose to ensure a recursive data reduction process. Member checks improved study validity.

I found three main themes and two sub-themes (see Figure 2). Themes included: 1) Parent used direct communication, 2) Parent used indirect communication, 3) Parent used blend of communication, s1) Communication can be verbal or non-verbal, and s2) Graduate students interpreted their experience. Overall, findings provide insight into the meaning-making process that graduate students use to understand their parents’ expectations. Implications include far-reaching impact parent expectations have on influencing their children to pursue postsecondary education. Family researchers and educators should remind parents they are vital in shaping the future of their children’s academic future and the families of tomorrow.

Keywords

parent expectations, educational attainment, postsecondary education

Location

Tiger I

Start Date

9-3-2018 11:30 AM

End Date

9-3-2018 12:30 PM

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Mar 9th, 11:30 AM Mar 9th, 12:30 PM

What My Parents Expect: Why Graduate Students Pursue Postsecondary Education.

Tiger I

Approximately 30 million graduate students enrolled in programs in Fall 2016 (National Center for Educational Statistics, NCES, 2017). Based on current trends this number is expected to continue to rise due to many reasons (NCES, 2017). Simultaneously, the supply of postsecondary graduates continues to rise to meet the labor demand. Furthermore, employment in the U.S. has drastically shifted from a manufacturing economy to a service and technology economy, both of which call for postsecondary education.

Parents influence the future of their children’s lives. Parents’ involvement in their child’s education often reflects their expectations. Although, much of the parent expectation research pertains to parent-child relationships this research may also contextual the parent-adult child/ parent-graduate student relationship. What is less clear is an understanding of why graduate students are up to the challenge of pursuing a postsecondary education (i.e. graduate school).

It would be helpful to know if parental influence can also help children to continue their education into graduate studies. Thus, providing the supply of highly educated professionals in the workplace that will meet our economy’s demand. Therefore, the purpose of this practitioner research study (using qualitative methods) was to explore the meaning of the relationship between parent expectations and graduate student educational attainment with graduate students at a research-intensive university in the U.S.

Undergirded by the Family Systems Theory (Broderick, 1993) and Self-Efficacy Theory (Bandura, 1997), I conducted a small pilot focus group which fits the nature of my research objective. Participants included (N = 1; 2 African Americans, 1 European American; 100% female; age range 26-29 years old) 2nd year graduate students enrolled in a Marriage and Family Therapy doctoral program at a Southeastern university in the U.S. The data collection site was my university office because the layout worked well for group discussion and required key access.

Data collection instruments included informed consent, basic information survey, and a focus group interview guide. An example question from the interview guided included, “How did you come to understand your parent expectations?”. Participants were solicited using purposive sampling via. Data instruments and confidentiality were reviewed before audio-recording. The 30-minute pilot focus group interview was recorded on a protected device. I utilized Microsoft Word and a play-back device for transcription (see Figure 1). Using a phenomenological and thematic approach to code the interview, codes were compared back to my research purpose to ensure a recursive data reduction process. Member checks improved study validity.

I found three main themes and two sub-themes (see Figure 2). Themes included: 1) Parent used direct communication, 2) Parent used indirect communication, 3) Parent used blend of communication, s1) Communication can be verbal or non-verbal, and s2) Graduate students interpreted their experience. Overall, findings provide insight into the meaning-making process that graduate students use to understand their parents’ expectations. Implications include far-reaching impact parent expectations have on influencing their children to pursue postsecondary education. Family researchers and educators should remind parents they are vital in shaping the future of their children’s academic future and the families of tomorrow.