Parent Involvement and Student Retention: The Role of Orientation Programs
Murphy, Kellie Ann
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Parent Involvement and Student Retention: The Role of Orientation ProgramsABSTRACT by KELLIE ANN MURPHY, Ph.D.Washington State University April, 2014Chair: Kelly A. WardThe increasing numbers of incoming student orientation programs, combined with greater parental involvement aimed at facilitating their children's arrival on campus and smooth transition to college life, has resulted in a surge of parent orientation programs, over the past two decades (Lynch, 2006; Merriman, 2007). New student orientation programs are designed to prepare them for the academic and social changes which occur upon entering college. Although orientation is often used as a retention tool, the possible ramifications parental attendance on students during this critical transition into college, has been overlooked (Coburn & Woodward, 2001; Mann, 1998; Tinto, 1993; Wartman & Savage, 2008). Since Tinto's first publication in 1985, much of the research related to student retention has been directly tied to his Student Integration Theory (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). Although Tinto acknowledges the contributions economic and psychological experiences may have on the student's likelihood of being retained, unlike theorists before him, Tinto's model focuses more on experiences the student encounters after coming to college, rather than those occurring prior to college. Tinto's findings call for students to separate themselves completely from their past communities, in order to successfully transition into their new community. This study challenges Tinto's logic of complete separation from one's past and explores further the relationship and impact parent attendance during student orientation has on full-time, first-year retention rates.The results of this study indicate there is a positive relationship between parent attendance during orientation and first-year student retention. Moreover, parent attendance in student orientations was found to be a positive-predictor of student retention. These results are in opposition to Tinto's imperative that retention is enhanced when students make a complete separation from pre-college communities, and reveals instead the positive impact parent involvement has on first-year retention. While the study is not intended to answer all questions surrounding parent inclusion as related to college student retention, it does point future researchers in a new direction when seeking additional insight regarding policies and practices surrounding parent involvement and student retention.