School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


David Vacchi


parent, involvement, students, lived experience, postsecondary, research




The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenology was to describe the experiences of college students who encounter negative parental academic involvement. The central question was, what are first- and second-year college students’ experiences with negative parental academic involvement? The theory guiding this study was the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1995) parental involvement theory designed to analyze parents’ participation in a child’s education. The background includes the historical, social, and theoretical foundations warranting this study and the researcher’s motivations and philosophical assumptions. The participants were 14 first- and second-year students attending a community college, a public university, and a private university. Data collection included journal prompts, interviews, and focus groups, from which data triangulation, analysis, and interpretation occurred. Data analysis and synthesis comprised open coding, axial coding, and reduction; thematic isolation and description; and linguistic transformation and phenomenological interpretation. Six central themes emerged. Academic Care Culmination, Underwhelming Response to Academic Success, and Vicariously Driven Motivation reflected negative student experiences. Secondary School Status Quo and Assistance with Surrogate Support themes included positive and negative experiences, while Academic Interest as Investment Oversight reflected positive experiences. Interpretations included the essence of under-involvement and over-involvement, the foundations of negative experience, and the meaning of optimal involvement. This study offers an adjusted Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1995) model better suited for analyzing parental involvement at the college level based on findings. This inquiry helped fill the knowledge gap concerning how some parents lack a meaningful understanding of how negative parental involvement impacts college students.

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