Karla Neal

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rose, Amy D.||Johnson, Laura R.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Higher education; Multicultural education


Latinas/os are one of the immigrant and ethnic groups with the lowest percentages of educational attainment (Lopez & Fry, 2013) and financial mobility (Erisman & Looney, 2007) in the United States. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to develop a better understanding of the perceptions and experiences of Latina/o parents who have college-age children who have moved away from home to college to pursue a higher education degree. While parents have been identified as an important influence for Latina/o student academic success in college; there is little knowledge about their experiences and perceptions related to education and the education of their children. What we know about parents of Latina/o students and their relationships with their college-age children has mainly been inferred from the voices of teachers, administrators, and students. A basic qualitative research design was used for this investigation. Ten 90-minute participant interviews were the main source of data collection. The conceptual framework was guided by a sociocultural approach (John-Steiner & Mahn, 1996; Vygotsky, 1978; Wertsch, 1993), as well as the concepts of social capital (Bourdieu, 1986; Ceja, 2006; Stanton-Salazar, 1997; Stanton-Salazar & Dornbusch, 1995), and autonomy development (Arnstein, 1980; Blos, 1979; Carney-Hall, 2008; Chickering, 1969; Chickering & Reisser, 1993; Cullaty, 2011; Domenech Rodriguez, Donovick, & Crowley, 2009; Fox, Spooner, Utterback, & Barbieri, 1996; Kegan, 1982; Levinson, 1978; Rothbaum & Trommsdorff, 2007; Taub, 1995; Taub & McEwen, 1992). This conceptual framework was used to help develop the research questions and to analyze the data. Two main themes emerged from the analysis of the data collected. First, the participants played a role as generational bridge builders for both educational attainment and financial mobility between their parents and their children. They were able to build upon their parents' educational and financial accomplishments and they were purposeful about making sure their children would build upon their accomplishments. Second, this particular group of Latina/o participants were actively involved in their children's academic development and engaged in parental involvement practices that resemble typical middle-class parental involvement. When their children departed from home to attend college, the participants experienced feelings of emptiness and sadness for having one less family member in the home. They struggled with losing control over their children and with the autonomy that is typically given to children in the United States culture once they leave home to go to college. The findings of this study can help researchers and practitioners better understand Latina/o parents and college students and develop effective resources/interventions that contribute to Latina/o college student success.


Advisors: Amy D. Rose; Laura R. Johnson.||Committee members: Teresa A. Fisher.||Abstract in English and Spanish.||Includes bibliographical references.


201 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type