Committee Chair

Rausch, David W.

Committee Member

Crawford, Elizabeth; Hinsdale, Bernard; McCullough, Desiree A.


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Bachelor degree attainment in Tennessee is lower than the national average, which can have a dramatic impact on the quality of life for Tennesseans. Postsecondary institutions have been tasked with increasing the number of students who graduate, and this begins with retention of students. Retention of first-year students is a puzzle for institutions, however, the importance of retention cannot be minimized. The University of Tennessee at Martin has implemented an online Parent Portal to intentionally support the assistance of parents in increasing student success and retention. A stratified random sample of 300 freshman-level students who began during the 2012-2013 academic year was analyzed. Specifically, three separate chi-square tests were conducted to explore for relationships between retention and use of the Parent Portal. In addition, a chi-square test was analyzed to determine if a relationship existed between parents who accessed the Parent Portal and the students who took advantage of academic support services. An ANOVA was used to investigate differences in end-of-year grade-point averages, grouped by the number of times a parent accessed the portal. The final test conducted during this research study was a point-biserial correlation analysis. This test was used to investigate the relationship between a student’s academic ability, as measured by ACT composite score, and the likelihood that a parent would access the Parent Portal. Two significant findings were revealed. First, the end-of-year GPA was highest for students whose parents accessed the portal between one and five times, but lowest for students whose parents did not have access. In addition, the data showed a significant difference between the retention rates of students whose parents did not have access to the Parent Portal and those students whose parents accessed it. These findings provide support for continuing to develop balanced parent initiatives that encourage involvement, while helping students to become self-sufficient and independent. Recommendations for further research are suggested in the areas of effective parent programming, how to best educate parents about the benefits of students using academic support services, and the effective use of multiple communication channels based on other demographics not considered in this study.


Three incredible mentors, Dr. Katherine High, Dr. Margaret Toston, and Dr. Jerald Ogg have impacted my life’s journey over the past several years. Dr. High has been the role model that I have sought to emulate since I first met her. She has been the catalyst for understanding the unlimited possibilities for the direction of my life. Dr. Toston was the impetus that I needed to begin my doctoral journey; she opened my eyes to recognize my ability to accomplish this challenging goal. She gave me the nudge I needed to reach for what I may have never been brave enough to reach for otherwise. Finally, Dr. Ogg’s supportive leadership created an environment that nurtured my continued growth and progress throughout this adventure. Without his support and encouragement I may have never realized this level of self-actualization. I will be forever grateful to each of these mentors. I would be remiss to not express my thanks and appreciation to my doctoral faculty who have assisted me in expanding my breadth and depth of knowledge in fields of learning and leadership. I am especially grateful for my dissertation committee members, Dr. David Rausch (chair), Dr. Elizabeth Crawford, Dr. Hinsdale Bernard, and Dr. Desiree McCullough, who have been amazingly helpful throughout the dissertation process. Each has provided me with valuable feedback and advice that strengthened my research and instilled confidence in my ability to complete the doctoral challenges that I confronted. I cannot thank each of them enough for making this an incredibly rewarding experience. My life has been forever changed as a result of participating in a data-informed scholar-practitioner doctoral degree program


Ed. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education.




Education, Higher -- Parent participation; College freshmen; Prediction of scholastic success; Academic achievement; College students -- Family relationships


Online portal; freshman retention; parental involvement; Attachment Theory; Separation-individuation Theory; freshman GPA


Educational Leadership

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xiv, 92 leaves