NCFR 2023 Family Relations
Objective: Identify the role(s) and support(s), if any, that
family members provide to first-generation and historically
marginalized doctoral students, including strengths and
challenges of this support.
Background: Nonfinancial family support is important for
the success and retention of first-generation and historically
marginalized graduate students. More empirical studies
of the role(s) and support of family members of these
doctoral students are needed.
Method: During an intervention designed for first generation
and historically marginalized doctoral students
and their families, we conducted four focus groups with
doctoral students (n = 22) and three focus groups with the
family members they chose to accompany them (n = 15).
Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: Two themes emerged from the data: support and
connection. In addition to providing distinct types of support,
families play both supportive and connective roles.
There are challenges to family roles and support in areas
such as communication, doctoral student stress, and different
ways that family members and doctoral students think
about and approach life.
Conclusion: The study provided key insights to understanding
the roles and support of family of doctoral students;
more efforts are needed across graduate schools in
the United States.
Implications: Family science faculty and graduate schools
may collaborate to provide meaningful interventions for
graduate students and their families for the goal of promoting
graduate student retention and success.
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