Parents watching a college athletic event

Clark psychology researchers receive prestigious NCAA grant

Post-doc student Katie Lowe and Prof. Jeffrey Arnett help lead project promoting positive ‘sport parenting’ in college athletics
May 24, 2016

Katie Lowe, a post-doctoral researcher in psychology at Clark University, received a prestigious Innovations in Research and Practice Grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for a project developing an online education program to promote positive parent involvement in college athletics.

Katie Lowe, Clark University post-doctoral student Lowe (pictured), along with Clark Research Professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, is helping lead the project, titled “Promoting Positive Parent Involvement: Developing a Novel Online Education Module for Parents of NCAA Student Athletes.” Their team is led by principal investigator Travis Dorsch of Utah State University and co-PI Miranda Kaye of Pennsylvania State University. The $39,500 award supports the 10-month project, which was one of just four (of 99 submissions) funded by the NCAA in this endeavor.

“We are excited  about this opportunity to carry out our proposed work at Clark University and the other affiliated institutions, as we believe our research has the potential to benefit administrators, coaches and most importantly, student-athletes,” said Lowe, whose focus on  the project will involve extensive work with Dorsch on data collection and website development.

She notes there is a well-developed body of research on what constitutes developmentally appropriate parent-involvement behaviors from elementary through high school. “However, we know little about the characteristics and impact of parent involvement during the developmental time period of emerging adulthood and within the context of college.”

The “Promoting Positive Parent Involvement” project abstract reads, in part: "The transition to college athletics coincides with multiple developmental changes during emerging adulthood. Recent work examining parent involvement during this transition suggests higher levels of parental support, contact, academic engagement, and athletic engagement strongly predict diminished emotional and functional independence in student athletes. NCAA administrators and coaches therefore desire a campus-level mechanism to leverage positive aspects of sport parenting. … Importantly, this data-driven, campus-level education module will provide a resource for administrators, coaches, and parents to improve NCAA student-athlete development."

According to the NCAA, the Innovations in Research and Practice Grant program, in its third year, funds projects that will “bring tangible benefits to college athletes when used by individuals or NCAA member schools’ athletics departments,” in hopes that “the research will lead to programs that other colleges and universities can adopt for use on their campuses or adapt to fit their local needs.”

Lowe notes that there are currently no resources provided to parents of student-athletes by the NCAA, so this project represents a step forward to developing a tool all NCAA member institutions could use to help sport parents enhance their positive involvement strategies to best support their student-athlete and the athletic program.

Lowe, an Allston resident, earned a doctorate in human development and family studies from Purdue University and completed master's and bachelor's degrees at the University of West Florida.

Arnett, Lowe’s postdoctoral research fellowship adviser, is the originator of the theory of emerging adulthood, or human development from age 18 to 29.