As an environment, the modern university setting is diverse and subject students to numerous challenges and opportunities that prepare them to enter careers, build families, and grow as an individual. Yet what a student experiences in college differs greatly and is shaped by internal and external factors in their environment, including campus participation, college self-efficacy, depression and stress. Prior research indicates the impact of family on how a student expresses each of these variables (Schmidtgall, King, Zarski & Cooper, 2000; Bradbury & Mather, 2009; Hannum & Dvorak, 2004; Kenny & Donaldson, 1991; Lopez et al, 2001; Shaver & Mikulincer, 2006). However, there is one area of the family that has been scarcely studied in terms of campus experience influence: family communication patterns (FCPs). The present study sought to investigate this connection. Utilizing a survey-based design, 253 student participants were asked questions to identify the amount of conversation and conformity orientation present in their family unit, as well as levels of campus participation, college self-efficacy, depression and stress. Results indicated that conversation and conformity orientation in families were positively correlated with campus participation. Conversation orientation led to higher feelings of college self-efficacy and lower feelings of stress and depression. Conformity orientation had no correlation with experiencing stress or depression. The current study suggests that family communication does indeed influence multiple areas of a student's college experience, though conversation-oriented communication has a greater positive influence. Having a positive and communicative family environment allows students to get involved, lowers their risk of experiencing mental issues, and equips them to feel confident in their environment. However, the obedience and uniformity found in conformity orientation families instills structure in a student, which may help them avoid distractions and stay focused on schoolwork (Koerner & Fitzpatrick, 1997).

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Weger, Harry


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences


Nicholson School of Communication and Media

Degree Program

Communication and Conflict


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date