Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The strategies three state comprehensive universities employed to meet the needs of adult students
by Varsalona, Jacqueline Rose, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2016, 212; 10158534
Abstract (Summary)

The number of adult students requiring and engaging in postsecondary education is overtaking the number of those entering college through traditional pathways. Adult students value institutions that provide low cost, flexible, supportive, and accelerated degree completion pathways. State comprehensive universities (SCUs) are attractive to adult students for their affordability, convenience, and wide range of offerings. These institutions, therefore, have the potential to greatly expand attainment for adult students; yet only 35 percent of SCUs have adult students representing more than a quarter of their total enrollment. The purpose of this study was to contribute additional research to better understand how SCUs can expand offerings to attract and serve more adult students as a strategy to increase degree completion in their states. The study was based on the proposition that successful and integrated adult student programs and services are a natural outgrowth of institutions whose mission and culture are supportive of adult students. To develop an effective adult student service delivery program, change agents must take into consideration the unique sensitivities and organizational culture, structure, and change characteristics of the institution. This case study examined three different SCUs that maintain a dual mission of serving adults alongside traditional students: Austin Peay State University (TN), Portland State University (OR), and Northern Arizona University (AZ). The study explored key contextual elements and change strategies useful in developing and assessing initiatives, interventions, and curriculum that strengthen degree completion pathways and provide comprehensive support services for adult students. The study uncovered similarities, and distinctions between the cases and the challenges, barriers, and gaps that persist as these institutions work to improve student success outcomes for their adult learners. This research analyzed each university’s cultural and leadership orientation using Bolman and Deal’s (2013) organizational framework. Case findings can aid traditional student-focused public universities seeking to better understand conditions, characteristics, and strategies useful in sustaining adult student programs and services.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Garland, Peter H.
Commitee: Layne, Melissa, Zemsky, Robert
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 78/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Higher Education Administration, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Adult student service, Change strategy, Leadership, Organizational culture, Organizational learning, Organizational management
Publication Number: 10158534
ISBN: 9781369135428
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