Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The nontraditional adult learner: An analysis of enrollment, persistence, and degree attainment
by Quinn, Jeanette M., Ph.D., Notre Dame of Maryland University, 2016, 187; 10252777
Abstract (Summary)

Adult learners have become the majority on many college campuses, but as many as two-thirds of these students do not persist in attaining a degree. Although future labor projections present a positive outlook, an estimated shortage of graduates appears imminent despite the fact that individuals with bachelor’s degrees have greater earning potential, lower unemployment rates, and greater career opportunities. The cause of this persistence problem is examined through analysis of the factors that affect persistence and the enrollment patterns of adult learners.

The diversity of the nontraditional adult population contributes to this predicament of low completion rates as their heterogeneous characteristics creates difficultly in analyzing which factors, in isolation or in combination, can be attributed to the gap in achievement. Moreover, a consistent standard of measuring adult student retention is lacking. Some colleges and universities do not even track degree persistence and completion rates for nontraditional adult students.

The purpose of this study is to examine the characteristics of nontraditional adult learners to determine how these factors influence a student’s ability to persist toward degree completion. This study examined student demographics, finances, employment, academic records, institutional factors, and enrollment patterns to gain an understanding of what motivates adult students to complete a degree, continue to persist, or to cease enrollment altogether. With this information, institutions of higher learning will be in a better position to determine methods, policies and practices that will encourage, empower and motivate all adult learners to persist in their studies despite any combination of factors putting at risk their potential to graduate. The research design was a quantitative, nonexperimental, correlational, predictive design.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Doherty, Kathryn
Commitee: Dwyer, Patricia M., Fenster, Mark J.
School: Notre Dame of Maryland University
Department: Department of Education
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 78/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, Adult education
Keywords: Adult learners, Degree attainment, Nontraditional, Persistence, Retention
Publication Number: 10252777
ISBN: 978-1-369-61149-6
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