Adult continuing education student program persistence: A phenomenological study

by Abeyta, Edward L., Ph.D., Capella University, 2009, 138 pages; 3344642   Link

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to gain a deeper understanding of the nature and meaning of the lived experiences of adult working professionals that have pursued post-baccalaureate learning by completing a continuing education certificate program. The goal of this study was to gain new understanding of what motivates post-baccalaureate adult working professionals to persist and participate in continuing education programs. The results of the data indicated six significant categories that evolved from analyzing the transcriptions and reflective exercises. The six categories or findings derived from the participants included: (a) purposeful networking, (b) professional enhancement, (c) cognitive interest, (d) internal expectations, (e) family cohesiveness, and (f) institutional appraisal. These categories and properties evolved through the research participants’ transcription reflective exercises. The findings from this study represent fundamental research in both practical and theoretical aspects of a foundational question for post-baccalaureate adult continuing education: What factors are related to persistence among post-baccalaureate adult continuing education students? From a practical perspective, this research is needed to provide a clearer picture of how students’ experiences affect their persistence. Having that information in hand enables administrators, curriculum designers and writers, and instructors to situate their programs, formulate the curriculum, and present the materials in such a way as to enhance those factors that favor persistence. This study also provides insights from a theoretical perspective because it contributes to the greater body of knowledge about adult student persistence among a group of post-baccalaureate adult students enrolled in a type of adult education program about which very little research has been done.

A report of the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure Task Force on CyberLearning and Workforce Development (pdf) March 2011

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