Essay about Adult Learner Retention

2145 Words 9 Pages
Adult Learner Retention

Adult learner retention continues to hold the attention of adult educators in every type of program. Although the reasons students leave and the strategies for keeping them may differ from adult basic education (ABE) to higher education, the goal of retention is the same: to keep learners in programs until they achieve their goals (Tracy-Mumford et al. 1994). In any program, adults are largely voluntary participants, but the student role is just one of many roles and responsibilities competing for their time and attention. In fact, personal reasons such as family problems, lack of child care, and job demands are often cited as the cause of withdrawal. At the same time, adults usually have pragmatic, focused
…show more content…
In Perin and Greenberg's (1994) workplace literacy study, completers were those who attended more than 21 hours, noncompleters came for 2 weeks, leavers attended less than 12 hours, and nonattenders were enrolled but never came. Leavers withdrew for different reasons than did noncompleters. Dirkx and Jha (1994) used two models: one categorizing learners as completers, continuers, and noncompleters, and the other refining the noncompleters into three subgroups-early and late noncontinuers and stopouts. A majority of noncontinuers were classified as "early" (leaving before 12 hours of instruction). The second model more accurately predicted noncompleters by considering them in separate groups.

A recurring theme in these and other studies is the crucial importance of the first few weeks, especially the first class. Quigley (1995) found that "reluctant learners" who drop out after the first few weeks were younger than persisters and were loners who felt they did not receive enough teacher attention. However, 73% reported they would go back under different conditions. Kambouri and Francis (1994) reported that most leavers stayed only 2-3 weeks, and Malicky and Norman (1994) also found the highest attrition rates occurred early in the program.

One cause of early withdrawal is a gap between learner expectations and reality. Adult learners may get frustrated

Related Documents