Evidence of Andragogy in a four-year baccalaureate college serving nontraditional students
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TitleEvidence of Andragogy in a four-year baccalaureate college serving nontraditional students
AbstractABSTRACT MARIA ANN. HAMMETT EVIDENCE OF ANDRAGOGY IN A FOUR-YEAR BACCALAUREATE COLLEGE SERVING NONTRADITIONAL STUDENTS: A CASE STUDY Under the direction of Olivia M. Boggs, Ed.D. The problem targeted by the study was that while nontraditional students are increasingly attending college in record numbers, they are more than twice as likely as other students to drop out in their first year of study, indicating the delayed promise of degree completion may never be realized. The study focused on the opportunities and fiscal challenges accompanying this exponential growth of students who are typically older, financially independent of their parents, employed full time, parents of dependent children, possibly ex-military, and often have a GED rather than a traditional high school diploma. Using case study methodology and the lens of Malcolm Knowles’s theory of andragogy, the research identified the campus culture, philosophies, and institutional behaviors used to successfully recruit, retain, and graduate nontraditional students at a traditional college or university. The case was a four-year public state college in the northwestern United States that was nationally ranked as having the highest completion rate of nontraditional students. Two research questions guided the study: (a) In what ways do the mission, core values, and culture of a higher education institution that has created a nontraditional student program reflect the tenets of Malcolm Knowles’s theory of andragogy? and (b) What are students and leadership’s perceptions of the impact of student loan debt on student success? Data were collected and triangulated from (a) interviews with the college president, vice presidents, faculty, and staff, (b) analyses of 46 documents, and (c) surveys received from 87 current students. Using interpretivism to bring meaning to data identified five themes: Access, Employment Connection, Intentional Focus, Nimbleness, and Support that were pervasive in Perseverance College’s culture and demonstrated evidence of andragogy in their commitment to serve the nontraditional student population. Perseverance College Intentional Focus created greater Access and Support for nontraditional students, and their Employment Connection and Nimbleness ensured education programs formed connections to employment opportunities, the number one goal of nontraditional students. The researcher recommends additional research on new benchmarks for nontraditional student graduation rates, nontraditional student stop-outs, connecting education to employment, and further applications of andragogy.