An exploration of adult student retention strategies at a private faith-based nonprofit university: A collective case study analysis of experiences and perceptions of adult studies staff

dc.contributor.committeeChairJones, Stephanie J.
dc.contributor.committeeMemberHanks, Hudson
dc.contributor.committeeMemberHartmeister, Fred
dc.creatorTaylor, Clayton George 2017
dc.description.abstractThe adult student population is a significant population in America with projected growth. As the population increases, certain actions will need to be taken to promote the success of the adult students. Adult students have lower six-year graduation completion rates than traditional students and are a vulnerable population due to factors outside of the academic arena that affect their persistence. As such, institutions must consider various retention strategies that are designed to positively affect adult student retention rates. While much literature exists in higher education research about college student retention, very little has focused on the retention of adult college students at private, nonprofit institutions. This qualitative study explored the perceptions and experiences of adult studies staff with the strategies, methods, and processes to retain adult college students, specifically at a private, nonprofit university. The study utilized a collective case study design, conducted through the lens of the constructivist paradigm, and focused on the numerous strategies that have enabled the staff at the study institution to build a pattern of successful adult student retention. The data collection process for the study included the lens of the researcher, semi-structured interviews, documents retrieved from the study institution, and field notes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 staff members in the adult studies area at the study institution, a private, nonprofit university located in the Southern United States. Data analysis utilized the constant comparative method using open and axial coding to develop themes, whereas trustworthiness was established via triangulation, clarifying the researcher bias, and using a rich, thick description when reporting the findings of the study. The findings of the study contributed to higher education practice by providing a data analysis of adult student retention methods, within a private, nonprofit institution context. Notable findings of the included the characteristics of the participants in their approach to adult student retention, how the institutional environment affects the implementation of the institutions mission, and the perceived best practices in adult student retention. This study offers several implications and recommendations for higher education practice. Institutions should examine retention processes to see if they are designed to meet the needs of adult students and should seek to increase their level of service to adult students. In order to combine many of the best practices for retention of adult students, institutions should consider an adult studies program as a retention tool. This study identifies additional studies that can complement this one through future research. These include a study utilizing students as the participants in a similar study, focusing on their perceptions and experiences. Another suggestion for future research is conducting a study at a larger public institution, utilizing either administrators or students as participants, but showcasing the participant’s perspective from this type of study institution. A final study that is suggested would focus on the success of adult programs, studying if institutions with adult programs are more or less successful than institutions without them.
dc.subjectAdult students
dc.subjectNontraditional students
dc.subjectStudent retention
dc.subjectAdult degree program
dc.subjectRetention strategies
dc.titleAn exploration of adult student retention strategies at a private faith-based nonprofit university: A collective case study analysis of experiences and perceptions of adult studies staff
dc.type.materialtext Psychology and Leadership Education Tech University of Education


Original bundle

Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
Thumbnail Image
816.97 KB
Adobe Portable Document Format

License bundle

Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
No Thumbnail Available
1.84 KB
Plain Text