School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Deanna L Keith

Primary Subject Area

Education, Curriculum and Instruction; Education, Educational Psychology


adults, failed, held back, in grade retention, retention, social promotion


The purpose of this study was to explore the views and recollections of adults who were retained in elementary, middle, or high school. This qualitative, narrative inquiry study was an attempt to give a voice to individuals that have experienced the event, and to understand what effects the retention had on their lives, both past and present. The sample of five participants used in this study was obtained from a population of adults in the state of Georgia who attended a General Education Degree (GED) class at a local library, as well as those who attended a community college. The results of this study were mixed. Some participants reported an increase in self-esteem, maturity, and academic awareness. Temporary gains in academics were also noted in many cases. In addition, a few participants felt as if the retention was beneficial and necessary. Other subjects in this study indicated negative attitudes towards school, peer groups, and self-concept. Many of these issues have flowed into adulthood and have subsequently shaped the lives of the adults who were retained. These effects included the failure to complete deeds and affairs, as well as a sense of not having to do more than is asked. In addition, these adults have been given the sense that failure is an option, and they are now comfortable with that notion. The findings revealed that despite the temporary gains, the negative impact on the socio-emotional adjustments of the individual does not seem to support the concept of retention.