School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Margaret E. Ackerman

Primary Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing; Education, Community College


Adult Education


Each year adult education programs have served over three million people. Approximately 40% of these students aged 24 years and younger who were economically and educationally disadvantaged have benefited from postsecondary education. Although adult education programs have offered high school diploma (HSD) and General Educational Development (GED) credentials to the adult population including young adults, many of the graduates who enrolled in higher education failed to enter at college-level. Because most non-traditional students left college during their first year, their preparation for college-level education had a dire consequence for not only their success, but that of society as well. The desired results would be an increased educational attainment leading to economic betterment for the area.

The primary purpose of the research was specifically to study four technical college students who completed an adult education high school credential program and entered postsecondary education. The research focused on preparation for postsecondary coursework and the students’ perceptions of the link between their demographic background and their performance. This area of study described a qualitative inquiry approach used to identify, describe, and analyze reasons for and barriers to adult education graduates’ postsecondary placement. Data were collected using heuristic interviews on the subjects initially consisting of four adult education graduates selected as completers of adult education at the local center. A panel of colleagues from the field of adult education provided the interview questions for the study. In addition, each member of the panel acted as peer reviewers. A variety of procedures ensured trustworthiness (e.g., triangulation, member checks, audit trail, thick description, and peer reviewers). The study was unable to demonstrate that the adult education program prepared its graduates for college-level education; however, strong evidence suggested that the adult education program motivated its graduates to enter postsecondary education. The subjects of the study became pioneers, that is, the first in their families to enter postsecondary education. One of the issues that emerged from the finding was the fact that the subjects who entered postsecondary education at college-level have continued in the associate degree program; however, the subjects who entered postsecondary through remedial/developmental studies program have withdrawn from the college. Recommendations for future research on this topic were also included in this paper.