Returning to Class: A Phenomenology of Former High School Dropouts' Pursuit of Higher Learning
School of Education
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Fred A. Milacci
GED, High School Dropout, Postsecondary School, Secondary School, Theory of Multiple, Intelligences, Transformative Learning Theory
Education | Higher Education | Secondary Education
Englert, Sean, "Returning to Class: A Phenomenology of Former High School Dropouts' Pursuit of Higher Learning" (2018). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 1769.
The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of former high school dropouts who have completed their high school credential through an adult education program and are enrolled in a postsecondary program of study at a technical college, community college, or four-year university in a state located in the southern United States. The two guiding theories of this study were the theory of multiple intelligences as it related to learning and student engagement, and transformative learning theory as it related to the participants’ changed perspective regarding their own learning. The research questions of the study were: (a) how do former high school dropouts describe the experience of reengaging with learning; (b) how do participants describe the experience of becoming disengaged from learning in a K-12 educational setting to becoming reengaged with learning in a postsecondary setting; (c) what experiences do participants describe that led them to pursue postsecondary education; (d) and what experiences do participants describe as leading them to successful reengagement with learning? The primary source of data consisted of semi-structured, open-ended interviews conducted with individuals and focus groups. After data analysis, which utilized Moustakas’ (1994) approach to transcendental phenomenology, emerging themes developed. Those themes were: (a) the learner, describing the learning characteristics of the participants, (b) the system, recognizing key features of K-12 and postsecondary educational systems, (c) the perspective, highlighting the participants’ changed meaning perspectives, (d) the path, emphasizing the participants’ plans to continue their academic pursuits despite dropping out from high school, and (e) the lagniappe, outlining two bonus themes unassociated with the previous four themes.