School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Fred Milacci

Primary Subject Area

Education, General; Education, Higher; Education, Adult and Continuing; Education, Curriculum and Instruction


adjunct instructors, adult learners, adult learning, beliefs, learner-centered, phenomenological study


Adult and Continuing Education Administration | Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Higher Education


The population of adult learners in higher education continues to increase. In many cases, the majority of faculty teaching adult learners are adjunct instructors. These instructors bring a rich background of experience and expertise to the classroom, but may lack experience in designing and implementing effective instructional practices for adult learners. Instructional practices of adjunct instructors are influenced by their beliefs about teaching and learning. The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to examine learner-centered adjunct instructors' beliefs about adult learning and how these beliefs influence their instructional practices. The study used written reflection, interview, and classroom observation data to examine the beliefs of learner-centered adjunct instructors teaching adult students. Three themes emerged from the narrative data. These themes reflect learner-centered adjunct instructors' beliefs about the role of life experience, learning in community, and engagement in the learning process in developing a rich educational experience for adult learners.