ERIC Number: ED317929
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990
Personal Development and the Pursuit of Higher Education: An Exploration of Interrelationships in the Growth of Self-Identity in Returning Women Students. Summary of Research in Progress.
Karen, Carolyn Starr
Despite the large and growing numbers of adult women enrolled in college programs in this country today, there have been few attempts to identify and analyze the underlying psychosocial issues which propel women onto campuses as "nontraditional" students or the personal changes they experience as a result. This study examined the relationship between personal choice and the social-historical context of individual lives in women enrolled in a college program for returning women. The life history method was used with 15 returning college women ages 30-45. The life history method was chosen because the goal of the research was to collect individual "voices" which have been missed by traditional objective research. Thematic and lexical analysis revealed a varied group of themes. The need to differentiate self from others was often a predetermining factor in the decision to return to college. Feelings of support from and connectedness to others was a significant aspect of subjects' ability to persevere toward completion of their degrees. The women shared an increased sense of competence and personal power, as measured by their new ownership of knowledge. A love of learning, as well as the thrill of classroom achievement seemed to mark their academic careers. The process of sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with the researcher resulted in mutual self-discovery and provided additional nourishment for the respondents' growing sense of empowerment. (ABL)
Descriptors: Adult Students, College Students, Females, Higher Education, Individual Development, Nontraditional Students, Reentry Students, Self Concept
Carolyn Starr Karen, Department of Student Life, Douglass College/Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08903.
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Boston, MA, April 16-20, 1990).