ERIC Number: ED389880
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1995
Reference Count: N/A
Adult Learner Retention Revisited. ERIC Digest No. 166.
Although attrition is repeatedly described as the number one problem in adult basic education (ABE), the raw numbers of attrition rates do not tell the whole story. Studies show noncompleters in both ABE and higher education sometimes leave when they feel their goals have been realized. Counting adults who "stop out" as dropouts is also misleading. Retention is linked to a number of factors: a gap between learner expectations and reality; past school and home experiences; educational and practical concerns; and social integration. Adults now make up at least 50 percent of higher education enrollments. Perhaps attrition has increased because more learners are now at varying stages of the life cycle compared to the traditional 18- to 22-year-old cohort. Social integration has a significant positive effect on retention, although social integration for adults may be better defined as how one integrates pursuit of education into one's overall life. As in ABE, noncompletion is the most successful outcome for some nontraditional college students. For adult learners in both ABE and higher education, early detection of those at risk of withdrawing and follow-up of those who have withdrawn are effective practices to help adults persist. Strategies for ABE include material challenging to adults, opportunities to succeed at something in every class meeting, and alternative arenas for success. Strategies for higher education include preenrollment counseling, personal attention, and flexible, convenient scheduling. (Contains 17 references.) (YLB)
Descriptors: Academic Persistence, Adult Basic Education, Adult Counseling, Adult Dropouts, Adult Learning, Adult Students, College Students, Dropout Characteristics, Dropout Prevention, Dropout Research, Higher Education, Potential Dropouts, School Holding Power, Student Attrition, Withdrawal (Education)
Publication Type: ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, Columbus, OH.