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ERIC Number: ED550183
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 130
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2671-9652-1
Barriers to Persistence in Adult Basic Education: The Experiences of African American Learners
Thomas, Simone
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, The University of Memphis
One of the most pervasive issues facing educators and administrators in Adult Basic Education (ABE) is student persistence. The purposes of this qualitative study were 1) to identify the experiences that African American adult learners associated with their decisions to leave ABE programs; 2) to ascertain the impact of participants' perceptions of participation in ABE relative to their self-perceptions and individual learning goals; and 3) to examine the extent to which barriers perceived by participants were consistent with barriers identified in the existing literature. Three research questions guides this study: 1) what experiences do participants associate with past decisions to leave one or more ABE programs; 2) how do participants view participation in ABE relative to their self-perceptions and individual learning goals; and 3) do participants perceive barriers other than those identified in the literature? This study was guided by an interpretivist theoretical framework. It was conducted at a nonformal ABE program offered by a nonprofit organization. The participants were six African American learners enrolled in ABE at the time of data collection, each of whom had previously failed to persist in this or some other ABE program. Data sources included individual interviews, focus groups, classroom observations, artifacts, a research journal, and field notes. Findings of the study indicated that African American ABE students perceived a number of barriers. Situational barriers included family obligations, health problems, and work. Dispositional barriers perceived by participants were low self-efficacy, shame, and negative perceptions of racial identity. Age was identified as both a situational and a dispositional barrier. Lack of tutor persistence, lack of individual attention, embarrassment in the learning setting, and dissatisfaction with instructional options were structural barriers identified by participants. Additional structural barriers found included lack of cultural relevance in instruction and overemphasis on grammar. Boshier's Congruence Model accurately predicted the participation decisions of three participants. The study's findings suggest that African American ABE students' participation decisions are greatly impacted by their experiences in the learning setting and individual self-perceptions. Unavoidable life events and competing obligations also led to learners' failure to persist. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Basic Education; Adult Education; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A