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ERIC Number: EJ876436
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
ISSN: ISSN-1045-1595
Adult Graduate Students in Higher Education: Refocusing the Research Agenda
Kerns, Lorna
Adult Learning, v17 n1-4 p40-42 2006
Adult students in higher education comprise a sizeable and expanding group of college and university students. While Sissel, Hansman, and Kasworm (2001) note the dearth of scholarship on adult learners in higher education, this same group of scholars and some of their colleagues have certainly produced a solid foundation of scholarly work on the needs and status of adults in higher education. There is a tendency, however, when the subject is the distinctive needs and characteristics of adult learners in higher education to focus on the adult undergraduate as opposed to the adult graduate student. Not only is there more explicit representation of adult undergraduates in the literature, many articles in both the adult education literature and the higher education literature tacitly index adult undergraduates when they discuss adult learners in higher education. There exists a need in both the adult and higher education literature to recognize adult, mid-career master's degree students as a group with its own distinct identity. Although these students have much in common with adult undergraduates, there are important ways in which they diverge. Although the existence of common features supports a research strategy that combines the two groups, the presence of the divergent features argue for the use of special approaches to studying each group and suggests the need for research that would compare the two groups. The Council of Graduate Schools insists that American graduate education is absolutely necessary if the U.S. is to remain innovative and competitive in an increasingly global economy. As globalization and economic trends reshape the knowledge requirements of the workplace, higher education will continue to respond with both undergraduate and graduate degree programs to meet these needs. But that, the author contends, is not the only or the most important reason to specify a research agenda that attempts to explore the special needs of the adult graduate student in higher education. Setting aside the needs of nations and institutions, the scholarly work in the field of adult education must commit itself to the needs of today's adult learners. As individuals navigate a life course in which they assume traditional adult roles and responsibilities, make career decisions based on the current realities of the job market, and strive to accomplish goals as lifelong learners, the adult education field must refocus and refine its research agenda to more precisely illuminate the needs of diverse groups of adult learners in higher education.
American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. 10111 Martin Luther King Jr. Highway Suite 200C, Bowie, MD 20720. Tel: 301-459-6261; Fax: 301-459-6241; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A