Date of Award

Fall 10-22-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Second Advisor

Dr. Rhonda Bishop

Third Advisor

Dr. Julie Williams


As enrollment of adult learners increases in higher education, addressing their different needs and providing resources to aid their success and retention is important. The purpose of this study was to garner quantitative data regarding adult learning principles used in higher education with nontraditional students, as reported by faculty and students, and identify if any differences exist. The theoretical framework included adult learning theories of andragogy, self-directed learning, and transformative learning. Adult learning principles and learning strategies were explored utilizing the survey instrument, Principles of Adult Learning Scale, by Gary Conti (2004). Descriptive statistics and two sample independent t-tests were used to analyze the data from faculty and student selfreport surveys. To answer the first two research questions, participants were asked to identify the adult learning principles used by faculty and experienced by students in the classroom. Data results indicated 88% of the faculty tended to use teacher-centered methods and 12% learner-centered. For research questions three and four, the t-test revealed a statistically significant difference between the overall scores of the students and faculty for the categories Relating to Experience and Assessing Student Needs. Conclusions from the findings were focused on professional development, policy changes, and student input. Implications for practice included modifying the delivery format and integrating adult learning strategies in professional development regarding adult students. Recommendations for further study included expanding the survey to community colleges and using a mixed-method research design. Instruction using adult learning principles, motivating academic engagement, and embracing student input are ways to improve the satisfaction and retention of adult learners.


Copyright 2019