Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Higher Education Leadership

First Advisor

Nathaniel Cradit, PhD


This two-in-one study was an exploration of persistence. The quantitative study explored the relationship between the self-efficacy and persistence of adult learners pursuing a high school equivalency credential. Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy and Lewin’s Force Field Analysis offered an effective framework for considering this relationship. The findings of this study were statistically insignificant due to the low response rate.

The second study, a qualitative study, was added to understand my experience trying to gather data during the quantitative study and to explore the implications of data collection, sharing, and use in the adult education field. Resource Dependence Theory (RDT) and Equity Theory offered helpful frameworks for considering how program staff responded to the request to participate. Findings suggest that 1) a wide variety of communication methods are used by programs to connect with students, both current and former and communication challenges exist at every stage of enrollment; 2) adult education practitioners wish they had a better understanding of the factors that impact student persistence so that they could devise appropriate interventions and 3) the field of adult education exists in a “data desert” which has multiple lush “data oases” but they are difficult to navigate to and through. Resources, or lack thereof, have a key role to play in how programs respond to challenges in these three areas. The findings in this study have direct implications for adult education practitioners, funders, policy makers. Specific recommendations for action are provided, as well as implications for further research.