Date of Graduation

5-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

Kevin Roessger

Committee Member

Michael Hevel

Second Committee Member

Debra West

Keywords

Adult Learning, Andragogy, Community College Education, Community College Students, Learning Preferences

Abstract

Community colleges are tasked with juggling multiple missions. They provide open access to education for adults in their community, work with industry partners to educate the local workforce, and provide relevant programming to the communities they serve. When compared with students at four-year institutions, community college students are older, more ethnically and racially diverse, come from lower socioeconomic statuses, and less academically prepared.

Like other community colleges across the country, one of the primary goals of Arkansas community colleges is to help their students succeed. Unfortunately, the state has historically performed poorly in regard to educational outcomes. To get the state back on track, Governor Hutchison enacted a law that moved institutions of higher education to a performance-based model. While student success has always been a concern, beginning in the 2018 academic year, it also became a measure that directly impacts Arkansas higher education institutions funding. Now, more than ever, it is essential for these institutions to understand what is needed to help students succeed.

Matching teaching strategies to student learning preferences is one way to ensure student success. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “Learning strategies may affect individuals’ ability to learn” (2011b, p.5), and research has shown that accounting for learners’ preferences affects learning performance (Jones et al., 2019; Onder & Silay, 2016; Roessger, 2013). With a better understanding of students’ learning preferences, educators and administrators can make more informed decisions on what learning strategies and approaches to use.

Andragogy has been a widely accepted model for teaching adult learners, though many criticisms exist surrounding the learning method’s relevance. Some argue that andragogical assumptions fail to consider issues of gender (Sandlin, 2005), race/ethnicity (Duff, 2019), other social contexts like socioeconomic status and culture (Hansman & Mott, 2010; Lee, 2003; Sandlin, 2005). Others cite a lack of empirical evidence as the reason for their criticism (Merriam et al., 2007; Taylor & Kroth, 2009). A recent study conducted by Roessger et al. (2020) gives credence to all of these concerns, as they found that on an international level, preference for andragogical assumptions varies based on age, gender, education level, occupational skill level, culture, country of origin, and ability of the country to meet basic needs.

This study used multiple linear regression to investigate the relationship between student preferences for andragogical assumptions and their age, race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, college readiness, class standing, program type, and culture. It also investigated whether age influences the relationship between gender and preference for andragogical assumptions. Significant relationships were found between preference and gender and preference and race/ethnicity. No significant relationship was found among the remaining variables. Even with the significant findings, it appears preference for andragogical assumptions among Arkansas community college students is high. As such, educators at these institutions should consider employing andragogical methods in their classrooms. Future research should continue to focus on how individual student characteristics relate to learning preferences.

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