Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Daniel C. Robinson


Adult students are an important and viable clientele for colleges and universities today. They provide additional tuition revenue, bring the richness and variety of their knowledge and life experience to the classroom, and present additional challenges and opportunities for institutions that choose to serve this group.

Adult learners have different characteristics than traditional students, which result in different enrollment patterns. Adult learner retention is often influenced by factors outside the institution, such as family and work commitments as well as financial considerations. Adult learners view education as a product to be consumed, and their satisfaction with the product influences their retention.

In this study, the researcher identified factors that influence adult learner retention, examined the relationship between adult learner satisfaction and retention, and developed a model that describes the relationships between the various factors, satisfaction, and retention. The study was conducted at a small, private, Midwestern, liberal arts baccalaureate institution. An adult learner satisfaction and retention model was proposed using the conceptual model of Schertzer and Schertzer (2004) as the framework for the research design. Student satisfaction information was obtained from the Noel-Levitz Adult Satisfaction Priorities SurveyTM (ASPS), which had been previously administered at the college. Enrollment data for the semester following ASPS participation were used to determine retention. Descriptive statistics were used to compare the study participants with the adult learner population at the college. They were also used to compare participants who were retained with those who did not retain. Factor analysis was conducted to reduce the 50 satisfaction items into fewer, related variables. Sequential binary logistic regression was performed to determine the predictive model for retention.

The results revealed background and academic characteristics of having children, an educational goal of earning a bachelor's degree, and a higher grade point average as enhancing retention. Satisfaction with academic advising positively influenced retention whereas satisfaction with the care and convenience factor did not increase the odds students being retained. An adult learner satisfaction and retention model was developed which depicts background and academic characteristics impacting student-faculty values and student-institutional values factors leading to institutional and academic fit, satisfaction, and retention.


Copyright Owner

Karen Tjossem Anderson



Date Available


File Format


File Size

97 pages