Increasing Adult Learner Completion and Persistence Rates

with NASPA

About This Course

This course is based on material from Increasing Adult Learner Persistence and Completion Rates: A Guide for Student Affairs Leaders and Practitioners, published and copyrighted by NASPA in 2014. The book was funded by a grant from the Lumina Foundation. Developed by NASPA–Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Supported by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Community and Technical College System.

This course is designed to increase the ability of student affairs professionals to develop, implement, and assess the effectiveness of processes, programs, and services for undergraduates between the ages of 25 and 64. The course includes nine modules that explore options for supporting adult undergraduates at both 2-year and 4-year institutions of all types. Further, it offers practical strategies and advice from higher education leaders who have successfully implemented programs and services for undergraduate adult learners.

The course may be purchased as individual modules or as a course bundle. To purchase the individual modules, use the list below to navigate to their registration pages.

Although the nine modules available in this course bundle focus on different topics, they send five consistent messages:

  • Colleges and universities need to build on the knowledge and experiences that adult learners bring to their institutions;
  • no one can do it alone: collaboration, both internal and external, matters;
  • student affairs must partner with adult learners to determine what they know, what their goals are, and what they need to succeed;
  • support services must be intentionally designed, intelligently delivered, and thoughtfully assessed; and
  • the future of student affairs may well depend on its ability to understand and effectively leverage technology.

Embedded in each module is another powerful message: The time for incremental change is over.

Modules

Principles for Effectively Serving Adult Learners
Based on the chapter authored by Judith Wertheim

Module 1 explores the roles that both academic and student affairs play in increasing adult learner completion rates; offers insight into using Council for Adult and Experiential Learning principles to build capacity within student affairs and partnerships with faculty; and provides a snapshot of the types of processes, programs, and services that institutions must create to increase adult learner completion rates. The module also describes how individual institutions are addressing some of the major challenges associated with improving adult learner completion rates. Community colleges have decades of experience working with adult learners.

Increasing Access and Success for Adult Learners - Lessons from Community Colleges
Based on the chapter authored by Denise Swett and Marguerite Culp

Module 2 describes the experience of working with adult learners, reviews strategies to remove the institutional barriers that undergraduate adult learners face, and suggest a mental model for working with adult learners. Module 2 also examines relevant community college research and offers examples of innovative approaches community colleges use to increase adult learner persistence and completion rates. Finally, the module provides readers with an opportunity to assess their knowledge of adult learner theory and research as well as their institution’s ability to serve adult learners.

The Campus Climate for Adult Students
Based on the chapter authored by Leslie Laing and Heidi Watson

Module 3 tackles the challenging subject of translating adult learner theory and research into programs and services in colleges and universities. Leslie Laing and Heidi Watson explore the way colleges and universities build on theory and research to create programs and services for adult learners. Module 3 also describes innovative state and local initiatives, offers a fresh perspective on the role that student affairs must play in increasing access and success for adult learners, and introduces the REAL approach to designing and implementing support services for adult learners.

Adult Learners, the Internet, and the Support Service Challenge
Based on the chapter authored by Lawrence V. Gould, Tisa Mason, and Kindra D. Degenhardt

Module 4 explains why adult student support services enabled by technology are transforming the student learning experience. The module explores the importance of developing a comprehensive adult learner strategy to provide online support services, moving from a “prevent failure” approach to a proactive “success agenda” approach in student affairs, and accepting the premise that “the user is king.” Module 4 also identifies benchmark institutions that have successfully developed support systems for online learners and offers an introduction to the practice of “service blueprinting.”

Student Veterans as Adult Learners in the Post-9/11 Era
Based on the chapter authored by David Vacchi

Module 5 turns the spotlight on one of the fastest-growing adult learner subpopulations: veterans and outlines the unique needs of veterans entering or returning to college, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of existing student success models in relation to veterans, and proposes a data-driven support service model for veterans and their families. In addition, Module 5 explores the role that student affairs professionals play in increasing access and success for student veterans and urges institutions to move away from an inflexible, institution-centric support services model for veterans.

Seamless Learning Requires Partnerships between Academic and Student Affairs
Based on the chapter authored by Marguerite Culp and James Morales

Module 6 describes the relationships that student affairs professionals must build with colleagues across the institution, especially faculty colleagues, in order to develop processes, programs, and services that are relevant to the institution’s academic mission and its adult learner population. Module 6 offers guidelines for developing partnerships, provides tools to assess partnership climates as well as the readiness of student affairs professionals to build these partnerships, and describes innovative higher education partnerships that benefit adult learners.

Meaningful Community Partnerships for Adult Learners
Based on the chapter authored by Elizabeth Baldizan and Pam Schreiber

Where Module 6 focuses on internal partnerships, Module 7 explores the benefits of external ones and examines the wide variety of off-campus partnerships that are essential to recruiting, retaining, and graduating adult learners. Module 7 also suggests strategies to deal with the barriers to effective off-campus partnerships, explores the important role of boundaries in effective partnerships, and provides concrete examples of external partnerships that benefit adult learners.

Building a Culture of Evidence
Based on the chapter authored by Katie Busby and Adam Green

Module 8 applies the concepts presented in Building a Culture of Evidence in Student Affairs (Culp & Dungy, 2012) to programs and services for adult learners. Emphasizing the importance of carefully articulated research questions, Module 8 describes what adult learner data are available at the institutional, state, and federal levels; explores how technology can assess student learning and evaluate the effectiveness of programs designed to increase adult learner completion rates; and provides concrete examples of how some institutions demonstrate the effectiveness of processes, programs, and services for adult learners—and how they determine if programs and services designed for all students meet the needs of adult learners.

The West Virginia Story: A Case Study in Improving Access and Success for Adult Learners
Based on the chapter authored by Sarah Beasley, Susan Gardner, and Tammy Johnson

Module 9 analyzes the progress West Virginia has made since 2010 in improving access and completion rates for adult learners; designing innovative processes, programs, and services to increase adult learner completion rates; and building capacity among student affairs leaders and practitioners.





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