The Perception of Adult Learners Concerning Their Satisfaction of Their Educational Experiences in a Midwestern Community College
In the United States, over 90 million adult students, aged 25 years or older, are engaging in post-secondary studies (Stokes, 2006). Adult learners are the fastest growing segment in higher education and this trend is expected to continue into the future (Benshoff & Lewis, 1992). This expanding influx of adult learners into colleges and universities has required post-secondary educational institutions to provide for the special needs, desires and expectations of their adult learner populations (Nesbit, 2001). Therefore, this study examined the relationship between adult learners’ educational experiences and their satisfaction levels with their educational experiences by recognizing the differences within the adult learner population. The overall purpose of this study was to determine whether selected immutable and conditional variables influenced the perception of adult learners concerning the educational experience they received in a Midwestern Community College. The 58 subjects identified for this study were selected from summer semester of 2010. Fifty-eight participants were administered a 17 question survey instrument that was adapted from the Keenesaw State University Adult Learner Programs Needs Assessment Survey (2005). This instrument measured their perception of the education they received across twelve different aspects of teaching. Nine research questions were generated and tested based on the purposes of this study. Findings in this study indicated that when viewing the adult learner through the characteristics and experiences of selected immutable and conditional variables, significant differences within the adult learner population appeared. It appeared that such immutable variables; age, ethnic origin, and gender, and conditional variables; marital status, number of children in the home, the type of child care used, current GPA and current employment status influenced the perception of adult learners across twelve aspects of teaching. Further, it appeared that the conditional variable, income range, had little or no influence on adult learners’ perception of any of the twelve aspects of teaching. These findings suggest that there is a need for institutions of higher learning to understand the unique learning requirements of the adult learner in order to organize and deliver an educational experience tailored specifically for each individual.