Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Charles C. Warfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Bob Brinkerhoff

Third Advisor

Dr. Sheila Burns


The purposes of this study were: (a) to describe differences , if any, in sex-role traits, age and number of children, proportionate income, and responsibility for household tasks and childcare between female registered nurses who return to college and those who do not; and (b) to extend the research regarding the adult learner's return to college in the specific area of baccalaureate degree completion by registered nurses. Chi square and analysis of variance of survey data, and interviews were used in determining differences between the student and nonstudent groups.

Four hypotheses were tested. The only hypothesis which was supported was that female students had significantly fewer children than female nonstudents. A second hypothesis was partially supported in that while there were no significant differences between students' and nonstudents' self-reported responsibility for household or childcare tasks, the students estimated that they spent significantly less time in childcare and household tasks than did their nonstudent counterparts.

There were no statistically significant differences reported between registered nurses who had returned to school versus those who had not in regard to sex-role traits, age of their children, or proportion of the household income that they earned.

A number of recommendations for further research and study were made, including (a) a need to study males with various levels of education, professed egalitarianism , and work roles in order to assess trends in shared childcare and household tasks; and (b) a need to determine the means through which adult female students decrease their childcare and household responsibilities. Based in part on the findings of this study and consideration of other issues, some general recommendations were also made. First, basic nursing education programs should provide information regarding the current status of sharing the childcare and household tasks, and teach about the financial resources and negotiating skills that the woman may need in order to return to school later in life . Second, baccalaureate degree completion programs should be designed in concert with health care agencies in order to jointly plan flexible part-time work schedules and classes which accommodate the adult female learner.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access