Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer


This mixed method study examined the perspectives of twelve practicing high school CTE teachers engaged in a newly approved university model for alternative certification.

Using Creswell's (2008) Sequential Exploratory Design and the lens of adult learning theory as established in Knowles' (1970) Theory of Andragogy, this study examines how participants in this CTE alternative certification program, describe their experiences as related to the assumptions of adult learning. Relationships between participant's adult learning preferences and the extent to which they experienced their program were also examined.

While literature on alternative certification theories and implications is available, specific research on the use of alternative certification in CTE is lacking. Using work recognized by the National Center for Alternative Certification, study participants described their experiences as related to known best practices in alternative certification: the roles of advising and mentorship, use of a cohort model, and training received in quality pedagogical and classroom management practices.

Analysis of the data revealed that: (1) The majority of the participants would not have become a certified teacher if this program had not been available; (2) Participants were all working in non-education jobs prior to entering education; (3) Participants subscribe to all assumptions of adult learning theory, wavering in only a few areas; (4) Use of a cohort model contributed to the success of the participants; (5) Program structure and format was key to attracting the participants to the program; and (6) That these adult learners were less inclined to need the same preparation in classroom management as traditionally trained teachers.

Overall this study supports research on the learning preferences of adults, and that as adults, various components of program design are critical to the adult learner. The findings further add to the literature by providing practice-based examples in support of how adults learn, and that alternative certification programs can help moderate teacher shortages in CTE. Additionally, the study offers a snapshot of what practices are desirable in an alternative certification program, and includes advice on such features to those involved in the instructional design and administration of such programs for adult learners.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access