Influences Impacting Non-Traditional, Senior Learner Degree Completion in Higher Education


What are the factors that influence the pursuit of degree completion by non-traditional, senior learners in four-year higher education institutions? The answer to this guiding research question will be presented based on data collected and analyzed that identifies and describes the strengths and limitations that are influencing non-traditional, senior learner degree completion in four-year higher education institutions presently. This study fills a gap in the research base, predominately occupied by traditional-age learner adult education research, by offering a better understanding of what is impacting four-year degree completion, in terms of both challenges and successes for this population. The paper will review the findings based on 12 participants interviewed who provided multiple perspectives on what the factors are influencing the pursuit of degree completion by non-traditional, senior learners in four-year higher education institutions, comprised of learners 40 years of age or above, male and/or female, who were attending a four-year college or university pursuing a bachelor’s degree in their junior or final year. The study reveals in-depth data about the types of challenges non-traditional, senior learners experience like the need for better advising, mentoring programs, and on-campus tutoring, as well as their successes in their degree pursuits like technology use, obtaining work-study positions leading to more inclusion on campuses, and family and job support key to motivation and persistence. The grounded theoretical framework for the study of Knowles’ Andragogy and McClusky’s Theory of Margin will be presented as well and their correlation to the research findings.


Adult Learners, Continuing Education, Degree Completion


Adult, Community, and Professional Learning


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Alexa Landrus
    • Adjunct Associate Professor, The Undergraduate School, Communication, Arts and Humanities and The Graduate School, United States DC, United States