Title

Barriers to participation in adult education programs among recent high school dropouts in several selected Mississippi communities

Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

John R. Rachal

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research

Abstract

The primary purpose of this study was to determine what barriers to participation in adult education programs exist among high school dropouts in southern Mississippi. Secondary research questions included: (1) Why do recent high school dropouts fail to participate in available adult education programs, (2) why do students choose to drop out of high school, (3) what relationship exists between the decision to drop out of high school and the failure to participate in available adult education programs, (4) to what extent do high school dropouts have influence and control over barriers to participation in adult education, and (5) to what extent are barriers to participation in adult education programs created by adult education providers? The ability to identify recent high school dropouts who were not currently enrolled in adult education programs posed insurmountable legal and logistical problems. Therefore, the subjects for this study were current participants in adult education programs. It was their perceptions of their own barriers to participation that were used for this study. The subjects for this study consisted of 119 current participants in adult education programs who had dropped out of high school in the last five years and were between the ages of 17 and 23. Data were collected at various adult education centers in southern Mississippi. The researcher conducted personal interviews with the subjects by asking several open-ended questions and by utilizing the Deterrents to Participation Scale (DPS). There was nearly an even distribution of males and females, urban and non-urban residents, and slightly more Black participants than White. The average age of the participants was 18.5 years. The average distance to the nearest adult education center was 7.1 miles. The mean household income was under $20,000. The results of this study revealed the following: (a) there was no statistically significant difference in deterrents to participation between Black and White subjects, (b) there was a statistically significant difference in deterrents to participation between males and females, (c) there was a statistically significant difference in deterrents to participation between urban and non-urban residents, and (d) the only statistically significant factor affecting deterrents to participation was the factor group named family constraints . The open-ended questions revealed that pregnancy was the reason that half the females had left high school before graduation; that the subjects had a low opinion of other dropouts who do not participate in adult education; and that subjects were highly dependent upon family members for their ability to participate in adult education programs. There were 20 recommendations for practice and research which include the following: (a) adult education providers need to develop policies that encourage family support of adult education participants and potential participants, (b) child care services need to be provided at adult education centers to meet the needs of the many single mothers in need of educational services, (c) adult education providers need to work with other community organizations to improve transportation for those in need, (d) more research is needed in the area of non-traditional high school programs, and (e) more research is needed in the psychological and sociological aspects of resistance to adult education.