Asynchronicity, Access, and Attainment: Best Practices of an Adult Degree Completion Program

Asynchronicity, Access, and Attainment: Best Practices of an Adult Degree Completion Program

Mathew J. Bergman (University of Louisville, USA), Kevin J. Rose (University of Louisville, USA) and Meera Alagaraja (University of Louisville, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8170-5.ch018
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Abstract

In this chapter, the authors share specific ways in which the Organizational Leadership and Learning Program provides excellence in access, cost effectiveness, learning effectiveness, and faculty and student satisfaction. The program is designed to meet the needs of adult learners with some college but no degree and incorporates the use of asynchronous content delivery and faculty-student interaction. The exposure to course content via an online platform, interaction with students and faculty online, and the development of a learning community at a distance equips students not only with content knowledge, but also with technical prowess that is necessary in a technology-based workplace. Despite the relative ease of access and clear benefits of higher education, challenges still exist with educating an adult population. Therefore, it is essential that more adult friendly practices become integrated into the fabric of traditional four-year colleges and universities.
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Access

For more than 100 years, almost 50% of college students have failed to persist to graduation (ACT, 2010; Tinto, 1993; U.S. Department of Education, 2008). To make matters worse, adult students persist at lower rates than their traditional counterparts. Nationally, the number of traditional age students coming from high school to college is declining. In the state of Kentucky, the number of young people coming out of high school and headed to college remains flat (Kentucky Council, 2010). The University of Louisville initiated a degree completion program to change the community’s education trajectory toward a more advanced workforce with top quality knowledge, skills, and abilities to address the global problems of the future.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Persistence: Relates to a student’s continued progress through a course or program, ultimately resulting in a completed degree (OToole, Stratton, & Wetzel, 2003 AU76: The in-text citation "OToole, Stratton, & Wetzel, 2003" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Stopout: Individuals who begin postsecondary education, either immediately after high school or later in life, and then interrupt their enrollment for a period of time, typically for more than one year (Horn, 1998 AU78: The in-text citation "Horn, 1998" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). Students are thought to be a stopout until they are no longer capable of returning to the academic setting.

Asynchronous: An online methodology for delivering academic course content that allows the learner to access materials at any time and does not require a specific meeting time or place.

Adult Learner: Nontraditional students (ages 25 or older) in postsecondary education. In this study, adult learners have attended some college but have not completed a bachelor’s degree. Adult learner will be used interchangeable with “adult students.”

Degree-Completion Program: One designed especially to meet the needs of the working adult who has acquired sixty or more college credit hours during previous enrollments, and is returning to the school after an extended period of absence to complete a baccalaureate degree. The institution’s promise that the student will be able to complete the program in fewer than two years of continuous study is realized through provisions such as establishing alternative class schedules, truncating the traditional semester/quarter time frame, organizing student cohorts, and awarding credit for prior learning experiences equivalent to approximately 25% of the bachelor’s degree credit hour total ( Taylor, 2000 ). There are more than 284 such programs as of the Task Force on Adult Degree Completion’s analysis in 1993 ( Taylor, 2000 ).

Accelerated Program: Completion of a college program of study in fewer than the usual number of years, most often by attending summer sessions, obtaining prior learning assessment credits, and/or carrying extra courses during the regular academic term.

Distance Education or Online Learning: Teaching and learning activities that occur when the learners and the instructors are separated at a distance. Courses may be taught using video teleconferencing, computer-based systems, the internet, or correspondence (Sikora, 2002 AU74: The in-text citation "Sikora, 2002" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Hybrid Programs: Programs that offer courses with blended delivery of content both in-class and online over the internet in individual courses.

Nontraditional student: Higher education students that exhibit one of seven attributes: delayed enrollment, part-time attendance, financial independence, dependents to support, single parent, full-time employment, or GED or high school equivalent status (Horn, 1996 AU75: The in-text citation "Horn, 1996" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). Although age was not an attribute in Horn’s research, for the purposes of this study, the terms Nontraditional and Adult student will be used synonymously.

Retention: Often synonymous with persistence, however it differs in that it is better defined as the year-to-year participation of a student at the same institution or program (Barefoot, 2004 AU77: The in-text citation "Barefoot, 2004" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Part-Time Student: A student enrolled in fewer than 12 credits per semester.

Attrition: Student departure or withdrawal from higher education for any reason. Attrition includes both dropouts and stopouts, often called “non-persisters,” in that they failed to complete a degree program (Anderson, 1981 AU72: The in-text citation "Anderson, 1981" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Bradburn, 2002 AU73: The in-text citation "Bradburn, 2002" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Synchronous: An online methodology for delivering academic course content that requires students to have a real-time presence (via web conferencing, text chat, video/audio connection) of some kind during a specified time frame.

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