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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Harriett Arnold

First Committee Member

Lisa Cooper

Second Committee Member

Thomas Nelson

Third Committee Member

Barbara Shaw


The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to investigate the meaning, structure and essence of the lived experiences within a Bachelor's degree completion cohort of adult learners. This study focused on adult learners who are matriculating into a postsecondary institution. The central question of this study was: What are the meaning, structure, and essence of the lived and shared experiences within a Bachelor's degree completion cohort of adult learners? The following research questions were used as a guide in the study: (1) In what ways have these shared experiences within a Bachelor's degree completion program contributed to the transformation of adult learners on the pathway to academic success? (2) In what ways do adult learners define success in higher education? (3) How have the life events of adult learners influenced their decision to return to higher education? Based on the phenomenological research design, the goal was to describe the meaning for several individuals of their lived experiences of a concept or a phenomenon (Creswell, 2007). To achieve such a goal, a phenomenological method of inquiry involves a mode of data collection and analysis that will present the participants' experiences precisely from their particular perspective. From the organization and analysis, six major themes emerged from the participant's educational journey: (1) The Catalyst, (2) Peer Support, (3) Faculty Support, (4) Family Support, (5) Beliefs of Success, and (6) The Future. Along with those six major themes were sub-themes that surfaced such as, learning communities, peer collaboration, parental roles, spouse roles, children's roles, self-awareness, and self-worth.





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