Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

Eric S. Glover, Lori Marks, Louise L. MacKay


This qualitative study was conducted to attain and analyze the perceptions of adult high school dropouts living in the Southwest Virginia region concerning participation in General Educational Development (GED) preparation programs. Mounting evidence underscores the facts that the high school dropout rate remains high across the nation and that many eligible people are not participating in adult GED preparation programs. The people residing in Southwest Virginia are no exception. Nearly 35% of the region's population does not possess a high school diploma and the adult education providers struggle with low participation rates.

In order to better understand the reasons for participation, this study examined the attitudes and issues involved in the decisions of GED preparation program participants to enroll and attend classes in Southwest Virginia. By examining these relationships between attitudes and behaviors, our understanding surrounding educational behavior patterns and adult education participation may increase.

This study resulted in the emergence of 5 themes, which were consistently recurrent. These themes included negative perceptions about early schooling, detrimental impacts on quality of life and self-esteem, informal and limited awareness of available programs, employment-related motivators to participation and situational deterrents to participation. This study concluded with suggestions to increase participation in high school and adult education programs and recommendations for further research.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.