Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terence Hicks

Committee Members

Jill Channing, Jasmine Renner, Richard Rhoda


This primary goal of this study was to compare the levels of importance, satisfaction, and perceived engagement between adult learners and Tennessee Reconnect adult learners at two Tennessee community colleges. A two-group comparison research design using existing data from two survey instruments was used for this study. The data was analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics based on the scales and subscales of the two surveys: Adult Learner Inventory (ALI) and Survey of Entering Student Engagement (SENSE). Because Tennessee Reconnect is a new program, very little literature has been conducted targeting this specific population. Therefore, this study attempted to add to this body of literature and fill the gap in literature in regard to the Tennessee Reconnect population. Sixteen statistically significant differences in importance and six statistically significant differences in satisfaction were found between adult learners and Tennessee Reconnect adult learners. These were found over all subscales, except learning process. In all these differences Tennessee Reconnect adult learners had higher mean importance and satisfaction levels. These findings show changes that have been implemented since Tennessee Reconnect (i.e., professional advisors, career counselors, extended hours of operation for student services, etc.) have led to an increase in the mean satisfaction rate among Tennessee Reconnect adult learners. Statistically significant differences were also found between adult learners and traditional college students in the areas of perceived engagement with student services and faculty. Adult learners showed higher mean scores for engagement with faculty inside the classroom and with student services such as tutoring and skills labs. However, adult learners also showed the lowest mean satisfaction scores with these same student services. These findings show there are areas that need improvement to better serve the Tennessee Reconnect population, including changes to tutoring services and skills labs. This study provides support for literature findings that adult learners are a different population of students with different needs and requiring different or modified accommodations for success.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.