Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

Amber E. Kinser, Louise L. MacKay, Russell F. West


Adult women enter or reenter college for a variety of reasons, one of which is because of the loss of a job and the need to retrain for reentry into the workforce. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to investigate the actual experiences of female displaced workers entering community college, as compared with their initial expectations as adult learners. Data were collected through interviews with 23 displaced workers age 25 or older who were either enrolled in or had graduated from an associate of applied science degree program at Northeast State Technical Community.

Interview transcripts were analyzed using Glaser and Strauss’s (1967) constant comparative method. Achieving particular grades, obtaining a degree, and being able to get a job were the primary ways in which the participants initially defined success. In addition, they attributed the success they achieved to the encouragement and support of their teachers, their families, and their peers as well as to their faith and personal dedication and determination. The barriers they encountered included dispositional, situational, and institutional barriers. Furthermore, they found their initial fears of not "fitting in" and of being too old to learn to be without merit. While they had underestimated the amount and level of difficulty of the work that would be involved, they had also underestimated their own abilities.

Recommendations for future practice included conducting annual orientation sessions for faculty; semester reviews of course offerings and instructional delivery formats; and a series of 10, one-hour workshops, provided at the beginning of each semester, to help alleviate the fears that were consistently expressed. Additional qualitative and quantitative research was also recommended.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.