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Adult Learner Retention

July 18, 2022 - 1 minute read

Retention is a key component for institutions with adult education programs. To support adult learners, best practices in place from program entry through exit equip program leaders for the challenges in working with the needs of adult populations. 

Successful Programs

Successful programs collect evidence regarding progress in meeting learning or performance objectives that is consistently used to guide advising and student support efforts. In addition, a clearly defined process is in place to identify and support learners who need additional assistance to meet those expectations. As students progress through the curriculum, faculty and other qualified personnel assess learner performance in relation to the program expectations and degree requirements and provide formative and timely feedback on academic requirements. 

Effective Practices

Effective practices include program benchmarks, support resources, and curriculum scaffolding. Important benchmarks such as grades or GPA, pace of progression, skills or disposition rubrics, and instructor evaluations can be utilized as data collection tools to gather evidence regarding student performance.  Once progress is assessed, targeted support resources can be advised, such as personalized writing and/or research assistance, technological support, skills workshops, and mental health and wellness referrals. Along the way, academic advising is a crucial component in which advisors are in constant communication with students, including general information provided to all students regularly, designated communication to support at-risk students, and collaborative efforts with other departments to determine the best intervention strategies that are then laid out for the student in an individualized development plan. To support all learners, successful programs also utilize curriculum-wide scaffolding across each course to move students incrementally and progressively toward stronger mastery of program learning outcomes. 

As programs seek to enhance their retention strategies among adult populations, leaders can navigate the process through these best practices that nurture and support adult students according to their individualized needs.

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