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Adult Student Retention In Higher Education And The Role Of Technology

Once non-traditional educators begin to adapt to the technologies that today’s adult students prefer using, they will have a better time keeping those students in their courses and on the path to completion. Photo by Granth Web.

Research has indicated that the complex and paramount issues involving adult student retention in many colleges and universities have significantly grown (Fincher, 2010). Fincher (2010) stated that a reason for this difficulty is that student college preparation was insufficient and “some institutions currently deal with poor preparation by allowing students to sink or swim on their own”.

Furthermore, “recommendations for the development of institution-specific plans to enhance retention and adjustments to the learning process, the registration process, the billing process, the financial aid process, information transfer, and terminology efficiency can be useful to most institutions”.  In addition, it has been proposed that raising entrance standards; decreasing academic rigor; decreasing pace; and learning enhancement be implemented.

The correct usage of technology in the colleges and universities by students and faculty alike would support the idea of learning enhancement. However, in order for technology to benefit students, educators must grow in the proficiency of using technology, not just simply possessing it or executing the absolute basics.

One can argue that the technology issue may also include internal technology departments who should be providing effective training yet may not have this ability; educators are resisting or do not have the time or resources to obtain proper training; school resistance to change (Yong & Frank, 2003) and lack of funding for training.  Keengwe and Anyanwu (2007) posit that future technological advances will need to be accompanied by sufficient training in order for faculty to not only present their subject matter but also interact with their students and peers.

Unfortunately, “research [also] indicates that educators are less likely to use computers than other professions” therefore “faculty need to maximize technology skills to be highly successful using technology as a learning tool for their students”. Lewis, Saydak, Mierzwa, and Robinson (1989) found that adults who follow a visceral encouragement are ideal candidates for advancing their education.

Therefore, their educators must have completed personnel development that focuses on “innovative ways to provide mandatory annual review programs in a stimulating manner to increase staff’s attendance, interest, and participation”.



Fincher, M. (2010). Adult Student Retention: A Practical Approach to Retention Improvement Through Learning Enhancement. Journal Of Continuing Higher Education58(1), 12-18. doi:10.1080/07377360903552154

Lewis, Donna J,R.N., M.S.N., Saydak, Susan J, RN,C.S., M.S.N., Mierzwa, Irene P,R.N., B.S.N., & Robinson, Janice A, RN,C.S., M.S. (1989). Gaming: A teaching strategy for adult learners. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 20(2), 80-84. Retrieved from

Keengwe, J., & Anyanwu, L. (2007). Computer Technology-infused Learning Enhancement. Journal Of Science Education & Technology16(5), 387-393. doi:10.1007/s10956-007-9067-1

Yong, Z & Frank, K. A. (2003). Factors affecting technology uses in schools: An ecological perspective. American Educational Research Journal, 4(40), 807. doi: 10.3102/00028312040004807