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How Adults Learn: Motivational Differences and Educational Pursuits

This study sought to fill a gap in the literature by considering the role of motivation in post-secondary aspirations of adult learners, specifically full versus part-time status, previous level of educational attainment, years of work experience, and the selection of an academic program.

The data from this study came from adult students ages 25 and older at 8 institutions in the Midwest. Statistical analysis determined there were significant differences in gender motivation, level of education is predictive of type of educational credential being pursued, and type of adult learner motivation influences which degree, academic program, and enrollment status is pursued by adult learners.

Furthermore, this research revealed as adults acquire more work experience, their postsecondary educational aspirations are more likely motivated by extrinsic factors. These findings have meaningful implications for linking motivation with continuance and graduation from collegiate programs for which this paper identifies and discusses in the context of postsecondary education.

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