Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Jazlin Ebenezer


The purpose of this qualitative research study is two-fold: (1) to narrate the realities and perspectives of adult students’ learning experiences in a General Education Development (GED) preparation program in a Mid-western urban city; and (2) to document the thinking of the former director of adult education at the state level to understand the reforms of adult education program he envisioned. Data sources to achieve the first objective comprised of classroom observations, researcher’s journal entries, and transcripts of individual interviews of three adult education students, one teacher, and one counselor. The data source to realize the second objective was the transcript of an interview with state adult education director at the time of this study. Through observations of the participants of this urban adult education program, the following issues are clearly in need of reform: ways to prevent high school dropouts; and a promise to school returners through adult education programs. The student-barrier realities and perspectives observed are: students’ personal issues, students’ attendance, students’ performance on post test, practice GED tests, and GED examinations, and teaching methods, and absence of a GED math teacher. The implications for high schools and GED adult education programs are as follows: prevention of teens dropping out of school; and a promise to school returners as adults. The study may inform educators of other adult education programs on how to identify adult education students’ problems and improve their experiences in preparing for the GED examination, college and careers. The findings based on the director’s thinking of what is necessary for a successful adult education program are as follows: (1) aspiring to reach the top 25 in five years; (2) overcoming adult students’ financial barrier; (3) returning this Mid-Western urban city to former glory; (4) developing partnerships for contextualized workplace training; (5) characterizing integrated contextualized adult education; (6) providing adult education-related curriculum, andragogy, and evaluation; and (7) situating professional development for adult educators. The implications of these findings point to the need for transformative leadership to deliberately and strategically focus on areas such as poverty and social issues that surround adult learners; quality administrators and teachers with relevant degrees and credentials for successful adult learning; incentives, social justice programs motivated by all stakeholders; and school-community partnerships for integrated education and career training, in order to move Michigan from the 44th to 25th ranking in five years.