Motivating Adult Learners: Exploring the Emergence of Adult Business Students in an East Texas University


Douglas Luke

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Administration

Date of Award

Spring 2015


Adult enrollment in higher education institutions has grown significantly during the last decade. Students aged 25 and older are attending 4-year institutions at higher rates than before. In the 21st century, few can improve their socioeconomic statuses or advance professionally without higher education. Colleges and universities must consider this diverse student population by identifying new modes of motivation for students to pursue degrees at 4-year institutions. The day of recruiting and retaining only recent high school graduates has passed. Research suggests that universities focus on the new learners of higher education, nontraditional students who are motivated by their desires to learn, advance professionally, assist in the community, find social acceptance, and gain personal fulfillment and growth. This study examined motivational factors and patterns of students aged 25 years and older who pursued degrees in accounting, finance, management, marketing, or general business programs at a university in Texas. Specifically, this study explored the motivational factors and patterns between, among, and within various classifications of adult learners to explain the emergence of these students in higher education. The majority of participants were enrolled in a general business discipline, between the ages of 25 to 35 years old, and female. The survey results also indicated that most participants worked between 31 to 40 hours per week, and one-third had incomes of $60,000 and above. The researcher found a statistical multivariate effect of income on motivation to pursue a degree; however, no statistical difference existed among gender, age, occupation, or program of study .


Madeline Justice

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership | Higher Education