Date of Award

Fall 1986

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thom, Carl

Second Advisor

Martin, Thomas

Third Advisor

Myerson, Joel


The purpose of this study was to determine whether reasons for adult participation in degree-granting courses differed according to the method of payment (self-paid tuition or the use of tuition reimbursement), educational level, age, gender, or marital status. This study was derived from literature on motivation of adult learners based on the typology developed by Houle in 1961. Early research focused on the development of instruments to measure reasons for participation. Knowing why the adult student participates in formal learning activities has been of extreme importance, because adult education, generally, has been a self-supporting branch of higher education. With a shrinking traditional-age college student enrollment and escalating tuition costs, knowledge of corporate tuition reimbursement programs and the motivations of adult students who use them is an important area of inquiry. Three null hypotheses were tested: l) There is no difference in reasons for participation on the basis of method of payment (self-paid or tuition reimbursement); 2) There is no difference in reasons for participation on the basis of educational (bachelor's or master's); and 3) There is no difference in reasons for participation on the basis of age, gender, or marital status. The study sample consisted of 411 adult students enrolled in a nontraditional college program. A two-part Education Participation Survey was administered to study participants. The first part consisted o! a personal information questionnaire. The second part was the 40-item Education Participation Scale (E.P.S.) first developed by Boshier in 1968. The E.P.S. responses were factor-analyzed by the principal axis method. Eleven factors were retained and orthogonally rotated to produce uncorrelated !actors. The factors were labeled: Social Contact, Cognitive Interest, Social Welfare, External Expectations, Stimulation, Professional Advancement, Escape, Educational Supplementation, Intellectual Recreation, Interpersonal Facilitation, and Social Sharing. E.P.S. factor score means provided profiles for each of the subgroups studied in terms of motivational patterns. Canonical correlation revealed significant differences between self-paid participants and those using tuition reimbursement; between educational levels; and in the age, gender, and marital status groupings. All three hypotheses were rejected. It appeared that each subgroup studied had its own motivational pattern. The results of this study suggest that adults enroll in formal credit courses for a complex set of reasons that are not easily categorized and which reflect in turn the complexity of human motivational sets.



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