Transformative experiences and the search for meaning among adult full-time undergraduate returning students

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Rapier, Wilber
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John P. Wilson
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Curriculum and Instruction

The purpose of the study was to examine why adult students who are 25 years of age or older return to colleges and universities at this time in their lives. In examining this relationship, the study was also designed to provide some insight into whether adults who enter college are acting on previously experienced transformations, or whether they are viewing college as a medium for their transformation. Most previously published research on returning adult students has focused primarily on the reasons that adults give for returning, but few of these studies have attempted to explain the link between education and transformative experiences;In attempting to explore and understand this link, the researcher interviewed 20 adult undergraduate freshmen at a large public mid-western university. Of the 20 students who were interviewed, 10 were female and 10 were male. All were attending the university on a full-time basis. A case study analysis approach is used to allow for the gathering of comprehensive and in-depth information about each individual and to incorporate the interaction between data collection, participant observation, and data analyses;The study revealed that although many adult undergraduate freshmen enter college or university primarily to increase their marketability, these adults are realizing that their educational experiences can and do play key roles in helping them to sort through the transitions that had occurred or are occurring in their lives. Interaction and discussion with other students both at the graduate and undergraduate level play extremely important roles in helping the adult student to examine and question pre-conceived ideas and beliefs and to formulate new perspectives. The study supports the hypothesis that while many adult students are acting on previously experienced transformations, many of them are using their education as a medium for their transformation.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1994