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Women’s attendance patterns in a re-entry program Guy, David M. 1982

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Women's Attendance P a t t e r n s . i n a Re-entry Program by David M. Guy B.A. Hons, V i c t o r i a U n i v e r s i t y of Wellington, 1967 M.Ed., U n i v e r s i t y of Waikato, 1979 A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF EDUCATION in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of A d m i n i s t r a t i v e , Adult and Higher Education) We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June 1982 © David M. Guy, 1982 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department Of Administrative, Adult and Higher Education The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date June 30, 1982 i i WOMEN'S ATTENDANCE PATTERNS IN A RE-ENTRY PROGRAM ABSTRACT Dropout from and low attendance at adult education programs have posed problems for i n d i v i d u a l s , i n s t i t u t i o n s , and s o c i e t y . In t h i s study a dropout was defined as a person who f a i l e d to attend a s i n g l e session i n the second h a l f of the course a f t e r having attended the f i r s t s e s s i o n . A p e r s i s t e r attended the f i r s t and at l e a s t one session in the l a t t e r h a l f of the course. On the basis of the number of sessions they attended, p a r t i c i p a n t s were d i v i d e d i n t o three pre-determined rate of attendance c a t e g o r i e s : high, medium, and low. The population c o n s i s t e d of 145 women e n r o l l e d i n the New S t a r t Program, a ten-session re-entry o r i e n t a t i o n course o f f e r e d by three New Zealand u n i v e r s i t i e s i n the spring term, 1981. A demographic que s t i o n n a i r e and four standardized instruments were administered at the f i r s t s e s s ion. P a r t i c i p a n t s ' c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s were r e l a t e d to t h e i r attendance behaviour. Post-course interviews were conducted with 55 women randomly s e l e c t e d according to t h e i r attendance category. Two research hypotheses were formulated to focus the study. M u l t i v a r i a t e a n a l y s i s of variance (MANOVA) was used to t e s t both hypotheses. On the basis of t h e i r years of sch o o l i n g , l e v e l of state a n x i e t y , recent undesirable l i f e events, l e v e l of s e l f -esteem, and study o r i e n t a t i o n , i t was p r e d i c t e d that there would be s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e s between p e r s i s t e r and dropout groups on the f i v e c r i t e r i o n v a r i a b l e s when these were analyzed simultaneously. The f i r s t o p e r a t i o n a l hypothesis showed the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts were r e l a t i v e l y homogeneous. The second i n d i c a t e d that p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts could not be separated as p r e d i c t e d . The t e s t of the second research hypothesis y i e l d e d s i m i l a r r e s u l t s . Women i n the three rate of- attendance c a t e g o r i e s e x h i b i t e d homogeneous c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Their attendance category membership could not be p r e d i c t e d on the basis of the f i v e v a r i a b l e s l i s t e d p r e v i o u s l y with better than chance p r e c i s i o n . Hence neither research hypothesis was accepted. Interviews revealed that the l e v e l of s o c i a l support and assessment made of progress toward t h e i r goals were considered by p a r t i c i p a n t s as important f a c t o r s c o n t r i b u t i n g to t h e i r remaining i n the program. F i n a l l y , the major l i m i t a t i o n s of t h i s study are i d e n t i f i e d and i m p l i c a t i o n s suggested for p r a c t i t i o n e r s and researchers. i v TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i i LIST OF TABLES v i i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENT x i CHAPTER I: BACKGROUND 1 Int r o d u c t i o n 1 Adult Education In The Context Of L i f e l o n g Education ... 2 Education And Adult Development 5 Statement Of The Problem 6 Rationale Of The Study 10 Design Of The Study ' 11 Hypotheses 13 Organization Of The D i s s e r t a t i o n 18 CHAPTER I I : REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE: ATTENDANCE PATTERNS . 21 In t r o d u c t i o n 21 Per s i s t e n c e And Dropout 21 Rates Of Attendance 64 Other Attendance Patterns 70 Conclusion 71 CHAPTER I I I : REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE: PSYCHO-SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL CONSTRUCTS 7 4 I n t r o d u c t i o n 74 Anxiety 74 Self-esteem 82 Stress 88 Study O r i e n t a t i o n 99 Conclusion 103 CHAPTER IV: METHODOLOGY 105 Int r o d u c t i o n 105 S e t t i n g Up The Study ....105 Population And Sample 110 Data C o l l e c t i o n 111 Data A n a l y s i s 123 Summary 125 CHAPTER V: CHARACTERISTICS AND ATTENDANCE BEHAVIOUR OF THE SAMPLE 127 Int r o d u c t i o n 127 Demographic C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s 127 Psycho-social C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s 133 Attendance Set Data 152 Summary 158 CHAPTER VI: CORRELATIONS BETWEEN PARTICIPANT CHARACTERISTICS AND PERSISTENCE AND DROPOUT 161 Intr o d u c t i o n 161 Results 161 Summary: C o r r e l a t i o n a l S t a t i s t i c s 172 CHAPTER V I I : ACCOUNTING FOR PERSISTENCE AND DROPOUT THROUGH INTERVIEWS 174 Intr o d u c t i o n 174 Interview Findings 175 Comparing P e r s i s t e r s And Dropouts 223 Summary 2 32 v i CHAPTER V I I I : CORRELATIONS BETWEEN PARTICIPANT CHARACTERISTICS AND RATES OF ATTENDANCE 234 Int r o d u c t i o n 234 Findings 235 I n t e r - v a r i a b l e R e l a t i o n s h i p s 255 Summary 264 CHAPTER IX: ACCOUNTING FOR RATE OF ATTENDANCE DIFFERENTIATION THROUGH INTERVIEWS 268 Int r o d u c t i o n 268 Interview Findings 269 C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s Of Members Of Each Attendance Category .305 Summary 317 CHAPTER X: TESTING THE HYPOTHESES 319 In t r o d u c t i o n 319 The Use Of The MANOVA -.319 Testing Of Hypothesis One 321 Testing Of Hypothesis Two 328 Summary 340 CHAPTER XI: REVIEW, IMPLICATIONS, AND CONCLUSIONS 344 Int r o d u c t i o n 344 Review 344 Results 351 L i m i t a t i o n s 360 Im p l i c a t i o n s 364 REFERENCES 377 APPENDIX A: TEXT OF COVERING LETTER EXPLAINING PURPOSES OF THE STUDY AND PROCEDURES TO PARTICIPANTS 389 V I 1 APPENDIX B: DEMOGRAPHIC QUESTIONNAIRE 392 APPENDIX C: LIFE EVENTS QUESTIONNAIRE 398 APPENDIX D: DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SAMPLE, NATIONAL COMPARISONS, AND ANTICIPATED ATTENDANCE BEHAVIOUR 402 v i i i LIST OF TABLES 1. Enrolments And Study P a r t i c i p a n t s In The New S t a r t Program 110 2. Factors Accounting For Di f f e r e n c e s Between The Population And The Sample 111 3. S e l e c t i o n Of Interviewees From P e r s i s t e r And Dropout Groups 118 4. S e l e c t i o n Of Interviewees From Each Rate Of Attendance Category 118 5. Factors Thought L i k e l y To A f f e c t Attendance 130 6. P a r t i c i p a n t s ' A n t i c i p a t e d Achievements 131 7. State' And T r a i t Anxiety Scores 134 8. T o t a l Anxiety Scores 137 9. L i f e Events Scores 138 10. Desi r a b l e And Undesirable L i f e Events Scores 140 11. Net L i f e Change Weighted Scores 141 12. Self-esteem Scores 143 13. Scores On The Primary Scales Of The SSHA 147 14. Scores On The SSHA Study O r i e n t a t i o n Scale 150 15. Comparative Mean Scores On SSHA Scales 151 16. Attendance Of Women At Sessions Of The New S t a r t Program 153 17. Rate Of Attendance Categories 154 18. Membership Of The Attendance Rate And Persi s t e n c e And Dropout Categories 156 i x 19. Summary Of The B i v a r i a t e R e l a t i o n s h i p s Between Each Of The V a r i a b l e s Used In This Study And Pe r s i s t e n c e And Dropout Using The Chi Square S t a t i s t i c 162 20. Summary Of The B i v a r i a t e R e l a t i o n s h i p s Between P a r t i c i p a n t C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s And Number Of Sessions Attended Using Pearson's Product-moment C o e f f i c i e n t ....236 21. Summary Of The B i v a r i a t e R e l a t i o n s h i p s Between P a r t i c i p a n t C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s And Number Of Sessions Attended Using The Chi Square S t a t i s t i c 237 22. Summary Of The B i v a r i a t e R e l a t i o n s h i p s Between Each Of The V a r i a b l e s Used In This Study And Rate Of Attendance Category Using The Chi Square S t a t i s t i c 238 23. One-way M u l t i v a r i a t e A n a l y s i s Of Variance Design: P e r s i s t e n c e And Dropout 323 24. One-way M u l t i v a r i a t e A n a l y s i s Of Variance Design: Rate Of Attendance 331 25. Sample In Ten Year Age Groups 404 26. M a r i t a l Status Of The Sample 405 27. P a r t i c i p a n t s ' C h i l d - c a r i n g R e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s 406 28. Highest Level Of Formal Education 408 29. Years Of Schooling 411 30. Family Income 412 31. New Zealand Household Incomes, 1976 413 32. Occupational D i s t r i b u t i o n 415 33. Course Attendance In Last Three Years 416 34. Number Of Courses From Which Previous Withdrawal Reported 418 X 35. Source Of F i r s t P u b l i c i t y 419 36. Time Between Enrolment And Course Commencement 422 37. P a r t n e r ' s A t t i t u d e To P a r t i c i p a n t ' s Enrolment 424 38. Means Of Transport 425 39. Di s tance T r a v e l l e d To The Course 426 x i ACKNOWLEDGEMENT One of the important f i n d i n g s of t h i s study was that the attendance behaviour of p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the program studied was enhanced i f they could draw on i d e n t i f i a b l e sources of s o c i a l support for encouragement and a s s i s t a n c e . Undoubtedly, the completion of t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n was f a c i l i t a t e d by the inval u a b l e support and help t h i s w r i t e r received from many people. F i r s t , and foremost, my wi f e , Helen, whose p r a c t i c a l a s s i s t a n c e , t o l e r a n c e , and encouragement c o n t r i b u t e d immeasurably to the completion of t h i s study. My c h i l d r e n , Sheralyn and Stephen, showed understanding which allowed me to devote my e f f o r t s to t h i s task. Members of my committee merit s p e c i a l thanks: Dr W.S. G r i f f i t h , my chairman, Dr W. Boldt, and Dr L. Woolsey. I am g r a t e f u l , too, to my colleagues in the centres for continui n g education which o f f e r e d the New S t a r t Progam i n 1981 and who helped with the c o l l e c t i o n of data from p a r t i c i p a n t s . In p a r t i c u l a r , I acknowledge the cooperation of my f r i e n d s at the U n i v e r s i t y of Waikato, e s p e c i a l l y Linda Sissons and Bruce Hosking. F i n a l l y , I owe thanks to my f e l l o w students at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, p a r t i c u l a r l y MarDell P a r r i s h , for t h e i r i n t e r e s t and a s s i s t a n c e . 1 CHAPTER I BACKGROUND Introduct ion Demographic, s o c i a l , t e c h n o l o g i c a l , economic, and p o l i t i c a l f a c t o r s are c o n t r i b u t i n g to a r e c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the r o l e of education throughout the l i f e span. The concept of l i f e l o n g education i m p l i e s the a v a i l a b i l i t y of o p p o r t u n i t i e s to p a r t i c i p a t e i n education beyond the years of formal compulsory schooling throughout the remainder of the l i f e span. Once such o p p o r t u n i t i e s are a v a i l a b l e the phenomena of pe r s i s t e n c e and dropout as w e l l as rate of attendance become prime concerns for policy-makers, n a t i o n a l and l o c a l education a d m i n i s t r a t o r s , and adult educators. Hence t h i s study was planned to measure educational and psyc h o - s o c i a l v a r i a b l e s which may predispose an i n d i v i d u a l to p e r s i s t i n or withdraw from an adult education course. Concurrently, the r e l a t i o n s h i p of the same v a r i a b l e s to rate of attendance, the proportion of course o f f e r e d which a person attended, was al s o considered. The background f o r a study of attendance behaviour i s provided by a b r i e f c o n s i d e r a t i o n of seve r a l trends which have emerged i n the l a s t twenty years. In p a r t i c u l a r , changing technology has l e d to greater c o n s i d e r a t i o n being given to the r o l e of adult education w i t h i n the context of l i f e l o n g education. Increasing emphasis, too, has been given to the adult phase of the l i f e c y c l e . Adult educators have become 2 i n t e r e s t e d in the r e l a t i o n s h i p between education and l i f e t r a n s i t i o n s . These changes have drawn a t t e n t i o n to problems which have- proven d i f f i c u l t to s o l v e . Withdrawal from and low attendance at a d u l t education courses pose problems f o r s o c i e t y , i n s t i t u t i o n s , and i n d i v i d u a l s . These problems r e c e i v e a t t e n t i o n in t h i s chapter from these three p e r s p e c t i v e s . F o l l o w i n g an e x p l a n a t i o n of the r a t i o n a l e f o r the resea r c h p r o j e c t , the design of the study i s d e s c r i b e d . In that s e c t i o n the s e l e c t i o n of the p o p u l a t i o n and sample, the measurement of the main c o n s t r u c t s , and the c o l l e c t i o n and a n a l y s i s of the data are o u t l i n e d . D i r e c t i o n to the study was provided by two res e a r c h hypotheses, the f i r s t concerned with d i s t i n g u i s h i n g between p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts, and the second among the three r a t e of attendance c a t e g o r i e s formed f o r t h i s study. The r a t i o n a l e f o r each of the hypotheses i s argued. F i n a l l y , i n t h i s chapter, the o u t l i n e f o r the remaining eleven chapters of t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n i s i n d i c a t e d . Adult Education In The Context Of L i f e l o n g Education D e s p i t e the claims of some of i t s proponents, the notion of l i f e l o n g education i s not new. For example, the landmark 1919 Report, commissioned by the M i n i s t r y of R e c o n s t r u c t i o n in the United Kingdom, argued that "adult education i s a permanent n a t i o n a l n e c e s s i t y , an i n s e p a r a b l e aspect of c i t i z e n s h i p , and t h e r e f o r e should be both u n i v e r s a l and l i f e l o n g " (Adult Education Committee of the B r i t i s h M i n i s t r y of R e c o n s t r u c t i o n 1956:55). In 1955, Grattan r e f e r r e d i m p l i c i t l y to l i f e l o n g 3 education i n h i s h i s t o r i c a l review of adult education, In Quest  of Knowledge, when he wrote that "no education that has a termi n a l point can ever f u l l y meet a l l the needs of l i f e , whether the term i n a l point i s reached at fourteen, eighteen, twenty-two, or twenty-six" (1955:16). In 1965 UNESCO was asked by i t s Committee for the Advancement of Adult Education to endorse the notion of l i f e l o n g education as the " p r i n c i p l e of the whole process of education regarded as con t i n u i n g throughout an i n d i v i d u a l ' s l i f e from h i s e a r l i e s t childhood to the end of hi s days and therefore c a l l i n g f or in t e g r a t e d o r g a n i z a t i o n " (Molyneux 1974:108). I n t e g r a t i o n was seen to occur i n two d i r e c t i o n s : v e r t i c a l l y , that i s , throughout i n d i v i d u a l s ' l i v e s , and h o r i z o n t a l l y to cover the di v e r s e range of a l l the educational aspects of i n d i v i d u a l s ' l i v e s as they i n t e r a c t i n s o c i e t a l a c t i v i t i e s . A f u r t h e r s i g n i f i c a n t c o n t r i b u t i o n made by UNESCO was the report of i t s I n t e r n a t i o n a l Commission on the Development of Education, appointed e a r l y in 1971. I t s report, Learning to Be, under the chairmanship of Edgar Faure, proposed " l i f e l o n g education as the master concept for educational p o l i c i e s i n the years to come for both developed and developing c o u n t r i e s " (1972:182). The Faure Report, issued i n 1972, the same year as the T h i r d World Conference on Adult Education, held i n Tokyo, provided f u r t h e r focus f or ' l i f e l o n g education'. Within the o r g a n i z a t i o n a l framework of l i f e l o n g education the notion of recurrent education i s one strategy which has been propounded, p a r t i c u l a r l y by member c o u n t r i e s of the Organization 4 for Economic Cooperation and Development, to provide o p p o r t u n i t i e s for disadvantaged a d u l t s to compensate for educational d e f i c i e n c i e s , to allow for a l l c i t i z e n s to update s k i l l s , to reduce educational i n e q u a l i t i e s between generations, and to enable a l l c i t i z e n s the opportunity for s o c i a l and personal development. In the post-compulsory education phase, in p a r t i c u l a r , a l t e r n a t i o n between educational and other a c t i v i t i e s i s an i n t e g r a l n o t i o n . An a l t e r n a t i v e concept i s the blended l i f e plan (Cross 1981:12) i n which work, education and l e i s u r e are engaged i n c o n c u r r e n t l y rather than being a l t e r n a t e d . There i s r e c o g n i t i o n that educational p r o v i s i o n which terminates for most people at the end of compulsory schooling i s no longer adequate i n an era of r a p i d s o c i a l and t e c h n o l o g i c a l change. When r e v i s e d education s t r a t e g i e s become widely adopted, and p u b l i c l y or p r i v a t e l y supported by paid educational leave, then p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout in adult education w i l l become even more important p u b l i c concerns than they are c u r r e n t l y . The i n c r e a s i n g rate of t e c h n o l o g i c a l change a l s o serves as a major stimulus for the i n c r e a s i n g regard being accorded education. Wroczynski (1974:464) p o i n t s to the doubling of the body of information i n physics and mathematics every eight to ten years. One consequence of t h i s development i s r e f l e c t e d i n the growing phenomenon of occupational obsolescence, the threat of which i s p a r t i c u l a r l y acute i n the most r a p i d l y expanding jobs, e s p e c i a l l y those i n v o l v i n g p r o f e s s i o n a l or t e c h n i c a l competence. In medical knowledge, for example, Rosenow (quoted 5 by Schaie and W i l l i s [1979:123] ) estimated the h a l f - l i f e to be f i v e years. Further evidence of the rate of t e c h n o l o g i c a l advancement i s the fact that an i n c r e a s i n g number of workers are engaged i n s p e c i a l i z e d jobs that d i d not e x i s t twenty years ago. Furthermore, i n t e r g e n e r a t i o n a l d i f f e r e n c e s are exacerbated by the tendency for older a d u l t s to be employed in obsolete jobs or r o l e s with l i m i t e d f u t u r e s , whereas younger employees are engaged i n the newly developed t e c h n i c a l or p r o f e s s i o n a l r o l e s (Knox 1977:40-41). A phenomenon r e l a t e d to occupational obsolescence i s the increased number of occupations that an i n d i v i d u a l pursues during a l i f e t i m e . T r a i n i n g for second and subsequent careers t y p i c a l l y occurs during adulthood, and g e n e r a l l y involves p a r t i c i p a t i o n ; i n adult education, o f f e r e d by an educational i n s t i t u t i o n , government agency or p r i v a t e employer. Increasing t e c h n o l o g i c a l . s p e c i a l i z a t i o n speeds up the number of occupational changes and reduces the l i f e expectancy of each occupation. Therefore, i t can be expected that an i n c r e a s i n g number of a d u l t s w i l l continue to return to a formal educational i n s t i t u t i o n f or r e t r a i n i n g , updating s k i l l s , or preparing for a r o l e t r a n s i t i o n . The next s e c t i o n considers the r e l a t i o n s h i p between education and adult development. Education and Adult Development I n t e r m i t t e n t phases of r e l a t i v e s t a b i l i t y and change continue throughout the adult l i f e c y c l e . Adults undergo many t r a n s i t i o n s during t h e i r l i v e s . Developmental researchers see 6 t r a n s i t i o n s as a sign of growth, and growth i n turn requires l e a r n i n g (Sheehy 1976:15; Havighurst 1972:1). The a s s o c i a t i o n of t r a n s i t i o n s , development, and l e a r n i n g has been studied by Aslanian and B r i c k e l l (1980). They argued that l i f e t r a n s i t i o n s challenged a d u l t s and required them to grow. They hypothesized that t r a n s i t i o n s prompt a d u l t s to engage i n a l e a r n i n g experience to help them manage t h i s -t r a n s i t i o n (1980:52). Cross (1981:240) suggested that "the greatest o p p o r t u n i t i e s for l e a r n i n g occur at t r a n s i t i o n p o i n t s . " Yet a d j u s t i n g to a formal educational s e t t i n g can be a d i f f i c u l t t r a n s i t i o n i t s e l f . Many ad u l t s have to cope with the o r i g i n a l t r a n s i t i o n that p r e c i p i t a t e d the need to l e a r n , as w e l l as a second t r a n s i t i o n to the r o l e of student. This l a t t e r t r a n s i t i o n may be impeded by a v a r i e t y of psycho-social problems. As a consequence of t h i s double t r a n s i t i o n the adult learner may not have the cap a c i t y to complete a formal academic program, and may e i t h e r drop out or attend i n f r e q u e n t l y . The problems a s s o c i a t e d with both of these attendance behavior phenomena are considered i n the next s e c t i o n . Statement of the Problem In 1962 the Na t i o n a l Seminar on Adult Education Research in the United States gave highest p r i o r i t y to research on mot i v a t i o n , i n t e r p r e t e d on that occasion as a d e s i r e to p a r t i c i p a t e i n adult education programs. Members of that seminar suggested l i n k e d e n q u i r i e s i n t o the twin problems of n o n - p a r t i c i p a t i o n and dropout (Knox and Sjogren 1962.) Boshier 7 expressed a s i m i l a r view when he s t a t e d , "dropout i s in some ways an extension of n o n - p a r t i c i p a t i o n ; v a r i a b l e s associated with one are ass o c i a t e d with the other" (1973:256). Boshier's a s s e r t i o n i s based on the notion that both p a r t i c i p a t i o n and dropout must be studied i n the context of an i n t e r a c t i o n between p s y c h o l o g i c a l and environmental v a r i a b l e s . The former are i n t e r n a l to the p a r t i c i p a n t whereas the l a t t e r are e x t e r n a l . More r e c e n t l y , drawing on a data base of 79,631 people 17 years of age or older who were not f u l l - t i m e students s e l e c t e d i n 1975 by the United States Bureau of the Census for the National Center for Education S t a t i s t i c s , Anderson and Darkenwald noted In terms of sociodemographic c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s such as sex, race, s c h o o l i n g , and so on, i t i s f a i r to conclude that people who p a r t i c i p a t e i n adult education are not on the whole much d i f f e r e n t from people who do not p a r t i c i p a t e , and p e r s i s t e r s are not very d i f f e r e n t from dropouts. Thus our understanding of the dynamics of p a r t i c i p a t i o n and p e r s i s t e n c e , our a b i l i t y to e x p l a i n and p r e d i c t these phenomena, i s s t i l l very l i m i t e d . Yet without a better understanding of why people p a r t i c i p a t e or do not p a r t i c i p a t e , p e r s i s t or do not p e r s i s t , there i s l i t t l e prospect for i d e n t i f y i n g ways to enhance access to adult education and to minimize the personal and s o c i a l costs of a t t r i t i o n . (1979:7-8) In t h e i r r eport, Anderson and Darkenwald defined adult education as "any organized educational a c t i v i t y , excluding s e l f -education, engaged i n by anyone 17 years of age or older who i s not a f u l l - t i m e , student" ( i b i d : 1 5 ) . A dropout was "any p a r t i c i p a n t who responded, 'No, dropped the course' to the [survey] question: 'Did you complete t h i s course?'" ( i b i d : 1 5 ) . From a student's point of view, the process and consequences of dropping out may a f f e c t goal achievement, p a r t i c u l a r l y i f t h i s occurs at a time when other l i f e changes 8 are being experienced. Dropping out may induce a sense of f r u s t r a t i o n and helplessness at not being able to s a t i s f y a valued o b j e c t i v e . For example, by withdrawing from a course a p a r t i c i p a n t may not meet the c r i t e r i a for gaining entry to an occupation. Minimal course attendance i s a l s o required for some prof e s s i o n s i n the form of mandatory continuing education to enable i n d i v i d u a l s to continue to p r a c t i s e that p r o f e s s i o n . Volunteer p o s i t i o n s in the community, too, can be denied to people who do not f u l f i l s t ated course attendance requirements. There are occasions, however, when dropping out of a course may not a f f e c t goal achievement e i t h e r because the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s goal was achieved before the course had concluded or because the program was o p t i o n a l and withdrawing had no negative consequences. Low attendance rates or infrequent attendance patterns pose problems for p a r t i c i p a n t s as w e l l as for adult educators and a d m i n i s t r a t o r s . For the p a r t i c i p a n t who attends i r r e g u l a r l y , the b e n e f i t s of an adult education program are reduced considerably because of the lack of c o n t i n u i t y . From an i n s t i t u t i o n a l p e r s p e c t i v e , a t t r i t i o n can have a serious e f f e c t on its- operation and finances. Adult education program a d m i n i s t r a t o r s and i n s t r u c t o r s have been paying serious a t t e n t i o n to attendance behaviour. Hurkamp (1969:5) reported on her study of approximately 55 courses o f f e r e d by a p u b l i c school evening adult education program in a suburban New England town. She l i s t e d four adverse consequences of dropout. For example, where maximum l i m i t s to c l a s s s i z e are set, p a r t i c i p a n t s who 9 subsequently drop out may have prevented others from attending who would have gained more from the course. Second, where the reverse s i t u a t i o n a p p l i e s , when a minimum number of enrolments must be maintained, dropout may lead to the c a n c e l l a t i o n of the course. T h i r d , and sometimes as a r e l a t e d consequence of the previous outcome although not n e c e s s a r i l y so, when dropout occurs in courses which are financed wholly or p a r t l y by s t a t e funding on the basis of average d a i l y attendance, the p r o v i d i n g i n s t i t u t i o n s u f f e r s a l o s s of revenue. F i n a l l y , dropout can c o n t r i b u t e to lower morale among those remaining, and thereby provoke a d d i t i o n a l dropout. In courses where s k i l l s are taught s e q u e n t i a l l y t h e i r development may be thwarted by absences. Likewise, e v o l v i n g a l o g i c a l l y sequenced i n s t r u c t i o n a l program can be d i s r u p t e d . Other p a r t i c i p a n t s ' progress, too, can be f r u s t r a t e d , p a r t i c u l a r l y i f i t i s necessary for i n s t r u c t o r s to have to spend a d i s p r o p o r t i o n a t e amount of c l a s s time repeating i n s t r u c t i o n s or i f an i n s t r u c t o r ' s a t t e n t i o n i s d i v e r t e d by those whose attendance i s i r r e g u l a r . Classroom morale may s u f f e r as a consequence of any d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n . I n s t r u c t o r s , too, are l i k e l y to share the f r u s t r a t i o n s of those who attend r e g u l a r l y . A d m i n i s t r a t o r s see low or i r r e g u l a r attendance as i n e f f i c i e n t and wasteful of resources. In a d m i n i s t r a t i v e systems where f i n a n c i a l a l l o c a t i o n s are made on the basis of average d a i l y attendance, poor attendance means a reduction i n f i n a n c i a l grants to i n s t i t u t i o n s p r o v i d i n g programs. Dropout from adult t r a i n i n g programs represents a l o s s to 10 s o c i e t y , not only i n terms of p o t e n t i a l s k i l l s which are not developed but a l s o because other a p p l i c a n t s may have been excluded. In a study of the Canada Manpower T r a i n i n g Program, T r u e s d e l l (1975:149) noted that i n the 1969-70 f i s c a l year, about 20 percent of the 150,000 i n d i v i d u a l s who e n r o l l e d i n s k i l l s courses subsequently discontinued t h e i r t r a i n i n g . In 1973, about 40,000 i n d i v i d u a l s who received f i n a n c i a l a s s i s t a n c e from the T r a i n i n g Program dropped out of t h e i r t r a i n i n g courses. Furthermore, dropout from a t r a i n i n g program increases the cost per t r a i n e e completing i t . Given the seriousness of the consequences of dropout, i t i s important to i d e n t i f y the personal, i n s t i t u t i o n a l , and s o c i a l f a c t o r s which e i t h e r encoufage or discourage p e r s i s t e n c e . Understanding the problem areas can a s s i s t program planners, i n s t r u c t o r s and c o u n s e l l o r s take c o n s t r u c t i v e a c t i o n to reduce rates of a t t r i t i o n in adult education programs. Likewise, i n view of the d i f f i c u l t i e s caused by low or infrequent attendance, i t i s worthwhile to i n v e s t i g a t e and account for e i t h e r of these c o n d i t i o n s . I d e n t i f y i n g c o n t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r s may enable adult educators to take steps to increase rates of attendance. Rationale of the Study Dropout and p e r s i s t e n c e have been fr e q u e n t l y researched t o p i c s i n a d u l t education, although most of these studies have been ex post f a c t o . E a r l y s t u d i e s tended to focus on one or two v a r i a b l e s , whereas i t i s now recognized that adult learner dropout has m u l t i p l e and complex causes. S i t u a t i o n a l v a r i a b l e s , 11 such as c l a s s l o c a t i o n , demographic and s o c i a l f a c t o r s , and p e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s have been shown to influ e n c e dropout. This study had a dual purpose. F i r s t , i t aimed to show p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts could be i d e n t i f i e d on the basis of educational and psycho-social f a c t o r s known to c o n t r i b u t e to dropout. Second, the study was designed to provide evidence that d i f f e r e n t rate of attendance category membership could be accounted for by the same v a r i a b l e s that were p r e d i c t e d to inf l u e n c e p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout. I t i s suggested that the fi n d i n g s can be used as a basis for developing i n t e r v e n t i o n s which may enhance pe r s i s t e n c e on the one hand, and encourage sustained attendance on the other. The next s e c t i o n e x p l a i n s how the study was designed to achieve these o b j e c t i v e s . Design of the Study In t h i s s e c t i o n the s e l e c t i o n of the population and sample, measurement of the concepts, and c o l l e c t i o n and a n a l y s i s of the data are o u t l i n e d . . I n i t i a l l y i t was planned to conduct the study with a population of women i n an adult education program in Vancouver, Canada (where the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia i s located) designed to prepare p a r t i c i p a n t s for a return to the work f o r c e . Disagreement between f e d e r a l and p r o v i n c i a l governments over the funding of the program threatened i t s being continued, at l e a s t to the extent i t had been supported i n previous years. Attempts were made to f i n d s i m i l a r adult education prgrams i n the st a t e of Washington, but ad m i n i s t r a t o r s there were not able to 1 2 guarantee that programs held i n previous years would be repeated because of budget cutbacks. F i n a l l y , the w r i t e r s e l e c t e d a program o f f e r e d i n h i s home country, New Zealand, which was designed to help p a r t i c i p a n t s make the t r a n s i t i o n from domestic or paid employment to f u l l - t i m e or part-time study. Women who e n r o l l e d in the New S t a r t Program, the name adopted by the three u n i v e r s i t i e s who o f f e r e d t h i s ten session study s k i l l s and o r i e n t a t i o n course in the spring term, 1981, comprised the population for the study. The study paid a t t e n t i o n to the attendance behaviour of women in the three New S t a r t Program courses o f f e r e d in September-November, 1981. Two d i s t i n c t phenomena were examined, pe r s i s t e n c e and dropout, and rate of attendance. P e r s i s t e n c e and dropout were considered as a dichotomous v a r i a b l e , while rate of attendance was trichot o m i z e d i n t o high, medium, and low ca t e g o r i e s . Previous attempts to conceptualize and o p e r a t i o n a l i z e these c o n s t r u c t s are reported i n chapter I I . In t h i s study the attendance behaviour c a t e g o r i e s were decided p r i o r to the beginning of the courses. The c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of p a r t i c i p a n t s was made a f t e r c l a s s records were examined at the conclusion of each course. At the f i r s t session of the program p a r t i c i p a n t s completed a demographic questionnaire and four standardized s e l f - r e p o r t instruments. The p r i n c i p a l s t a t i s t i c a l technique used i n the study was m u l t i v a r i a t e a n a l y s i s of variance (MANOVA) which d e a l t with p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout and rate of attendance i n separate analyses. Based on previous research and e s t a b l i s h e d 1 3 t h e o r e t i c a l p r o p o s i t i o n s , f i v e c r i t e r i o n v a r i a b l e s were s e l e c t e d : years of sch o o l i n g , s t a t e a nxiety, undesirable l i f e events, self-esteem, and study o r i e n t a t i o n . These data were used to t e s t the hypotheses. (The hypotheses and t h e i r r a t i o n a l e are explained i n the next s e c t i o n ) . In the four week period immediately a f t e r each course had concluded, interviews were arranged with 55 women randomly s e l e c t e d from each of the sets of attendance behaviour. The inte r v i e w s were conducted to ensure that important c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s or v a r i a b l e s had not been overlooked i n formulating the research hypotheses, as w e l l as to a s c e r t a i n whether there were other more important v a r i a b l e s which might have accounted for the attendance behaviour of the subjects in the study. Therefore, both q u a l i t a t i v e and q u a n t i t a t i v e means were used to c o l l e c t and analyze data i n t h i s study. Hypotheses Two research hypotheses were formulated i n which d i f f e r e n t attendance behaviour phenomena were p r e d i c t e d to be accounted for i n terms of educational and pyscho-social v a r i a b l e s . In t h i s study a p e r s i s t e r was a person who attended the f i r s t session and at l e a s t one session in the second h a l f of the course. A dropout was a person who attended the f i r s t session but not even a s i n g l e session i n the second h a l f of the course. Hypothesis One The f i r s t research hypothesis was concerned with the 14 d i f f e r e n c e between p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts on the grouping of educational and psycho-social v a r i a b l e s s e l e c t e d as c r i t e r i a for t h i s study. I t was p o s i t e d that p e r s i s t e r s would be d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e from dropouts by the combined e f f e c t of having more years of sc h o o l i n g , lower s t a t e a n x i e t y , fewer undesirable l i f e events, higher self-esteem, and a more p o s i t i v e study o r i e n t a t i o n . The basis for proposing t h i s hypothesis f o l l o w s . Rationale f o r hypothesis one The p r o p o s i t i o n that those who p e r s i s t e d were l i k e l y to have more years of schooling was based on e m p i r i c a l evidence and was expected on the basis that those who continue to p a r t i c i p a t e in a dult education are more l i k e l y to have had greater educational experience, measured by years of sch o o l i n g . For women re t u r n i n g to an educational s e t t i n g , those who were l i k e l y to f e e l more comfortable were those who had experienced a greater number of years of schooling than other p a r t i c i p a n t s . The assumption that dropouts were more l i k e l y to record high anxiety scores than p e r s i s t e r s i s supported by c o g n i t i v e t h e o r i s t s who have argued that anxiety r e s u l t s from a breakdown in a tendency toward s e l f - c o n s i s t e n c y . I f a p a r t i c i p a n t in an adult education course f e e l s threatened by being i n an u n f a m i l i a r s e t t i n g or uncertain about expectations that might have to be met, then anxiety i s a l i k e l y consequence. I t has a l s o been proposed that a f e e l i n g of threat r e s u l t s when a person experiences s i t u a t i o n s which are incongruent with s e l f -s t r u c t u r e . In such circumstances anxiety i s the a f f e c t i v e 1 5 response to t h r e a t . For women i n the study who had not been involved i n a formal educational s e t t i n g for a number of years, the u n c e r t a i n t y or. unfami 1 i a r i t y of the s i t u a t i o n was hypothesized to induce a f e e l i n g of an x i e t y . One means of r e s o l v i n g t h i s f e e l i n g would be to e l i m i n a t e i t s source, and that would be to withdraw from the program. S o c i a l i n c o n g r u i t y a r i s e s when changes demand an adaption, personal or s o c i a l , that i s e i t h e r not made or inadequately made. Research has shown that events perceived as undesirable rather than changes per se are more important i n accounting f or maladjustment. Therefore, i t was argued that women who dropped out would have experienced more undesirable changes i n the previous twelve months than women who p e r s i s t e d . Self-esteem has been defined as i n d i v i d u a l s ' assessment of t h e i r s e l f - w o r t h . For women re t u r n i n g to a formal educational s e t t i n g a f t e r an absence of f i v e or more years and l a c k i n g study s k i l l s , information about the s e l f may have been seen as threat e n i n g . I t has been shown that women cope with t h i s information according to t h e i r l e v e l of self-esteem. P e r s i s t e r s were p r e d i c t e d to have high self-esteem with p o s i t i v e p i c t u r e s of t h e i r s e l f - w o r t h . On the other hand, dropouts were p r e d i c t e d to have low self-esteem. D e f i c i e n t study h a b i t s and a t t i t u d e s were suggested as being incongruent with the educational environment i n which p a r t i c i p a n t s had e n r o l l e d . Dropouts were p r e d i c t e d to have more inadequate study s k i l l s and a l e s s p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e to the value of education than p e r s i s t e r s . 1 6 To sum up, i t was argued that the d i f f e r e n c e between p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts would be accounted for i n terms of years of s c h o o l i n g , sta t e a n x i e t y , undesirable l i f e events, s e l f -esteem, and study o r i e n t a t i o n . Although these v a r i a b l e s were considered together i n the MANOVA, each v a r i a b l e has been j u s t i f i e d as c o n t r i b u t i n g to the t o t a l o v e r a l l d i f f e r e n c e between the groups. Hypothesis Two The second research hypothesis r e f e r r e d to d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n among p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the New S t a r t Program on the basis of t h e i r rate of attendance. I t was argued that years of sch o o l i n g , s t a t e a n x i e t y , undesirable l i f e events, self-esteem, and study o r i e n t a t i o n would be a functi o n of attendance. In p a r t i c u l a r , i t was pr e d i c t e d that i n d i v i d u a l s with higher rates of attendance would have experienced more years of scho o l i n g , recorded lower l e v e l s of state anxiety, s u f f e r e d fewer undesirable l i f e events, e x h i b i t e d higher self-esteem, and showed a more p o s i t i v e study o r i e n t a t i o n than i n d i v i d u a l s with lower rates of attendance. Rationale for hypothesis two Those who had fewer years of schooling were thought to be at a disadvantage compared with women who had stayed in school for a longer period, and who as a r e s u l t might have had higher educational q u a l i f i c a t i o n s . Remaining in school would have provided the o p p o r t u n i t i e s for developing the s k i l l s which were 1 7 required to s u c c e s s f u l l y complete the New S t a r t Program in which the subjects had e n r o l l e d . Therefore, i t was pr e d i c t e d that i n d i v i d u a l s with higher rates of attendance would be women with more years of schooling. Anxiety l e v e l s have been shown to increase i n circumstances in which subjects f e e l threatened or u n c e r t a i n . Women who f e l t more threatened than others were l i k e l y to have recorded higher s t a t e anxiety scores. I n d i v i d u a l s with lower rates of attendance were p r e d i c t e d to have higher s t a t e anxiety scores. By attending l e s s frequently than the others they would attempt to cope with t h e i r f e e l i n g s of u n c e r t a i n t y . I t was expected that the t r a n s i t i o n of becoming a student a f t e r being a non-student would be more d i f f i c u l t f or women who had experienced more changes i n t h e i r l i v e s i n the previous twelve months, p a r t i c u l a r l y i f those changes were judged to have been undesirable, than t h e i r counterparts who had experienced fewer of these changes. I t was p r e d i c t e d that i n d i v i d u a l s with lower rates of attendance would have experienced the greater number of undesirable changes. Self-esteem t h e o r i s t s have suggested that a l l a d u l t s have well-developed ideas about themselves as people. A p o t e n t i a l c o n f l i c t i s involved when a person enro l s in adult education, p a r t i c u l a r l y a f t e r having been absent from a formal educational s e t t i n g f or a number of years, a r i s i n g from the f a c t that the act of e n r o l l i n g can be i n t e r p r e t e d as admission of d e f i c i e n c i e s . If t h i s a t t i t u d e was prevalent among p a r t i c i p a n t s i t was argued that those with the highest attendance would have 18 most self-esteem. Thus, i t was suggested that women with a lower rate of attendance would be more l i k e l y to f e e l threatened by the u n c e r t a i n t i e s of re t u r n i n g to an educational s e t t i n g and, the r e f o r e , would have been more l i k e l y to have attended l e s s f r e q u e n t l y than t h e i r higher self-esteem counterparts. For s i m i l a r reasons to those argued for years spent i n schoo l i n g , i t was suggested that women with higher rates of attendance would assess t h e i r study s k i l l s more h i g h l y than others in the program. Further, women with higher rates of attendance would have a more p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e to teachers and to the value of education. In summary, the second research hypothesis argued that p a r t i c i p a n t s would be separable i n t o rate of attendance c a t e g o r i e s on the basis of the f i v e c r i t e r i o n v a r i a b l e s taken as a whole. In e f f e c t , membership of the cat e g o r i e s would be accountable i n terms of years of scho o l i n g , s t a t e a n x i e t y , undesirable l i f e events, self-esteem, and study o r i e n t a t i o n . The next s e c t i o n of t h i s chapter summarizes the content of the remaining eleven chapters of t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n . Organization of the D i s s e r t a t i o n Following t h i s i n t r o d u c t o r y chapter, the next two chapters provide a review of the relevant l i t e r a t u r e . Chapter II focuses on research which i s r e l a t e d to attendance behaviour, e s p e c i a l l y p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout, and d i f f e r e n t i a l rates of attendance. Chapter I I I examines the l i t e r a t u r e which deals with a n x i e t y , s o c i a l s t r e s s (as measured by l i f e change u n i t s and weighted 19 l i f e events s c o r e s ) , self-esteem, and study o r i e n t a t i o n . Arguments are made for the relevance of attendance behaviour to these c o n s t r u c t s i n the adult education courses stu d i e d i n t h i s research p r o j e c t . Chapter IV o u t l i n e s the various procedures which were taken to c o l l e c t data from the study's p o p u l a t i o n , t e s t the hypotheses as w e l l as to obtain a d d i t i o n a l information through i n t e r v i e w s . The f i n d i n g s of the study are reported i n chapters V to X. In chapter V the demographic, e d u c a t i o n a l , and psycho-social c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the sample are described and, where re l e v a n t , comparisons are made with the New Zealand adult female p o p u l a t i o n . ( A d d i t i o n a l information i s provided i n appendix D). Chapter V a l s o reports on the attendance behaviour of women i n the sample. Chapters VI and VII report on the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of and the d i f f e r e n c e s between p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts. In chapter VI the s t a t i s t i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s between demographic, e d u c a t i o n a l , and psycho-social v a r i a b l e s and per s i s t e n c e and dropout are presented. Interview f i n d i n g s provide the basis for the d i s c u s s i o n i n chapter V I I . The next two chapters, V I I I and IX, fo l l o w a s i m i l a r p a t t e r n i n r e l a t i o n to rate of attendance category d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n . Chapter V I I I reports on the s t a t i s t i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the number of sessions attended and demographic, e d u c a t i o n a l , and psycho-social v a r i a b l e s , although the main focus i s on the r e l a t i o n s h i p between rate of attendance category membership and these v a r i a b l e s . In chapter IX, 20 accounting for rate of attendance category membership through interviews i s reported. In chapter X the o p e r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n , t e s t i n g , and d i s c u s s i o n of the r e s u l t s of the hypotheses are reported and discussed. F i n a l l y , the major c o n c l u s i o n s , the study's l i m i t a t i o n s , the i m p l i c a t i o n s suggested by t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n , and areas for f u r t h e r research comprise chapter XI. 21 CHAPTER II • REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE: ATTENDANCE PATTERNS Introduct ion In t h i s chapter the l i t e r a t u r e r e l a t i n g to attendance patterns in adult education i s reviewed. Five d i s t i n c t patterns are noted, although p a r t i c u l a r a t t e n t i o n i s paid to per s i s t e n c e and dropout and rate of attendance. I t i s suggested that p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout may represent d i f f e r e n t attendance patterns from rates of attendance, hence a d i s t i n c t i o n i s made between them. Persi s t e n c e and dropout studies are reviewed according to the d e f i n i t i o n s which have been used i n previous s t u d i e s . A t t e n t i o n i s then given to t h e o r e t i c a l foundations which have been used i n these s t u d i e s . Data c o l l e c t i o n procedures and data a n a l y s i s methods are c r i t i c a l l y examined before the f i n d i n g s of s i n g l e f a c t o r and m u l t i - f a c t o r studies are reported. Other studies have considered rates of attendance and r e l a t e d these to demographic, e d u c a t i o n a l , and psycho-social f a c t o r s . Data c o l l e c t i o n procedures and the f i n d i n g s from attendance rate studies are a l s o considered. P e r s i s t e n c e and Dropout In reviewing the l i t e r a t u r e on attendance behaviour in adult education programs, the w r i t e r noted f i v e d i s t i n c t p a t t e r n s . F i r s t , there are those studies which r e f e r to 22 p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout as a l t e r n a t i v e s depending on whether or not a person remains in a program. Second, i n order to take i n t o account r e g u l a r i t y or frequency of attendance some studie s have used rate of attendance as e i t h e r a continuous or d i s c r e t e v a r i a b l e . T h i r d , there are -those programs which allow continuous entry and have intakes of new students as vacancies occur or at defined i n t e r v a l s . Fourth, there i s the notion of average d a i l y attendance which measures the proportion of e n r o l l e e s who are present at successive sessions. F i f t h , there i s a non-attendance pattern e x h i b i t e d by those who e n r o l but never attend. This study focuses on the f i r s t two phenomena as does most of the l i t e r a t u r e . As i n d i c a t e d in chapter I, dropout i s a serious problem for i n d i v i d u a l s and the educational i n s t i t u t i o n s they attend. Furthermore, i t i s a problem which has long b e d e v i l l e d adult education programs by a f f e c t i n g t h e i r c o n t i n u i t y , morale, and funding. Consequently, dropout has been the focus of numerous research e f f o r t s but there has been l i t t l e reduction i n the magnitude of the problem. One reason for t h i s lack of progress a r i s e s from the nature of much of the research. Researchers have used varying d e f i n i t i o n s of "dropout"; they have found d i f f e r i n g a t t r i t i o n rates for s i m i l a r programs; and they have reported i n c o n c l u s i v e or c o n f l i c t i n g f i n d i n g s . C r i t i c i s m s have been made regarding the lack of agreement on the c r i t e r i a to define a dropout, i n p a r t i c u l a r the point at which continuous non-attendance c o n s t i t u t e s withdrawal. Arguments have been made against the use of b i v a r i a t e analyses 23 to e x p l a i n p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout i n adult education on the grounds that the phenomena are complex, involve an i n t e r a c t i o n between an i n d i v i d u a l and the environment and, t h e r e f o r e , c a l l for s t a t i s t i c a l analyses that deal with m u l t i p l e v a r i a b l e s . Several authors have a l s o c a l l e d f or studi e s that are w e l l -founded in theory to overcome the c r i t i c i s m that many st u d i e s are a t h e o r e t i c a l . The problem of dropout denotes d i f f e r e n t meanings according to the perspective from which i t i s viewed: s o c i e t a l , i n s t i t u t i o n a l , and personal. Given the complex i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p s of the f a c t o r s a f f e c t i n g program p r o v i s i o n and p a r t i c i p a n t attendance, m u l t i p l e explanations have been o f f e r e d to e x p l a i n p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout phenomena. From a s o c i e t a l p e r s p e c t i v e , dropout i s regarded as an i n e f f i c i e n t use of resources, hence c l a s s e s are often c a n c e l l e d when the number of p a r t i c i p a n t s f a l l s below a f i x e d l i m i t . S i m i l a r l y , i t i s a l s o seen as wasteful to have denied places i n courses to those who may have b e n e f i t t e d when some of those whose enrolment i s accepted subsequently withdraw. From the pr o v i d i n g i n s t i t u t i o n ' s viewpoint, a dropout represents the l o s s of a r e g i s t r a t i o n , the reimbursement of f u l l or p a r t i a l enrolment fees with a consequent l o s s of revenue, a lowering of morale among remaining students, and a lesse n i n g of enthusiasm by the i n s t r u c t o r . Furthermore, funds are spent to a t t r a c t students, to pay for teaching and c o u n s e l l i n g , as w e l l as to cover the overhead costs of the p r o v i d i n g agency. Dropout can be regarded as a wasteful d r a i n of the funds committed for 24 these purposes. Other e x p l a n a t i o n s have a l s o been o f f e r e d f o r students' withdrawal. Marked d e c l i n e i n attendance has been i n t e r p r e t e d as r e f l e c t i n g poor i n s t r u c t i o n , yet r e s e a r c h evidence has shown that dropout has not been s i g n i f i c a n t l y r e l a t e d to the l e n g t h of experience i n s t r u c t o r s have had with a d u l t c l a s s e s or to whether or not they have q u a l i f i c a t i o n s or c e r t i f i c a t i o n to work as i n s t r u c t o r s of a d u l t s . Within i n s t i t u t i o n s dropout has been a t t r i b u t e d to inadequate admission p o l i c i e s , manifested in the fees charged f o r courses or i n e d u c a t i o n a l p r e r e q u i s i t e s which might have been r e q u i r e d f o r e n t r y . I t has been argued, for example, that where no or low fees have been charged p a r t i c i p a n t s lack the sense of commitment that i s e x h i b i t e d by those paying high fees. Where the advice given by a program planner about a course i s at v a r i a n c e with the p r e s e n t a t i o n made by an i n s t r u c t o r , p a r t i c i p a n t s who took the advice of the former may become disenchanted with the program and withdraw. The student, too, may f e e l a sense of l o s s at dropping out, i n a p s y c h o l o g i c a l as w e l l as a f i n a n c i a l sense. F a i l u r e to achieve g o a l s , or to complete a program may leave a student with a lack of f u l f i l m e n t . Yet a s e l f - a s s u r e d student may withdraw a f t e r e x p e r i e n c i n g a d i s a p p o i n t i n g l e v e l of i n s t r u c t i o n , or an i n d i v i d u a l may decide that another agency i s o f f e r i n g what appears to be a more r e l e v a n t program. For e i t h e r of these or f o r other reasons an i n d i v i d u a l may decide to withdraw from the program. A student who drops out i n c u r s d i r e c t c o s t s i n enrolment fees, course m a t e r i a l s , and t r a v e l to the course, as 25 w e l l as the opportunity costs of l o s t earnings. In most cases where dropout occurs, i t i s a r e s u l t of the i n t e r a c t i o n between e x t e r n a l environmental and i n t e r n a l p s y c h o l o g i c a l f a c t o r s . The causes are almost i n v a r i a b l y complex and r e l a t e to the i n d i v i d u a l ' s l i f e experiences. Def i n i t i o n s Most studi e s concerned with dropout have focused on d i s t i n c t i o n s between completions and dropouts (Verner and Davis 1964; Zahn and P h i l l i p s 1961; Hurkamp 1969); or between perseverers and nonperseverers (Londoner 1972a), or more ge n e r a l l y p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts. S u r p r i s i n g l y , s e v e r a l researchers, while making t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n , f a i l to sta t e the point at which a p a r t i c i p a n t i s deemed to have become a dropout or they neglect to d i s t i n g u i s h o p e r a t i o n a l l y between those who do not complete a program and those who do. Londoner, for example, d i d not make t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n c l e a r l y . Perseverance was marked by "persons who e n r o l l and complete the program" and nonperseverance was denoted by "persons who e n r o l l , attend a few c l a s s e s , but f a i l to complete course requirements" (1972a:179). I t appears from t h i s d e f i n i t i o n that both attendance and course-as s o c i a t e d work may be required to f u l f i l the perseverance c o n d i t i o n , although the study i t s e l f pointed to only the attendance component. Even i f t h i s were the case attendance could be i r r e g u l a r , or i t could be l i m i t e d but regular and sustained throughout the program. In e i t h e r case i t would seem that such behaviour would be c l a s s i f e d as nonperseverance. A 26 more c l e a r c u t d e f i n i t i o n would have reduced the p o s s i b i l i t y of confusion. Like Londoner, Knox and Sjogren f a i l e d to c l e a r l y define the d i s t i n c t i o n between those who completed and those who withdrew. The former were r e f e r r e d to as those "who completed the semester and received a grade" while the others were "those who withdrew during the semester" (1965:82). From t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n i t i s d i f f i c u l t to conceive in which group those who attended most, i f not a l l , of the semester but d i d not receive a grade would be placed. S i m i l a r l y , those who completed most, but not a l l of the course work, and who had attended most sessions would appear to have been considered to have withdrawn. In other words, f a i l u r e to meet e i t h e r course or attendance requirements seems to have placed a student i n the withdrawn category. In Zahn's study, f a i l u r e to complete a c l a s s was defined as "not attending any of the l a s t three meetings of the c l a s s , and not making any arrangements with the i n s t r u c t o r to make up the work" (1964:36). In an e a r l i e r study by the same researcher and P h i l l i p s , a s i m i l a r d e f i n i t i o n was used (1961:232). Two precond i t i o n s appear to have been set in Zahn's study, one r e l a t e d to p h y s i c a l presence and the other to completing work that had been set. I t seems that i f people were absent but compensated by undertaking set assignments they would have been c l a s s i f i e d as having completed. No i n d i c a t i o n was reported of the length or number of sessions of the c l a s s e s i n the study so i t i s not p o s s i b l e to c a l c u l a t e the proportion of time a 27 p a r t i c i p a n t may have been absent yet was assumed to have completed the course. Enrolment in each course i n Zahn's study was a l s o unconventional. Regulations allowed p a r t i c i p a n t s to attend the f i r s t session without e n r o l l i n g . Withdrawal a f t e r the f i r s t or second session was r e a d i l y permitted and a f u l l enrolment fee refund was made. Students i n the study were "present and e n r o l l e d at the t h i r d meeting of the c l a s s " (1964:36). By t h i s stage of the course p a r t i c i p a n t s had time to adjust to the demands and dynamics of atten d i n g . Those who decided to enr o l in the program had b u i l t up some investment i n t h e i r commitment through paying t h e i r enrolment fees, buying books, and spending time. That study d i d not account for the behaviour of those who attended one or two sessions, with or without e n r o l l i n g , or those who were absent at the t h i r d s e s s i o n . To summarize, the dropout d e f i n i t i o n s reviewed so far have been c h a r a c t e r i z e d by three serious d e f i c i e n c i e s . F i r s t , several, s t u d i e s were not s p e c i f i c about the point at which withdrawal from the program c o n s t i t u t e d dropout. Withdrawal may have been formalized or i t was simply noted as the l a s t time i n the course r e g i s t e r that attendance was recorded. Second, some researchers have combined course work and attendance requirements i n the o p e r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n of t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n of dropout. Consequently, students whose attendance had been i r r e g u l a r or rare may have been considered to have completed the course i f they f u l f i l l e d the course work requirements. A l t e r n a t i v e l y , p a r t i c i p a n t s who attended most sessions could 28 have been c l a s s i f i e d as nonperseverers i f they had not completed a l l asignments. F i n a l l y , the session at which instruments were administered to p a r t i c i p a n t s has not always been the f i r s t . Researchers who have c o l l e c t e d data at second or subsequent sessions have not adequately accounted for the attendance behaviour of those who had withdrawn e a r l y in the program in which they e n r o l l e d . P e r s i s t e n c e , i n the study by Jones, Schulman, and S t u b b l e f i e l d was r e l a t e d to continued enrolment. "A student's enrolment was considered to end on the l a s t day he attended c l a s s unless he attended the eighteenth or a l a t e r s e s s i o n . In t h i s case he was considered to have remained e n r o l l e d for the e n t i r e twenty-session period of the study" (1978:51). While t h i s d e f i n i t i o n allows for continuous or i n t e r m i t t e n t attendance, i t does award a bonus for the person attending eighteen sessions by co n s i d e r i n g that number of sessions to be the equivalent of attendance at a l l sessions. Further, those who attended any of the l a s t three sessions even a f t e r having been absent from almost a l l of the previous ones would s t i l l have been counted as e n r o l l e d . Other studies have considered students as dropouts a f t e r having been absent for three consecutive sessions. Cunningham (1973) defined p e r s i s t e n c e i n terms of whether students continued to attend, the r e g u l a r i t y of t h e i r attendance, and by the proportion of time they attended in r e l a t i o n to the number of days the course was o f f e r e d . Other s t u d i e s which have i n v e s t i g a t e d dropout and per s i s t e n c e have made an a r b i t r a r y d e c i s i o n whereby i f an 29 i n d i v i d u a l no longer attends a f t e r a predetermined point in the course, then that person i s deemed to have dropped out. Boshier defined a dropout as "a person who, a f t e r being present for session [ s i c ] 1 and 2, was absent for the mid-point session and four successive sessions of a c o n t i n u i n g course" (1973:264). Boshier j u s t i f i e d h i s d e f i n i t i o n on the grounds that a search of course records for two s t u d i e s he conducted showed that a person who was absent from the sessions s p e c i f i e d " r a r e l y returns for the l a t t e r part of the course" ( i b i d : 2 6 4 ) . Boshier's d e f i n i t i o n r e q uires a dropout to f u l f i l two c o n d i t i o n s , non-attendance at f i v e sessions beginning at the mid-point of the course and attendance at both of the f i r s t two sessions. While the former c o n d i t i o n may hold for the majority of dropouts, Boshier's d e f i n i t i o n would have been more d e f e n s i b l e i f he had reported on the proportion of cases he had observed when absentees d i d not r e t u r n . Of greater concern, however, i s the s t i p u l a t i o n that a person must have been present at the f i r s t two sessions. Boshier does not j u s t i f y s e t t i n g t h i s c o n d i t i o n . Yet, i t i s common in p r a c t i c e , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n adult basic education c l a s s e s , for e n r o l l e e s not to return for the second session a f t e r having attended the f i r s t . In other s t u d i e s presence i n a c l a s s at a f i x e d date i s deemed to represent p e r s i s t e n c e , and absence i s seen as dropout. F i x i n g a date for a d m i n i s t r a t i v e convenience in t h i s way obscures attendance patterns and i s vulnerable to p e c u l i a r l o c a l circumstances such as weather and an a l t e r n a t i v e a t t r a c t i o n . Novak and Weiant's study, for example, set a date i n March, s i x 30 months a f t e r the c l a s s e s had commenced. In that study a dropout was "an i n d i v i d u a l who has paid the r e g i s t r a t i o n fee, attended sessions of evening school, and l e f t before March 1. The p e r s i s t i n g students were those who were i n attendance a f t e r March 1" (1960:37). Another d e f i n i t i o n of dropout influenced by i n s t i t u t i o n a l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p o l i c i e s i s evident i n Ulmer and Verner's study in which "a student i s discontinued i n v o l u n t a r i l y i f he has been absent 15 percent of c l a s s time i n any semester" (1963:154). Borgstrom defined dropouts as " p a r t i c i p a n t s who have s t a r t e d a course ( i . e . attended at l e a s t one lesson) but have disc o n t i n u e d t h e i r s t u d i e s before the conclusion of the course" (1980:98). This d e f i n i t i o n allowed for p a r t i c i p a n t s to be c l a s s i f i e d as dropouts i f they were absent from the l a s t session a f t e r having attended a l l previous sessions. Borgstrom's d e f i n i t i o n , u n l i k e Boshier's, d i d not s p e c i f y attendance at the e a r l y sessions of the course. Instead, attendance for at l e a s t one session was a l l that was required. In h i s study of 142 adult high school completion students in a ten-week program, Wilson considered a student "to be a 'dropout' i f he formally withdrew, or i f he missed more than three of the weekly sessions i n any four week per i o d and was thus removed from the o f f i c a l c l a s s l i s t " (1980:177). Although the e f f e c t i s the same, Wilson made a d i s t i n c t i o n between those who f o r m a l l y acknowledged t h e i r withdrawal and those who d r i f t e d out of the c l a s s . His d e f i n i t i o n of a p e r s i s t e r embodied two c r i t e r i a , " i f he completed 10 weeks of i n s t r u c t i o n and/or 31 s u c c e s s f u l l y passed the GED t e s t s during that p e r i o d " (1980:176). This d e f i n i t i o n i s s i m i l a r to that used by Zahn i n that i t allows for r e c o g n i t i o n of academic work, so that passing the relevant t e s t s p r i o r to the completion of the course counted as p e r s i s t e n c e . Such a d e f i n i t i o n of p e r s i s t e n c e l a c k s conceptual consistency because two d i s c r e t e c r i t e r i a are encompassed, s u c c e s s f u l t e s t completion which i s a measure of academic achievement, and continued attendance which more ac c u r a t e l y conveys the notion of p e r s i s t e n c e . The former c r i t e r i o n a p p l i e s to those whom Hibbert described as " e a r l y completers," that i s , those who "derive a l l the b e n e f i t they r e q u i r e " (1978:151). In c o n t r a s t to some w r i t e r s , Hurkamp c l e a r l y stated her d e f i n i t i o n s of dropouts and completers. The former were "Students who discontinued a t t e n d a n c e — t h e t h i r d consecutive absence marking the point at which a student was 'dropped'--and students who were not present at e i t h e r of the l a s t two c l a s s meetings" (1969:5). By 'dropped' Hurkamp meant that such a student was considered as a dropout f o r the purposes of her study. On the other hand, completers were "Students who f i n i s h e d the term having had at no time more than two consecutive absences and who were present for at l e a s t one of the l a s t two c l a s s meetings" ( i b i d : 5 ) . These d e f i n i t i o n s were a p p l i e d to 55 courses o f f e r e d by a p u b l i c school i n a suburban New England town for ten weeks each term, for two terms. While these d e f i n i t i o n s are undeniably c l e a r c u t , c o n s i s t e n t , and r e l a t e only to attendance or non-attendance, they are among the 32 most s t r i n g e n t encountered by the w r i t e r in reviewing the 1 i t e r a t u r e . Dickinson and Verner, i n t h e i r study of 2075 persons e n r o l l i n g i n 98 courses i n a p u b l i c adult night school program i n a suburban d i s t r i c t near Vancouver, defined dropouts as "those who had e n r o l l e d i n a course but d i d not attend the f i n a l two sessions" (1967:25). In that study such a d e f i n i t i o n d i d not take i n t o account the length of courses which v a r i e d from three to f o r t y - f i v e sessions, with a median of twenty sessions. Given the voluntary nature of enrolment and p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n adult education, and the competing a c t i v i t i e s which adu l t s have to choose among i n t h e i r m u l t i p l e l i f e - r o l e s , i t i s i n e v i t a b l e that longer courses w i l l place greater s t r a i n s than shorter ones on an a d u l t ' s c o n t i n u i n g attendance. This p r o p o s i t i o n was, i n f a c t , confirmed by Dickinson and Verner's study i n which they noted "length of course alone would appear to be an important f a c t o r i n f l u e n c i n g the rate of discontinuance" ( i b i d : 2 8 ) , yet t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n i n v i t e d higher dropout rates to be recorded i n longer rather than shorter courses. Hence t h i s d e f i n i t i o n was c l e a r but c o n c e p t u a l l y weak. A summary of the d e f i n i t i o n s used i n previous studies i s p e r t i n e n t before reviewing the t h e o r e t i c a l foundations, data c o l l e c t i o n and a n a l y s i s procedures, and f i n d i n g s of previous s t u d i e s . I t has been noted that previous stud i e s have not been s p e c i f i c about the point at which withdrawal has c o n s t i t u t e d dropout; course work and attendance have been dual requirements; and the session at which p a r t i c i p a n t data have been c o l l e c t e d 33 has not always been the f i r s t , thereby excluding those who had dropped out e a r l y in the course. Most studi e s which have defined c l e a r l y the point i n the course at which non-attendance c o n s t i t u t e d dropout have s e l e c t e d a continuous period of non-attendance, or have followed the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p r a c t i c e of the p r o v i d i n g i n s t i t u t i o n (not a concept u a l l y sound basi s where attendance or absence on a s p e c i f i c date i s the means used to determine a p a r t i c i p a n t ' s attendance s t a t u s ) , or have decided a r b i t r a r i l y on non-attendance at a predetermined and subsequent sessions. While these d e f i n i t i o n s take account of the d e f i c i e n c i e s noted in other s t u d i e s , t h e i r lack of consistency makes for d i f f i c u l t y in comparing dropout r a t e s , even with s i m i l a r populations. Wilson's (1980) study was an exception to other stud i e s in that he made a d i s t i n c t i o n between formal withdrawal and absence over consecutive sessions. In many studies researchers have invoked t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n to c l a s s i f y p a r t i c i p a n t s as p e r s i s t e r s or dropouts a f t e r reviewing course attendance records. A problem a r i s i n g from most d e f i n i t i o n s of dropout which have decided on non-attendance at p a r t i c u l a r sessions as t h e i r b a s i s for determining a p a r t i c i p a n t ' s attendance status has been an i n a b i l i t y to take i n t o account v a r i a t i o n s in course length. For example, absence from three consecutive sessions or from the f i n a l three sessions represents a d i f f e r e n t p roportion of the time a course i s o f f e r e d i f i t i s of eight or ten sessions' duration compared with one 45 sessions i n length. The d e f i n i t i o n e s t a b l i s h e d for t h i s study took account of 34 the c r i t i c i s m s made of the d e f i n i t i o n s reviewed. As i n d i c a t e d in the i n t r o d u c t i o n to t h i s chapter, f o r the purposes of t h i s study a d i s t i n c t i o n i s made between dropouts and p e r s i s t e r s . A fur t h e r d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n i s made among p a r t i c i p a n t s depending on t h e i r rate of attendance. Because the instruments were administered at the f i r s t s e s s i o n , only those i n d i v i d u a l s who attended that session and completed the instruments were included i n the study. Such a c o n d i t i o n a l s o takes account of the c r i t i c i s m that was made of Boshier's d e f i n i t i o n which required attendance at the f i r s t two sessions. I t a l s o takes account of the c r i t i c i s m that was made of d e f i n i t i o n s which combined work requirements and attendance, and those which included attendance for a l l but the f i n a l sessions of the course. Women whose f i r s t attendance at the course was the second or subsequent session were excluded from the study i r r e s p e c t i v e of t h e i r attendance behaviour. T h e o r e t i c a l Foundations Few stud i e s on dropout and per s i s t e n c e have been t h e o r e t i c a l l y based. Exceptions to t h i s general tendency are i n v e s t i g a t i o n s by Zahn and P h i l l i p s (1961); Boshier (1972; 1973); I r i s h (1978); Rubenson and Hoghielm (1978); and Z e i g l e r (1980). Zahn and P h i l l i p s drew on a theory of r i s k - t a k i n g behaviour in a study of 72 ad u l t s e n r o l l e d i n three i n t r o d u c t o r y psychology courses o f f e r e d by U n i v e r s i t y Extension, U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a , Berkeley. The theory p o s t u l a t e d that i f 35 students' motives to avoid f a i l u r e are stronger than the need to avoid success, they are l i k e l y e i t h e r to attempt a very simple task where there i s a strong l i k e l i h o o d of success, or they w i l l attempt a task so d i f f i c u l t to achieve that the embarrassment of f a i l u r e does not e x i s t . The hypothesis i n the study l i n k i n g low academic aptitu d e to a tendency to dropout was sustained. The s t a t i s t i c a l r e l a t i o n s h i p i n the second hypothesis l i n k i n g high a n x i e t y to dropout d i d not reach the p r e s c r i b e d l e v e l of s i g n i f i c a n c e . However, i t i s p o s s i b l e that t h i s f i n d i n g can be a t t r i b u t e d to the f a c t that the anxiety measure was taken s e v e r a l sessions a f t e r the c l a s s had begun, hence p a r t i c i p a n t s had had time to adjust. Another p o s s i b l e explanation for the r e s u l t of t e s t i n g the second hypothesis may l i e i n the f a c t that most dropout had occurred by the time the instrument was administered, l e a v i n g the researchers having few anxiety scores for those who withdrew. (Only seven out of 24 who dropped out completed the anxiety-measuring instrument). Having c o l l e c t e d these data from so few of the sample represents a major d e f i c i e n c y i n that study's research design. In h i s study of 134 a d u l t s i n adult high school, Londoner (1972a) argued that the importance a p a r t i c i p a n t attaches to the goals f o r educational involvement p r e d i c t s perseverance behaviours. The t h e o r e t i c a l b a s i s for that study was Parsons' i n s t r u m e n t a l - e x t e r n a l model for c l a s s i f y i n g a c t i o n o r i e n t a t i o n s . In t h i s model the a c t i o n s of i n d i v i d u a l s are c l a s s i f i e d according to the timing of the reward received when p a r t i c i p a t i n g in these a c t i v i t i e s . Some a c t i v i t i e s y i e l d 36 immediate reward while others postpone i t u n t i l the f u t u r e . Parsons, according to Londoner (1972a:181), c a l l e d the l a t t e r the instrumental o r i e n t a t i o n of h i s schema. This dimension has two f u t u r e - o r i e n t e d f u n c t i o n s . Londoner argued that perseverers " p a r t i c i p a t e i n adult education to achieve future t a n g i b l e goals which strengthen t h e i r e x t e r n a l o r i e n t a t i o n s to the work and s o c i a l environments" whereas nonperseverers " e n r o l l i n adult education to s a t i s f y personal inner d i r e c t e d needs which would r e s u l t i n a more in t e g r a t e d , s t a b l e , and s e l f - a s s u r e d person in the v o c a t i o n a l and s o c i a l environments" ( i b i d : 1 8 1 ) . Using the c h i square t e s t Londoner found no s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e s between the two groups i n regard to age, sex, m a r i t a l s t a t u s , and annual income. However, he found that those who rated the e x t e r n a l l y o r i e n t e d goals higher rather than lower i n importance tended to be perseverers. On the other hand, p r o p o r t i o n a t e l y more nonperseverers rated the i n t e r n a l l y o r i e n t e d goals higher than lower i n importance. These f i n d i n g s l e d Londoner to the t e n t a t i v e conclusion that "the greater the personal r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s vested upon the adult learner through h i s changing s o c i a l r o l e s the more l i k e l y he i s to complete h i s educational program" ( i b i d : 1 9 4 ) . Although that study had l i m i t a t i o n s in terms of the lack of a d e f i n i t i v e d i s t i n c t i o n between the two groups, and the use of a sub-sample of only 26 of 108 perseverers, i t was based on an e s t a b l i s h e d s o c i o l o g i c a l model, drew a t t e n t i o n to the importance of p a r t i c i p a n t s ' goals in e n r o l l i n g in adult education, and t e n t a t i v e l y suggested some i m p l i c a t i o n s for p r a c t i t i o n e r s to 37 reduce the occurrence of dropout. A follow-up study by Londoner (1972b) measured how perceptive teachers of a d u l t s were of the d i f f e r e n c e s in the reasons given by completers and dropouts for e n r o l l i n g in adult education. Using the Spearman rank-order c o r r e l a t i o n c o e f f i c i e n t , he found s i g n i f i c a n t a s s o c i a t i o n s between teachers' and completers' assessment of the importance of the goals and between teachers' and dropouts' assessment of goal importance. Londoner claims that h i s "data suggest teachers need to provide o p p o r t u n i t i e s for adult students to express t h e i r reasons and goals for p a r t i c i p a t i n g " and f u r t h e r that "Unresolved or misunderstood goals, expectations, or personal a n t i c i p a t i o n s by teachers and students may lead to withdrawal" (I972b:280). I r i s h explored the u t i l i t y of reinforcement theory and the f u n c t i o n a l a n a l y s i s of behaviour to e x p l a i n dropout i n adult education. She argued the Net reinforcement of the c r i t e r i o n behavior of c l a s s attendance i s the sum of four v e c t o r s : p o s i t i v e reinforcement, which i s more frequent occurence [ s i c ] of valued events; ommission [ s i c ] , which i s l e s s frequent occurrence of valued events; negative reinforcement, which i s l e s s frequent occurrence of dis v a l u e d events; and punishment, which i s more frequent occurrence of dis v a l u e d events. P o s i t i v e and negative reinforcement make the c r i t e r i o n behavior more probable; ommission and punishment make i t l e s s probable. (1978:6) To apply the theory, I r i s h developed an instrument designed to measure reinforcement for c l a s s attendance according to "information on the r e l a t i v e power and frequency of occurrence of s e l e c t e d p o t e n t i a l r e i n f o r c e r s for each subject" ( i b i d : 6 ) . 38 To test the instrument, the researcher s e l e c t e d a population of women e n r o l l e d in seven-session evening business education c l a s s e s at Forest H i l l s High School, U.S.A. during the summer term, 1977. Despite her thorough instrument development, I r i s h ' s f i n a l r e s u l t s c l a i m i n g that 64.3 percent of the p e r s i s t e r s and 84.2 percent of the dropouts were c o r r e c t l y p r e d i c t e d (ibid:109) have to be accepted with r e s e r v a t i o n s . T o t a l enrolment included 152 women. The sample was drawn from women i n attendance at the second session of the course, presumably a f t e r some dropout had occurred. This f a c t was not acknowledged but can be deduced from the f i g u r e s presented. A l l women i n attendance at the second session who subsequently dropped out were included, as w e l l as 41 (of 56) p e r s i s t e r s who were randomly s e l e c t e d , y i e l d i n g a t o t a l sample of 76. The f i r s t m a i l i n g produced a response rate of 61.8 percent, and included 68.3 percent of p e r s i s t e r s and 54.3 percent of dropouts. Hence the scale was tested on 47 women whose c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i n regard to the remainder of' the sample were not reported. Despite these caveats, one f i n d i n g reported by I r i s h of relevance to t h i s study was "Among women who discon t i n u e d attendance, attending c l a s s was r e l a t i v e l y poorly r e i n f o r c e d " ( i b i d : 1 l 0 ) . For h i s study of pe r s i s t e n c e i n c r e d i t courses o f f e r e d by the O f f i c e of Continuing Education at the Ohio State U n i v e r s i t y , Z e i g l e r (1980) based h i s research on expectancy theory. Three hundred and f o r t y - f o u r students e n r o l l i n g for the f i r s t time were the target population, but because many students d e c l i n e d 39 to allow access to information r e l a t i n g to them and others supplied i l l e g i b l e or f a u l t y addresses and telephone numbers, the sample was reduced to 145, approximately 42 percent of the newly r e g i s t e r i n g students. The g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y of the r e s u l t s from the study are l i m i t e d by the researcher's not being able to compare h i s f i n d i n g s with data for other students, e i t h e r those newly r e g i s t e r i n g or those r e t u r n i n g . The study was f u r t h e r l i m i t e d by only 38 percent (N = 55) of the sample completing both a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s of the survey instrument, although he had s u f f i c i e n t data from 113 to t e s t some of h i s hypotheses. According to Z e i g l e r Expectancy theory, which i s often r e f e r r e d to as i n s t r u m e n t a l i t y theory or v a l e n c e - i n s t r u m e n t a l i t y -expectancy (VIE) theory, i s founded on the b e l i e f that i n d i v i d u a l s hold c e r t a i n expectancies i n terms of behaviors and outcomes r e s u l t i n g from those behaviors. (1980:26) In order to t e s t h i s hypotheses based on t h i s theory, Z e i g l e r (ibid:41) computed a M o t i v a t i o n a l Force score using an instrument adapted from three expectancy theory models: those of Vroom, the Michigan O r g a n i z a t i o n a l Assessment Package, and Lawler and S u t t l e . One of Z e i g l e r ' s f i n d i n g s was "there was no s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e between a chance p r e d i c t i o n and the a b i l i t y of the expectancy theory model to p r e d i c t p e r s i s t e n c e at the .05 l e v e l " ( i b i d : 8 l ) , a r e s u l t which the researcher considered might have been due to the l i m i t e d sample s i z e and to the r e l a t i v e l y small number of dropouts (N = 20). E a r l i e r , Rubenson and Hoghielm (1978) had a l s o a p p l i e d 40 expectancy valency theory. This theory postulates that people's choice of an a c t i v i t y r e f l e c t s a product of the value they a t t a c h to the r e s u l t of t h e i r a c t i o n s and of t h e i r expectations of being able to c a r r y out that a c t i o n . The researchers' model implied that the strength of p a r t i c i p a n t s ' power to continue studying was a f u n c t i o n of the product of valency and e x p e c t a t i o n . The former construct was used to r e f e r to the value placed on p a r t i c i p a t i o n to meet c e r t a i n needs. The expectation of being s u c c e s s f u l i s the other component of the model. I f e i t h e r expectation or valency should drop to zero, the model p r e d i c t s that p a r t i c i p a t i o n w i l l f o l l o w s u i t , and dropout w i l l ensue. Adult education has a h i s t o r y of borrowing and reformulating research from other d i s c i p l i n e s . The work of s o c i a l p s y c h o l o g i s t s who have developed the notions of c o g n i t i v e dissonance theory, consistency and congruence, and p s y c h o l o g i s t s who have been concerned with self-esteem, s t r e s s and anxiety i s p e r t i n e n t to t h i s study. Cognitive dissonance From a p s y c h o l o g i c a l perspective two t h e o r i e s of relevance to the r e l a t i o n s h i p between self-esteem and p e r s i s t e n c e or dropout are the t h e o r i e s of dissonance and consistency. The c l a i m that people who have experienced success i n the past or who are confident of t h e i r a b i l i t y w i l l succeed in the future i s supported by s e v e r a l t h e o r e t i c a l perspectives and case s t u d i e s . In adult education, for example, people with a higher l e v e l of 41 formal education are more l i k e l y to e n r o l than those with a lower l e v e l . S i m i l a r l y , once e n r o l l e d , the former tend to continue longer than the l a t t e r . However, the view that people who hold a low opinion of themselves or who have f a i l e d i n the past w i l l tend to f a i l i n the future i s l e s s tenable. Research c a r r i e d out to t e s t the l a t t e r p r o p o s i t i o n i s ambiguous i n i t s f i n d i n g s . Some of t h i s research has been conducted to t e s t dissonance theory as formulated by Festinger (1957). Simply, i f a person expects to f a i l , the experience of success w i l l be dissonant. In order to reduce dissonance, an i n d i v i d u a l w i l l avoid success. Applied to adult education t h i s theory would suggest that a person with a h i s t o r y of l i m i t e d academic achievement in the formal educational system or previous experience of dropping out may do so again to avoid success. People experiencing dissonance i n an adult education context can reduce the p s y c h o l o g i c a l tensions they f e e l by decreasing the importance of the elements causing them discomfort, or they may increase the value of the b e n e f i t s to be gained by p e r s i s t i n g , or they may drop out of the program. Incongruence A s i m i l a r notion to dissonance i s that of incongruence. The concepts of congruence and incongruence are c e n t r a l to understanding c o g n i t i v e processing. They are used to e x p l a i n a p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of harmony and disharmony i n c o g n i t i v e elements. These elements may be described as congruent when 42 they have common a t t r i b u t e s on a schema d e s c r i b i n g the same person, object or event. Conversely, these elements are seen as incongruent when they have discrepant c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s on the same c r i t e r i o n . The l a t t e r s t a t e i s e x e m p l i f i e d when a person i s judged as "hard-working" and " l a z y " on the same schema. Boshier's model for assessing the a d u l t ' s a b i l i t y to p a r t i c i p a t e s u c c e s s f u l l y i n adult education invoked the l a t t e r n o tion. He suggested that " p a r t i c i p a n t s who e n r o l l for 'd e f i c i e n c y ' reasons manifest more i n t r a - s e l f (and thus s e l f / o t h e r ) incongruence than p a r t i c i p a n t s e n r o l l i n g f or 'growth' reasons" (Boshier 1973:261). Incongruence with the s e l f and the l e a r n i n g environment tends to induce s e l f -r e j e c t i o n , and dropout may f o l l o w . Conversely, a person experiencing congruence with the s e l f and with the l e a r n i n g environment i s more l i k e l y to p e r s i s t . Boshier tested h i s congruence model on data c o l l e c t e d from 1372 p a r t i c i p a n t s e n r o l l e d in adult education programs i n four New Zealand i n s t i t u t i o n s . Using three semantic d i f f e r e n t i a l s c a l e s , s e l f / o t h e r adult education student, self/my adult education l e c t u r e r , and s e l f / m y s e l f as I would l i k e to be, he c a l c u l a t e d t o t a l discrepancy scores representing the degree of incongruence reported by h i s s u b j e c t s . Boshier found that the c o r r e l a t i o n s between these scores and dropout accounted for over 30 percent of the variance in the dependent v a r i a b l e ( i b i d : 2 7 5 ) . He argued that "high or large s e l f / o t h e r discrepancy scores are asso c i a t e d with dropout behavior, w h i l s t low or small discrepancy scores are a s s o c i a t e d with p e r s i s t e n c e behavior" 43 ( i b i d : 2 7 5 ) . However, i t should be noted that the data were c o l l e c t e d from those p a r t i c i p a n t s present at the second session of the programs i n which they had e n r o l l e d . People who attended only the f i r s t session or who were absent from the second, but subsequently completed the course, were apparently excluded from c o n s i d e r a t i o n although t h e i r e x c l u s i o n was not discussed. In a study of a d u l t s r e t u r n i n g to a c o l l e g e s e t t i n g , Clarke (1980:93) noted that p o s i t i v e and negative forces produced c o n t r a d i c t o r y tensions. While a d u l t s may be prompted to en r o l to reduce an educational d e f i c i e n c y i n t h e i r l i v e s , the presence of the d e f i c i e n c y i t s e l f may undermine t h e i r e f f o r t to improve. Such a view i s supported by the research of Morstain and Smart (1974:85-88) who found that many adult l e a r n e r s p a r t i c i p a t e in adult education to overcome d e f i c i e n c i e s i n t h e i r l i v e s . Clarke found many a d u l t s r e t u r n i n g to c o l l e g e to reduce or e l i m i n a t e d e f i c i e n c i e s i n t h e i r educational experience or q u a l i f i c a t i o n s which c o n t r i b u t e d to the reduction of the range of choices a v a i l a b l e to them i n adult l i f e . Zahn ( 1 9 6 9 ) , too, noted negative perceptions and f e e l i n g s of powerlessness among ad u l t s which she l i n k e d to l e a r n i n g d i f f i c u l t i e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y f or those engaged i n r o l e t r a n s i t i o n . Consi stency According to consistency theory i n d i v i d u a l s who have high self-esteem w i l l react more favourably to those who evaluate them p o s i t i v e l y than to those who evaluate them n e g a t i v e l y . Conversely, those whose self-esteem i s low are postulated to 44 prefer negative e v a l u a t o r s . The r a t i o n a l e o f f e r e d for t h i s preference l i e s in people with low self-esteem being more comfortable with information which does not create dissonance. Schlenker, S o r a c i , and McCarthy (1976) suggested that i n d i v i d u a l s with high self-esteem are used to experiencing personal success, prefer favourable feedback, and are l i k e l y to r e j e c t negative feedback. On the other hand, i n d i v i d u a l s with low self-esteem are used to experiencing f a i l u r e , are w i l l i n g to accept negative feedback, and can r e j e c t favourable feedback. Other studies support t h i s f i n d i n g . I t i s reasonable to i n f e r from the research that i n d i v i d u a l s with high self-esteem g e n e r a l l y expect success, while those with low self-esteem t y p i c a l l y expect f a i l u r e , although t h i s perception i s modified when there are prospects of being s u c c e s s f u l . Self-enhancement Self-enhancement theory, on the other hand, a s s e r t s that i n d i v i d u a l s attempt to maximize t h e i r self-esteem. Accordingly, i n d i v i d u a l s need to view themselves as favourably as p o s s i b l e . Doing so may r e s u l t in an increase in or the p r e s e r v a t i o n of f e e l i n g s of s a t i s f a c t i o n , worth and competence with respect to the s e l f . While the consequence of p o s i t i v e feedback to those with high self-esteem i s p r e d i c t e d to be the same as for consistency theory, a major d i f f e r e n c e between the two t h e o r i e s i s the p r e d i c t e d r e a c t i o n of people with low self-esteem to p o s i t i v e feedback. These i n d i v i d u a l s are presumed to have a need for enhanced s e l f - p e r c e p t i o n s and w i l l , t h e r e f o r e , react 45 favourably to p o s i t i v e e v a l u a t i o n s . As far as negative comments are concerned, self-enhancement theory i n d i c a t e s that people with low self-esteem would be a n t i c i p a t e d to respond n e g a t i v e l y to f a i l u r e , otherwise they would not be a c t i n g to increase t h e i r self-esteem. Hence t h i s t h e o r e t i c a l p o s i t i o n appears to support the d e s i r a b i l i t y of p r o v i d i n g p o s i t i v e feedback i n adult education programs. S i g a l l and Gould (1977:13) argued that low self-esteem people w i l l t r y to succeed when they b e l i e v e they w i l l be able to succeed. Their data d i d not support the argument that i n d i v i d u a l s seek to f a i l because they want to be c o n s i s t e n t . For adult educators that study suggests that even i f p a r t i c i p a n t s have a low self-esteem because of l i f e (and educational) experiences they may w e l l p e r s i s t in attendance provided that they b e l i e v e they have a chance of being s u c c e s s f u l i n a p a r t i c u l a r course. Bandura (1977) provided a u s e f u l explanation of t a s k - s p e c i f i c f a i l u r e . He suggested that persuading an i n d i v i d u a l that some a c t i o n was u s e f u l would have no e f f e c t unless that person a l s o b e l i e v e d that he could perform i t s u c c e s s f u l l y . Hence p a r t i c i p a t i o n in an adult education course may continue i f a person i s convinced that progress i s being made s u c c e s s f u l l y . As a consequence of the f a c t that r e l a t i v e l y few s t u d i e s have been soundly based t h e o r e t i c a l l y , data c o l l e c t i o n has been not been in f l u e n c e d by w e l l - e s t a b l i s h e d t h e o r e t i c a l p r o p o s i t i o n s . Instead demographic and s o c i a l background data have been predominant. Data c o l l e c t i o n procedures are reviewed 46 next. Data C o l l e c t i o n Verner and Davis (1964) c l a s s i f i e d e x i s t i n g studies as e i t h e r " r e a c t i o n a l " or "comparative." The former category included those studies which t r i e d to a s c e r t a i n from dropouts t h e i r reasons for withdrawing from a program, often attempting to d i s t i n g u i s h between course and non-course f a c t o r s . In her review of r e t e n t i o n and withdrawal on American c o l l e g e students, K n o e l l (1960) l a b e l l e d s i m i l a r research "autopsy s t u d i e s " because of t h e i r attempts to i d e n t i f y the reasons for a t t r i t i o n by asking dropouts why they had withdrawn. Several researchers have pointed out the l i m i t a t i o n s a r i s i n g from seeking p a r t i c i p a n t s ' reasons for p e r s i s t i n g in or dropping out of a course. K n o e l l a l s o expressed the view that "A moratorium might w e l l be declared on what have been c a l l e d 'autopsy s t u d i e s ' " (1966:70) arguing that future research could more p r o f i t a b l y focus on environmental press and a c t i o n programs. Boshier argued that "dropouts are i n c l i n e d to dwell on one i n c i d e n t , the l a s t in a long s e r i e s of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n s , and are defensive i n t e l l i n g the t r u t h " (1973:261). A serious drawback in t h i s type of research i s that interviewees may provide r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n s for t h e i r attendance behaviour. Further, by t r y i n g to d i s t i n g u i s h between course and non-course reasons for withdrawal, researchers may a r t i f i c a l l y create a d i s t i n c t i o n whereas i n r e a l i t y the reasons for withdrawal are i n v a r i a b l y complex. 47 Comparative s t u d i e s , the second category i d e n t i f i e d by Verner and Davis, have drawn d i s t i n c t i o n s between p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts on numerous c r i t e r i a , i n c l u d i n g demographic data, such as education, age, sex, and socio-economic s t a t u s . Course-r e l a t e d experiences, whether i n - c l a s s v a r i a b l e s , such as i n s t r u c t o r c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s or learn e r achievement, or e x t r a -c l a s s f a c t o r s , for example, transport d i f f i c u l t i e s or spouse support, have .also been the focus of comparisons. F i n a l l y , c o n t r a s t s have been made on p e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s , such as need achievement and self-acceptance. The d e f i n i t i o n of a dropout used by Novak and Weiant (i960) was r e f e r r e d to e a r l i e r . However, the a p p l i c a t i o n of t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n to t h e i r data c o l l e c t i o n was f a u l t y . Even though 99 women were e l i g i b l e to be contacted as dropouts, only 70 received questionnaires because the others "had r e g i s t e r e d , but never came to c l a s s , or attended only the f i r s t week, or attended s p o r a d i c a l l y during the f i r s t month" (1960:38). A d e f i c i e n c y i s t h e i r f a i l u r e to i d e n t i f y the numbers in each of the three c a t e g o r i e s excluded from the study of dropouts. Somewhat s u r p r i s i n g i s t h e i r d i s m i s s a l of these women as representing "the unstable, c u r i o u s , or d r i f t e r types of i n d i v i d u a l s so often encountered i n adult evening schools" ( i b i d : 3 8 ) . Even then, r e p l i e s were received from only 36 of the 79 women contacted, and no attempt was made to d i s t i n g u i s h the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of those who r e p l i e d from those who d i d not. The subsequent f i n d i n g s , t h e r e f o r e , have to be viewed with considerable c a u t i o n . 48 Post-course surveys, apart from being c r i t i c i z e d for the l i k e l i h o o d of dropouts p r o v i d i n g r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n s for t h e i r withdrawal, s u f f e r l i m i t a t i o n s when data are c o l l e c t e d from a proportion of the sample whose representativeness i s e i t h e r not known or not st a t e d (e.g., Novak and Weiant 1960; Glynn and Jones 1967). In the l a t t e r study the researchers mailed 1049 questionnaires to p a r t i c i p a n t s who had dropped out of courses at the C i t y L i t e r a r y I n s t i t u t e in London, England. In response 472 r e p l i e s were recei v e d , so again the f i n d i n g s must be viewed c o n d i t i o n a l l y . Concerned with the high dropout rate i n municipal adult schools in Sweden, Borgstrom conducted interviews with 115 dropouts (17.4 percent of those i n t h i s category) whose means of s e l e c t i o n were not s p e c i f i e d . O v e r a l l , approximately two-thirds of those who e n r o l l e d d i d not complete the courses which were a year long. (As Dickinson and Verner showed, length of course c o n t r i b u t e d to an increase in the rate of dropout). Borgstrom, while acknowledging that dropping out should be regarded as the r e s u l t of s e v e r a l f a c t o r s combined, reported "the dominant f a c t o r s are those connected with experience of the teaching s i t u a t i o n " (1980:102). L i m i t a t i o n s i n data c o l l e c t i o n methods in r e a c t i o n a l and comparative stud i e s have been i d e n t i f i e d . In the former r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n s for attendance behaviour may preclude soundly based i n t e r v e n t i o n s to reduce the problem of dropout. The l a t t e r type of study has tended to be d e s c r i p t i v e rather than a n a l y t i c a l , and has not been suggestive of a c t i o n s t o c o n t r o l 49 problems a s s o c i a t e d with dropout. Data c o l l e c t e d a f t e r the f i r s t session have often r e s u l t e d i n inadequate representation of a l l groups of p a r t i c i p a n t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y dropouts. This d e f i c i e n c y has been exacerbated when the representativeness of those who provided data has not been e s t a b l i s h e d . The f i n d i n g s and conclusions from these s t u d i e s , as a consequence, must be viewed with c a u t i o n . The next s e c t i o n examines some of the techniques which have been used to analyze data once they have been c o l l e c t e d . Data A n a l y s i s In t h e i r review of research on completers and dropouts, Verner and Davis (1964:163) reported that 23 of the studies they considered d i d not provide evidence of t h e i r authors' having tes t e d the v a l i d i t y of the data presented. The reviewers concluded that m a r i t a l s t a t u s , education, age, occupation, and the rate of s o c i a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n seemed to be r e l a t e d to the pe r s i s t e n c e of attendance, although they claimed that i n none of those s t u d i e s was the research s u f f i c i e n t l y s o p h i s t i c a t e d to e s t a b l i s h the nature and extent of the r e l a t i o n s h i p c o n c l u s i v e l y . Many of the studies considered by Verner and Davis reported frequencies without t e s t i n g for s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e s . Other s t u d i e s (e.g., Ulmer and Verner 1963) have used t - t e s t s to measure d i f f e r e n c e s between mean scores on s e l e c t e d v a r i a b l e s for p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts. The most common s t a t i s t i c a l techniques used to d i s t i n g u i s h between p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts have been c h i square and product-moment 50 c o r r e l a t i o n s . One of the f i r s t s tudies to use a s t a t i s t i c a l design i n which s e v e r a l f a c t o r s were considered simultaneously was that conducted by Sainty whose sample c o n s i s t e d of 104 male a d u l t s undergoing academic upgrading at the A l b e r t a V o c a t i o n a l Centre in Calgary. The researcher used the m u l t i p l e l i n e a r regression technique to measure r e l a t i o n s h i p s between s e l e c t e d p r e d i c t o r v a r i a b l e s and dropout or completion. He found the three best p r e d i c t o r s "were age, number of grades repeated, and the number of changes of employment i n the previous twelve months, which y i e l d e d a m u l t i p l e R of 0.656" (1971:227). Men who dropped out were younger, had repeated more grades i n school, and had changed jobs more often in the previous twelve months than p e r s i s t e r s . Unfortunately, Sainty d i d not define the key terms, completion and dropout. Boshier (1969; 1972; 1973) i n a s e r i e s of a r t i c l e s on dropout used sev e r a l s t a t i s t i c a l techniques, among them f a c t o r a n a l y s i s , m u l t i p l e r e g r e s s i o n , and c h i square analyses, to develop an instrument and t e s t congruence theory for the p r e d i c t i o n and diagnosis of dropout. The l i m i t a t i o n s of Boshier's d e f i n i t i o n of dropout ( o m i t t i n g to note the proportion of p a r t i c i p a n t s not r e t u r n i n g a f t e r the mid-point of the course and, more s e r i o u s l y , only c o l l e c t i n g data from those present at the second session of the courses studied) were pointed out e a r l i e r i n t h i s chapter and could have a f f e c t e d h i s f i n d i n g s . T r u e s d e l l (1976) a l s o used m u l t i p l e regression a n a l y s i s and found that of the v a r i a b l e s he considered, the most i n f l u e n t i a l 51 was place of residence (defined on the basis of the Canadian province of r e s i d e n c e ) , a broad category which in turn r e f l e c t e d economic c o n d i t i o n s w i t h i n the u n i t of t e r r i t o r y s e l e c t e d . In order of importance in accounting for the t o t a l variance, place of residence was followed by p r e t r a i n i n g occupation, a t t i t u d e toward the course, p r e t r a i n i n g labour force s t a t u s , unemployment r a t e , and the number of months employed i n the previous three years. D i s c r i m i n a t e a n a l y s i s was used by Jones i n h i s study of 172 adult students i n ABE/GED c l a s s e s in western Kansas a f t e r he had t e s t e d 30 b i v a r i a t e hypotheses by the c h i square s t a t i s t i c and t - t e s t s for socio-demographic, educational and c o u r s e - r e l a t e d v a r i a b l e s as w e l l as p a r t i c i p a n t s ' scores on Rotter's I n t e r n a l -E x t e r n a l (I-E) Scale. The sample was reduced to 108 for the d i s c r i m i n a t e a n a l y s i s procedure because of missing data. Eight v a r i a b l e s : ethnic group; sex; distance to c l a s s ; whether there had been h e a l t h reasons for l e a v i n g school; I-E Score; income l e v e l ; whether enrolment had been suggested by a person from a s e r v i c e agency; and age at l e a v i n g school were entered i n t o the a n a l y s i s . Only the f i r s t two v a r i a b l e s were s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t at the .05 l e v e l of p r o b a b i l i t y . Caucasians were more i n c l i n e d to p e r s i s t than members of m i n o r i t y groups, and women had higher rates of p e r s i s t e n c e than men (Jones 1979:48). Using the d i s c r i m i n a t e technique, Jones' study p r e d i c t e d 75.7 percent of p e r s i s t e r s (N = 74) and 64.7 percent of nonpersisters (N = 34). O v e r a l l , 72.2 percent of cases were c o r r e c t l y c l a s s i f i e d ( i b i d : 4 9 ) . These f i n d i n g s , however, must be viewed 52 with c aution because of the researcher's acknowledged l i m i t a t i o n that i n a c t i v e students were c l a s s i f i e d as n o n p e r s i s t e r s , a dangerous assumption in view of the f a c t that 29.1 percent of the sample were in t h i s category. Wilson combined two s t a t i s t i c a l procedures, p r i n c i p a l component a n a l y s i s and m u l t i v a r i a t e a n a l y s i s of covariance, to t e s t h i s s i n g l e n u l l hypothesis. Using the H o t e l l i n g ' s T2 procedure, Wilson found the A d j e c t i v e Check L i s t scale score d i f f e r e n c e s between p e r s i s t e r s (defined i n terms of course completion or s u c c e s s f u l l y passing the GED t e s t s , a conceptual confusion that has been c r i t i c i z e d by t h i s w r i t e r ) and dropouts to be s i g n i f i c a n t (1980:179). Some studie s have focused on v a r i a b l e s which are consequent upon the d e c i s i o n to withdraw from an adult education program. In r e a c t i o n a l or autopsy-type research, non-class f a c t o r s are f r e q u e n t l y reported by dropouts to e x p l a i n t h e i r withdrawal from courses. Determining the v a l i d i t y of such professed reasons as i l l n e s s , t r a n s p o r t a t i o n d i f f i c u l t i e s , c h i l d care problems, or inclement weather, i n the research conducted i s d i f f i c u l t . Nevertheless, these are f a c t o r s which have been considered. Findings from dropout s t u d i e s are summarized i n the next sect i on. Findings The f i n d i n g s from s e v e r a l s t u d i e s have already been r e f e r r e d to i n previous s e c t i o n s where the focus has been on other aspects of these s t u d i e s . As the evidence which f o l l o w s 53 shows, the f i n d i n g s from studies of dropout and pe r s i s t e n c e are often c o n t r a d i c t o r y . Several f a c t o r s c o n t r i b u t e to t h i s problem, i n c l u d i n g use of d i f f e r e n t d e f i n i t i o n s of "dropout" and "pe r s i s t e n c e , " varying c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of populations studied and the samples s e l e c t e d , u n s a t i s f a c t o r y data c o l l e c t i o n procedures which bias samples, and l i m i t e d s t a t i s t i c a l techniques. Despite the complexity of the problem of dropout, many studie s use only s i n g l e v a r i a b l e s to assess the l i k e l i h o o d of withdrawal. Yet i t has been shown that s i n g l e v a r i a b l e studies adopt an o v e r s i m p l i f i e d approach to the problem. There are many f a c t o r s which operate simultaneously to moderate, r e i n f o r c e , or emphasize the f a c t o r s which c o n t r i b u t e to pers i s t e n c e or dropout. However, because many st u d i e s have focused on b i v a r i a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the. f i n d i n g s from t h i s type of research are summarized under t h e i r f o l l o w i n g headings: demographic f a c t o r s , p e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s , mental a b i l i t y , goal achievement, classroom f a c t o r s , and s o c i e t a l c o n d i t i o n s . The f i n d i n g s from m u l t i - f a c t o r research are a l s o considered. Demographic f a c t o r s In f i v e of the studie s reviewed by Verner and Davis (1964), young a d u l t s dropped out more fr e q u e n t l y than older a d u l t s . This f i n d i n g has subsequently been confirmed by K i l l i a n (1969), Dickinson and Verner (1967:28) and Boshier (1973:266). The last-mentioned researcher l i n k e d the f i n d i n g of t h i s a s s o c i a t i o n to t h e o r e t i c a l foundations when he drew on s e l f theory and the 54 research of l i f e c y c l e p s y c h o l o g i s t s . Yet i n other s t u d i e s , age was not s i g n i f i c a n t l y r e l a t e d to c o n t i n u i t y of attendance (e.g., Ulmer and Verner 1963:156; and Jones 1979:42).. However, most studie s have shown an inverse r e l a t i o n s h i p between age and dropout. Verner and Davis (1964) reported f i v e s t u d i e s i n which those with more education were found to be more p e r s i s t e n t in attendance than those with l e s s education, yet these studies d i d not use t e s t s of s i g n i f i c a n c e . However, T r u e s d e l l (1976:157) d i d so and found those with fewer years of schooling were more i n c l i n e d to drop out than those with more years. E a r l i e r , Dickinson and Verner (1967:30) found no s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between years of schooling completed and dropout. A r e l a t e d , though d i s t i n c t , background v a r i a b l e to years of schooling i s extent of p r i o r adult education experience which was measured by Brown, Knox, and Grotelueschen as the number of previous courses attended. These researchers found the r e l a t i o n s h i p between t h i s v a r i a b l e and withdrawal was s i g n i f i c a n t f o r only a sub-population " c o n s i s t i n g of young a d u l t s with l e s s than one year of c o l l e g e and with lower verbal i n t e l l i g e n c e and family income" (1966:111). Dickinson and Verner reported a lack of previous p a r t i c i p a t i o n in adult education ( o p e r a t i o n a l i z e d as not having attended courses w i t h i n the previous three years) was r e l a t e d to discontinuance (1967:30). However, they noted a trend in percentage terms rather than i n d i c a t i n g a l e v e l at which the r e l a t i o n s h i p was s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t . Boshier's (1973:266) study reported 55 a s i m i l a r and s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p . Most research evidence, t h e r e f o r e , supports the g e n e r a l i z a t i o n that p a r t i c i p a n t s who' have had more years of formal education are more i n c l i n e d to p e r s i s t than those with fewer years. S i m i l a r l y , those who have r e c e n t l y p a r t i c i p a t e d i n adult education courses are more l i k e l y to p e r s i s t than those who have not had t h i s experience. Only Jones (1979:28) reported m a r i t a l status had no s i g n i f i c a n t i n f l u e n c e on c o n t i n u i t y of attendance. On the other hand, Dickinson and Verner (1967:28) and Boshier (1973:266) found higher p e r s i s t e n c e rates among married than s i n g l e p a r t i c i p a n t s . In her review of previous dropout research, I r i s h (1978:12) reported a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between m a r i t a l status and p e r s i s t e n c e i n eight out of ten s t u d i e s . Few studies have attempted to e x p l a i n what has often been shown as a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p . Yet most evidence has shown that married p a r t i c i p a n t s were more l i k e l y to complete a program than those who were s i n g l e or divorced. Dickinson and Verner (1967:29) found a p o s i t i v e and s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between the number of c h i l d r e n a p a r t i c i p a n t had and p e r s i s t e n c e , a f i n d i n g they noted was somewhat at odds with the s t u d i e s c i t e d by Verner and Davis (1964). Boshier's research (1973:266) supported the review summary of Verner and Davis. As has been the case with much of the dropout research, the f i n d i n g s for the r e l a t i o n s h i p between number of c h i l d r e n of a p a r t i c i p a n t and p e r s i s t e n c e i n an adult education program have been c o n t r a d i c t o r y . 56 A s i m i l a r conclusion can be drawn using income as a v a r i a b l e . Although Preston (1958) and Ewigleben (1959) found a p o s i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p between low income and dropout, t h e i r f i n d i n g s were c o n t r a d i c t e d by T r u e s d e l l . He found "higher income groups are more l i k e l y to withdraw from t r a i n i n g compared to a lower income group" (1976:156). Hence, the evidence of the e f f e c t of a p a r t i c i p a n t ' s income on attendance behaviour i s c o n t r a d i c t o r y . Whereas Pattyson (1961) and K i l l i a n (1969) reported no r e l a t i o n s h i p between occupation and dropout r a t e s , Preston (1958) found a r e l a t i o n s h i p . The l a t t e r ' s f i n d i n g was supported by Dickinson and Verner (1967:31), Boshier (1973:266), and T r u e s d e l l (1976:156). These studi e s have shown that p a r t i c i p a n t s from lower socio-economic groups have been s i g n i f i c a n t l y more i n c l i n e d to drop out than people from other groups. Hence, a p a r t i c i p a n t ' s occupation has been shown as a more c o n s i s t e n t p r e d i c t o r of p e r s i s t e n c e than most other demographic v a r i a b l e s . Ulmer and Verner (1963:156) found the r e l a t i o n s h i p between distance t r a v e l l e d to c l a s s and c o n t i n u i t y of attendance was not s i g n i f i c a n t . S i m i l a r f i n d i n g s were reported by Dickinson and Verner (1967:32) and Bennett (1968), although the l a t t e r two studies r e l a t e d time spent t r a v e l l i n g to c l a s s and dropout rather than d i s t a n c e . In c o n t r a s t , Boshier (1973:266) reported that having to depend on p u b l i c rather than p r i v a t e transport was s i g n i f i c a n t l y associated with dropout. Corroboration from other stu d i e s would be required before a f i r m g e n e r a l i z a t i o n 57 could be made about the r e l a t i o n s h i p between means of transport and dropout. I t appears, though, that neither distance t r a v e l l e d nor time spent t r a v e l l i n g to c l a s s i s a s i g n i f i c a n t p r e d i c t o r of dropout. Of the demographic v a r i a b l e s reviewed, none was c o n s i s t e n t l y found to be s i g n i f i c a n t l y a s s o ciated with dropout. Older a d u l t s , married p a r t i c i p a n t s , having more formal and adult education experience, and middle or upper socio-economic group members tended to p e r s i s t to a greater extent than younger a d u l t s , s i n g l e or divorced p a r t i c i p a n t s , and those from lower socio-economic groups. The r e l a t i o n s h i p s between number of c h i l d r e n , income, and t r a v e l time and distance to c l a s s were e i t h e r i n c o n c l u s i v e or not s i g n i f i c a n t . The next s e c t i o n reviews stud i e s which have r e l a t e d p e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s to p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout. P e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s Several researchers (e.g., Heilbrun 1962; Scharles 1966; K i l l i a n 1969) have used instruments to measure dimensions of p e r s o n a l i t y which have been r e l a t e d to p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout. K i l l i a n (1969), who used the C a l i f o r n i a Test of P e r s o n a l i t y , found that p e r s i s t e r s scored s i g n i f i c a n t l y higher than dropouts on the " s o c i a l adjustment" and " t o t a l adjustment" s c a l e s . Using the Edwards Personal Preference Schedule, Scharles (1966) found p e r s i s t i n g females showed a higher need for abasement and a lower need for achievement than females who dropped out. For her study among an adult basic education population in 58 Chicago, Cunningham developed her own instrument to measure self-esteem because she argued that i t was important to develop a t e c h n i c a l l y adequate instrument which took account of the backgrounds of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n her study. She found "In a l l cases, p e r s i s t e n c e in any form, i s p o s i t i v e l y a s s o c i a t e d with both esteem and u t i l i t y (1973:153). On the A d j e c t i v e Check L i s t (ACL), Wilson (1980) found s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e s between p e r s i s t e r s and dropouts on eight of the i n d i v i d u a l s c a l e s . Dropouts scored s i g n i f i c a n t l y higher than p e r s i s t e r s in Autonomy, Change, Succorance, and the Number of Unfavorable A d j e c t i v e s checked, while p e r s i s t e r s scored higher i n S e l f - c o n t r o l , Nurturance, Endurance, and Deference. These scores were i n t e r p r e t e d as r e f l e c t i n g p e r s o n a l i t y d i f f e r e n c e s between the two groups. Wilson suggested these f i n d i n g s c a l l e d for more support and understanding, p a r t i c u l a r l y by teachers, to cater for the p e r s o n a l i t y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of dropouts. Compared with other v a r i a b l e s , e s p e c i a l l y demographic f a c t o r s , p e r s o n a l i t y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s have been l e s s commonly used to e x p l a i n attendance behaviour. P e r s i s t e r s have been shown to have had higher self-esteem, been be t t e r adjusted, and e x h i b i t e d greater endurance than dropouts. With the exception of Scharles' study, p e r s i s t e r s have a l s o been shown to have a greater need for achievement than dropouts. Although researchers have found these d i f f e r e n c e s , they have been t e n t a t i v e in o f f e r i n g explanations for them and have not provided s u f f i c i e n t guidance for p r a c t i t i o n e r s to counter the 59 e f f e c t s of negative p e r s o n a l i t y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Mental a b i l i t y Most recent dropout studies have excluded the mental a b i l i t y of p a r t i c i p a n t s from c o n s i d e r a t i o n a f t e r Zahn (1964), W h i n f i e l d (1966), and others had found no s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p s between i n t e l l i g e n c e and dropout. In her study, Zahn found no s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between these two v a r i a b l e s in a l l c l a s s e s , but when the a n a l y s i s d i s t i n g u i s h e d between c r e d i t and non-credit c l a s s e s , those with l e s s a b i l i t y were more s i g n i f i c a n t l y i n c l i n e d to drop out i n the former c l a s s e s . However, Zahn d i d not have data to e x p l a i n t h i s phenomenon. A study by Donnarumma, Cox, and Beder r e l a t e d the student's s t y l e of l e a r n i n g and c o g n i t i v e f u n c t i o n i n g , as measured by f i e l d dependence-independence using an embedded f i g u r e s t e s t , to a t t r i t i o n among 40 adult e n r o l l e e s in a New Jersey General Educational Development (GED) Test preparation program. These researchers (1980:227) found that twelve out of eighteen p a r t i c i p a n t s who dropped out were f i e l d dependent while only on e - t h i r d of the dropouts were f i e l d independent. Using the c h i square s t a t i s t i c the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the score on the Group Embedded Figures Test and GED t o t a l score was s i g n i f i c a n t , P<.01, for those who dropped out, f a i l e d , or passed. However, the authors acknowledged that the emphasis on math and reading in GED would s u i t those who were i n c l i n e d to be f i e l d independent. Therefore, i t cannot be concluded that f i e l d 60 dependence per se c o n t r i b u t e d to dropout. Rather d i f f i c u l t y with or f r u s t r a t i o n over the subject matter which c a l l e d for a l e a r n i n g s t y l e that was incongruent with the student's c o g n i t i v e f u n c t i o n i n g was a more p l a u s i b l e explanation of dropout for t h i s group. Further research i s required before i t can be concluded that c o g n i t i v e s t y l e i s c o n s i s t e n t l y and s i g n i f i c a n t l y a s s o c i a t e d with p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout. Research evidence suggests that by i t s e l f , i n t e l l i g e n c e i s not an important f a c t o r in accounting for dropout. Thus f a r the review of previous f i n d i n g s has focused on i n t e r n a l or personal s i t u a t i o n a l f a c t o r s . The next s e c t i o n summarizes the evidence for the importance of achieving goals before c o n s i d e r i n g the e f f e c t s of ex t e r n a l f a c t o r s , i n the classroom and s o c i e t y . Goal achievement Reference was made e a r l i e r to Londoner's studi e s which showed that e x t e r n a l l y o r i e n t e d goals tended to be rated h i g h l y by perseverers,•whereas nonperseverers rated i n t e r n a l l y o r i e n t e d goals as being more important. In h i s review of research of nonpersistence i n adult basic education programs, Jones noted "The degree to which students b e l i e v e t h e i r e f f o r t s w i l l lead to goal attainment may be a f a c t o r i n t h e i r p e r s i s t e n c e " (1979:14). An explanation for t h i s g e n e r a l i z a t i o n was o f f e r e d by Phares who claimed that "behavior i s determined by the degree to which people w i l l expect that t h e i r behavior w i l l lead to goals, as 61 w e l l as by reinforcement through goal achievement" (1976:13). This view i s in agreement with the arguments presented i n the t h e o r e t i c a l foundations s e c t i o n of t h i s chapter where reference was made to s t u d i e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y based on self-enhancement theory, that showed people w i l l continue to seek to achieve -a goal i f they b e l i e v e they w i l l be s u c c e s s f u l . I r i s h (1978:21) noted the s p e c i f i c i t y of students' motives appeared relevant to p e r s i s t e n c e as d i d c o m p a t i b i l i t y between t h e i r motives and course content. Furthermore, " i n many instances, p a r t i c i p a n t s e n r o l l in a course as a means to an end, and p e r s i s t e n c e i s r e l a t e d to the extent to which the course i s perceived as c o n t r i b u t i n g to a t t a i n i n g that end" ( i b i d : 2 2 ) . The evidence c l e a r l y suggests that goal o r i e n t a t i o n i s s i g n i f i c a n t l y a s s o c i a t e d with p e r s i s t e n c e . While p a r t i c i p a n t s continue to b e l i e v e they w i l l be s u c c e s s f u l i n achieving t h e i r goals, they w i l l remain i n the program, a f i n d i n g which has t h e o r e t i c a l and e m p i r i c a l support. Consideration i s now given to f a c t o r s which are e s s e n t i a l l y e x t e r n a l to the p a r t i c i p a n t . Classroom f a c t o r s In t h e i r review of research Verner and Davis (1964) found, not s u r p r i s i n g l y , that dropouts reported l e s s s a t i s f a c t i o n with t h e i r i n s t r u c t o r s than p e r s i s t e r s . Yet i n s t r u c t o r s ' p r o f e s s i o n a l q u a l i t i e s , such as whether or not they had undergone t r a i n i n g i n l e a d e r s h i p and the amount of t h e i r previous experience of teaching a d u l t s d i d not s i g n i f i c a n t l y i n f l u e n c e dropout. In a study of classroom f a c t o r s l i n k e d to. 62 dropout, Davis found that only " i n s t r u c t o r t a l k e d to the students as an equal" (1966:40) was s i g n i f i c a n t l y a s s o c i a t e d with dropout i n a negative d i r e c t i o n , and consequently suggested that the i n s t r u c t o r should t a l k to p a r t i c i p a n t s as equals to help maintain t h e i r attendance. Lam and Wong found that " a p p r o a c h a b i l i t y of the i n s t r u c t o r " (1974:140) was s i g n i f i c a n t l y and p o s i t i v e l y r e l a t e d to attendance. Three s t u d i e s , those by Ferguson (1968), Linnon (1971), and Borgstrom (1980:104), as w e l l as the review by Verner and Davis, concur that a change of i n s t r u c t o r s during a course increases the l i k e l i h o o d of dropout o c c u r r i n g . These studies focused on change per se rather than assessing the q u a l i t i e s of the i n s t r u c t o r s . The evidence from studies which have examined classroom c o n d i t i o n s suggests that of a l l the f a c t o r s that have been considered few, except for a change in i n s t r u c t o r , have been s i g n i f i c a n t l y a s s o c i a t e d with dropout. F i n a l l y , i n t h i s review of b i v a r i a t e r e l a t i o n s h i p s the i n f l u e n c e of s o c i e t a l c o n d i t i o n s i s examined. S o c i e t a l c o n d i t i o n s Few s t u d i e s have attempted to q u a n t i f y s o c i e t a l c o n d i t i o n s which may have an infl u e n c e on whether or not p a r t i c i p a n t s remain i n adult education programs. T r a i n i n g programs, in p a r t i c u l a r , are s e n s i t i v e to economic c o n d i t i o n s , e s p e c i a l l y job o p p o r t u n i t i e s . T r u e s d e l l took these i n t o c o n s i d e r a t i o n and found that i n Canadian provinces in which the unemployment rate was low there was greater dropout than where the rate was 63 higher. T r u e s d e l l (1976:155) speculated, although he d i d not provide substantive data, that t r a i n e e s dropped out to take advantage of greater employment o p p o r t u n i t i e s . Despite the i n c r e a s i n g emphasis which i s being given to r e t r a i n i n g and re-entry programs, most studies have not taken i n t o account s o c i e t a l f a c t o r s l i k e l y to a f f e c t attendance in adult education programs. The next s e c t i o n considers the f i n d i n g s of studies which have used s t a t i s t i c a l techniques to consider the concurrent i n f l u e n c e of more than one f a c t o r on p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout. M u l t i - f a c t o r research f i n d i n g s P o l i t i c a l e f f i c a c y , manifest a n x i e t y , occupational s t a t u s , worker (or homemaker) s a t i s f a c t i o n , age, l e v e l of education, years since l a s t attending school, and v e r b a l a b i l i t y were the eight independent v a r i a b l e s used by Knox and Sjogren (1965) in a d i s c r i m i n a n t a n a l y s i s for each of f i v e i n s t i t u t i o n s . The dependent v a r i a b l e was completion/dropout. The highest s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t m u l t i p l e b i s e r i a l c o e f f i c i e n t was .35 which i n d i c a t e d that the eight measures s e l e c t e d accounted for only 12 percent of the variance i n the c r i t e r i o n v a r i a b l e . The r e s u l t s f a i l e d to show any c o n s i s t e n t p a t t e r n . Years that had elapsed since engaging i n a previous educational experience was a f a c t o r n e g a t i v e l y r e l a t e d to completion, -0.09 and -0.13, for two of the three i n s t i t u t i o n s in which the c o e f f i c i e n t s were s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t , the only v a r i a b l e to be s i g n i f i c a n t twice in the same d i r e c t i o n (1965:85). 64 Anxiety, measured by f i f t e e n items from the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale, was ne g a t i v e l y r e l a t e d to completion at one of the i n s t i t u t i o n s . Studies by other researchers (e.g., Sainty 1971; Boshier 1973; T r u e s d e l l 1976; and Jones 1979) which were m u l t i - f a c t o r i n t h e i r s t a t i s t i c a l a n a l y s i s have been r e f e r r e d to in previous s e c t i o n s . Although these studies have used more s o p h i s t i c a t e d s t a t i s t i c a l techniques than those using b i v a r i a t e methods, the amount of variance of the dependent v a r i a b l e accounted f o r has been d i s a p p o i n t i n g l y low, u s u a l l y l e s s than 20 percent. Furthermore, no s i n g l e v a r i a b l e has accounted for a s u f f i c i e n t l y large proportion of the variance to encourage program planners to take steps to ameliorate the problem of dropout. As has been noted, i n many studies these d e f i c i e n c i e s a r i s e from f a u l t y c o n c e p t u a l i z a t i o n , and a t h e o r e t i c a l foundations. The next sect i o n reviews the research which has been conducted focusing on rates of attendance. Rates of Attendance The d i s c u s s i o n i n t h i s s e c t i o n f o l l o w s a s i m i l a r order to that for per s i s t e n c e and dropout. A review of the d e f i n i t i o n s used to define the construct i s followed by c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the means of data a n a l y s i s in and f i n d i n g s from the p e r t i n e n t s t u d i e s . Def i n i t i o n s Most previous attendance s t u d i e s have dichotomized 65 p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout as a l t e r n a t i v e s . This study, while maintaining that d i s t i n c t i o n , a l s o examines the patterns of p e r s i s t e n c e more c l o s e l y by e s t a b l i s h i n g three groups (high, medium, and low) on the basis of rate of attendance. Those who attended between 10 and 30 percent of the t o t a l number of sessions were c l a s s i f i e d as low attenders; p a r t i c i p a n t s attending 40 to 70 percent of the program formed the medium attenders' group; and those attending 80 percent or more of the course made up the high attenders' group. Such a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , based on a ten session course, y i e l d s three groups each with approximately s i m i l a r numbers of sessions: three, four, and three r e s p e c t i v e l y f o r the low, medium, and high attendance groups. In s t u d i e s of programs with a d i f f e r e n t number of sessions the percentage f i g u r e s may be v a r i e d to take account of the program length. I t should be noted, too, that a f t e r the t h i r d session none of the p r o v i d i n g i n s t i t u t i o n s normally allows for even a p a r t i a l refund of enrolment fees to those who withdraw. This a d m i n i s t r a t i v e r e g u l a t i o n may cause some p a r t i c i p a n t s to withdraw a f t e r the t h i r d session and thereby receive some reimbursement of t h e i r enrolment fee. The j u s t i f i c a t i o n for t r i c h o t o m i z i n g attendance rates f o l l o w s the work of Cunningham (1973), and others, p a r t i c u l a r l y those who have conducted research among adult basic education (ABE) students. Cunningham, for example, c i t e d a United States study where the average d a i l y attendance was reported as 67 percent and median dropout rate was 40 percent. I t i s apparent, then, that i n some adult education programs attendance for some 6 6 p a r t i c i p a n t s i s i r r e g u l a r . At the same time others attend very few sessions, while the remainder attend f r e q u e n t l y and r e g u l a r l y , thereby recording high rates of attendance. The notion of attendance r a t e , defined as the proportion of sessions a person attends i n r e l a t i o n to the t o t a l sessions o f f e r e d , i s emphasized i n t h i s study for two reasons. F i r s t , such a notion provides a continuous v a r i a b l e which allows a greater range of s t a t i s t i c a l techniques to be used. Second, i t takes account of the fa c t that some p a r t i c i p a n t s may continue to attend but i n f r e q u e n t l y , while others w i l l attend r e g u l a r l y and f requently. A c o n s i d e r a t i o n i n d i s t i n g u i s h i n g between p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout and attendance rate c a t e g o r i e s i s that q u i t e d i s t i n c t phenomena may be operating f o r those p a r t i c i p a n t s who terminate t h e i r attendance abruptly compared with those whose r e g i s t r a t i o n continues but whose attendance i s i r r e g u l a r . In t h e i r study on adult basic education in the United S t a t e s , Mezirow, Darkenwald, and Knox (1975:66) stated that ABE teachers reported i r r e g u l a r attendance as a major f a c t o r i n t e r f e r i n g with a student's l e a r n i n g . Grouping both types of behaviour together may obscure the fact that there are d i s t i n c t reasons for the d i f f e r e n t a c t i o n s . Treating both as the same pattern i s l i k e l y to obscure unique phenomena. Jones, Schulman, and S t u b b l e f i e l d (1978), whose d e f i n i t i o n of p e r s i s t e n c e was r e f e r r e d to e a r l i e r , created f i v e p e r s i s t e n c e c a t e g o r i e s based on a combined measure of a student's length of enrolment and r e g u l a r i t y of attendance. The c r i t e r i a for 67 d e f i n i n g each of these c a t e g o r i e s was not pre-determined, but was drawn up a f t e r graphing the attendance data for each student on a two-dimensional g r i d , on which the "Percentage of. c l a s s e s attended while e n r o l l e d " was shown on the h o r i z o n t a l a x i s , with "Number of c l a s s e s e n r o l l e d " on the v e r t i c a l a x i s . Data A n a l y s i s In t h e i r study, Lam and Wong (1974) a l s o used attendance rate as a v a r i a b l e , the meaning of which was not defined. For one group i n the study the mean frequencies of attendance i s 5.70 [presumably sessions] and for the other 7.34, although the d i f f e r e n c e was not s i g n i f i c a n t . Where non-parametric s t a t i s t i c a l analyses were c a l l e d f o r , attendance rates were c o l l a p s e d i n t o three c a t e g o r i e s : low 1-4; medium 5-8; and high 9-12. Otherwise attendance was the sole dependent v a r i a b l e and was t r e a t e d as a r a t i o s c a l e . Nevertheless, the study's value i s l i m i t e d by the researchers having f a i l e d to e x p l a i n or define the nature of the attendance rate v a r i a b l e . Findings Although they d i d not use the length of time a student remained i n a c l a s s as e i t h e r a dependent or independent v a r i a b l e , Ulmer and Verner drew a t t e n t i o n to d i f f e r e n t i a l rates of attendance when they noted that "Nearly one-fourth of those students who discontinued attendance d i d so during the f i r s t week of c l a s s e s " (1963:157). This f i n d i n g suggests that of those p a r t i c i p a n t s who do not complete courses many withdraw i n 68 the e a r l y stages of the program. I t would appear that many students soon decide whether the program i n which they have e n r o l l e d i s l i k e l y to meet t h e i r expectations. In a d d i t i o n to the commonly used t - t e s t s and c h i square, Lam and Wong (1974) used c o r r e l a t i o n a l a n a l y s i s to assess the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between content and s t r u c t u r e measures, and between these and attendance r a t e s . A step-wise m u l t i p l e l i n e a r regression a n a l y s i s used to measure the r e l a t i v e weights of the seven v a r i a b l e s , found s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p s with attendance r a t e . Nearly 27 percent of the variance was accounted for by these v a r i a b l e s , of which "the amount of informal i n t e r a c t i o n s and the approachabi1ity of the i n s t r u c t o r ranked foremost in e x p l a i n i n g attendance r a t e s " (1974:140). In her study Hurkamp d i s t i n g u i s h e d among e a r l y dropouts, those whose f i r s t of three consecutive absences occurred during the f i r s t f i v e sessions of the c l a s s ; l a t e dropouts, those who withdrew a f t e r t h i s p o i n t ; and completers. Subsequent a n a l y s i s showed d i f f e r e n c e s between the f i r s t two groups i n t h e i r a t t i t u d e s to s e l e c t e d aspects of the adult education program p r o v i s i o n . For example, compared with completers e a r l y dropouts were l e s s prepared for the course i n which they had e n r o l l e d ; they were more concerned about arrangements for c h i l d care; and they had to make more changes i n t h e i r l i v i n g routine because of t h e i r attendance in the educational program. Late dropouts were l e s s c e r t a i n about t h e i r choice of course; were more concerned about foregoing t e l e v i s i o n ; and had a more unfavourable impression of the classroom. 69 To p r e d i c t p e r s i s t e n c e in a study of 163 ABE students e n r o l l e d in GED preparatory c l a s s e s , Jones, Schulman, and S t u b b l e f i e l d (1978) used socio-demographic and p e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s i n a d d i t i o n to s e l e c t e d s o c i a l support v a r i a b l e s . Included i n the f i r s t category were age, sex, race, and time since l a s t school attendance. P e r s o n a l i t y f a c t o r s c o n s i s t e d of s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e , achievement need, and a f f i l i a t i o n need, and were a l l measured by a d m i n i s t e r i n g the A d j e c t i v e Check L i s t . The s o c i a l support group of v a r i a b l e s was obtained by asking each p a r t i c i p a n t the l e v e l of support given by f a m i l y , work, and church sources, according to S o c i a l Climate Scales designed by Moos (1974). Using the m u l t i p l e regression technique, the researchers found that s o c i a l support accounted for 32.0 percent of the variance for p e r s i s t e n c e , while the socio-demographic group of v a r i a b l e s accounted for 10.4 percent. The c o n t r i b u t i o n of the group of p e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s was n e g l i g i b l e . However, the authors acknowledged that p e r s i s t e n c e variance was i n f l a t e d because of the large number of v a r i a b l e s they used, twenty in t o t a l , i n r e l a t i o n to the sample s i z e . Further a n a l y s i s using the best subset from each group of measures r e s u l t e d in s i x p r e d i c t o r s (sex, time since l a s t school attendance, family achievement, work autonomy, church leader support and church expressiveness, the l a s t four being separate s o c i a l support measures) accounting for 22.2 percent of p e r s i s t e n c e variance. A subsequent a n a l y s i s using the number of c l a s s e s attended as the dependent v a r i a b l e y i e l d e d s i m i l a r r e s u l t s , a f i n d i n g which 70 was not s u r p r i s i n g i n view of the high c o r r e l a t i o n (r = .97) between the f i v e p e r s i s t e n c e c a t e g o r i e s and the t o t a l number of c l a s s e s attended. Darkenwald (1975) reported a study i n which the e f f e c t s of the teacher's race and an i n t e r v e n i n g v a r i a b l e of subject matter emphasis were r e l a t e d to dropout among black students i n large c i t y ABE programs. Darkenwald acknowledged that in h i s study c a t e g o r i e s such as age, sex, and the teacher's p r o f e s s i o n a l t r a i n i n g and experience were i n s u f f i c i e n t to account for the lower dropout rates i n c l a s s e s taught by black teachers. Instead he pointed to p o s s i b l e s o c i o - c u l t u r a l i d e n t i f i c a t i o n , with the m i n o r i t y teacher p r o v i d i n g a p o s i t i v e r o l e model, and to candid open communication between teacher and student who shared a c u l t u r a l a f f i n i t y . Studies using rate of attendance as a dependent v a r i a b l e , while much l e s s common than those using the dichotomous persistence-dropout a l t e r n a t i v e , have produced f i n d i n g s which are s i m i l a r . For example, recency of educational experience, being o l d e r , and l e v e l of formal education were p o s i t i v e l y r e l a t e d to p e r s i s t e n c e . Demographic f a c t o r s were commonly used and g e n e r a l l y accounted for more of the variance than p e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s . G e n e r a l l y , classroom circumstances have been found to be not s i g n i f i c a n t l y r e l a t e d to dropout. Other Attendance Patterns Three other attendance/non-attendance patterns are conceptually p o s s i b l e , although they are not the focus of t h i s 71 study. F i r s t , there are p a r t i c i p a n t s who may miss the f i r s t s e s s i o n , but attend l a t e r ones. In programs which allow continuous entry a d i f f e r e n t set of c o n d i t i o n s operates compared with those courses which have a defined s t a r t i n g date for a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s . Second, there are people who r e g i s t e r but do not attend any sessions. T h i r d , a d i f f e r e n t index of p a r t i c i p a n t attendance i s that of average d a i l y attendance (ADA) which was used by Verner and Neylan (1966) and Dickinson and Verner (1967) to measure the proportion of r e g i s t r a n t s present at each session of the courses in t h e i r s t u d i e s . The l a t t e r p a i r of researchers noted that for a l l courses, the peak ADA was 87 percent at the second session from which i t d e c l i n e d to 38 percent by the f o r t y - f i f t h s e s sion. The biggest s i n g l e decrease was between the s i x t h and seventh se s s i o n . Dickinson and Verner a l s o used the ADA measure to compare courses i n d i f f e r e n t subject areas and of d i f f e r e n t lengths, but they l i m i t e d t h e i r a n a l y s i s of ADA to these var i a b l e s . Conclusion In reviewing s t u d i e s of pe r s i s t e n c e and dropout i n adult education programs, t h i s w r i t e r has noted that the majority of studie s vary i n t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n s ; lack t h e o r e t i c a l foundations; f r e q u e n t l y have c o l l e c t e d data a f t e r dropout has occurred; and often s t a t i s t i c a l a n a l y s i s of the data has involved b i v a r i a t e rather than more complex techniques which more ac c u r a t e l y r e f l e c t the r e a l i t y of human experience. 72 Most of the v a r i a b l e s which have been r e l a t e d to pers i s t e n c e and dropout are demographic, although some studie s have a l s o drawn on p s y c h o l o g i c a l and educational data. Some studies have not tested for s t a t i s t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , while others report f i n d i n g s which are i n c o n s i s t e n t with other research. In a d d i t i o n to per s i s t e n c e and dropout, other attendance patterns have been stu d i e d , p a r t i c u l a r l y rates of attendance. Ge n e r a l l y , s i m i l a r c r i t i c i s m s can be made of these studies as were d i r e c t e d at dropout research. Rates of attendance as a v a r i a b l e has the p o t e n t i a l to r e f l e c t the r e g u l a r i t y and frequency of attendance behaviour i n adult education programs, most of which are voluntary. In t h i s study a d i s t i n c t i o n was made between pe r s i s t e n c e and dropout and rate of attendance category membership because i t was be l i e v e d that d i s t i n c t behavioural phenomena may have been involved. In p a r t i c u l a r , some p a r t i c i p a n t s may have continued to attend but i r r e g u l a r l y . Dropouts were those p a r t i c i p a n t s who d i d not attend even a s i n g l e session in the l a t t e r h a l f of the course, whereas attendance category membership was decided on the ba s i s of the number of sessions they attended. The next chapter focuses on p s y c h o l o g i c a l , s o c i a l p s y c h o l o g i c a l and educational v a r i a b l e s which have relevance to the attendance behaviour of p a r t i c i p a n t s in adult education programs. In p a r t i c u l a r , the co n s t r u c t s of an x i e t y , s o c i a l s t r e s s , self-esteem, and study o r i e n t a t i o n are considered. The 73 procedures used to c o l l e c t attendance behaviour data are set out in chapter IV. 74 CHAPTER I I I REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE: PSYCHO-SOCIAL AND EDUCATIONAL CONSTRUCTS Introduct ion In t h i s chapter the t h e o r e t i c a l p r o p o s i t i o n s and the major research f i n d i n g s which r e l a t e to the s o c i a l p s y c h o l o g i c a l , p s y c h o l o g i c a l and educational c o n s t r u c t s which have been s e l e c t e d for t h i s study are discussed. State and t r a i t a n x i e t y , s o c i a l s t r e s s , and self-esteem are r e l a t e d to the c o n s t r u c t s which were discussed i n the previous chapter, p e r s i s t e n c e and dropout, and rate of attendance. In a d d i t i o n , an educational c o n s t r u c t , study o r i e n t a t i o n , i s considered. In Chapter II the t h e o r e t i c a l foundations of these c o n s t r u c t s were discussed b r i e f l y , p a r t i c u l a r l y as they might p e r t a i n to people p a r t i c i p a t i n g in a formal educational s e t t i n g . This theme i s maintained i n the present chapter. The relevance of a n x i e t y , s o c i a l s t r e s s (as measured by experiencing l i f e e vents), self-esteem and study o r i e n t a t i o n to adult education i s presented in t h i s chapter. In p a r t i c u l a r , the a p p l i c a t i o n of these c o n t r u c t s to a d u l t s r e t u r n i n g to formal education a f t e r an absence from i t i s j u s t i f i e d . Anx i e t y The importance of anxiety has been widely argued. H a l l , for example, claimed that "Anxiety i s one of the most important 75 concepts i n psychoanalytic theory. I t plays an important r o l e in the development of p e r s o n a l i t y as w e l l as i n the dynamics of p e r s o n a l i t y f u n c t i o n i n g " (1954:59-60). S p i e l b e r g e r , too, argued "The importance of anxiety as a powerful i n f l u e n c e i n contemporary l i f e i s i n c r e a s i n g l y recognized" (1966:3), and "Anxiety i s found as a c e n t r a l explanatory concept in almost a l l contemporary t h e o r i e s of p e r s o n a l i t y " ( i b i d : 4 ) . Although anxiety i s an i n t e r n a l c o n d i t i o n , i t u n d e r l i e s and i s used to account for behavioural events, despite the fact that i t s existence and nature remain h y p o t h e t i c a l and i n f e r r e d . Yet i t s presence i s accepted because, l i k e other t h e o r e t i c a l c o n s t r u c t s , i t allows some explanation for what might otherwise be i n e x p l i c a b l e behaviour. A f e e l i n g of anxiety i s a mani f e s t a t i o n of the tension or discomfort that people r e t u r n i n g to a formal education s e t t i n g experience a f t e r having been away from i t for a number of years. Spielberger described i t as "an unpleasant emotional s t a t e or c o n d i t i o n which i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by s u b j e c t i v e f e e l i n g s of tens i o n , apprehension, and worry, and by a c t i v a t i o n or arousal of the autonomic nervous system" (I972b:482). Lazarus and A v e r i l l , a f t e r reviewing research on an x i e t y , defined the construct as an emotion based on the a p p r a i s a l of t h r e a t , an a p p r a i s a l which e n t a i l s symbolic, a n t i c i p a t o r y , and uncertain elements. These c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , broadly conceived, mean that anxiety r e s u l t s when c o g n i t i v e systems no longer enable a person to r e l a t e meaningfully to the world about him. (1972:246-7) This d e f i n i t i o n of anxiety suggests a complex process that includes s t r e s s , a c o g n i t i v e a p p r a i s a l of s t r e s s , a re e v a l u a t i o n 76 of the s i t u a t i o n , mechanisms a v a i l a b l e for the i n d i v i d u a l to cope with s t r e s s , and an emotional r e a c t i o n which includes p h y s i o l o g i c a l and behavioural m a n i f e s t a t i o n s , although i t i s a process i n which c o g n i t i v e r e a c t i o n s predominate. C a t t e l l ' s view "that anxiety i s an experience s u i gene r i s , which i s generated d i r e c t l y by experience of m o t i v a t i o n a l u n c e r t a i n t y " (196.6:50) i s supported by other w r i t e r s on anx i e t y . Uncertainty may have m u l t i p l e causes. An i n d i v i d u a l r e - e n t e r i n g an educational i n s t i t u t i o n a f t e r an absence of several years may wonder: Can I cope? What w i l l happen? W i l l my c h i l d r e n be a l l r i g h t i n my absence? W i l l I be asked questions that I cannot answer? W i l l I be able to complete the assignments? In whatever way anxiety i s defined, there i s consensus in emphasizing i t s unpleasantness as a phenomenological and personal c o n d i t i o n and that f e e l i n g s of tension associated with i t a r i s e out of the u n c e r t a i n t i e s of the person-environment i n t e r a c t i o n which the i n d i v i d u a l experiences. In f a c t , Lazarus and A v e r i l l (1972:246) express the view that nearly every t h e o r i s t who has considered anxiety has emphasized the r o l e of unc e r t a i n t y i n the b u i l d up of that c o n d i t i o n . Epstein (1976:193) suggested that a n x i e t y , as with other emotions, can be e i t h e r c o n s t r u c t i v e or d e s t r u c t i v e , according to i t s i n t e n s i t y i n r e l a t i o n to an i n d i v i d u a l ' s a b i l i t y to cope with i t . Anxiety provides a warning to i n d i v i d u a l s when t h e i r self-esteem i s threatened. This information can be used to cope e f f e c t i v e l y when a new or threatening s i t u a t i o n a r i s e s provided the s u c c e s s f u l s o l u t i o n of the challenge posed does not require 77 the use of more resources than the i n d i v i d u a l possesses. S i m i l a r l y , anxiety can be experienced when a person t a c k l e s an u n f a m i l i a r s i t u a t i o n . In f a c t , Epstein ( i b i d ) argued that people who r i s k growth must r i s k experiencing a n x i e t y . Hence, i t seems reasonable to assume that women re t u r n i n g to an educational s e t t i n g are l i k e l y to f e e l anxious, e i t h e r because i t w i l l be a new experience for them or because they are r i s k i n g part of the ' s e l f ' as they undergo personal development. While acknowledging the importance of anxiety in p e r s o n a l i t y and behaviour, many researchers accept the conceptual d i s t i n c t i o n between s t a t e and t r a i t a n xiety. The importance of the d i s t i n e t ion between them and t h e i r relevance to adult students r e t u r n i n g to an educational i n s t i t u t i o n i s considered i n the next s e c t i o n . State and T r a i t Anxiety As Spielberger has pointed out (for example, 1976:4), a problem i n anxiety research has been the f a i l u r e to d i s t i n g u i s h between t r a n s i t o r y anxiety s t a t e s , anxiety as a complex p s y c h o b i o l o g i c a l process, and i n d i v i d u a l d i f f e r e n c e s in anxiety proneness as a p e r s o n a l i t y t r a i t . C r e d i t f o r i n i t i a t i n g a methodological d i s t i n c t i o n between st a t e and t r a i t anxiety i s claimed by Zuckerman (1976:155) who had e a r l i e r developed the A f f e c t A d j e c t i v e Check L i s t (AACL) (i960) which included an anxiety scale with two forms: one to measure anxiety as a temporary arousal s t a t e and the other to measure the construct as a general d i s p o s i t i o n . 78 Returning to an educational s e t t i n g may present a challenge to many, p a r t i c u l a r l y a f t e r an absence of a number of years. The extent to which t h i s s i t u a t i o n i s seen as threatening w i l l depend on such f a c t o r s as an i n d i v i d u a l ' s experiences i n previous s c h o o l i n g , l e v e l of educational q u a l i f i c a t i o n s , expectations of the reac t i o n s of other people, and future goals. Some may cope w e l l with t h i s s i t u a t i o n ; others may f e e l threatened. S p i e l b e r g e r ' s d i s t i n c t i o n between s t r e s s and threat has been supported by Holtzman who suggested that Spielberger made i t p o s s i b l e to develop a theory of anxiety and to measure the construct (1976:175). Holtzman a l s o concurred with the c o n c e p t u a l i z a t i o n of state and t r a i t a n x i e t y . The former c o n d i t i o n p r e v a i l s when a s i t u a t i o n i s seen as threatening, i r r e s p e c t i v e of whether or not others view the o b j e c t i v e stimulus c o n d i t i o n s of the s i t u a t i o n as s t r e s s f u l . The su b j e c t i v e f e e l i n g of uneasiness which accompanies such a perception of threat i s known as state a n x i e t y . When such anxiety i s experienced with high frequency, and p a r t i c u l a r l y in s i t u a t i o n s which do not appear to be very s t r e s s f u l to observers, then i t can be i n f e r r e d that the i n d i v i d u a l i s more anxiety prone than others. Such an i n d i v i d u a l i s considered to be high s c o r i n g i n t r a i t a n x i e t y . Hence an anxiety-prone person i s one who has a noti c e a b l e increase i n f e e l i n g s of anxiety on a r e l a t i v e l y large number of occasions, in a l a r g e r number of d i f f e r e n t s i t u a t i o n s and under more circumstances than other persons. 79 Spielberger suggested State anxiety (A-State) may be conceptualized as a t r a n s i t o r y emotional sta t e or c o n d i t i o n of the human organism that v a r i e s i n i n t e n s i t y and f l u c t u a t e s over time. This c o n d i t i o n i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by s u b j e c t i v e , c o n s c i o u s l y perceived f e e l i n g s of tension and apprehension, and a c t i v a t i o n of the autonomic nervous system. (I972a:39) E n r o l l i n g and p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n an adult education program g e n e r a l l y involves no o b j e c t i v e danger, yet i n d i v i d u a l s may f e e l anxious about being so involved because they are apprehensive, or u n c e r t a i n , or perceive a threat to t h e i r self-esteem i n an ambiguous s i t u a t i o n . Whereas s t a t e anxiety tends to measure an i n d i v i d u a l ' s anxiety f e e l i n g s i n p a r t i c u l a r s i t u a t i o n s , t r a i t a n xiety i s a more p e r s i s t e n t c o n d i t i o n , explained by Spielberger as r e f e r r i n g to r e l a t i v e l y s t a b l e i n d i v i d u a l d i f f e r e n c e s in anxiety proneness, that i s , to d i f f e r e n c e s in the d i s p o s i t i o n to perceive a wide range of stimulus s i t u a t i o n s as dangerous or threatening, and in the tendency to respond to such th r e a t s with A-State r e a c t i o n s . (ibid:39) S p i e l b e r g e r , Gorsuch, and Lushene noted that whether or not people who d i f f e r i n A - T r a i t w i l l show corresponding d i f f e r e n c e s in A-State depends upon the extent to which a s p e c i f i c s i t u a t i o n i s perceived by a p a r t i c u l a r i n d i v i d u a l as dangerous or t h r e a t e n i n g , and t h i s i s g r e a t l y influenced by an i n d i v i d u a l ' s past experience. (1970:3) One of the d i f f i c u l t i e s i n d e a l i n g with s t a t e anxiety has been pointed out by L e v i t t (1980:13) who noted that there was a convincing body of evidence which suggested that inconsistency c h a r a c t e r i z e s scores obtained when the construct i s measured. Such r e s u l t s are i n d i c a t i v e of how i n d i v i d u a l s react and f e e l according to circumstances c u r r e n t l y being thought about or 80 faced. The instrument s e l e c t e d to measure anxiety i n t h i s study i s reviewed next. S t a t e - T r a i t Anxiety Inventory S p i e l b e r g e r , Gorsuch and Lushene developed a s e l f - r e p o r t inventory as t h e i r method for y i e l d i n g information on an i n d i v i d u a l ' s r e a c t i o n s to s t r e s s , inner f e e l i n g s , l i f e s i t u a t i o n , and b o d i l y sensations. An advantage of a s e l f - r e p o r t instrument for l i t e r a t e i n d i v i d u a l s i s that scores can be obtained q u i c k l y and with l i t t l e t r a i n i n g for i n d i v i d u a l s who administer the instrument. The S t a t e - T r a i t Anxiety Inventory (STAI) i s an instrument which provides two scores from two l i s t s of 20 items, measuring a n x i e t y - t r a i t and a n x i e t y - s t a t e . Questions on the former s c a l e ask respondents how they "ge n e r a l l y f e e l " and the degree of that f e e l i n g : Almost always; Often: Sometimes; or Almost never; for such statements as: I f e e l pleasant; I t i r e q u i c k l y ; and I wish I could be happy as others seem to be. The s t a t e scale asks respondents how they " f e e l r i g h t now" and the extent to which that f e e l i n g i s experienced: Very much so; Moderately so; Somewhat; or Not at a l l ; for such statements as: I f e e l calm; I f e e l secure; and I am tense. The c o r r e l a t i o n between the two dimensions was reported as being about .50. Research conducted by Hodges and Spielberger (1969), Stoudenmire (1972), D'Augelli (1974) and others has shown the conceptual d i s t i n c t i o n between s t a t e and t r a i t a n x i e t y . Spielberger (1966; 1972b) has st a t e d that the d i f f e r e n c e i n 81 s t a t e anxiety for high t r a i t - a n x i e t y i n d i v i d u a l s compared with low t r a i t - a n x i e t y people w i l l be greater when the former see s i t u a t i o n s as more threatening to the ego and hence more anxiety arousing. In s i t u a t i o n s which are perceived as n e u t r a l or nonthreatening, the d i f f e r e n c e s in s t a t e anxiety between high and low t r a i t s c o r i n g i n d i v i d u a l s are l e s s . In other words, ego threatening s i t u a t i o n s emphasize the d i f f e r e n c e i n s t a t e anxiety between people with high and low t r a i t anxiety d i s p o s i t i o n s . Spielberger (1976:8-9) has explained that the STAI was developed to provide r e l a t i v e l y b r i e f , homogeneous measures of both c o n d i t i o n s of a n x i e t y . The authors of the instrument sought items which were c h a r a c t e r i z e d by high i n t e r n a l consistency, as measured by item-remainder c o r r e l a t i o n s and alpha c o e f f i c i e n t s . In a d d i t i o n they strove for ease and b r e v i t y of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n with t h e i r instrument. The STAI was normed on a range of populations i n c l u d i n g 982 c o l l e g e freshmen, 484 c o l l e g e students e n r o l l e d in an i n t r o d u c t o r y psychology course, 161 general medical and s u r g i c a l p a t i e n t s , and 212 p r i s o n e r s . The norms are presented separately for male and female students. Alpha r e l i a b i l i t i e s for the normative samples (high school j u n i o r s , c o l l e g e freshmen and i n t r o d u c t o r y psychology students) range from .83 to .92 for st a t e scores and from .86 to .92 for t r a i t scores. High r e t e s t r e l i a b i l i t i e s for the STAI t r a i t scale of between .70 and .90 are reported. T e s t - r e t e s t r e l i a b i l i t i e s for the STAI t r a i t s c ale for female c o l l e g e undergraduates over a 104 day period of .77 i n d i c a t e that the t r a i t measure i s q u i t e 82 s t a b l e . On the other hand, t e s t - r e t e s t r e l i a b i l i t i e s for the s t a t e measure are low (a median of .32 i s reported), as might be expected, because the s t a t e scale conceptually does not measure a p e r s i s t e n t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the i n d i v i d u a l . However, measures of i n t e r n a l consistency of t h i s scale range from .83 to .92. V a l i d i t y for the t r a i t score has been sought by c o r r e l a t i n g scores with the I n s t i t u t e of P e r s o n a l i t y and A b i l i t y T esting (IPAT) Anxiety Scale, Taylor's Manifest Anxiety Scale and A f f e c t A d j e c t i v e Check L i s t . For 126 c o l l e g e women, c o e f f i c i e n t s of .75, .80 and .52 r e s p e c t i v e l y were obtained. Elsewhere Spielberger suggested that these "scales seem to measure anxiety proneness in s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n s " (1972:490). Further, he argued that i n d i v i d u a l s who record high anxiety t r a i t scores are more l i k e l y to experience an increase i n t h i s measure i n circumstances which pose a threat to self-esteem, p a r t i c u l a r l y when personal adequacy i s seen as being evaluated i n i n t e r p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Returning to an educational s e t t i n g a f t e r having been absent from such an environment for a number of years may be regarded as a s i t u a t i o n i n which personal adequacy i s being assessed, by the person concerned or by peers or by course c o o r d i n a t o r s . The nature of self-esteem, i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to a d u l t s i n an educational s e t t i n g , and i t s measurement are considered next. Self-esteem Self-esteem i s one of the most important and h e u r i s t i c 83 concepts in the study of p e r s o n a l i t y . Wells and Marwell (1976:5) noted that i t has been employed to e x p l a i n a broad v a r i e t y of behavioural phenomena i n psychology, as w e l l as ps y c h i a t r y and soci o l o g y . They a l s o observed that i t has been used i n a wide range of t h e o r e t i c a l perspectives and has been an important idea i n many s t u d i e s . People with high self-esteem see themselves as capable, s i g n i f i c a n t , and worthy. They f e e l that they are important and valuable persons deserving respect and c o n s i d e r a t i o n . On the other hand, those with low self-esteem scores tend to hold negative views of themselves and f e e l that they are not very important. Such people lack s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e and f a i t h i n t h e i r own a b i l i t y . In a review of l i t e r a t u r e d e s c r i b i n g the s e l f , Brundage and MacKeracher make a d i s t i n c t i o n between i t s c o g n i t i v e and emotional elements. The c o g n i t i v e element i s c a l l e d the self-concept and i s the i n d i v i d u a l ' s d e s c r i p t i o n of hi m s e l f . The emotional element i s c a l l e d the self-esteem and i s the way the i n d i v i d u a l f e e l s about himself i n comparison .with others and some i d e a l . (1980:23) Other w r i t e r s and researchers agree that the self-esteem i s an i n d i v i d u a l ' s s e l f - e v a l u a t i v e a t t i t u d e . Coopersmith, who developed the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, r e f e r r e d to self-esteem as The e v a l u a t i o n which the i n d i v i d u a l makes and customarily maintains with regard to hi m s e l f : i t expresses an a t t i t u d e of approval or d i s a p p r o v a l , and i n d i c a t e s the extent to which the i n d i v i d u a l b e l i e v e s himself to be capable, s i g n i f i c a n t , s u c c e s s f u l , and worthy. (1967:4) 84 Coopersmith explained that an i n d i v i d u a l ' s s e l f - e v a l u a t i o n i s l i k e l y to vary i n d i f f e r e n t areas of one's l i f e , depending on a c t i v i t i e s engaged i n and r o l e s assumed. Nevertheless, in ap p r a i s i n g t h e i r a b i l i t i e s i n d i v i d u a l s , in Coopersmith's view, "would presumably weight these areas according to t h e i r s u b j e c t i v e importance" ( i b i d : 6 ) , thereby a r r i v i n g at a general l e v e l of self-esteem, which most w r i t e r s agree i s a r e l a t i v e l y enduring estimate. As a consequence of the d i s t i n c t i o n between those with high and low self-esteem, i t i s ge n e r a l l y thought that the former i s ass o c i a t e d with "healthy" behaviour i n that i t i s more s o c i a l l y and p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y f u n c t i o n a l . For example, those with high self-esteem are assumed to be more r e a d i l y able to make adjustments i n t h e i r l i v e s . This view i s found in the developmental t h e o r i e s of Rosenberg and Coopersmith; i t i s a basic tenet of those w r i t i n g from a self-acceptance p e r s p e c t i v e , and i s a l s o a f i n d i n g in s o c i o l o g i c a l studies in which s e l f -esteem i s r e l a t e d to r o l e t r a n s i t i o n . Wylie (1974), for example, c i t e s s e v e r a l studies in which the w r i t e r s placed considerable importance on self-esteem i n human adjustment. Hence i n making the t r a n s i t i o n from non-student to student i t i s reasonable to expect that the adjustment would be more r e a d i l y accomplished by those with high self-esteem than those with low self-esteem. Because of i t s c e n t r a l place in p e r s o n a l i t y development self-esteem i s considered to be an important v a r i a b l e l i n k e d to attainment or attendance behaviour, yet i t s a b i l i t y to e x p l a i n these outcomes or i t s f u n c t i o n as a dependent 85 v a r i a b l e by no means has been confirmed. A f t e r reviewing research on these r e l a t i o n s h i p s , Bachman and O'Malley concluded, "although there are t h e o r e t i c a l bases for expecting p o s i t i v e a s s o c i a t i o n s between self-esteem and attainment, the e m p i r i c a l evidence to date has not been e n t i r e l y persuasive" (1977:367). However, a more recent study by Brockner (1979) provided evidence that p o s i t i v e feedback for low self-esteem i n d i v i d u a l s r e s u l t s i n s i g n i f i c a n t l y improved performance on subsequent tasks. In that study subjects were d i v i d e d i n t o those with high and low self-esteem. Each group was d i v i d e d i n t o those who were given p o s i t i v e and negative feedback on a task. Whereas those with high self-esteem performed e q u a l l y w e l l on a subsequent task i r r e s p e c t i v e of the feedback that they received, there was a s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e between those low self-esteem i n d i v i d u a l s who were given a p o s i t i v e r a t i n g and those who were evaluated n e g a t i v e l y . The former performed s i g n i f i c a n t l y b etter than the l a t t e r and as w e l l as those with high self-esteem. This f i n d i n g confirms other research and t h e o r e t i c a l p r o p o s i t i o n s r e f e r r e d to in the previous chapter which suggested that i f i n d i v i d u a l s with low self-esteem b e l i e v e they can be s u c c e s s f u l they w i l l s t r i v e to do so rather than f a i l i n g to and thereby maintaining s e l f -c onsistency. Rosenberg, whose Self-esteem Scale i s that chosen in t h i s study, defined self-esteem as "a p o s i t i v e or negative a t t i t u d e toward a p a r t i c u l a r o b j e c t , namely the s e l f " (1965:30). Rosenberg's prime concern was with self-image as a g l o b a l 86 property of the p e r s o n a l i t y . In h i s view a l l s e l f - a t t i t u d e s have an e v a l u a t i v e dimension. This emphasis on self-assessment i s supported by Burns who argued that s e l f esteem to be o p e r a t i o n a l i s e d for measurement purposes i s best regarded as s e l f e v a l u a t i o n , with a phenomenological o r i e n t a t i o n i m p l i e d , the e v a l u a t i o n being s u b j e c t i v e whether i n v o l v i n g one's own assessment of performance or one's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the assessment of oneself made by others, both in r e l a t i o n to s e l f - a p p o i n t e d i d e a l s and c u l t u r a l l y learned standards. (1979:56) Rosenberg's Self-esteem Scale Rosenberg's Scale i s a ten-item L i k e r t - t y p e instrument o f f e r i n g four choices, one through four (from s t r o n g l y agree to str o n g l y d i s a g r e e ) . Of the ten statements, f i v e are phrased in a p o s i t i v e d i r e c t i o n with the other f i v e in a negative d i r e c t i o n to c o n t r o l f or acquiescence. Self-acceptance scores are obtained through a summation process. Scores range from ten to f o r t y , with the higher score i n d i c a t i n g a higher l e v e l of s e l f -acceptance. S i l b e r and Tippett who were responsible for much of the e a r l y research v a l i d a t i n g t h i s instrument, which has since been used widely, obtained a two-week t e s t - r e t e s t r e l i a b i l i t y c o e f f i c i e n t of .85 (1965:1042). V a l i d i t y was a l s o t e s t e d by the same researchers. Their reports on construct v a l i d i t y determined by c o r r e l a t i o n s with other t e s t s and i n t e r v i e w e r s ' r a t i n g s prompted Wylie to note, "These convergent v a l i d i t i e s are among the highest we have observed in cross-instrument c o r r e l a t i o n s " (1974:185). The Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale was devised to achieve a unidimensional index of g l o b a l self-esteem based on the Guttman 87 model. I t has a r e p r o d u c i b i l i t y index of 0.93 and an item s c a l a b i l i t y of 0.73. Wylie stated that a c o e f f i c i e n t of r e p r o d u c i b i l i t y "of .90 or more has been taken as an a r b i t r a r y minimum for a p o s s i b l e inference that one i s dea l i n g with a s a t i s f a c t o r i l y r e l i a b l e , unidimensional s c a l e " ( i b i d : 1 8 2 ) , although she added that such a f i g u r e could not alone be accepted as a s u f f i c i e n t c r i t e r i o n . Face v a l i d i t y of the instrument i s g e n e r a l l y accepted because the items allow for d i s c l o s u r e of a favourable or unfavourable a t t i t u d e toward the s e l f . In her summary of her review of Rosenberg's Self-esteem Scale, Wylie wrote " I t i s impressive that such high r e l i a b i l i t y i s a t t a i n a b l e with only 10 items and that such a short scale has y i e l d e d r e l a t i o n s h i p s supporting i t s construct v a l i d i t y " ( i b i d : 1 8 9 ) . Burns commented that "the scale i s worthy of high commendation i n view of i t s very acceptable r e l i a b i l i t y c o e f f i c i e n t s a t t a i n e d on only 10 items and considerable evidence for i t s construct v a l i d i t y d erived from the r e l a t i o n s h i p s st u d i e d " (1979:103). Further support for t h i s instrument was given by Wells and Marwell (1976:194). Thus, the d e f i n i t i o n of self-esteem s e l e c t e d for t h i s study i s that i t i s a construct which r e f e r s to the degree of s e l f -worth and self-acceptance that i n d i v i d u a l s experience according to t h e i r own standards and values. During the course of t h e i r l i v e s , a l l i n d i v i d u a l s experience a range of l i f e changes or events which may be considered as p o t e n t i a l s t r e s s o r s . These happenings may require 88 considerable adaptation and readjustment. The nature and impact of these changes are considered i n the next s e c t i o n . Stress L i f e changes provide sources of s t r e s s which a l l i n d i v i d u a l s face. In studying l i f e changes and t h e i r consequences s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s have assumed that c o n s t a n t l y a l t e r i n g l i f e c o n d i t i o n s are p o t e n t i a l l y troublesome for the i n d i v i d u a l . To varying extents, l i f e changes require i n d i v i d u a l s to make adaptations i n personal outlook and behaviour to adjust to the demands of the a l t e r e d circumstances. Stress theory has been used to e x p l a i n that environmental agents, or c e r t a i n experiences and l i f e c o n d i t i o n s ( s t r e s s o r s ) a f f e c t the s t r u c t u r e and f u n c t i o n i n g of an i n d i v i d u a l as w e l l as the i n d i v i d u a l ' s responses to such agents ( s t r e s s ) . Stress has ge n e r a l l y been conceptualized as the organism's response to a l t e r e d c o n d i t i o n s or agents in the p h y s i c a l , p s y c h o l o g i c a l , or s o c i o c u l t u r a l environment (Rabkin and Struening 1976). Lazarus suggested that s t r e s s has " p h y s i o l o g i c a l r e f e r e n t s , as in Selye's 'adaptation syndrome'" (1971:53). He a l s o suggested that s t r e s s has s o c i o l o g i c a l r e f e r e n t s , for example, the pressures which r e s u l t when an o r g a n i z a t i o n or s o c i a l system i s di s t u r b e d . Furthermore, s t r e s s has p s y c h o l o g i c a l connotations which apply, for example, when an i n d i v i d u a l perceives danger or harm, r e a l or threatened. There are i n t e r a c t i o n s between the p h y s i o l o g i c a l , s o c i o l o g i c a l and p s y c h o l o g i c a l systems. For example, r e t u r n i n g 89 to a formal educational s e t t i n g may cause p s y c h o l o g i c a l discomfort to an i n d i v i d u a l . Such a threat may have the e f f e c t of upsetting an i n d i v i d u a l ' s p h y s i o l o g i c a l balance. Lazarus (1966) suggested that i n t e r n a l demands which challenge or overwhelm one's a b i l i t y to adapt to these demands are l i k e l y to r e s u l t i n t h e i r being seen as s t r e s s f u l . The point at which an i n d i v i d u a l f e e l s overwhelmed i s important because i n such circumstances the i n d i v i d u a l cannot cope s u c c e s s f u l l y . How an i n d i v i d u a l perceives a s t r e s s o r w i l l depend on a number of f a c t o r s , such as experience i n handling i t , a t t i t u d e s toward i t , awareness of i t s impact, and an estimate of i t s l i k e l y c o s t s . Thus the s t r e s s experienced when an adult returns to an educational i n s t i t u t i o n w i l l depend on previous educational experience, how schooling i s valued, what other o p p o r t u n i t i e s are a v a i l a b l e to f u l f i l a g o a l , and the i n d i v i d u a l ' s c o s t -b e n e f i t assessment. Whereas some people w i l l see educational re-entry as a challenge, others w i l l see i t as a t h r e a t . The former group are l i k e l y to have confidence in t h e i r a b i l i t y to cope with the challenges of the t r a n s i t i o n and w i l l react a c c o r d i n g l y , while others w i l l view r e t u r n i n g as more threat e n i n g . Baum, Singer, and Baum (1981:9) suggested that these d i f f e r e n c e s are l i n k e d to self-esteem and m o t i v a t i o n a l s t a t e s as w e l l as to other processes. Lazarus (1971:54) and Groen (1971:95) agreed that one of the fundamental features of s t r e s s as a concept i s that i t a r i s e s out of a change in the r e l a t i o n s h i p between an organism 90 and i t s environment. They stated that s t r e s s can be induced by p h y s i c a l , chemical, v i r a l , b a c t e r i o l o g i c a l , or s o c i a l causes. According to Lazarus (1971:54) the key feature of p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t r e s s i s that i t depends on how an i n d i v i d u a l i n t e r p r e t s the s i g n i f i c a n c e of a c h a l l e n g i n g , threatening or harmful event, whereas for p h y s i o l o g i c a l s t r e s s the c o n d i t i o n of the t i s s u e s determine noxiousness. Lieberman r e f e r r e d to the notion of s t r e s s in s i m i l a r terms when he defined i t as "environmental demands placed on the organism r e q u i r i n g adaptive behavior" (1978:119). Lieberman acknowledged that l i f e events impinge on the i n d i v i d u a l and they required an ad a p t a t i o n a l response. Eisenstadt (1971:80) i d e n t i f i e d s e v e r a l d i f f e r e n t s t r e s s -inducing s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n s which would include r e t u r n i n g to an educational i n s t i t u t i o n a f t e r an absence of a number of years because these i n d i v i d u a l s f i n d themselves in s i t u a t i o n s which are p o t e n t i a l l y ambiguous and undefined as w e l l as threatening to t h e i r i d e n t i t y and status image. I t i s the s o c i a l cause of s t r e s s which i s of p a r t i c u l a r relevance to t h i s study i n which the emphasis i s on s o c i a l s t r e s s defined by George as a s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n that poses an adaptive challenge or problem to the i n d i v i d u a l . S o c i a l s t r e s s does not n e c e s s a r i l y lead to a negative outcome, but i t requ i r e s n e g o t i a t i o n by the i n d i v i d u a l . (1980:140) Groen had a s i m i l a r view and saw s o c i a l s t r e s s as a s i t u a t i o n caused by s o c i a l circumstances or c u l t u r a l r u l e s which f r u s t r a t e or threaten to f r u s t r a t e an i n d i v i d u a l or group . . . [and which] . . . prevents him or i t from developing or a c t i n g according to inborn, or acquired, g r a t i f y i n g behaviour p a t t e r n s . (1971:95) Cox (1978), who argued for a t r a n s a c t i o n a l approach to the study 91 of s t r e s s , viewed i t as a r e f l e c t i o n of a lack of ' f i t ' between a person and the environment. Such a view i s c o n s i s t e n t with the theory of c o g n i t i v e dissonance and the notion of congruence which were discussed i n chapter I I . This view i s f u r t h e r supported by LaRocco, House, and French (1980:203) i n a study of s o c i a l support, occupational s t r e s s , and h e a l t h i n which they regarded s o c i a l s t r e s s as perceived incongruence or a lack of f i t between a person and the environment. Stokols argued for a congruence model of human s t r e s s , c e n t r a l to which " i s the concept of environment-behavior congruence, or the extent to which an environment accommodates the needs and goals of i t s users" (1979:35-6). In a t r a n s a c t i o n a l paradigm, s t r e s s i s studied i n terms of i t s antecedent f a c t o r s and i t s e f f e c t . Cox a l s o pointed out (1978:24) that the s o c i a l background of a s t r e s s experience i s a c r u c i a l f a c t o r and one which i s often forgotten in laboratory s t u d i e s . Laboratory s t u d i e s tend to dominate the p s y c h o l o g i c a l research on s t r e s s , yet g e n e r a l i z a t i o n s from them to r e a l - l i f e s i t u a t i o n s are very d i f f i c u l t . Another a r t i f i c i a l component of l a b o r a t o r y s t r e s s experiments i s that most give subjects f i n a l c o n t r o l over the i n t e n s i t y and duration of t h e i r s t r e s s experience. R e a l - l i f e s i t u a t i o n s do not allow the same degree of c o n t r o l . The e f f e c t s of s o c i a l and p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t r e s s on p h y s i c a l and mental h e a l t h have been documented in p s y c h o l o g i c a l and p s y c h i a t r i c l i t e r a t u r e . Numerous studi e s have shown a r e l a t i o n s h i p between an i n d i v i d u a l ' s accumulation of l i f e events (for example, d i v o r c e , change of residence, l o s s of job) and the 92 onset of p h y s i c a l i l l n e s s (e.g., Melick 1978; Rahe 1974) or emotional dysfunction (e.g., A l l e n , McBee and J u s t i c e 1981). S o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s f o l l o w i n g a s i m i l a r research approach have shown that an accumulation of negative l i f e events i s detrimental to one's mental h e a l t h . Many of the studi e s which have demonstrated the e f f e c t s of l i f e events on p h y s i c a l and mental i l l n e s s share a conceptual framework which l i n k s l i f e events with a c o n d i t i o n of s t r e s s . The view that l i f e changes generate s t r e s s i s con s i s t e n t with the notion of s t r e s s being perceived as a c o n d i t i o n of imbalance between environmental demands and the c a p a b i l i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s to meet those demands. An instrument that has been used widely i n s o c i a l s t r e s s research was s e l e c t e d for use i n t h i s study. S o c i a l Readjustment Rating Scale The S o c i a l Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), developed by Holmes and Rahe (1967), has been used e x t e n s i v e l y i n studies of the e f f e c t s of l i f e changes. This instrument i s based on the theory of s o c i a l i n c o n g r u i t y , a c o n d i t i o n which a r i s e s when changes demand an adaptation which i s e i t h e r not made or inadequately made. The SRRS c o n s i s t s of a c h e c k l i s t of 43 l i f e events. Each of these events i s one "whose advent i s e i t h e r i n d i c a t i v e of, or requires a s i g n i f i c a n t change i n , the ongoing l i f e p attern of the i n d i v i d u a l " and as such "evoked, or was ass o c i a t e d w i t h , some adaptive or coping behavior" (Holmes and Masuda 1974:46). In responding to the SRRS, subjects are asked to i d e n t i f y the personal events which they have experienced in 93 the past twelve months. Each subject's score i s based on the sum of the weights p r e v i o u s l y assigned to the events i d e n t i f i e d . The t o t a l score i s claimed to represent an index of the amount of change an i n d i v i d u a l has experienced i n the time period f i x e d . These weights ( r e f e r r e d to as l i f e change u n i t s ) are the mean r a t i n g s of the r e l a t i v e degree of readjustment of the event which were obtained from r a t i n g s made by large samples of subjects when the instrument was being developed. The authors found a high l e v e l of agreement concerning the r e l a t i v e order and the magnitude of the means of items. Further evidence was provided by the high c o e f f i c i e n t s of c o r r e l a t i o n (Pearson's product-moment c o e f f i c i e n t ) between l i f e events and the onset of i l l n e s s for d i s c r e t e groups in the sample. A r a t i o s c a l e i s generated by the SRRS enabling the highest forms of s t a t i s t i c a l a n a l y s i s to be conducted on data gathered. R e p l i c a t i o n s of the o r i g i n a l study developing the SRRS have confirmed the r e s u l t s obtained. The r e l i a b i l i t y of the SRRS has been demonstrated using the t e s t - r e t e s t method and a c o r r e l a t i o n of 0.90 was obtained for a two-week pe r i o d . The v a l i d i t y of the SRRS, p a r t i c u l a r l y i t s p r e d i c t i v e v a l i d i t y , has been demonstrated o f t e n . A number of these s t u d i e s are c i t e d by Johnson and Sarason (1979:170-1). In a v a r i e t y of adult populations, those people who have experienced a greater number of l i f e events in a designated period of time, u s u a l l y twelve months, have been shown to be more s u s c e p t i b l e to disease or i l l n e s s than those who have experienced fewer l i f e events. Researchers have a l s o found l i f e s t r e s s scores to c o r r e l a t e with 94 measures of anxiety (Vinokur and Selzer 1975), and with measures of academic performance and work performance. These f i n d i n g s support the view that l i f e s t r e s s i s r e l a t e d to various dimensions of personal e f f e c t i v e n e s s . When i n v e s t i g a t e d i n a study of adult c o n t i n u i n g students, l i f e change was found to be a s i g n i f i c a n t p r e d i c t o r of dropout (Garry 1975). I n i t i a l research focused on s e l e c t e d l i f e changes, while more recent s t u d i e s have more c r i t i c a l l y examined the nature of these changes and mediating v a r i a b l e s . Recent research on these aspects of s o c i a l s t r e s s i s considered i n the next s e c t i o n . D e s i r a b l e and undesirable l i f e events Vinokur and Selzer and others (e.g., M u e l l e r , Edwards, and Y a r v i s 1977; Kessler 1979) have argued that i t i s p r i m a r i l y undesirable events which determined the r e l a t i o n s h i p between l i f e events and p s y c h o l o g i c a l impairment. The f i r s t - m e n t i o n e d researchers described the purpose of t h e i r study, using a r e v i s e d v e r s i o n of the S o c i a l Readjustment Rating Scale, as "to f i n d out whether s t r e s s f u l l i f e events should be conceptualized in terms of l i f e change per se or i n terms of t h e i r undesirable q u a l i t y " (Vinokur and Selzer 1975:330). Drawing on two samples, one of 1059 male d r i v e r s above 20 years of age (mean age 31 years) and the other of 285 respondents who included a l c o h o l i c d r i v e r s undergoing i n p a t i e n t treatment (mean age 42 y e a r s ) , these researchers found the c o r r e l a t i o n s between undesirable l i f e events and p s y c h o l o g i c a l impairment were higher than those based on the t o t a l score of a l l events. Further, they found 95 that the same c o r r e l a t i o n s based on d e s i r a b l e events alone were r e l a t i v e l y small or n e g l i g i b l e ( i b i d : 3 3 2 ) . Brown (1974) and Mechanic (1975) have a l s o challenged the l o g i c of combining p o s i t i v e and negative events i n one s c a l e . These w r i t e r s have argued that d e s i r a b l e and undesirable events may have q u i t e d i f f e r e n t e f f e c t s on the i n d i v i d u a l with the l a t t e r having the greater, a l b e i t d e t r i m e n t a l , consequences. Mirowsky II and Ross (1980:297) argued that i n c o r p o r a t i n g r a t i n g s of the u n d e s i r a b i 1 i t y of events which have occurred i s important because i t involves an e v a l u a t i o n of the consequences of events. They suggested that very often undesirable events represent a t r a n s i t i o n to circumstances with fewer resources, l e s s support, or lower esteem. Thus accompanying a f e e l i n g of f a i l u r e or l o s s i s the demand of a new s o c i a l p o s i t i o n , which can cause considerable d i s t r e s s . On the other hand, frequency of occurrence of d e s i r a b l e l i f e events has been i d e n t i f i e d as a s i g n i f i c a n t p r e d i c t o r of an i n d i v i d u a l ' s sense of w e l l being. Sarason, Johnson, and S i e g e l (1978) conducted a study with 100 undergraduate psychology students who completed the State-T r a i t Anxiety Inventory; the L i f e Experiences Survey (LES) which, l i k e the SRRS, measures l i f e changes, yet allows respondents to d i s t i n g u i s h between p o s i t i v e and negative changes; and se v e r a l other instruments. These researchers a l s o used Grade Point Average (GPA) scores for 75 of the students i n the study. The negative changes were c o r r e l a t e d s i g n i f i c a n t l y in a p o s i t i v e d i r e c t i o n with both s t a t e and t r a i t a n x i e t y , but the score for p o s i t i v e changes was not s i g n i f i c a n t l y r e l a t e d to 96 e i t h e r measure. Negative change was a l s o s i g n i f i c a n t l y c o r r e l a t e d with GPA which suggested that undesirable l i f e changes are r e l a t e d to poorer academic performance. Again, there was no s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between d e s i r a b l e changes and GPA. The researchers a l s o considered that p o s i t i v e changes may o f f s e t some of the s t r e s s brought about by negative experiences, so they subtracted p o s i t i v e from negative scores for each respondent and c o r r e l a t e d that with both of the anxiety measures and with GPA. Yet in no case was t h i s derived score more p r e d i c t i v e than the score f o r negative events, a f i n d i n g that suggested that p o s i t i v e events d i d not fu n c t i o n as a c o r r e c t i v e f or the d e l e t e r i o u s e f f e c t s of negative events. One of the d i f f i c u l t i e s that researchers face when measuring s t r e s s i s that any given s t r e s s o r may have major negative consequences for one i n d i v i d u a l , and n e g l i g i b l e , or even p o s i t i v e consequences for another. Further, the same s t r e s s o r which may have caused a s t r e s s f u l r e a c t i o n i n a subject on a p a r t i c u l a r occasion may have a weaker or stronger e f f e c t on a subsequent, occasion. Antonovsky noted that " i f anything has been learned i n the study of s t r e s s f u l l i f e events, i t i s that what i s important for t h e i r consequences i s the s u b j e c t i v e perception of the meaning of the event rather than i t s o b j e c t i v e character" (1974:246). This view i s supported by Cor n e l i u s and A v e r i l l who, a f t e r they had conducted an e m p i r i c a l i n v e s t i g a t i o n , a f f i r m e d that " i f a person b e l i e v e s that he or she has some c o n t r o l over a s t r e s s f u l event, then that person i s l e s s l i k e l y to be a f f e c t e d adversely" (1980:503). 97 K i r e t z and Moos (1974) pointed out that s e v e r a l f a c t o r s mediate the impact of s t r e s s o r s , i n c l u d i n g how r e c i p i e n t s view the adjustment required, t h e i r perceptions of t h e i r c o n t r o l over a s t r e s s o r , the magnitude of the adjustment r e q u i r e d , and i t s valence. The last-mentioned f a c t o r r e f e r s to the fa c t that some events are s t r e s s o r s in that they require an adaptive response, although they are not l o s s experiences. Conversely, they may be regarded as gain experiences, l i k e beginning a new job, or a c q u i r i n g a f i n a n c i a l w i n d f a l l . Holmes and Rahe's Scale does not allow for t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n , hence m o d i f i c a t i o n s to i t have been suggested by Dohrenwend (1973), Sarason, Johnson, and S i e g e l (1978), Vinokur and Selzer (1975), and others. Other stud i e s have i d e n t i f i e d personal and s i t u a t i o n a l f a c t o r s which have mediated the r e l a t i o n s h i p between l i f e changes and negative outcomes, i l l n e s s or task performance. The term " s o c i a l support" has been used to describe the degree to which i n d i v i d u a l s have access to s o c i a l resources, in the form of r e l a t i o n s h i p s , on which they can r e l y , e s p e c i a l l y i n time of need, but at other times as w e l l . These resources might include spouse, f a m i l y , f r i e n d s , neighbors, community groups, and s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . (Johnson and Sarason 1979:155) For such a c o n d i t i o n to e x i s t i t i s not s u f f i c i e n t for others to be present. Rather as Cobb (1976) argued, the r e l a t i o n s h i p must be such that the i n d i v i d u a l b e l i e v e s that he or she i s valued, cared for and loved. This view i s supported by the research conducted by Myers and h i s colleagues (1974) i n New Haven, to examine the r e l a t i o n s h i p between l i f e events and p s y c h o l o g i c a l impairment. The authors concluded that the extent of one's i n t e g r a t i o n w i t h i n the s o c i a l system i s a c r i t i c a l f a c t o r 98 mediating the impact of l i f e events. C o n c e p t u a l l y and e m p i r i c a l l y i t has been shown that s t r e s s can be induced by causes both w i t h i n and e x t e r n a l to the i n d i v i d u a l . The c a p a c i t y to respond to a s t r e s s o r depends on an i n d i v i d u a l ' s previous experience of d e a l i n g with i t , the magnitude of i t , and an i n d i v i d u a l ' s p e r c e i v e d a b i l i t y to cope with i t . L i f e changes hav.e been shown as s t r e s s o r s which have been a s s o c i a t e d with s e v e r a l forms of p h y s i c a l and mental i l l n e s s as w e l l as with d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of human performance. More r e c e n t l y r e s e a r c h e r s have d i s t i n g u i s h e d between events which are p e r c e i v e d as d e s i r a b l e or favourable and those which are u n d e s i r a b l e or unfavourable. Such a d i s t i n c t i o n i s c o n s i s t e n t with the view that i n d i v i d u a l p e r c e p t i o n of an event i s a fundamental tenet of a c o g n i t i v e a p p r a i s a l p e r s p e c t i v e on the impact of l i f e changes. Given the evidence that e x p e r i e n c i n g l i f e changes, p a r t i c u l a r l y those seen as unfavourable, has negative consequences fo r human performance, i t can be reasonably expected that those who have encountered l i f e events p e r c e i v e d as u n d e s i r a b l e w i l l perform l e s s e f f i c i e n t l y i n an a d u l t education program than those e x p e r i e n c i n g fewer events of t h i s kind. Dropping out or a t t e n d i n g spasmodically may be a m a n i f e s t a t i o n of i n e f f i c i e n t performance. Study o r i e n t a t i o n i s another v a r i a b l e which i s r e l e v a n t to an i n d i v i d u a l ' s a b i l i t y to perform e f f i c i e n t l y i n an e d u c a t i o n a l program. One's a t t i t u d e toward education and i n s t r u c t o r s as w e l l as one's study h a b i t s and s k i l l s a f f e c t e d u c a t i o n a l 99 outcomes. The i n f l u e n c e of study o r i e n t a t i o n i s considered next. Study O r i e n t a t i o n In a review of research that had been conducted p r i o r to h i s study of adult students who had returned to school, Houle (1964:226) st a t e d that low basic academic aptitude was one reason that students withdrew from an educational a c t i v i t y . Houle's study was conducted two months a f t e r the beginning of the term. Data were c o l l e c t e d from 470 students i n s i x d i f f e r e n t s e t t i n g s of the 1200 students who were sent mailed q u e s t i o n n a i r e s , a 39 percent response r a t e . No explanation was given by the i n v e s t i g a t o r for t h i s low response r a t e . Furthermore, most of those who responded were s t i l l a c t i v e l y .studying i n the program i n which they had e n r o l l e d . W r i t i n g about the respondents, Houle noted that i t was "not known to what extent they are t y p i c a l e i t h e r of the whole group of adult students or of those who s u c c e s s f u l l y pursue t h e i r courses of study" ( i b i d : 2 2 8 ) . The major obstacles reported by the respondents as they resumed study r e l a t e d to study s k i l l s . Houle noted "The problems of personal adjustment to the l e a r n i n g process were stated i n many d i f f e r e n t ways" ( i b i d : 2 3 0 ) . He f u r t h e r observed "The b e l i e f that the adult student must le a r n or r e - l e a r n how to l e a r n receives support" (ibid:231) from the evidence that he c o l l e c t e d . Because of the nature of these f i n d i n g s an instrument was s e l e c t e d for t h i s study to measure a t t i t u d e s to education and p a r t i c i p a n t s ' assessment of t h e i r own 100 study s k i l l s at the commencement of the program. Most s t u d i e s concerned with r e l a t i n g study h a b i t s and a t t i t u d e s to dropout have . been made with reference to higher education students rather than those i n adult education. Clarke (1980) used the Brown-Holtzman Survey of Study Habits and A t t i t u d e s (SSHA) to de r i v e measures of congruence with the c o l l e g e s e t t i n g among 261 a c a d e m i c a l l y - d e f i c i e n t c o l l e g e freshmen ranging from 17 to 65 years of age. He beli e v e d that t h i s instrument would measure i n t r a - s e l f congruence because students with a negative a p p r a i s a l of t h e i r own h a b i t s face incongruence. The o r i g i n a t o r s of the instrument have shown that a composite score derived from i t s four scales has a .40 c o r r e l a t i o n with academic achievement (Brown and Holtzman 1966). Thus, as Clarke (1980:95) i n d i c a t e d , the composite score may r e f l e c t the degree of congruence between the i n d i v i d u a l and the c o l l e g e environment. The v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y of the SSHA and the e m p i r i c a l evidence reported for other stud i e s in which i t has been used are considered next. Survey of Study Habits and A t t i t u d e s The SSHA i s a 100 item instrument to which respondents i n d i c a t e the frequency or extent to which each statement a p p l i e s to themselves. Five p o s s i b i l i t i e s are o f f e r e d : r a r e l y (0% to 15%); sometimes (16% to 35%); frequently (36% to 65%); ge n e r a l l y (66% to 85%); and almost always (86% to 100%). Questions are designed to measure respondents' study methods, t h e i r motivation for studying, and some of t h e i r a t t i t u d e s toward s c h o l a s t i c 101 a c t i v i t i e s which are important i n an academic s e t t i n g . Among the statements are: "In preparing reports . . . I make c e r t a i n that I c l e a r l y understand what i s wanted before I begin work;" " D i f f i c u l t y i n expressing myself i n w r i t i n g slows me down on re p o r t s , themes, examinations, and other work to be turned i n ; " "I keep a l l the notes for each subject together, c a r e f u l l y arranging them i n some l o g i c a l order;" and "I f e e l confused and undecided as to what my educational and v o c a t i o n a l goals should be. " Form C of the SSHA, which i s that appropriate for a d u l t s , has four basic s c a l e s , two s u b - t o t a l s , and a t o t a l score. The four basic s c a l e s are: Delay Avoidance; Work Methods; Teacher Approval; and Education Acceptance. The f i r s t two combine to produce a score for Study Habits, while the l a t t e r two form the Study A t t i t u d e s score. The o v e r a l l t o t a l y i e l d s the Study O r i e n t a t i o n score. In completing the instrument respondents are not aware of any sub-scale d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n as the statements are completed s e q u e n t i a l l y from 1 to 100. The SSHA was standardized a f t e r c o l l e c t i n g data from 3,054 c o l l e g e freshmen. The Manual reports "The c o r r e l a t i o n s between SSHA scores and grade-point averages . . . for . . . 1,118 women in ten c o l l e g e s v a r i e d from . . . .26 to .65" (Brown and Holtzman 1966:8). The Manual a l s o l i s t s subscale i n t e r c o r r e l a t i o n s and reports weighted averages ranging from .49 to .71 ( i b i d : 1 1 ) , and suggests that the use of subscales has r e a l value i n c o u n s e l l i n g , which i s an i n t e r v e n t i o n which could be considered to help i d e n t i f y and overcome study s k i l l 1 02 weaknesses or a t t i t u d e s of those c o n s i d e r i n g a r e t u r n t o a f o r m a l e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n . I n t e r n a l c o n s i s t e n c y and t e s t - r e t e s t r e l i a b i l i t y d a t a f o r the f o u r b a s i c s c a l e s a r e r e p o r t e d . The i n t e r n a l c o n s i s t e n c y measure of the SSHA was computed u s i n g the K u d e r - R i c h a r d s o n Formula 8. R e l i a b i l i t y c o e f f i c i e n t s ranged from .87 t o .89. T e s t - r e t e s t c o e f f i c i e n t s w i t h a four-week i n t e r v a l ranged from .88 t o .93 f o r the f o u r s u b s c a l e s ; w h i l e a fourteen-week i n t e r v a l r e s u l t e d i n c o e f f i c i e n t s r a n g i n g from .83 t o .88 f o r c o l l e g e freshmen. The Manual argues t h a t "These two s t u d i e s i n d i c a t e t h a t the f o u r s u b s c a l e s c o r e s a re s u f f i c i e n t l y s t a b l e through time t o j u s t i f y t h e i r use i n p r e d i c t i n g f u t u r e b e h a v i o u r " ( i b i d : 1 1 ) . In a study of the i n f l u e n c e of study h a b i t s on academic performance, L e v i n e (1976) found s i g n i f i c a n t c o r r e l a t i o n s f o r both w h i t e and b l a c k s t u d e n t s . Wen and L i u (1976) a l s o found s i g n i f i c a n t c o r r e l a t i o n s f o r t h r e e SSHA s c a l e s and c o u r s e e x a m i n a t i o n s c o r e s f o r f e m a l e s . Other s t u d i e s have i n v e s t i g a t e d the r e l a t i o n s h i p of the SSHA w i t h GPA. Most support the a u t h o r s of the i n s t r u m e n t who r e c o g n i z e t h a t such c o r r e l a t i o n s a r e s i g n i f i c a n t a l t h o u g h not h i g h . However, i t i s the a u t h o r s ' c l a i m t h a t the SSHA s h o u l d improve p r e d i c t i o n s made from measures of academic a b i l i t y . Some s t u d i e s have s u p p o r t e d t h i s c o n t e n t i o n . S i m i l a r l y , i t seems r e a s o n a b l e t o assume t h a t the in s t r u m e n t may add t o the a b i l i t y of r e s e a r c h e r s d i s t i n g u i s h i n g among l e v e l s of a t t e n d a n c e or d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g between p e r s i s t e r s and d r o p o u t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i f the composite s c o r e d e r i v e d from 1 03 the SSHA i n d i c a t e s the extent of congruence between an i n d i v i d u a l and an academic environment. Conclusion This chapter, l i k e the previous one, focused on the l i t e r a t u r e which reviewed research f i n d i n g s and t h e o r e t i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n s d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d to the study of attendance behaviour i n adult education. Self-esteem i s a c e n t r a l construct i n the study of p e r s o n a l i t y . Those with high s e l f -esteem see themselves as worthy and capable i n d i v i d u a l s , and they behave a c c o r d i n g l y . As was noted in the pr-evious chapter, self-esteem has been as s o c i a t e d with dropout, with those more i n c l i n e d to withdraw from adult education programs being those having lower rather than higher self-esteem. Considerable emphasis i n s o c i a l and community psychology has been placed on the e f f e c t of s t r e s s o r s on behaviour. Changes in domestic, employment, and other personal circumstances have been shown to be r e l a t e d to p h y s i c a l and mental i l l n e s s , emotional d y s f u n c t i o n , and e f f e c t i v e performance. Research l i n k i n g l i f e events to dropout was a l s o reported. More recent research on s o c i a l s t r e s s has drawn a t t e n t i o n to moderator v a r i a b l e s , such as i n d i v i d u a l s ' perception of an event, t h e i r previous experience of d e a l i n g with i t , and the network of s o c i a l support they can draw on to ameliorate the e f f e c t of s t r e s s f u l events. Anxiety i s an important construct i n p e r s o n a l i t y f u n c t i o n i n g . The d i s t i n c t i o n that has been made between stat e 1 04 and t r a i t a nxiety i s accepted in t h i s study. Level of s t a t e anxiety r i s e s i n circumstances where i n d i v i d u a l s are u n c e r t a i n , f e e l threatened, or face the p o s s i b i l i t y of being judged by others. Re-entering an educational i n s t i t u t i o n a f t e r an absence i s l i k e l y to induce s t a t e anxiety which, unless coped with , may c o n t r i b u t e to withdrawal. Research conducted to measure the e f f e c t of a n x i e t y on p a r t i c i p a n t s i n adult education has shown i t to be a s s o c i a t e d with withdrawal. Likewise, there i s evidence from other research studies to show that a d u l t s with inadequate study s k i l l s are more l i k e l y to withdraw from programs than those who are r e l a t i v e l y competent. Study s k i l l s have a l s o been l i n k e d to achievement, with a p o s i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p being found between study s k i l l s and grades. S i m i l a r l y , the other a t t r i b u t e measured by the SSHA, study a t t i t u d e s , has a l s o been shown as being p o s i t i v e l y c o r r e l a t e d with achievement. The o v e r a l l score produced by t h i s instrument, study o r i e n t a t i o n , has been used as a measure of congruence between i n d i v i d u a l s and the educational i n s t i t u t i o n they attend. The next chapter o u t l i n e s the steps which were taken to measure the c o n s t r u c t s explained in the previous two chapters. I t describes the procedures by which a n x i e t y , s o c i a l s t r e s s , self-esteem, and study o r i e n t a t i o n , i n a d d i t i o n to other demographic and educational v a r i a b l e s were obtained from the sample i n t h i s study. 105 CHAPTER IV METHODOLOGY Introduct ion In t h i s chapter the procedures followed to conduct the study are explained. A sample was sel e c t e d from a population in New Zealand. A f t e r t h i s i n t r o d u c t o r y s e c t i o n , the steps which were taken to set up the study are o u t l i n e d . Subjects i n t h i s study were 145 women who had e n r o l l e d in the New S t a r t Program at three u n i v e r s i t i e s o f f e r i n g t h i s course i n the spring term, 1981. Background information about and the reasons f or s e l e c t i n g p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s program are explained in t h i s chapter. Following a d e s c r i p t i o n of the s e l e c t i o n of the population and sample, data c o l l e c t i o n procedures are reported. At three d i f f e r e n t p o i n t s of the w r i t e r ' s involvement with the program data were c o l l e c t e d . The f i n a l s e c t i o n i n t h i s chapter provides d e t a i l s of the means of data a n a l y s i s used i n t h i s study. S e t t i n g Up the Study Following an explanation of the program in which p a r t i c i p a n t s in the study had e n r o l l e d , steps taken to obtain data are reported. The New S t a r t Program The centres for contin u i n g education i n New Zealand 1 06 u n i v e r s i t i e s have t r a d i t i o n a l l y played a major r o l e i n the p r o v i s i o n of the country's adult education. Within the l a s t f i v e years most of these departments have begun o f f e r i n g courses designed to help a d u l t s return to a formal educational s e t t i n g a f t e r they have been absent from i t for a number of years. Each department has used the name New S t a r t Program for these study s k i l l s and educational re-entry o r i e n t a t i o n courses. The o b j e c t i v e s of the programs at each i n s t i t u t i o n are i d e n t i c a l : to provide advice on educational o p p o r t u n i t i e s a v a i l a b l e for a d u l t s ; to a s s i s t the development of study s k i l l s , p a r t i c u l a r l y note-taking i n l e c t u r e s and from books, reading c r i t i c a l l y , and essay w r i t i n g ; and to create a supportive climate for a d u l t s who might be apprehensive about r e t u r n i n g to an educational i n s t i t ut i o n . The courses were conducted weekly for ten weeks. Each session was of two hours' d u r a t i o n . In a d d i t i o n p a r t i c i p a n t s were expected to complete assignments which increased in d i f f i c u l t y as the course progressed. Course coordinators b e l i e v e d that i n c r e a s i n g the academic pressure i n t h i s way helped each p a r t i c i p a n t i d e n t i f y an educational i n s t i t u t i o n at which she would be most l i k e l y to cope s u c c e s s f u l l y . Such d e c i s i o n s were often made with the as s i s t a n c e of course coordinators who acted as educational c o u n s e l l o r s . This program was s e l e c t e d for study for se v e r a l reasons. F i r s t , although a l l centres for continuing education o f f e r a range of spring courses and seminars, the New S t a r t Program has received more a t t e n t i o n than most other programs i n regard to 1 07 the time and e f f o r t spent by program planners and course coordinators in each of these u n i v e r s i t y departments. Second, the New S t a r t Program has been somewhat unique in that i t has had as a major o b j e c t i v e a r o l e t r a n s i t i o n for p a r t i c i p a n t s whereby they are given the s k i l l s to switch-from a l i f e p attern that does not include any formal study to one that encompasses e i t h e r f u l l - t i m e or part-time study. T h i r d , in previous years many of the p a r t i c i p a n t s have had l i t t l e or no recent adult education experience yet they have often been a t t r a c t e d to the program p r i o r to e n r o l l i n g in higher education, even though many have not had the formal entry q u a l i f i c a t i o n s to study at t h i s l e v e l . Fourth, the New S t a r t Program has been seen by some of the u n i v e r s i t i e s as a recruitment device (Davis 1979). F i n a l l y , the success rate of the New S t a r t Program has tended to have been judged by the proportion of u n i v e r s i t y courses passed by students who have p a r t i c i p a t e d i n i t compared with students of a s i m i l a r age who d i d not take part in the program. The higher pass rate of the former group has been used to j u s t i f y the success of the program. Morrison (1979:16) reported that those who had p a r t i c i p a t e d in the New S t a r t Program i n 1976 passed 91 percent of t h e i r papers i n the f o l l o w i n g year. The 1977 p a r t i c i p a n t s passed 89 percent of t h e i r papers. In comparison, a d u l t s who e n r o l l e d i n u n i v e r s i t y c r e d i t courses without having taken part in the New S t a r t Program passed 59 percent of t h e i r papers. However, the study by Davis (1979) overlooked the i m p l i c a t i o n s of the s e l e c t i o n procedures adopted for the New S t a r t Program. Faced with an excess of a p p l i c a n t s , 1 08 those most l i k e l y to succeed i n u n i v e r s i t y c r e d i t courses were s e l e c t e d . More importantly for t h i s study previous research has not focused on the dynamics of the New S t a r t Program i t s e l f , p a r t i c u l a r l y rates of attendance and pe r s i s t e n c e and dropout which received t h i s i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s a t t e n t i o n . Although program planners a s s o c i a t e d with the course had been concerned about p a r t i c i p a n t s who had withdrawn from the New St a r t Program i n previous years, they had made no p a r t i c u l a r e f f o r t to q u a n t i f y the extent to which dropout had occurred. In f a c t , none of the pro v i d i n g i n s t i t u t i o n s o p e r a t i o n a l i z e d attendance behaviour i n the terms that t h i s i n v e s t i g a t o r has adopted. Some attendance records for the New S t a r t Program held in previous years were a v a i l a b l e . For 1978, T 97 9, and 1980, dropout rates (using the d e f i n i t i o n a p p l i e d to t h i s study) were 28 percent, 24 percent, and 26 percent r e s p e c t i v e l y . (The rate for the year in which the study was conducted was 21 percent). An a d m i n i s t r a t i v e f a c t o r which may have influenced a p a r t i c i p a n t ' s d e c i s i o n to withdraw was the granting of a p a r t i a l refund of the enrolment fee i f withdrawal occurred before the t h i r d s e s sion. A check by the w r i t e r on the course records showed that only one person had made a p p l i c a t i o n for t h i s refund. The next s e c t i o n describes the steps which were taken to i n i t i a t e the study. I n i t i a t i n g the Study As noted p r e v i o u s l y , i f the notion of l i f e l o n g education i s 1 09 to become a p r a c t i c a l r e a l i t y then a d u l t s must be able to return to an educational i n s t i t u t i o n and f a c t o r s which c o n t r i b u t e to t h e i r dropping out must be i d e n t i f i e d so that p e r s i s t e n c e can be enhanced. A l l three New Zealand u n i v e r s i t i e s o f f e r i n g the New S t a r t Program i n the spring term, 1981, when t h i s study was undertaken, cooperated in the research p r o j e c t . The heads of each of the other two departments were approached p e r s o n a l l y by the a c t i n g head of the Centre for Continuing Education at the U n i v e r s i t y of Waikato who acted on the i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s behalf. They gave t h e i r permission to conduct the study subject to the approval of the course coordinators and the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Following d e t a i l e d v e r b a l and w r i t t e n i n s t r u c t i o n s , course c o o r d i n a t o r s were contacted by telephone; and the aims and the boundaries of the study were explained by the a c t i n g head of the Centre at Waikato. The cooperation of a l l course coordinators was gained. Subsequently, d e t a i l e d procedures were sent to each course coordinator o u t l i n i n g the exact steps which had to be followed. P a r t i c u l a r . emphasis was given to the need for instrumentation to be completed at the f i r s t session of the course and for accurate course attendance records to be kept. At the beginning of the f i r s t session course c o o r d i n a t o r s gave a b r i e f explanation on behalf of the i n v e s t i g a t o r of the purpose of the study that was being conducted and asked the cooperation of p a r t i c i p a n t s i n completing the packages of instruments which were d i s t r i b u t e d . A covering l e t t e r from the i n v e s t i g a t o r (see appendix A) explained to p a r t i c i p a n t s the 1 10 reasons for conducting the research and the procedures to be followed. A f t e r the f i r s t session of each course the packages of instruments were sent to the i n v e s t i g a t o r . At the end of the course a copy of the course attendance records was made a v a i l a b l e as requested. Population and Sample Women who e n r o l l e d i n the New S t a r t Program o f f e r e d by the U n i v e r s i t i e s of Auckland, Waikato, and Otago i n the pe r i o d , September-November 1981, comprised the subjects for t h i s study. Table 1 shows the number of women who e n r o l l e d at each u n i v e r s i t y , and the number who took part i n the study. TABLE 1 ENROLMENTS AND STUDY PARTICIPANTS IN THE NEW START PROGRAM U n i v e r s i t y Number of Women enrolments in study Auc kland 95 86 Waikato 47 44 Otago 1 7 1 5 Tot a l 1 59 1 45 The discrepancy i n numbers between the population and sample was accounted f o r , and i s shown i n tab l e 2. 111 TABLE 2 FACTORS ACCOUNTING FOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE POPULATION AND THE SAMPLE Reasons for not p a r t i c i p a t i n g in the study U n i v e r s i t y T o t a l Auc kland Wa i kato Otago Not at f i r s t session 2 3 1 6 Not at any session 3 - 0 1 4 I n s u f f i c i e n t data 2 0 0 2 Declined 2 0 0 2 To t a l 9 3 2 14 The sample was l i m i t e d to those present at the f i r s t session of the course. Data C o l l e c t i o n Three sets of data were c o l l e c t e d at three d i f f e r e n t stages of the study. F i r s t , each p a r t i c i p a n t present at the f i r s t session of the New S t a r t Program was asked to complete a b i o g r a p h i c a l questionnaire and four standardized s e l f - r e p o r t instruments. Second, course attendance records were examined at the end of each program to c a l c u l a t e the number of sessions each woman in the study attended. According to the c r i t e r i a p r e v i o u s l y explained she was then c l a s s i f i e d i n a rate of attendance category depending on the number of sessions at which she was present. She was a l s o deemed to be a p e r s i s t e r or a dropout on the basis of the d e f i n i t i o n set out i n chapter I I . The t h i r d stage of data c o l l e c t i o n occurred two to four weeks 1 1 2 a f t e r the course had concluded. Interviews were arranged with 55 women, 29 randomly s e l e c t e d according to t h e i r rate of attendance category, and 26 whether they p e r s i s t e d or dropped out. Instrumentation B i o g r a p h i c a l information was c o l l e c t e d by q u e s t i o n n a i r e . (See appendix B). In p a r t i c u l a r , questions were asked to a s c e r t a i n the f o l l o w i n g d e t a i l s : the source of p u b l i c i t y which f i r s t a t t r a c t e d the woman's a t t e n t i o n to the New S t a r t Program; the length of time p r i o r to the commencement of the program that she e n r o l l e d ; the means of transport used to attend the course; the d i s t a n c e from her home to the l o c a t i o n of the course; years of s c h o o l i n g ; the highest l e v e l of formal education completed; the number of courses or seminars attended in the past three years; the number of courses from which she had p r e v i o u s l y withdrawn; age; m a r i t a l s t a t u s ; the number of c h i l d r e n cared f o r ; family income; occupation; partner's a t t i t u d e , i f a p p l i c a b l e , to the p a r t i c i p a n t ' s e n r o l l i n g i n the program; the f a c t o r s or circumstances which she thought might p o s s i b l y a f f e c t her attendance i n the program; and achievements that she hoped for as a r e s u l t of p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the program. In order to qu a n t i f y the responses to the l a s t two questions, two judges, both of whom were experienced p r a c t i s i n g adult educators, were asked to a s s i s t the w r i t e r with the establishment of categories of reasons for p o s s i b l e non-attendance. The categories agreed upon are reported i n chapter 1 13 V. Once agreement had been reached, p a r t i c i p a n t s ' responses were sorted i n t o the defined c a t e g o r i e s . The l e v e l of i n t e r -judge agreement was set at .90 for t h i s a l l o c a t i o n . Once t h i s l e v e l of agreement had been a t t a i n e d among the judges' r a t i n g s , the responses were coded and l a t e r computed. The responses to the question asking p a r t i c i p a n t s what they hoped to achieve as a r e s u l t of attending the program were scored i n a s i m i l a r way to the previous one. That i s , a l l the responses were l i s t e d , the judges (the same two as for the previous question) agreed on the c a t e g o r i e s for c l a s s i f y i n g the statements, inter-judge agreement of .93 was reached on assigning statements to c a t e g o r i e s , and these statements were l a t e r coded and computed. S o c i a l s t r e s s , or l i f e events which women in the study had experienced i n the previous twelve months, was measured using the S o c i a l Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS). In t h i s study, seve r a l minor changes were made to the o r i g i n a l s cale to make i t more relevant to contemporary c o n d i t i o n s . F i r s t , changes in some f i n a n c i a l l i m i t s were made to take i n t o account the rate of i n f l a t i o n which has occurred since 1967 when the SRRS was published, and the p r e v a i l i n g mortgage rates i n New Zealand. Second, and of more s i g n i f i c a n c e , each p a r t i c i p a n t was asked to rate on a f i v e - p o i n t scale the extent to which each event which had occurred was d e s i r a b l e or undesirable. (See appendix C). In t h i s study i n a d d i t i o n to using the weightings of l i f e events as proposed o r i g i n a l l y by Holmes and Rahe, a r e v i s e d scoring system was used whereby each event reported as being 1 1 4 "hi g h l y undesirable" scored two p o i n t s , while those rated as "undesirable" r e s u l t e d in one point being added to the score. Events seen as "highly d e s i r a b l e " and " d e s i r a b l e " a l s o scored two and one points r e s p e c t i v e l y . The events to which a respondent had a " n e u t r a l " a t t i t u d e were not scored. This scor i n g approach was s i m i l a r to that adopted by Dohrenwend (1973:170), although she computed a score of u n d e s i r a b i l i t y by as s i g n i n g each negative event as "plus one" and each gain as "minus one." In her study each ambiguous event was assigned a zero score. The measure of u n d e s i r a b i l i t y was derived from the sum of how a l l the events were assessed. Because previous research had shown undesirable events to have been more i n f l u e n t i a l than d e s i r a b l e ones i n r e q u i r i n g i n d i v i d u a l s to make ps y c h o l o g i c a l or s o c i a l adjustments, a weighted l i f e events score was a l s o c a l c u l a t e d by deducting the score for d e s i r a b l e events from the score for undesirable occurrences. Hence four measures were derived from the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of the o r i g i n a l and the r e v i s e d SRRS: the score based on the value of the events which were reported to have occurred using the o r i g i n a l v e r s i o n of the Scale; the weighted score for undesirable l i f e events; the weighted score for d e s i r a b l e events; and the score derived from deducting the weighted d e s i r a b l e l i f e events score from the weighted undesirable l i f e events score. A l l of these measures were c o r r e l a t e d with each of the sets of attendance data. That i s , scores from the o r i g i n a l and the modified SRRS were c o r r e l a t e d with the number of sessions attended, the rate of attendance c a t e g o r i e s , and pe r s i s t e n c e and 1 1 5 dropout. Self-esteem was measured using the ten-item Self-esteem Scale developed by Rosenberg (1965). No m o d i f i c a t i o n s were made to the o r i g i n a l instrument. Study h a b i t s and a t t i t u d e s were measured by the Survey of Study Habits and A t t i t u d e s (SSHA) (Brown and Holtzman 1966). Attendance Set Data Course records were examined a f t e r the conclusion of each program to provide the three sets of attendance data which were defined and explained in chapter I I : number of sessions attended; c l a s s i f i c a t i o n i n t o high, medium, or low rate of attendance category according to the number of sessions attended; and designation as a p e r s i s t e r or dropout depending on whether or not a p a r t i c i p a n t had attended a session in the l a t t e r h a l f of the course. Women s e l e c t e d for int e r v i e w were asked to comment on the number of sessions they had attended and t h e i r pattern of attendance as a v a l i d i t y check on course records. No di s c r e p a n c i e s were found which might have suggested that subjects had been c l a s s i f i e d i n the wrong attendance behaviour category. Interviews The in t e r v i e w s were the t h i r d step i n the data c o l l e c t i o n process. Following a statement on the purpose of the in t e r v i e w s , steps taken to obtain explanations for p a r t i c i p a n t s ' 1 1 6 attendance behaviour are reported. Purpose of the interviews The major reason for i n c l u d i n g interviews as a means of data c o l l e c t i o n was to v e r i f y the f a c t o r s i n the conceptual framework which provided the basis for the hypotheses which gave d i r e c t i o n to t h i s study. The semi-structured nature of the interviews gave an opportunity for subjects to ex p l a i n the reasons for t h e i r attendance behaviour. Within the framework of the i n t e r v i e w subjects were able to discuss and account for t h e i r reasons for p e r s i s t i n g or dropping out and for attending a l l or a proportion of the sessions i n the course. The interviews were thus organized to supplement and complement the s t a t i s t i c a l data c o l l e c t i o n procedures. Conducting the interviews For each u n i v e r s i t y the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n numbers (I.D.) of p a r t i c i p a n t s were used in making the random s e l e c t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l s to be interviewed. F i r s t , I.D.'s were drawn from the p e r s i s t e r and dropout groups. Then the remaining I.D.'s were d i v i d e d i n t o t h e i r attendance rate c a t e g o r i e s and random s e l e c t i o n was used once again to draw the numbers of the women to be interviewed. A l t o g e t h e r , 55 interviews were conducted: 24 with women from the program at Auckland, 25 from Waikato, and s i x from Otago. For women who had attended the New S t a r t Program o f f e r e d by the U n i v e r s i t i e s of Auckland and Otago, an eighth of those i n 1 1 7 the p e r s i s t e r and dropout groups, and an eighth of the t o t a l number i n each of the three attendance rate c a t e g o r i e s were se l e c t e d for i n t e r v i e w . Allowing for numbers to be rounded o f f , about one-quarter of the women i n the program at both of these u n i v e r s i t i e s were interviewed. At the U n i v e r s i t y of Waikato the proportion interviewed was a quarter of the number i n each of the attendance s e t s : p e r s i s t e r and dropout; and high, medium, and low attendance. Hence approximately one-half of the p a r t i c i p a n t s were interviewed at the U n i v e r s i t y of Waikato. The higher p r o p o r t i o n of in t e r v i e w s conducted at t h i s i n s t i t u t i o n r e f l e c t e d the w r i t e r ' s being based there; the layout and smaller s i z e of the c i t y made access to p a r t i c i p a n t s more economical than i n the other c i t i e s ; and most importantly, colleague a s s i s t a n c e was obtained to arrange for some interviews to be conducted by the w r i t e r at the U n i v e r s i t y , thereby saving the w r i t e r time t r a v e l l i n g to and from i n t e r v i e w s . The d i s t r i b u t i o n of the women interviewed according to u n i v e r s i t y attended and per s i s t e n c e and dropout i s shown i n ta b l e 3. 1 18 TABLE 3 SELECTION OF INTERVIEWEES FROM PERSISTER AND DROPOUT GROUPS I . .. . « _ U n i v e r s i t y Per< s i s t e r s Di 'opouts Women Interviews Women Interviews Auc kland Wa i kato Otago T o t a l 69 36 1 0 9 9 2 1 7 8 5 3 2 1 1 1 5 20 30 6 In a d d i t i o n to the 26 interviews drawn from the p e r s i s t e r -dropout dichotomy, another 29 were s e l e c t e d from the three rate of attendance c a t e g o r i e s , making a t o t a l of 55 in t e r v i e w s . The attendance set data and the u n i v e r s i t y attended for the l a t t e r d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n are shown i n ta b l e 4. TABLE 4 SELECTION OF INTERVIEWEES FROM EACH RATE OF ATTENDANCE CATEGORY U n i v e r s i t y Auc kland Wa i kato Otago To t a l High attendance Mediun n attendance Low c attendance Women Interviews Women Interviews Women Interviews 51 27 5 7 8 1 20 1 1 4 3 3 1 1 5 6 6 2 3 . 1 83 1 6 35 7 27 6 Because of the r e l a t i v e l y small number of p a r t i c i p a n t s 1 1 9 involved i n the U n i v e r s i t y of Otago program and i t s distance from the two northern u n i v e r s i t i e s , i t was not economically f e a s i b l e to conduct face-to-face interviews with women who were e n r o l l e d in that program. Therefore, the s i x interviews conducted with women from that i n s t i t u t i o n were c a r r i e d out by telephone. This method of i n t e r v i e w i n g was a l s o used with three other p a r t i c i p a n t s , two from Auckland and one from Waikato, who had been s e l e c t e d randomly and l a t e r had moved to another town a f t e r beginning the course. In preparing the questions that were asked in the in t e r v i e w , the i n v e s t i g a t o r obtained the as s i s t a n c e of two pr o f e s s o r s , one in adult education and the other i n c o u n s e l l i n g psychology, a d o c t o r a l student i n adult education who was conducting research on a s i m i l a r t o p i c , and two adult educators experienced i n working with the population s e l e c t e d for t h i s study. A d r a f t of the l i s t of questions was submitted to each of these people for comment and advice. A f t e r each had made suggestions on the a p p l i c a b i l i t y and phrasing of the questions the l i s t was re v i s e d and resubmitted to the panel for f i n a l comments before the interviews were conducted. Interviews v a r i e d i n length from 25-40 minutes. Forty-three interviews were recorded on audio-cassette tapes. Where p a r t i c i p a n t s were r e l u c t a n t to be recorded i n t h i s way, notes were made during the interview and elaborated immediately afterwards. Interviews were conducted at the u n i v e r s i t y , in p a r t i c i p a n t s ' homes, or in seve r a l instances, at t h e i r place of employment. 120 The interviews c o n s i s t e d of two main p a r t s . The f i r s t sought an e l a b o r a t i o n of responses given in the questionnaire which had been completed at the f i r s t session of the course. In a d d i t i o n , the i m p l i c a t i o n s and e f f e c t s of f a c t u a l information were sought. For example, p a r t i c i p a n t s were asked i n the ques t i o n n a i r e how many c h i l d r e n they cared f o r . In the inter v i e w information was sought on the ages of the c h i l d r e n , t h e i r a t t i t u d e s to t h e i r mother's r e t u r n i n g to an educational s e t t i n g , the impact of c h i l d - c a r e arrangements which might have been made, and the changes i n household r e p o n s i b i l i t i e s which were necessary to allow the p a r t i c i p a n t s to ca r r y out work that was to be done out of c l a s s . Another example was the item in the qu e s t i o n n a i r e seeking information on the f a c t o r s or circumstances which p a r t i c i p a n t s had i n d i c a t e d might have a f f e c t e d t h e i r attendance in the program. The women were asked whether any of the f a c t o r s that they had pr e d i c t e d had, in f a c t , been an i n f l u e n c e on t h e i r rate of attendance; what unexpected circumstances had a r i s e n during the course; and conversely, what f a c t o r s had been important i n encouraging t h e i r continued attendance, i f such a question was a p p l i c a b l e . Confirmation of the scores on the standardized instruments was a l s o sought. Several questions were asked of p a r t i c i p a n t s to a s c e r t a i n whether they saw themselves as being anxious, p a r t i c u l a r l y in comparison with others in the course. S i m i l a r l y , p a r t i c i p a n t s were asked to comment on how they valued themselves as i n d i v i d u a l s . This question was asked to see the extent to which self-esteem scores, as measured by the Rosenberg 121 Self-esteem Scale at the f i r s t session of the course, matched t h e i r o r a l r a t i n g s of themselves. The second part of the interview explored perceptions and