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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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


Dropout from and low attendance at adult education programs have posed problems for individuals, institutions, and society. In this study a dropout was defined as a person who failed to attend a single session in the second half of the course after having attended the first session. A persister attended the first and at least one session in the latter half of the course. On the basis of the number of sessions they attended, participants were divided into three pre-determined rate of attendance categories: high, medium, and low. The population consisted of 145 women enrolled in the New Start Program, a ten-session re-entry orientation course offered by three New Zealand universities in the spring term, 1981. A demographic questionnaire and four standardized instruments were administered at the first session. Participants' characteristics were related to their attendance behaviour. Post-course interviews were conducted with 55 women randomly selected according to their attendance category. Two research hypotheses were formulated to focus the study. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to test both hypotheses. On the basis of their years of schooling, level of state anxiety, recent undesirable life events, level of self-esteem, and study orientation, it was predicted that there would be significant differences between persister and dropout groups on the five criterion variables when these were analyzed simultaneously. The first operational hypothesis showed the characteristics of persisters and dropouts were relatively homogeneous. The second indicated that persisters and dropouts could not be separated as predicted. The test of the second research hypothesis yielded similar results. Women in the three rate of- attendance categories exhibited homogeneous characteristics. Their attendance category membership could not be predicted on the basis of the five variables listed previously with better than chance precision. Hence neither research hypothesis was accepted. Interviews revealed that the level of social support and assessment made of progress toward their goals were considered by participants as important factors contributing to their remaining in the program. Finally, the major limitations of this study are identified and implications suggested for practitioners and researchers.

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