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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of a fee or its absence on enrollment and attendance in an adult education program Baker, Gary Wayne


Adult educators acknowledge that one of their greatest challenges is to develop strategies that increase participation by members of the lower socio-economic groups in adult education programs. To develop such strategies adult education researchers must systematically modify or remove barriers to participation and study the resulting effects. A frequently named barrier to participation is cost. Knowledge concerning the impact of fees on enrollment and attendance is incomplete. Consequently this study examined the extent to which socio-economic and motivational variables interacted to determine enrollment and attendance behavior when fees were modified for leisure-oriented adult education courses. Three hypotheses were tested. 1. There are significant differences in the social, economic, demographic, or motivational characteristics of participants enrolled in fee and non-fee courses. 2. There is a significant difference in the number of participants enrolled in fee and non-fee courses. 3. There is a significant difference in the attendance behavior of participants enrolled in fee and non-fee courses. This was essentially a correlational study but it had characteristics of a quasi-experimental design. However, unlike a quasi-experimental design which sometimes involves random assignment of subjects to treatment groups, this study involved random assignment of courses to a fee and non-fee condition. Seven hundred and twenty-one adults enrolled in one of 51 leisure-oriented courses offered at Guildford Park and Cloverdale Community Schools in Surrey. On the second session of each course proctors administered two questionnaires: the E.P.S. (Boshier, 1971) and a socio-economic/ demographic questionnaire. A daily attendance record was maintained for each course. The data was analyzed using a variety of univariate, bivariate, and multivariate statistical techniques suited to the analysis of nominal, interval, ordinal, and dichotomous data. The results supported the following conclusions. There did not appear to be an important overall difference between the socio-economic and motivational characteristics of participants in fee and non-fee courses. The overall differences were of little administrative value in the determination of whether different fee strategies attracted participants with different individual characteristics. Removal of the registration fee did not appear to result in greater participation by members of the lower socio-economic groups, as compared to their participation in fee courses. Removal of the fee appeared to benefit the traditional 'middle-class' participants, but did little to attract the traditional non-participant—members of the lower socio-economic, groups. It appeared that the absence of a fee was a powerful inducement which increased gross enrollment. Both socio-economic and motivational variables influenced enrollment behavior; however, no single variable accounted for large amounts of variance in fee status. Socioeconomic variables accounted for more of the fee status variance than did motivational variables. Attendance in fee courses was significantly better than attendance in non-fee courses. The findings confirmed that both socio-economic and motivational variables accounted for differences in attendance behavior. Individuals with the most education, higher personal and family incomes, more dependants, and previous participation in adult education programs had the best attendance. Socio-economic variables accounted for more variance in attendance behavior than did motivational variables. However, motivational variables were more powerful predictors of attendance behavior than they were of enrollment behavior. Removal of the registration fee can be a powerful tool to increase enrollment of the traditional participant. However, this study confirmed that both enrollment and attendance behaviors are complex phenomena stemming from multivariate origins. It appears that attempts to increase participation by members of lower socio-economic groups will require more than providing 'entitlement1. The results support the conclusion that personal and environmental variables which impel or inhibit participation must be modified if members of all socioeconomic groups are to benefit from participation in leisure-oriented adult education programs.

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