Academic journal article Education

Condensed or Traditional Semester Format: Does It Make a Difference in Academic Performance?

Academic journal article Education

Condensed or Traditional Semester Format: Does It Make a Difference in Academic Performance?

Article excerpt

Statement of the Problem

Cross (1982) characterizes the proportion of representation of adult learners in higher education as a "pyramid." Constituting the base of the pyramid are self-directed learners of all types; in the mid-layer are adult learners who take part in some organized instruction each year; and at the top are a small proportion of adult learners enrolled full-time in traditional and non-traditional programs. Certainly, adult learners enrolled full-time in traditional and non-traditional programs. Certainly, adult learners in all forms have come as a blessing in the past decade to many colleges and universities faced with declining enrollments among the traditional college-age students (18-22). According to the latest statistics, 57% of all college students enrolled in the Fall of 1992 were beyond the age of 22 (Chronicle of Higher Education 1994). That percentage included graduate students, almost all of whom (98%) were beyond the age of 22. Even excluding graduate students, the proportion of representation by undergraduate adult learners was still the majority.

Another emerging pattern of enrollment is that a greater proportion of undergraduate adult learners attend part-time compared to the traditional college-age students. According to the latest figures, 78% of part-time enrollees in 2-year colleges and 87% of part-time enrollees in 4-year colleges in 1992 were adult learners. Among graduate adult learners, however, the proportion of those attending part-time compared to those attending full-time was better balanced-45% attended full-time and 55% parttime (Chronicle of Higher Education 1994).

Given that adult learners have become the "new majority," many campuses are realizing that many existing institutional policies, traditions, curricula, and support programs that were once appropriate to traditional college-age students may not be serving the needs of adult learners. Colleges will be a long way away from enhancing the enrollment, persistence, and academic success of adult learners. Colleges will be a long way away from enhancing the enrollment, persistence, and academic success of adult learners unless a greater understanding of their needs is generated into beneficial institutional policies and programs. For example, if some form of financial aid could be made available to part-time adult learners, as even greater number of adult learners could potentially be persuaded to participate in higher education. Many more adult learners could visualize themselves as college students if baby-sitting or child care services were made available to them while they are attending classes. Evening and weekend classes may be another change appealing to adult learners who cannot get away from their employment or family matters during the day. Many adult learners also may like classes that meet only once a week rather than thrice a week. Yet others may prefer a condensed format in which the class meets the required contact hours but over a shorter duration. Another strategy may be to bring academic programs in closer proximity to those who are not mobile, either due to job commitment or location. Distance education courses done through televised instruction, talk back television, or correspondence may also be appealing to those who cannot attend classes at all on campus. Yet there are others who like classes during the intersessions (between semesters) or during the summer months only.

It is clear that many options are available to institutions in meeting the needs of adult learners. At the Main Campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, for example, many undergraduate and graduate programs how have evening and weekend classes, both on and off-campus. The preliminary observation is that students are taking advantage of these options. According to information kept by the Office of Institutional Research, in the Fail of 1993, only 32.2% of students attended day classes only. The rest were distributed between night classes (30. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.