Higher Education Journals' Discourse about Adult Undergraduate Students

By Donaldson, Joe F.; Townsend, Barbara K. | Journal of Higher Education, January-February 2007 | Go to article overview

Higher Education Journals' Discourse about Adult Undergraduate Students


Donaldson, Joe F., Townsend, Barbara K., Journal of Higher Education


In 1999-2000, 7.1 million adults age 24 or older constituted 43% of all undergraduates in U.S. institutions of higher education, compared to 5.73 million adult students enrolled a decade earlier (1989-1990). When defined as people 25 and older, adult students constituted 27% of all undergraduates in 1979-1980 (National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 1995, 2000). The growing proportion of adult undergraduates has become a significant source of enrollment and income for numerous institutions for which the proportion of "traditional age" students (typically defined as between 18 to 22 years of age) is shrinking.

The growth of adult participation in U.S. higher education has occurred in the context of other changes within higher education. Higher education has become much more market oriented (Bok, 2003), with adult students one market among several that need to be tapped for higher education institutions to remain competitive and relevant within the current social, political, and economic milieu (Zemsky, 1998). Additionally, the development of alternate delivery mechanisms such as distance education (Moore & Anderson, 2003) and accelerated programs (Donaldson & Graham, 2002) has helped overcome the constraints of time and location that adults often face in their learning, contributing to their increased enrollment. Tremendous growth in for-profit higher education has also occurred because it taps into the income stream that the growing adult student market represents (Sperling & Tucker, 1997).

Despite these shifts in higher education practice, scholars have paid little attention to adult students' presence and their impact upon nonprofit higher education. Several studies have documented the lack of attention to adult students in U.S. higher education research. In 1998, Pascarella and Terenzini noted the lack of focus on adult students, a lack that they labeled a "substantial" bias (p. 152) in higher education research. They reiterated the lack of attention to the development of adult undergraduates in their 2005 update of research on the impact of college on undergraduates. Kasworm, Sandmann, and Sissel (2000) observed that the lack of full and equitable treatment in research marginalizes adults in higher education, as does a similar lack of equitable treatment in public policy, institutional programming, and development of institutional mission. In a related vein, Quinnan (1997) noted that research on adult undergraduate students has differed little over the past several decades. The same research questions appear to be addressed repeatedly at different institutions and with similar research protocols (Quinnan, 1997). Typical questions focus on comparison between adult and traditional-age undergraduates. For example, do adult students do as well academically? Do they have different needs?

Given claims about the lack of research on adult undergraduates and the repetitive nature of the existing research, as well as the lack of a current in-depth analysis about how adult students are portrayed in the higher education literature, we chose to use content analysis to examine seven refereed higher education journals published between 1990 and 2003 to determine how adult undergraduate students were treated in their articles. The purpose of the study was twofold: to determine the frequency with which adult students appeared in selected journals of higher education as a topic of research, and to examine how the scholarly discourse in the journals portrayed these adult students.

Theoretical Framework

As Gumport has noted, "the language used to talk about higher education is important, for it not only reflects our thinking but also contributes to a construction of reality" (2001, p. 92). A structured analysis of this language reflects the perspective that discourse is "never neutral. Some elements are included and legitimatized; others are excluded" (Boshier, 1992, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Higher Education Journals' Discourse about Adult Undergraduate Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.