Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Mitchell Olson

Abstract

There is considerable body of research about adults navigating advanced degrees, but little regarding adults in graduate degree programs while in full-time educational careers. Guided by Mezirow's transformative learning theory, the purpose of this study was to develop a grounded theory (GT) that reflected the lived experiences of fulltime teachers within a school district as they progressed through advanced degrees. Fourteen adult learner participants were asked to talk about their experiences as both fulltime educators and graduate students. The constant comparative analysis method was employed to analyze the data to develop a theory entitled enduring driven succeeding. The theory explained stages that the participants underwent as they pursued an advanced degree. Four stages emerged from this GT study. Each stage represented behaviors one can expect in similar contexts: (a) visioning experiences in which the learner arrives at a clear mental picture the desired outcome; (b) investing experiences which occur when a learner decides on following a course of action towards the accomplishment of a goal; (c) clicking experiences in which learners begin to understand and apply their learning in meaningful ways; and (d) reflecting experiences which occur as adult learners reflect and rethink their successes and failures in order to move forward to pursue their goals. This theory can be useful in preparing university administrators, recruiters, or trainers to understand the challenges faced by fulltime working adult students as they navigate advanced degree programs. Extending this theory through the method of grounded action (GA) may also assist in providing good action plans for resolving the issues faced by adult learners as they pursue advanced degree programs.