Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
As college populations are becoming increasingly diverse, institutions must find ways to meet the needs of their nontraditional students. Nontraditional adult learners are self-directed, ready to learn, and are internally motivated to engage in problem-centered learning. The purpose of this study was to expand and refine an active learning seminar in a higher education setting to improve the quality of teaching, student engagement, and retention rates. The site of the study was a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in which adult students over 25 constituted 49% of the population. The faculty members at this site predominantly employed traditional instructional methods. Action research was used to explore 6 faculty members' perceptions of active learning approaches before and after they attended an active learning seminar. Before and after the seminar, observations of student engagement, using the Direct Observation Instructional Management (DOIM) checklist, were conducted. Interviews with the faculty members explored their perceptions and needs regarding use of active learning strategies. Interview data were analyzed thematically and pre and post themes were compared. On the DOIM, student engagement was observed to increase in 2 classes. Results, including strategies that increased engagement, were integrated into a seminar that can be implemented at the same HBCU. Social change implications are that faculty members may begin to use techniques that will more effectively engage adult learners, leading to greater retention of knowledge and a likely increase in the graduation rate of students.