Motivation for Persistence among Community College English Language Learners: A Constructive-Developmental Study

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Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

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Community colleges attract many English language learners, but relatively few persist to obtain a credential. Arguably, understanding motivations for persistence from the perspectives of these learners themselves can enrich the knowledge base on English language learner persistence. One lens that has illuminated qualitative differences in learning motivation is that of adult constructive development. This qualitative case study used the lens of adult constructive development to understand motivations for persistence among community college English language learners. Findings include developmentally distinct perspectives and motivations for persisting in community college. Notably, two learners who were further along on the adult developmental journey, with more abstract and complex developmental perspectives, described strong and positive motivations for persisting. Conversely, a learner constructing meaning from an earlier, more concrete developmental perspective was considering dropping out. Implications are discussed for supporting the persistence of developmentally diverse English language learners, particularly those constructing meaning from earlier developmental perspectives.