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Persistence: Helping Adult Education Students Reach Their Goals

Volume 7: Chapter Two
John P. Comings

In Chapter Two, John Comings summarizes the research that provides insights into how to help adult learning and literacy students persist in their studies long enough to meet their learning goals. He starts by defining persistence and its importance.  He then summarizes the findings from four previous literature reviews and three studies that were published after the reviews.  He then describes two NCSALL studies that sought to answer questions that arose out of this earlier research.

The first study tested some of the hypotheses raised in the earlier work and interviewed students to document their insights into how programs could support their persistence. This study described four supports to persistence. The second study observed programs that were attempting to put these findings into practice and interviewed participants to gain a deeper insight into their experience of persistence. This study suggested that persistence might not be just a matter of program supports; programs may have to change the way they provide services to make persistence easier. The chapter closes with specific suggestions for changes in policies and program practices that might support persistence and for studies that would build on the research presented here.

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