Coming up through school myself and my classmates were held to expectations; behaving in class, doing homework, passing tests, and attending school every day are a few examples of those expectations. But in the sixth grade I decided that school was pointless and I only had to achieve respectable grade without meeting all of these expectations. I was wrong. By my freshmen year of high school I realized I needed to start living up to the expectations of education. Being recruited by several division 1 football programs made me open my eyes to the fact that in order to get offered a scholarship you need good grades. But entrance into the adult education program challenged personal expecations and today the concern for personal expectation remains among the leading problems challenging the promotion of adult education. Expectations define the primary reason for the enrollment of an adult in an education program, but the expectations of students who enroll in adult education programs are better suited for professional development courses, and not comprehensive knowledge and a wholesome education. When students have such misguided expectations, they feel as though education program fails to meet these expectations, and as a result, long term enrollment is reduced. Adults expect specific curriculum directed at a singular item of interest which will cultivate in the adult student skills useful in their employment rather than abstract ideologies and lessons that have no positive impact on their professional career, something better suited for professional development courses and not a wholesome education. In tandem with this, adults often expect to learn specific industry-related items from their continuing education, something that will compensate for areas where they may have lacked the necessary professional skills in the past, again something better suited for professional development courses and not a wholesome education. Adult students aspiring to achieve additional education struggle with the cost and the related value therein, in many cases feeling as though they are paying for courses and curriculum not relevant to their professional goals or future. These respective expectations are elemental problems that undermine the ability to promote the participation of adults in education programs and the only way to rectify the situation is to identify them and take actionable steps toward altering expectations and provisions of the educational programs. This paper seeks to examine the effects of personal expectations of adult students in the promotion of their enrollment in various education programs due to the fact that individual expectations of the students are a central determinant of their participation in an education program.Jack Mezirow, American psychologist and Emeritus professor of adult and continuing education at Columbia University, states that the personal expectation of an adult student is nurtured in the definition of the core reasons promoting their desire to return to the classroom. Among such reasons include the quest for employment stability through the comprehension of novel concepts. Unlike in the cases of young learners, adult students have items of interest that define their education pursuit (Mezirow, 271). They proceed to identify the institutions that are flexible with their tight schedule and offer the courses with programs on par with their academic expectations. Unfortunately, the structuring of academic programs aims at achieving a wholesome growth and not the achievement of singular items of interest. It is this lack of a singular program and the integration of a more wholesome and comprehensive education that eventually conflicts with the expectations of students and reduces enrollment. Nancy Sommers, principal investigator of the Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing, said it is expected that students undergo a comprehensive period of transformation while enrolled in the respective academic programs. Regrettably, such an observation leads to the reduced academic interests in the involved adult students (Sommers, 448). They tend to argue for the existence of a time wastage scheme promoted by their involvement in irrelevant education content, leading to a participation crisis that reduces long term enrollment.
Another area where expectations associated with the adult students aspiring to achieve additional education knowledge conflict with the reality of adult education relates to those adults who have already entered into the professional sphere. Those adults who have already entered into the professional work seek curriculum that furthers their current profession. In their employment periods, they have identified numerous elements of their studies that had little or failed entirely to contribute in their task delivery. On that note, their approach to adult education tends to be driven by a sense of extensive caution about the content presented in the respective education programs. It is further perceived that the involvement of adults in a singular education program is driven by the goals and objectives. Barry Alford, a professor at Mid-Michigan Community College, explained that professional goals are what students use to define the skills they believe will be acquired upon the completion of the program. But in these cases, the students are met with a wider array of information and courses, many of which do not relate to the professional goals of the student or the skills they believe will be acquired. This only further complicates the long term enrollment due to the fact that the acquisition of information and skills unrelated to current employment results in employers in some cases perceiving the involvement of additional adult education as a time wastage measure that deprives the employees of an opportunity to exercise their productivity (Alford, 279). It is along such an impression that the crisis of expectations is furthered and enrollment over the long term is hindered.
The cost of adult education plays considerable contribution to the problems of expectations and their effect on education expectations of both the students and the program promoters. John Tagg, a professor at Palomar College in San Marcos, California, suggested that in most cases, adult education is perceived to be costly since it seeks to offer additional and vital knowledge. However, the students tend to feel that the promoters of the different education programs incorporate some irrelevant courses in a measure of validating their costs (Tagg, 8). On the other hand, the providers of the various education programs consider the respective programs as a vital companion to the desired knowledge gap. Essentially, the concept of wholesome growth is used as the explanation regarding the involvement of the additional courses. In most cases, the providers of the different education programs insist on the participation in the entire program as the only option towards achieving the interests of the program (Alford, 280). But for students who are apprehensive about the cost of enrollment of an adult in an education program, it can be challenging at best to see the value in obtaining a wholesome education that fails to meet expectations and fails to improve professional development, thus reducing long term enrollment.
Comprehending the expectation crisis experienced in the promotion of adult education may involve the examination of the respective definitions of the programs through the eyes of the immediate stakeholders. Promoters of the different education programs tend to believe that a successful education program needs to capture all the angles of learning. Besides, most students experience knowledge washout upon completing their previous courses; thus requiring a refresher package to boost the participation. Integrating such interests into the offered academic program leads to the attainment of a comprehensive education program with numerous courses. Regrettably, most of the students fail to grasp their importance, leading to their lack of participation in the respective classes (Tagg, 6). It is apparent that the involvement of pupils in a classroom is determined by their conviction on the contribution of the offered knowledge towards the promotion of their academic pursuits.
The conviction of the differing expectations associated with the adult students regarding their participation in the different education programs may be established in their busy schedule. In most cases, the students are forced to weigh the merits of the various activities to their limited time. A considerable number of adult learners prefer engaging in evening classes at the cost of spending time with their families or taking a break from lengthy work days. Others consider their weekend breaks as an ideal period to schedule their classes. In most cases, the decision on the participation of the respective classes at the cost of other social or professional endeavors remains anchored on the essence of the expected knowledge gain. It is along such an impression that the prospect of participating in irrelevant programs stands appraised. Adult students are least compelled in involved in an education program that has little anchorage in the fulfillment of their academic void (Sommers, 445). Unfortunately, similar perceptions may not be shared by the providers of the respective academic programs leading to a conflict of interests. Academic program providers anticipate a comprehensive inclusion in the respective programs.
In conclusion, the concern of differing expectations in adult education endeavors is paramount to the reduced commitment of the involved students. A sizeable number of learners negate the attendance of the respective programs on the perception that it has a diminutive contribution to the address of their knowledge voids. Others consider the inclusion of irrelevant courses into the respective programs as malice agendas of the involved education institutions in mincing additional duties from the students. There arises a need for the respective institutions to spell out the essence of their courses towards the realization of the academic interests of the involved students. Also, there is a need for ensuring the respective programs are progressively updated to meet the professional advances in the market. Allowing such levels of growth in the respective courses as well as ensuring the promotion of open communication to the respective students enables the ironing of the resultant conflict. Nonetheless, the primary measure towards the address of the address of the suggested conflict of expectations involves the appreciation of its existence.
- Tagg, John. Why Learn? What We May “Really” Be Teaching Students. About Campus. 2004: 9.1. 2-10. Print
- Mezirow, Jack. “Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice.” Exploring Relationships: Globalization and Learning in the 21st Century. Ed. Mid Michigan Community Collge. Boston: Pearson. 2013.268-274. Print.
- Alford, Barry. “Freirean Voices, Student Choices.” Exploring Relationships: Globalization and Learning in the 21st Century. Ed. Mid Michigan Community Collge. Boston: Pearson. 2013.279-281. Print.
- Sommers, Nancy. “Between the Drafts.” Exploring Relationships: Globalization and Learning in the 21st Century. Ed. Mid Michigan Community Collge. Boston: Pearson. 2013.443-451. Print