Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Mary Woods Scherr, PhD, Director; Susan M. Zgliczynski, PhD; Richard Madsen, PhD


adult students, California public research institutions, continuing education, educational environment, higher education, Leadership studies, part-time Bachelor's degree program, qualitative, teaching methods, University of California


The purpose of this study was to assess the opportunities available to adults for continuing their education part-time to complete a Bachelor's degree and to assess a California research institution's perception of part-time study. Adult student enrollments in postsecondary education have increased 114 percent between 1970 and 1985. Part-time student enrollments rose nearly 87 percent during the same time frame and part-time students now comprise approximately 42 percent of the enrollment in postsecondary education. California research institutions are typically still providing services for the traditional day-time student. There is a persistent resistance to change by faculty. Changing the way the institution provides services to adults attending part-time and introducing new teaching methods requires campus and University of California systemwide approvals. These approvals are highly capital intensive and their procedures time consuming. Thus, responding to rapidly changing social and economic conditions is difficult. A survey of part-time students at a research institution provided data for descriptive statistics. Interviews with part-time degree administrators and faculty at research institutions provided their viewpoints regarding part-time students. This qualitative study utilized the interpretive paradigm. Data clearly indicated the need for development of part-time education at California public research institutions that would provide an opportunity for academic, personal and social growth. Working adults see themselves more as consumers of educational products than do most traditional college students. Their educational objectives are often more focused and they expect specific results from their educational investment (e.g., job advancement, career change). Public research institutions need to embrace two goals: First, change the current traditional approach by leaders of California public research institutions to create an educational environment responsive to the diverse characteristics, conditions and needs of adults. Second, increase access for the hundreds of adults seeking part-time study to obtain a Bachelor's degree at a California public research institution. An important component of leadership responsibility is to constantly re-evaluate assumptions based on routine practice, which are comfortable, and to strive to implement effective new ways of educating all students--youth, young adults and older adults. A model part-time degree program was developed to provide guidance for higher education administrators.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access