Citation
Adult students' perceptions of educational barriers

Material Information

Title:
Adult students' perceptions of educational barriers : demographic and metacognitive factors
Creator:
Bireda, Martha Russell, 1945- ( Dissertant )
McDavis, Roderick ( Thesis advisor )
Fitzgerald, Paul ( Reviewer )
Wass, Hannelore ( Reviewer )
Smith, David C. ( Degree grantor )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1987
Language:
English
Physical Description:
ix, 100 leaves ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Adult education ( jstor )
Adults ( jstor )
College students ( jstor )
Colleges ( jstor )
Employment discrimination ( jstor )
Learning ( jstor )
Psychological counseling ( jstor )
Students ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Womens studies ( jstor )
Adult education -- Research -- United States ( lcsh )
Counselor Education thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF
Motivation in adult education ( lcsh )
Miami metropolitan area ( local )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Florida

Notes

Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in types and severity of barriers reported by adult students on the bases of age, gender, marital status, and family status. Also examined were the relationships between self-appraised problem-solving abilities and the types and severity of barriers reported by adult students. A total of 222 degree-seeking, undergraduate, adult students (25 years and older) participated in this study. Of that number, 68 were male and 154 female. The students were drawn from a simple random sample of classes offered in adult programs at the University of South Florida, University of Tampa, and St. Leo College. The Adult Student Experience Survey (ASES) and the Problem-Solving inventory (PSI) were administered to these students during the fall 1986 and spring 1987 semesters. A one-way ANOVA with repeated measures on barrier type indicated significant differences in adult students' severity ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers (p < .05). A two-way mixed design ANOVA with repeated measures on barrier type showed that there were significant differences in the severity ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers on the basis of gender (p < .05). Two-way mixed design ANOVAs indicated no significant differences in the severity ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers on the bases of age, marital status, and family status. First-order Pearson- Product Moment correlations indicated weak relationships between self-appraised problem-solving abilities and adult students' severity ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers. According to the results of this study, adult students perceived situational barriers to be most severe; and adult female students perceived institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers to be more severe than did adult male students .
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1987.
Bibliography:
Bibliography: leaves 94-99.
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Martha Russell Bireda.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
001018839 ( AlephBibNum )
17841159 ( OCLC )
AFA0159 ( NOTIS )

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Full Text

1DULT STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS OF EDUCATIONAL BARRIERS:
DEMOGRAPHIC AND METACOGNITIVE FACTORS



By

MARTHA RUSSELL BIREDA


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY















UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1987


























Copyright 1987

by

Martha Russell Bireda





Dedicated ..



To my Father

Alonzo Russell
(1918-1984)


and


My Grandmother

Martha Andrews
(1902-1984)


Who through their examples have
challenged me to grow and to give.





ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


This project was made possible through the

encouragement and support of many individuals. Time and

space do not permit me to list each individual by name;

however, I am sincerely grateful to all of them.

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Roderick

McDavis, my chairman, who believed in me and helped me to

see beyond the barriers. His continued guidance and

encouragement have enabled me to bring this project to

fruition. I value his friendship and I have the highest

respect for his professionalism. Sincere appreciation is

extended to my committee members, Dr. Hannelore Wass and Dr.

paul Fitzgerald. Dr. Wass helped me to put all things in

perspective on the first day that we met and has continued

to give me very good advice. Dr. Fitzgerald I thank for

being there for me; I always knew that I could depend on his

help.

Thanks are extended to Dr. Carl Hite, Hillsborough

Community College; Mr. Richard Taylor, University of South

Florida; Mr. Fred Colby, St. Leo College; and Dr. Suzanne

Nelson and Dr. Sue McCord, University of Tampa, for the

time, patience, and assistance given me in conducting the

necessary activities to enable this project to be a success.









I am indebted to Sharon Woodbury, Linda Honey, and

Adele Koehler for typing. I also thank Sharon for her many

words of wisdom. I thank Jeff Kromrey (my computer analyst)

for his patience with my endless questions.

I owe thanks to my friends and colleagues who have

encouraged me throughout this project. I especially thank

Norma and Arva who became my counselors during this process.

In conclusion, I would like to thank my family, whose

love and sacrifices have made this possible. I thank my

mother, Bernice, for the love and guidance that have brought

me to this point in my life. I thank my aunt, Ruth, and my

uncle, Gaston, who have been constant sources of

encouragement and support for me. Most of all, I thank the

two people who are most dear to me, my children, Jaha and

Saba. They never lost faith in me nor patience with me.

Their love gave me the strength to persist. They are very

special and I am very fortunate.





TABLE OF CONTENTS



Page

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS............................... iv

ABSTRACT....................................... viii

CHAPTER

I INTRODUCTION................................ 1

Statement of the Problem....................... 1
Purpose of the Study........................... 9
Need for Study................................. 10
Significance of the Study...................... 12
Definition of Terms............................ 13
Organization of the Study...................... 15

II REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE................... 17


Categorization of Barriers..................... 18
Barriers to Matriculating Adult Students....... 23
Social Problem Solving......................... 32
Summary..................................... 36

III METHODOL OGY................................. 39


Research Questions............................. 39
Population and Sample.......................... 40
Instruments................................. 41
Procedures.................................. 47
Analyses of Data............................... 48
Limitations of the Study....................... 50

IV RESULTS AND DISCUSSION............;............. 52

Results..................................... 52
Discussion.................................. 64

V CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, SUMMARY, AND
RECOMMENDATIONS.... ......................... 70

Conclusions................................. 70
Implications................................ 71
Summary..................................... 74
Recommendations for Further Research........... 76





Page

APPENDICES

A LETTERS TO INSTRUCTORS FROM ADULT PROGRAM
DIRECTOR................................... 78

B ADULT STUDENT EXPERIENCE SURVEY............... 79

C PROBLEM-SOLVING INVENTORY..................... 87

D SCORING THE PSI............................... 91

E RESEARCH AND ADMINISTRATION INSTRUCTIONS...... 92

REFERENCES..................................... 94

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.................................. 100


V11










Abstract of Dissertation Presen'ted to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


ADULT STUDENTS' PERCEPTIONS OF EDUCATIONAL BARRIERS:
DEMOGRAPHIC AND METACOGNITIVE FACTORS

by

Martha Russell Bireda

August 1987

Chairman: Dr. Roderick McDavis
Major Department: Counselor Education

The purpose of this study was to investigate

differences in types and severity of barriers reported by

adult students on the bases of age, gender, marital status,

and family status. Also examined were the relationships

between self-appraised problem-solving abilities and the

types and severity of barriers reported by adult students.

A total of 222 degree-seeking, undergraduate, adult

students (25 years and older) participated in this study.

Of that number, 68 were male and 154 female. The students

were drawn from a simple random sample of classes offered in

adult programs at the University of South Florida,

University of Tampa, and St. Leo College. The Adult Student

Experience Survey (ASES) and the Problem-Solving Inventory

(PSI) were administered to these students during the fall

1986 and spring 1987 semesters.

A one-way ANOVA with repeated measures on barrier type

indicated significant differences in adult students'

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and


V111









dispositional barriers (p < .05). A two-way mixed design

ANOVA with repeated measures on barrier type showed that

there were significant differences in the severity ratings

for institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers

on the basis of gender (p < .05).

Two-way mixed design ANOVAs indicated no significant

differences in the severity ratings for institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers on the bases of age,

marital status, and family status. First-order Pearson-

Product Moment correlations indicated 'weak relationships

between self-appraised problem-solving abilities and adult

students' severity ratings for institutional, situational,

and dispositional barriers.

According to the results of this study, adult students

perceived situational barriers to be most severe; and adult

female students perceived institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers to be more severe than did adult male

students.
















CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION



Statement of the Problem


The American college population has changed

dramatically in the past decade. One of the most

significant factors influencing this change has been the

increase in the enrollment of adult students. In 1982,

almost five million adults 25 years of age and older

enrolled in institutions of higher education (Plisko,

1984).

Adult student enrollment is expected to continue to

increase through at least 1990. It is projected that the

number of older students enrolled in colleges and

universities will increase by 1.1 million between 1980 and

1990. By 1990, if current trends continue, older students

will constitute 47% of all college enrollments (Grant &

Snyder, 1983), which means that there will be as many older

as traditional-aged students enrolled in college.

This growth in the adult college student population

will be influenced by a combination of social,

technological, and demographic changes. First, social

changes, such as the movement toward a "blended versus

linear" life plan, the increase in educational attainment,










changing career patterns, increased leisure, the changing

roles of women, and the concept of equal opportunity, will

influence adult participation in adult learning activities.

In addition, increasing numbers of adults will return to

classrooms as a result of technological change and the

"knowledge explosion" (Cross, 1981).

Demographic shifts will result in larger numbers of

adults 25 years and older in the population. It is

estimated that by 1990, the 1946 through 1960 birth cohorts,

or the "baby boom generation" will dominate the 25 through

34 and 35 through 44 age groups (Frankel & Gerald, 1982).

Adults in some segments of these age ranges, e.g., 25

through 34 years, will be in the prime age range for adult

education participation (Cross, 1981).

In contrast, the pool from which colleges draw their

traditional students is getting smaller. The Carnegie

Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education (1980)

predicted a 23% decline in the 18- through 24-year-old

college-bound group by 1997. This decline in younger

students has spurred the recruitment of adults by colleges.

As the pool of traditional-aged students has begun to

decrease, colleges have begun to regard the adult student

population as a means of maintaining stable enrollments

(Weatherford, 1979) and as a new source of revenue

(Graulich, 1977). It can be expected that colleges will

continue to actively recruit adults, and that adults 25










years and older will play a major role in determining future

college enrollments.

The importance of this new student constituency

requires that institutions begin to consider how well adult

students are served. Institutions that wish to attract and

retain adult students must become more responsive to the

needs (Levitz & Noel, 1980; Thon, 1984) and problems (Sands

& Richardson, 1984) faced by these students.

The needs and problems experienced by adult students

differ markedly from those of traditional-aged students.

Adult student needs and problems most often relate to the

adult's life situation, i.e., social roles and accompanying

responsibilities. Apps (1981) suggested that the most

obvious differences between adult and traditional-aged

students relate to social roles and developmental tasks.

The primary role of most traditional-aged students is that

of learner. For adults, the learner role is usually

considered secondarily to other roles such as spouse,

parent, or employee (Little, 1981).

The difficulties encountered as a result of competing

roles, as well as other problems related to adjustment to

college, are often perceived by adults as "barriers" to

their educational participation and achievement. An

educational barrier is any problem perceived by adult

students to affect negatively their adjustment to college,

satisfaction with the student role, or completion of degree

program.









Cross (1981) identified three types of educational

barriers. Institutional barriers are institutional

practices and procedures that exclude or discourage adult

participation in educational activities, e.g., times or

locations of courses. Situational barriers are related to

the individual's life situation and include such factors as

lack of time, money, or childcare. Dispositional barriers

relate to personal attitudes and perceptions of oneself as a

learner, e.g., lack of confidence.

Barriers negatively affect the adult's adjustment to

college and satisfaction with the student role. For

example, Sands and Richardson (1984) found that obstacles

such as scheduling problems, time pressures, and home-school

conflicts impeded the satisfaction of women returning to the

university in midlife. The greatest impact of barriers

appears to be related to the adult student's completion or

non-completion of academic programs. Numerous researchers

have reported the negative effect of barriers upon adult

student retention. Greer (1980) found that while older

students were more successful academically than younger

students, their attrition rate was higher (53% compared to

34%). However, the majority of older students who left

college did so with successful academic records.

In a study conducted at Towson State University, Murphy

(1976) found that the attrition rate of mature students was

twice as high as that of traditional students and that

mature students left for non-academic reasons. Problems





reported by mature students were finances, balancing school

and family responsibilities, concerns relative to academic

performance, and adjusting to college life. Smydra and

Kochenour (1978) found that 36% of adult students enrolled

in courses either considered dropping out or actually

dropped out before the completion of the term.

Levitz and Noel (1980) reported administrators'

perceptions of reasons contributing to adults' decisions to

drop out of college. Financial problems, individual

concerns, home/family responsibilities, and conflicts with

job responsibilities were the most frequently cited reasons

for adults' dropping out of college. In a study of adults

in a non-traditional program, Losty and Kreilich (1982)

found that students' perceptions of variables as assets or

barriers were significantly related to success or completion

of college degree program. Time and money were considered

to be barriers by the adult students who became inactive.

Factors such as age, sex, marital status, and family

status appear to make certain adults particularly vulnerable

to the effects of educational barriers. These adults

reported the least satisfaction with the student role and

the greatest difficulties in adjusting to college, and were

potentially the most at risk in terms of not completing

degree programs.

Adult female students in particular experience stress

in adjusting to the demands of the student role. They

report difficulties in balancing home and school





responsibilities, coping with guilt associated with role

conflicts, and gaining family support (Brandenburg, 1974; De

Groot, 1980; Galliano & Gildea, 1982; Gilbert, Manning, &

Ponder, 1980; Hiltune, 1965; Letchworth, 1970; Lichtenstein

& Block, 1963). Markus (1973) found that 57% of re-entry

women reported "second thoughts" about the return to school

and 48% of all returnees had dropped out at least once since

returning.

Having children increases the stress experienced by

female students. Both married and single women with

children reported problems related to lack of time

(Richards, 1976). Sands and Richardson (1984) found that

54% of midlife women with children reported that parental

responsibilities interfered with their progress in school.

Reehling (1980) suggested that adult women who plan a high

level of education and have children at home may find it

difficult to accomplish their educational goals in the given

time frame.

Marital status also appears to affect the type of

barriers experienced by adult students. Married males and

single females have reported difficulties related to

financial concerns (Hiltune, 1965; Hooper & March, 1980).

Married females also reported more stress related to role

conflict than single females (Richards, 1976).

Women, especially those in the 30 through 40 age group,

appear to have difficulty in adjusting to the student role.

Markus (1973) found that women in the 30- through 39-year-

old group were less satisfied with the college experience






-7


and dropped out more often than women in other age groups.

Sands and Richardson (1984) reported that female students in

the low 30s group were more anxious, dissatisfied, and

depressed than older middle-aged students. Losty and

Kreilich (1982) found that younger students were more likely

to become inactive than older students.

Metacognitive factors, such as self-appraised problem-

solving ability, appear to be factors which may influence

adult students' problem-solving behaviors. Self-appraised

problem-solving ability influences individuals' perceptions

of situations as problematic and their ability to cope with

problematic situations. Self-appraisal of problem-solving

ability involves the individual's assessment of personal

problem-solving behaviors and attitudes such as problem-

solving confidence, perceived control, and problem-solving

style.

Self-appraised effective problem solvers differ from

self-appraised ineffective problem solvers in attitudes and

behavior. Self-appraised effective problem solvers report

fewer personal problems, experience less distress associated

with problems, are more persistent, and have higher

expectations for success in problem-solving situations than

self-appraised ineffective problem solvers (Heppner, Hibel,

Neal, Weinstein, & Rabinowitz, 1982; Heppner, Reeder, &

Larson, 1983; Nezu, 1985). Thus, it can be assumed that

adult students who perceive themselves as ineffective

problem solvers also will perceive more situations as





problematic, feel less able to cope with problems, and be

less likely to persist in college.

The relationship between adult students' perceptions of

barriers and their adjustment to and satisfaction with the

student role can be illustrated by the concept of "margin."

McClusky (1970) theorized that the concept of margin is an

approach useful in understanding the dynamics of adult

learning. Two subconcepts, "load" and "power," are also

central to explaining the concept. The demands placed on

the individual by self and society are described as load.

The resources, e.g., abilities, possessions, or allies,

available to help individuals to cope with load are

considered to be power. Margin is a function of the

relationship between load and power. Margin is also

regarded as "surplus power" and can be controlled by

modifying power or load. Margin may be increased by

reducing the load or increasing power.

The amount of power possessed by an individual has a

strong influence on the level and range of performance in a

learning situation. Individuals in situations where load

exceeds or equals power are highly susceptible to breakdown.

However, individuals who have a margin of power (surplus

power) are better able to take risks and to engage in

creative activities, and are more likely to learn. McClusky

(1970) contended that access to and/or the activation of a

margin of power is a necessary condition for learning to

take place.










Barriers operate as load or demands placed upon adult

students. Adaptations in institutional policies and

procedures, student services, and skills possessed by the

individual, e.g., problem-solving skills, are power or

resources. These resources increase adult students' margin

of power, thus increasing their ability to persist and

achieve in the academic environment.

Adult students perceive a number of problems as

barriers to their adjustment to college, satisfaction with

the student role, and completion of degree programs. The

problem, therefore, is to determine the degree to which

demographic and metacognitive factors such as age, sex,

marital status, family status, and self-appraised problem-

solving ability affect adult students' perceptions of

educational barriers.



Purpose of the Study


The purpose of this study was to investigate

differences in types and severity of barriers reported by

adult students on the bases of age, gender, marital status,

and family status. Also examined were the relationships

between self-appraised problem-solving abilities and the

types and severity of barriers reported by adult students.

The Adult Student Experience Survey was used to assess the

types and severity of barriers encountered by adult

students. The Problem-Solving Inventory was used to









evaluate adult students' perceptions of their problem-

solving abilities.

Need for Study


While increasing numbers of adult students are

returning to college, many who return experience difficulty

in combining primary roles, e.g., spouse, parent, or

employee, with the student role or in adjusting to being an

older person in a domain primarily inhabited by younger

people. Other adult students find that making the

adjustment to college is too great a task and they drop out

of school before completing their academic programs.

Adult students, to a larger extent than traditional

students, face problems or barriers which affect their

decisions to complete programs of study. Numerous

researchers have indicated the negative impact of these

barriers on adult student adjustment, satisfaction, and

program completion (Apt, 1978; Greer, 1980; Levitz & Noel,

1980; Losty & Kreilich, 1982; Murphy, 1976; Sands &

Richardson, 1984).

In order to eliminate or lessen the effects of barriers

faced by adult students, university administrators need

research data that help them to understand the unique

problems faced by adult students and that suggest

interventions to ameliorate the effects of those barriers.

The research data currently available on the subject of

barriers to adult learning are limited both in scope and

application. According to Marineau and Klinger (1977), the






-11-


study of barriers has usually been a minor factor within a

larger study primarily concerned with adult participation

and most studies have been limited to defining categories of

barriers.

In most studies, the adult student has not been

differentiated extensively according to age or type of

educational program (Epstein, 1984). With the exception of

studies focused on women in continuing education programs

(Benjamin, 1979; Ekstrom, 1972; Markus, 1973), few

researchers have emphasized the barriers faced by adult

students according to age, sex, or life situation. In

addition, most studies have had limited application to

understanding and meeting the needs of the adult population

(Marineau & Klinger, 1977). While suggestions have been

made for adaptation in institutional policies, strategies to

eliminate or lessen the effects of situational and

dispositional barriers have not been suggested.

A major means of meeting the needs of adults

encountering situational and/or dispositional barriers is

through the provision of student services. Student

services, however, are primarily oriented to the

traditional-aged student and generally have not been

adapted to encompass the unique needs and characteristics of

the adult student (Kasworm, 1980). Shalala (1985) suggested

that innovations are needed in student services to meet the

needs of non-traditional students. Meeting the needs of

adult students will require a new approach, one which









emphasizes the unique needs, concerns, and problems of adult

students.

Richter and Witter (1984) suggested that services

designed to meet adult needs must necessarily focus on

barriers to adult students. In addition, the counseling

interventions utilized for adult counselees must be

appropriate for adult concerns and effective in eliminating

or reducing the effects of these barriers. The negative

impact of barriers on adult student adjustment and success,

the paucity of practical research data related to barriers,

and the lack of effective services to meet the needs of

adult students suggested that the study of barriers for

adult students was a crucial area for research.



Significance of the Study


According to Long (1983), questions about obstacles or

barriers to participation are a legitimate concern as long

as half the adult population fails to participate in

educational activities. The questions investigated in this

study, therefore, are of major importance in helping

university administrators to identify those factors which

may limit adult educational participation. Data obtained

from this study indicated the types of institutional

regulations and procedures that serve as barriers to adult

students, and can aid administrators in making decisions

concerning adaptations of policies and practices.






-13-


Information gathered from this study can also assist

student personnel professionals who are responsible for the

delivery of services to adults. Barrier research can help

institutional leaders to predict which groups of potential

learners will be deterred by which barriers (Cross, 1981)

and to assess and improve their efforts to serve adult

students effectively (Richter & Witter, 1984).

The student personnel professionals who provide

services to adult students must be knowledgeable about the

needs of adult students and the most appropriate and

effective interventions for meeting those needs. The data

provided by this study can be useful to counselor educators

responsible for training counselors of adults.

Specifically, information is provided about the impact of

specific types of problems upon specific groups of adult

students and about the need to utilize counseling

interventions based upon social problem-solving theory.

This information can be helpful in defining areas of

expertise both in terms of theory and in terms of practice

that are needed by adult counselors.



Definition of Terms


The terms below are defined in this study as follows:

An adult student is one who is 25 years and older, who

is degree-seeking, and who is enrolled in credit courses at

an accredited four-year institution of higher learning.






-14-


An at risk adult student population consists of those

adult students who experience severe problems in adjusting

to college and meeting the demands of the student role,

e.g., married or single mothers with young children.

Barriers are any internal or external obstacles or

problems perceived by adult students to negatively affect

their adjustment to college, satisfaction with the student

role, or completion of degree programs.

Dispositional barriers are self-perceptions and

attitudes toward oneself as a learner (Cross, 1981).

Institutional barriers are institutional practices and

procedures that exclude or discourage adult participation in

educational activities (Cross, 1981).

Load is the collection of demands made on an individual

by self and society (McClusky, 1970).

Margin is a function of the relationship of load to

power; it is also surplus power or power available to an

individual beyond that required to handle load (McClusky,

1970).

A non-traditional student is one who is 25 years or

older and who did not enter college immediately from high

school. This category also includes students who come from

low socioeconomic backgrounds, who have weak academic

backgrounds, and who are not necessarily enrolled for the

purpose of earning a degree.

Power is the collection of resources, i.e., abilities,

possessions, or allies which an individual can command in

coping with load (McClusky, 1970).









Self-appraised problem-solving abilities are an

individual's assessment of personal problem-solving

behaviors and attitudes, e.g., problem-solving confidence,

perceived control, and problem-solving style; a meta-

cognitive factor.

Situational barriers are circumstances affecting an

individual's life at a given time, e.g., income or home

responsibilities (Cross, 1981).

Social problem solving is a process by which an

individual identifies or discovers effective means of coping

with problematic situations encountered in day-to-day living

(D'Zurilla & Nezu, 1982).

Student services are a full range of services of a non-

academic nature designed to enhance the total educational

experience of the student and to assist the student to

function successfully within the academic environment, e.g.,

counseling, placement, or financial aid.

A traditional student is one in the 18- through 24-

year-old age group who entered college immediately from high

school.



Organization of the Study


The remainder of the study is organized into four

chapters. A review of the related literature on

categorization of barriers, barriers to adult students, and

social problem solving is presented in Chapter II. The

research questions, population and sample, instruments,





-16-


procedures, analyses of data, and limitations of the study

are described in Chapter III. The results and a

discussion of the results are presented in Chapter IV.

The implications, summary of the research and

recommendations for further research are presented in

Chapter V.





CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE



A review of the literature on barriers to adult

learners reveals that three types of studies have been

conducted in this area. Barriers to adult participation in

learning activities were examined in the earliest studies.

Attempts were made to determine why potential or would-be

learners did not participate in organized learning

activities. Categories of barriers experienced by adult

learners were defined in a second group of studies. The

problems experienced by matriculating adult students were

examined in a third group of studies.

Two major areas pertaining to barriers experienced by

adult learners are reviewed in this section. These areas

are categorization of barriers and barriers to matriculating

adult students. Barriers to matriculating adult students

include gender differences in the experience of barriers,

barriers experienced by re-entry women, and marital and

family status and the experience of barriers.

Problem solving is viewed as an integral part of

counseling process in much of the literature. The concept

of social problem solving and the relationship between

problem-solving appraisal and problem-solving skills is

reviewed in this section.





Categorization of Barriers


Much of the research involving barriers to adult

learning has been related to either barriers to

participation in educational activities or to defining

categories of barriers (Long, 1983). Various researchers

have defined a number of categories of barriers.

Cross (1981) examined the results of a number of

national surveys designed to identify barriers to adult

participation in learning activities. The reasons for

failure to participate in learning activities could be

subsumed under three categories: situational,

institutional, and dispositional barriers. Situational

barriers were defined as barriers arising from one's

situation in life at a given time and include lack of time,

lack of money, lack of childcare, and lack of adequate

transportation.

Institutional barriers were defined as institutional

practices and procedures that exclude or discourage adults

from participating in educational activities. The five

broad areas of institutional barriers stated were scheduling

problems; problems with location or transportation; lack of

interesting, practical, or relevant courses; procedural

problems and time requirements; and lack of information

about programs and procedures. Dispositional barriers were

described as attitudes and perceptions of oneself as a

learner. Lack of confidence in one's ability to learn,





-19-


lack of interest in learning, or feelings related to

being too old to learn are examples of dispositional

barriers.

Darkenwald and Merriam (1982) described four general

categories of obstacles to adult participation in learning

activities: situational, institutional, informational, and

psychosocial. These authors defined situational and

institutional barriers similarly to Cross (1981) but

elaborated on informational and psychosocial barriers. They

felt these barriers were less obvious and in some ways

accounted for participation or lack of participation of

disadvantaged persons.

Informational barriers relate to both institutional

failure to communicate information about learning

opportunities to adults, and the failure of many adults,

particularly the least educated and the poorest, to seek out

or use available information regarding educational

opportunities. Psychosocial barriers were described as

being, to a large extent, a product of the values,

attitudes, and experiences associated with different

socioeconomic levels and as being individually held beliefs,

values, attitudes, or perceptions that inhibit participation

in organized learning activities.

Psychosocial barriers were classified as those related

to education or learning as entities and those related to

the self as a learner or potential learner. The first

category included negative evaluations about the usefulness,





-20-


appropriateness, and pleasurability of engaging in learning

activities. The second category was expressed as negative

perceptions of one's ability to learn and a fear of failure

in the educational setting.

Marineau and Klinger (1977) studied a sample of 42

adults in west central Minnesota, to identify emerging

patterns of educational barriers, to explore the

relationship among barriers, and to determine the effect

barriers have in influencing adult learners' participation

in educational activities. Three anthropological fieldwork

techniques were utilized. These were network analysis using

the referral technique to identify the research population,

ethnographic data collection through in-depth personal

interviews, and ethnoscience techniques to organize and

analyze data.

Five categories of barriers were identified: access to

educational facilities, family responsibilities, finances,

time, and motivation. Lack of access to educational

facilities was found to mean that the institutions within

the area did not offer the type of curriculum, course, or

program needed, or that distance prohibited access to the

kinds of programs desired. Family responsibilities were

found to function as barriers because of the ages of

children, because of the family's being placed at a higher

priority than education, or because money used for education

was needed for the support of the family. Financial

barriers included money for tuition, the need to maintain





-21-


employment, and the use of finances for the benefit of the

family. Scheduling time to devote to school and to the

family was a time-related barrier. Finally, motivation

functioned as a barrier because of a lack of self-discipline

or because of an inability to set priorities.

As a result of this study, several generalizations

about barriers were reached. Barriers are derived from

situations people face and the value orientations held by

people. Value-related barriers require personal

readjustments by the adult learners and situational barriers

have the potential to be overcome by external sources.

Several researchers examining barriers to re-entry

women have identified categories of barriers. Mohsenin

(1980) suggested that the barriers to women's re-entry fall

into personal and institutional categories. Personal

barriers include lack of confidence, low self-esteem, guilt,

rusty skills, and the unwillingness of the women's husbands

to support further education. Institutional barriers relate

to admissions procedures, a lack of adult student

orientation programs, ineligibility for financial aid,

inadequate daycare facilities, lack of counseling for adult

students, and negative faculty attitudes.

Astin (1976) described the problems encountered by

participants in continuing education programs for women.

Three categories of problem areas were cited: program-

related, e.g., costs, distance; those related to balancing





school and job or family responsibilities; and those

connected with participants' competencies, motivation, and

feelings, e.g., lack of confidence, guilt.

Ekstrom (1972) examined the literature on barriers to

women's participation in postsecondary education and

categorized these barriers as being institutional,

situational, and dispositional. Institutional barriers

included regulations on full-time study, strict attendance

requirements, inflexibility in time and location of courses,

lack of childcare facilities, inadequate counseling and

orientation programs, and negative attitudes of faculty and

staff. Situational barriers related to sociological,

familial, financial, residential, and personal factors. The

women's socioeconomic status, attitudes of husbands and

family, lack of adequate finances, places of residency, and

personal circumstances all functioned as barriers to

participation in educational activities. Dispositional

barriers included attitudinal, motivational, and personality

factors. Women's feelings about appropriate sex roles,

levels of aspiration, and feelings of dependency and

passivity functioned as barriers to re-entry for women.

Westevelt (1975) updated the work of Ekstrom (1972) and

reported three types of variables that account for the

under-representation of women in postsecondary education.

Institutional policies and practices, social constraints in

the life situations of women, and psychological and social





-23-


factors prevalent in society were all found to function as

barriers to women's participation in postsecondary

education.



Barriers to Matriculating Adult Students


Matriculating adult students face problems that appear

to be related to demographic characteristics such as gender,

age, and marital and family status. Researchers have

suggested that demographic factors differentially affect the

experience of problems by adult students. They also suggest

that individuals with specific demographic characteristics

may be considered "high risk" individuals in certain

situations.

Several researchers that have been conducted indicated

that adult male and female students differ in the frequency

and type of barriers experienced. Situational barriers are

most often cited by all students, with different types of

situational barriers being more prevalent for males and

females. Lichtenstein and Block (1963) studied middle-aged

female students enrolled in the evening program at Hofstra

University. These women reported greater anxiety and lack

of confidence in their academic abilities than did middle-

aged men. Their anxiety appeared to be related to what they

considered to be a gap between their past and the academic

world, guilt related to home and family responsibilities,

and financial concerns. The middle-aged male returnees were





-24-


found to experience less anxiety and guilt because of the

social acceptability of their return to college.

Hiltune (1965) found that a lack of time followed by

problems with studying were the major problems faced by both

male and female adult students. More than half the married

males in the sample, however, found supporting a family to

be a problem, while a majority of married females reported

home responsibilities to be a problem.

Lance, Lourie, and Mayo (1979) assessed the

difficulties of 583 re-entry students and investigated

differences in difficulties related to sex and length of

interruption of schooling. The greatest problems cited by

all re-entry students were lack of time and time management,

admission procedures, fear of not being smart enough, fear

of failing, lack of ability to study and learn, and fear of

dulled memory. Significant differences in expressed

difficulties were found between men and women. Women more

than men cited difficulties relating to problems with

children, problems with spouse and friends over re-entry,

guilt for spending family money, guilt for pursuing one's

own goal, and the fear of dulled memory.

Gilbert et al. (1980) examined the intrapsychic or

internal barriers faced by 85 re-entry students. The

researchers were interested in the sources of interrole

conflict experienced by these students in meeting the

demands of the new student role and other major life roles.

The sources of role conflict differed significantly for men





and women, with differences falling along traditional sex-

role lines. More women than men described beliefs about

role demands and external familial demands as the basis of

their role conflict.

In contrast, more men than women described beliefs

about self and interpersonal dissatisfaction as sources of

their role conflicts. Females were found to consistently

report higher conflict and emotional distress. They

reported beliefs about self and interpersonal

dissatisfaction as sources of their role conflicts. Females

were found to consistently report higher conflict and

emotional distress, particularly for beliefs about self and

beliefs about role demands. Such aspects of the provider

role as professional development, self-esteem, and primary

relationships with women were identified as the major

sources of role conflict for men.

In a similar study, De Groot (1980) investigated the

effects of college participation on the behavior and

interpersonal relationships of male and female adult

students. Male returnees were found to receive more spousal

support than female returnees. Galliano and Gildea (1982)

examined the effects of attending college on 241

undergraduate non-traditional male and female students at a

four-year liberal arts institution. Three categories of

problems were defined: practical, interpersonal, and

academic. Returning women were found to experience





-26-


increased problems in the areas of accomplishing household

chores and adequate childcare as well as a higher incidence

of test anxiety and finding time to study. Men reported

fewer academically related problems, but increased financial

problems. In addition, twice as many men as women reported

problems with emotional well-being and self-confidence.

Malin, Bray, Dougherty, and Skinner (1980) examined the

influence of college and non-college factors on the success

and satisfaction of men and women 25 years and older. The

men in the sample appeared to be less successful than the

women. They had lower GPAs, were less satisfied with

college, reported less positive intellectual and personal

achievement, and suffered from more family complaints about

the time and money spent on college. The researchers

explained the problems faced by these men in terms of their

lower socioeconomic status, choice of major, greater demands

on their time, and greater emphasis on job versus

intellectual goals. The results of this study do not

support the general belief that returning female students

face more barriers than male returnees.

A majority of studies related to problems faced by

adult students have been conducted with female-only samples.

These studies indicate that female re-entry students face

institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers.

Females, however, appear to be especially susceptible to

dispositional barriers imposed by socialization practices

and cultural attitudes and values.





-27-


Guilt is experienced primarily by women as a result of

the female socialization process and occurs often when women

violate sex-role norms by assuming other than stereotypical

feminine roles. Letchworth (1970) found that while juggling

of home and school responsibilities was the primary

difficulty faced by re-entry women, they also experienced

major problems related to the management of feelings of

guilt and of shame. These women felt that they were being

selfish when they neglected the full responsibilities of

home and family, and when family money was spent on their

education. In addition, these women felt guilty about their

aggressiveness, competition with, or desire to compete with

their husbands.

These re-entry women also were found to experience

shame or the feeling of not being able to live up to

personal expectations and aspirations. These feelings of

shame were related to women's concerns with their

intellectual abilities and were manifested as fear of

failure, fear of showing grades to family members, fear of

interacting in the classroom, test anxiety, and the

development of unrealistic goals such as maintaining a

straight "A" average. A few re-entry women were found to

experience isolation. These women felt that they would be

unable to relate to the younger students and would be alone

in the college culture.

Brandenburg (1974) analyzed the psychological and

practical needs of women who were regular matriculating day





-28-


session students at an urban commuter college. The

psychological needs experienced by these women related to

both personal attitudes, e.g., uncertainty about their

ability to achieve goals, and guilt with regard to the

effect on their children of their attending school, and

situational factors, such as the resistance of husbands,

children, and friends. Practical concerns experienced by

these women related to institutional factors such as

admissions practices, financial problems, inadequate

childcare, rusty or inadequate skills, and the need for

academic and vocational counseling.

Geisler and Thrush (1975) surveyed 264 adult women

students, aged 28 and over, attending a large public

university. Respondents were asked to report the extent to

which they experienced problems related to "University,"

"Yourself and Your Family," and "Yourself." The largest

number of problems were cited in the "Yourself" category,

with 82% of the respondents citing time pressures, followed

by problems related to self-confidence (53%), role

definition (46%), and sense of direction (42%a). Financial

situations were cited most often by those reporting on

"Yourself and Your Family." Problems with the husband's

attitude and helpfulness was a problem for married women,

and either the expense of, or finding, convenient childcare

was a problem for many women with children. Scheduling of

courses and the degree of university encouragement was

reported most often as an "University" problem followed by





-29-


sex discrimination, age discrimination, and course

placement.

Brooks (1976) found that three issues in particular,

i.e., low self-confidence, time management, and role

conflict, were singularly salient for women re-entering

school. Adult women students reported fear, competition

with younger students, being unsure of their academic

ability, and lack of knowledge about what to expect in the

academic setting. They did not know how to manage time

effectively and felt selfish for wanting to meet their own

needs. They also felt conflict and guilt about being

unable to attend to family needs.

Rogers (1981) examined the needs of female students

over the age of 25 who attended Northern Kentucky

University. Three major problem areas were found to prevent

these women from coping successfully with college. These

adult female students experienced an undue amount of self-

inflicted pressure to maintain a 4.00 grade point average,

test anxiety, and non-support of family members.

In a study designed to provide a profile of women

participants in a continuing education program, Astin (1976)

found that age, marital status, and race were related to the

nature of problems encountered by these women. Women under

age 31 were more likely than older women to regard cost as a

problem; women 30 to 40 were the most likely to experience

conflicts regarding family obligations; women 41 to 50 were

most likely to experience job-related difficulties; and





-30-


women under 40 were more likely to report guilt over money

and neglect of children. Single and previously married

women regarded cost as a problem, while married women faced

conflicts related to family obligations. Single women also

were likely to report difficulties related to job

responsibilities. Minority women were twice as likely to

mention lack of specific skills as a problem.

In a similar study, conducted with women who had

contacted the University of Michigan C~enter for Continuing

Education of Women, Markus (1973) reported a relationship

between age and the changes reported in the home and family

life of re-entry women as well as their adjustment to the

re-entry experience. Over 80% of the women aged 30-39 and

those over 40 reported change in home life, while only 56%

of those 20-29 reported change. In addition, women over 30,

especially those in the 30-39 age range, were found to

experience more problems related to acceptance from faculty,

staff, and other students. They experienced more feelings

of isolation and more disappointments with the school

experience. The drop-out rate was also slightly higher in

the 30-39 age group.

The differential relevance of marital and family status

on the experience of barriers by adult students has been

demonstrated in several studies. Richards (1976) described

the special needs of 82 women returning to school after an

interruption for marriage or employment. Three types of

returning women were identified: single women in their 20s





-31-


or 30s, either divorced or separated with children to

support; married women in their 20s or 30s with children at

home; and married women in their 30s or 40s with children 14

years and older.

Two types of problems were identified: practical and

psychological or interpersonal. Time, money, childcare, and

study skills were considered practical problems, while role

conflict, anxiety, need for counseling, and problems with

instructors were seen as psychological or interpersonal

problems. The most common problem for women in the study

was the shortage of time, while anxiety and role conflict

were the second most frequently mentioned problems.

Practical problems, including time (32%), money (30%),

childcare (22%), and study skills (15%) were the major

problems for females who were single heads-of-households.

Married women with young children at home faced

psychological problems more often than single heads-of-

households or married women with older children. Time was

cited by 40% of married women with young children at home,

with role conflict and anxiety being reported by 30% and

27%, respectively. Harried women with older children

experienced time, anxiety, and role conflict equally (24%

for each) as major problems, followed by need for counseling

and problems with instructors (both 20%), and study skills

(16%). These women also experienced more psychological or

interpersonal problems than practical ones.





-32-


Hooper and March (1980) described the personal and

student-related problems faced by the single female parent.

Aside from the personal problems, i.e., having sole

responsibility for their children, experiencing social

disapproval, and having limited finances, this group

experienced a number of problems as students. The female

single parent faces situational barriers such as limited

time and rusty study skills, as well as institutional

barriers related to course schedules, registration

procedures, inadequate childcare, and failure to receive

credit for life experience.



Social Problem Solving


Social problem solving is described as a "process by

which an individual identifies or discovers effective means

of coping with problematic situations encountered in day-to-

day living" (D'Zurilla & Nezu, 1982, p. 202). The goals of

the social problem-solving process are for the individual to

discover a wide range of effective behavior and to

contribute to the individual's general social competence.

D'Zurilla and Goldfried (1971) proposed a five-stage

problem-solving model for facilitating behavior modification

training. The model consists of five skills or operations:

general orientation, problem definition and formulation,

generating alternatives, decision making, and verification.

The general orientation refers to the mental set of the





-33-


individual and emphasizes the importance of recognizing the

problem and attending to relevant information. Problem

definition and formulation consist of defining a realistic

goal or objective for problem solving. Generating

alternatives involves generating as many alternatives as

possible that may be used to solve the problem. In the

decision-making stages the solution alternatives are

evaluated and the best or most effective one is selected.

Finally, in the verification stage, the efficacy of the

chosen solution is tested and matched to some standard.

The central focus of counseling is to assist clients in

coping with and solving personal/social problems. Various

theorists in the counseling profession have viewed problem

solving as an integral part of the counseling process

(Blocher, 1974; Carkhuff, 1973; Egan, 1975; Krumboltz, 1965;

Krumboltz & Thorensen, 1976). Heppner (1978) examined the

problem-solving literature and identified parallels between

the problem-solving process and the counseling process. As

a result of this study, Heppner maintained that the

counseling process could be viewed as a problem-solving

event and that counselors might be able to help clients

acquire problem-solving skills through a variety of

techniques.

Pate (1982) believed that problem solving is a

consistent pattern or model that provides a general

framework for counseling adults. Adults are perceived as

seeking counseling because they want help in coping with








problems of living, e.g., making decisions, adapting to life

changes, or learning new living skills. It has been

suggested in the literature related to social problem

solving that an individual's self-appraisal of problem-

solving behaviors and attitudes is associated with those

cognitive and behavioral variables that are involved in

effective problem solving. Cognitive, affective, and

behavioral variables affecting personal/social problem

solving are examined in the studies reviewed below.

Heppner, Reeder, and Larson (1983) examined differences

between students who perceived themselves as "successful"

and "unsuccessful" problem solvers. Twenty undergraduate

students who scored high and 20 who scored low on the

Problem-Solving Inventory (PSI) were questioned about how

they solved interpersonal and intrapersonal problems. They

also completed the Mooney Problem Checklist. The results

revealed that the self-perceived "successful" problem

solvers rated themselves as being more systematic in

decision making and problem solving in general and reported

a clearer understanding of problems. The interviewers in

this study also rated the self-appraised effective problem

solvers as being more insightful and thoughtful and as being

more aware of their problem-solving processes.

Heppner, Reeder, and Larson (1983) studied the

differences between self-perceived effective and ineffective

problem solvers on cognitive content variables, i.e., self-

concept, irrational beliefs, dysfunctional thoughts, and








coping processes. Five hundred students initially completed

the Problem-Solving Inventory and 52 subjects were randomly

selected for further participation from both the top and

the bottom 18% of PSI scores. These students completed the

Irrational Beliefs Test, Tennessee Self-Concept Schedule,

Need for Cognition Scale, Thought Stopping Survey Schedule,

and Ways of Coping Scale. Subjects who perceived themselves

as effective problem solvers had higher self-concepts, lower

self-criticism scores, lower frequencies of dysfunctional

thoughts, and more of a tendency to enjoy metacognitive

activities. They also had fewer irrational beliefs and

coping styles that were less blameful and more problem

focused than those subjects who perceived themselves as

ineffective problem solvers.

Nezu (1985) examined differences between self-perceived

effective and ineffective problem solvers utilizing

variables traditionally associated with psychological

dysfunction and emotional distress. Two hundred thirteen

undergraduates initially completed the Problem-Solving

Inventory and 43 students who scored at least one standard

deviation above or below the mean completed the Beck

Depression Inventory, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the

Internal-External Focus of Control Scale, and the Problem

Check List. The self-perceived effective problem solvers

reported less depression, less state and trait anxiety, a

more internal control orientation, less frequent problems,








and less distress associated with these problems than self-

appraised ineffective problem solvers. The author suggested

that self-perceived problem-solving effectiveness is

strongly associated with differential levels of self-

reported emotional distress.



Summary


A major aspect of research related to barriers to adult

learning has centered on defining categories of barriers.

Numerous categories of barriers have been described in the

literature; however, most can be subsumed under three major

categories: institutional, situational, and dispositional.

Institutional barriers relate to institutional practices and

procedures. Included in this category are admission

procedures, curriculum, and course scheduling. Situational

barriers arise from an individual's life situation at a

given point in time and include family responsibilities, job

responsibilities, and finances. Dispositional barriers

relate to learner attitudes and self-perceptions and include

learner motivation and personality factors.

Studies have been conducted to examine differences in

the experience of barriers by males and females. Females

were found to experience more dispositional barriers related

to anxiety, guilt, and role conflict than males.

Situational barriers are cited more often than institutional

and dispositional barriers by both males and females.





-37-


Males, however, experienced more problems related to

financial concerns and support of the family, while females

faced problems related to household management, childcare,

and spousal support.

A number of studies have been conducted with female-

only samples. Females have been found to be especially

susceptible to dispositional barriers related to cultural

values and socialization practices. Feelings of guilt and

shame are often experienced by re-entry women. Situational

barriers cited by re-entry women related to lack of time,

family responsibilities, and lack of support from family

members. Age, marital status, and race were found to be

related to the nature of problems encountered by some re-

entry women.

Marital and family status were found to influence the

experience of barriers by females. Single heads-of-

households experienced more situational barriers related to

time, money, and childcare. Married women with young

children and those with older children both faced problems

related to role conflict and anxiety.

Social problem solving is a process that individuals

use to effectively cope with problematic situations in

everyday life. Problem solving has been viewed as an

integral part of the counseling process and has been

suggested as a model that provides a general framework for

counseling adults. An individual's self-appraisal of





-38-


problem-solving behaviors and attitudes has been found

to be associated with actual problem-solving behavior.

Individuals who perceive themselves as successful problem

solvers are generally found to be more effective problem

solvers. The concept of social problem solving appears to

have significant implications for helping to lessen and

eliminate barriers faced by adult learners.














CHAPTER III
METHODOLOGY



The purpose of this study was to investigate

differences in types and severity of barriers reported by

adult students on the bases of age, gender, marital status,

and family status. Also examined were the relationships

between self-appraised problem-solving abilities and the

types and severity of barriers reported by adult students.

The Adult Student Experience Survey was used to assess the

types and severity of barriers encountered by adult

students. The Problem-Solving Inventory was used to

evaluate adult students' perceptions of their problem-

solving abilities.



Research Questions


1. Are there significant differences (p < .05) in

adult students' severity ratings for institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers?

2. Are there significant differences (p < .05) in the

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students'

gender?








3. Are there significant differences (p < .05) in the

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students' ages?

4. Are there significant differences (p < .05) in the

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students'

marital status?

5. Are there significant differences (p < .05) in the

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students'

family status?

6. Is there a significant relationship (p < .05)

between each of four self-appraised problem-solving

abilities and adult students' severity ratings for each of

the following: institutional, situational, dispositional,

and total barriers?



Population and Sample


The population for this study consisted of adult

undergraduate students attending one public and two private

institutions of higher education in the state of Florida.

These institutions were the University of South Florida, the

University of Tampa, and St. Leo College. The students

ranged in age from 25 through 86 years, with 67% female and

33% male. These students represented the four undergraduate

academic levels and a variety of academic disciplines.





-41-


The sample for this study included 222 adult students

aged 25 years and older, who were enrolled in degree-seeking

programs specifically designed to meet the needs of working

adult students. Typically students enrolled in these

programs were employed in full-time positions and attended

college on a part-time basis. The 222 students in this

study were drawn from a simple random sample of classes

offered in the adult programs at each institution. A table

of random numbers was used to select the classes. The

selection of classes continued until 222 students were

selected. Seventy-five students were selected from the

University of South Florida (17 classes), 72 from the

University of Tampa (10 classes), and 75 from St. Leo

College (14 classes). Sixty-eight were male and 154 were

female. There were 37 freshmen, 25 sophomores, 74 juniors,

and 86 seniors selected.



Instruments


The instruments used in the study were the Adult

Student Experience Survey (ASES) and the Problem-Solving

Inventory (PSI). The ASES was used to gather demographic

data and to assess the types and severity of barriers

experienced by adult students. The PSI was used to

evaluate respondents' perceptions of their problem-solving

ability.





-42-


Adult Student Experience Survey


The ASES was developed by the researcher. The

questionnaire items and format were generated after a review

of the literature and a survey of instruments previously

used to elicit information concerning barriers experienced

by adult learners. The initial ASES was a 65-item

questionnaire. On the basis of a Cronbach's alpha procedure

conducted to determine internal consistency, the 65-item

questionnaire was reduced to 51 items. A .30 criterion cut-

off was established for total score, institutional, and

situational items. Because the item total correlations for

items on the dispositional scale were lower, a less rigorous

criterion of .20 was established. Only those items that met

the criterion were retained.

The present ASES contains 51 items: 16 items relate to

institutional barriers, 18 items relate to situational

barriers, and 17 items relate to dispositional barriers.

Respondents are asked to read the 51 ASES items and to

indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with

each item by responding to a 5-point, Likert-type response

format. Respondents need approximately 15 minutes to read

and complete the ASES. The subscales of the ASES are scored

by dividing the summated score by the number of items in the

subscale. Low scores indicate the degree to which barriers

are perceived as not having a negative effect on student

experiences.





-43-


To determine the content validity of the ASES, a panel

of four experts, consisting of one former and three current

directors of adult programs, was asked to evaluate the items

to determine if they reflected the barriers experienced by

adult students. If three of the four experts agreed that an

item should remain in the instrument, the item was retained.

All 51 items were retained in the ASES based on the basis of

the panel's judgments.

A field test was conducted to provide evidence of the

construct validity of the ASES. The sample consisted of

students aged 25 and over and students below the age of 25.

It was hypothesized that students over age 25 would evidence

more problems than students under age 25, especially as

related to life situation factors. A series of t-tests were

conducted to determine differences in population means.

Significant differences were found between students aged 25

and over and those below age 25 in relation to the

perception of situational barriers (p > .05). No

significant differences were found between students aged 25

and over and those below age 25 for institutional,

dispositional, and total score. The results are shown in

Table 1.

A Cronbach's alpha procedure was used to determine the

internal consistency of the total scale (51 items) and each

subscale: institutional (items 1-16), situational (items

17-34), and dispositional (items 35-51). The instrument was








administered to 64 adult students enrolled in classes at

Hillsborough Community College. The total scale and the

subscales were determined to be internally consistent:

institutional barriers, a = .82; situational barriers,

a = .88; dispositional barriers, a = .75; and total score,

a = .90.




Table 1

Comparison of ASES Scores for Students Age 25 and Over and
Under Age 25



Age


Scales n 25 and Over Under 25


Institutional 128
M 38.95 37.58
SD 8.61 7.14
t .98

Situational 121
M 48.61 10.02
SD 42.65 8.60
t 3.52*

Dispositional 124
M 36.30 6.95
SD 36.17 7.50
t .10

Total 116
M 123.46 20.86
SD 117.08 17.52
t 1.78



*p > .05








problem-Solving Inventory


The Problem-Solving Inventory was developed by Heppner

and Petersen (1982) to assess an individual's self-appraisal

of problem solving ability. The initial PSI was a 35-item

self-rating questionnaire which contained representative

items for each of the five problem-solving states: general

orientation, problem definition, generation of alternatives,

decision making, and evaluation.

A factor analysis involving a sample of 150 subjects

revealed three distinct constructs: problem-solving

confidence (11 items), approach-avoidance style (16 items),

and personal control (5 items). Problem-solving confidence

includes items that assess confidence in engaging in a wide

range of problem-solving activities. Personal control

relates to self-control when engaged in problem-solving

activities. The following ranges of loading were revealed:

problem-solving confidence, .42 to .75; approach-avoidance

style, .30-.71; and personal control, .42 to .71. A second

sample consisting of 62 subjects provided cross-validation

data.

The three factors and the total inventory were

determined to be internally consistent: problem-solving

confidence, a = .85; approach-avoidance style, a = .84;

personal control, a = .72; and total inventory, a = .90.

Test-retest reliability was established by administering the

inventory to 31 subjects on two occasions approximately two

weeks apart. The following test-retest reliabilities were








determined: problem-solving confidence, r = .85; approach-

avoidance style, r = .88; personal control, r = .83; and

total inventory, r = .89 (Heppner & Petersen, 1982).

Several studies were conducted by Heppner and Petersen

(1982) to establish concurrent and construct validity. The

PSI was found to correlate moderately well with a simple

self-rating scale and the PSI is able to detect differences

between groups of students who have and have not received

training in problem solving. In addition, subjects'

responses to the PSI do not seem to be related to solving

hypothetical problems and PSI scores are not related to

intelligence. Finally, the PSI measures constructs that are

related to personality variables, especially locus of

control.

The PSI is easily administered and scored. Respondents

are asked to read the 35 statements and to indicate the

extent to which they agree or disagree with each statement

by responding to a 6-point, Likert-type response format.

The PSI takes respondents 10 to 15 minutes to read and

complete. The PSI is scored by summing the responses to

each item for each of the three factors. The three factor

scores are summed for a total inventory score. Three filler

items are omitted in the scoring. Low scores indicate

perceptions of self-confidence, approaching problems, and

having self-control, all perceptions that have traditionally

been considered correlates of effective problem solving

(Heppner and Petersen, 1982).





Procedures


The directors of the adult student programs at the

University of South Florida, the University of Tampa, and

St. Leo College were contacted by the researcher. The

purpose and procedures of the study were explained to the

directors. The researcher requested the directors'

permission to conduct the study and asked for their

assistance with procedural matters, i.e., access to classes.

The researcher also requested that the directors provide a

profile of the adult student population and the schedule of

classes for the term or terms during which students were to

be surveyed. Adult students at the University of South

Florida and the University of Tampa were surveyed during the

fall 1986 and spring 1987 terms. Adult students at St. Leo

College were surveyed during the spring 1987 term.

The 222 students were drawn from a simple random sample

of classes offered in adult programs at the three

institutions. After the classes were selected, the director

of each adult program contacted the instructors of classes

included in the sample and requested their assistance in

collecting data for the study. The purpose of the research

and the amount of time needed for data collection were

explained to each instructor. A time to administer the

instruments was scheduled. Approximately 25 minutes were

needed to administer the instruments to each class. The

researcher provided each instructor with a set of test

administration instructions. On the scheduled day or night





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for the instruments to be completed, the instructor

explained the purpose of the research, assured the students

of the anonymity of their participation and administered the

instruments according to the written directions provided by

the researcher.

Each instructor distributed the two questionnaires to

the students. The instructors read the instructions for

responding to the items in the instruments to the students.

The students also were given the opportunity to ask

questions related to the items in the instruments. The

completed questionnaires were collected by the instructor

and returned to the directors of the adult programs. The

director of each program returned the questionnaires to the

researcher. The researcher expressed appreciation to the

directors of the adult programs for their cooperation and

participation.



Analyses of Data


A one-way ANOVA with repeated measures on type of

barrier was used to test for differences in adult students'

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers. The one-way ANOVA was used to test

only for the within-subjects (repeated measures) main effect

for institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers

(Kennedy & Bush, 1985). A two-way mixed design ANOVA with

repeated measures on barrier type was used to test for





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differences in severity ratings for institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers on the basis of

adult students' gender. A two-way mixed design ANOVA with

repeated measures on barrier type was used to test for

differences in severity ratings for institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers on the basis of

adult students' ages.

A two-way mixed design ANOVA with repeated measures on

barrier type was used to test for differences in severity

ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional

barriers on the basis of adult students' marital status. A

two-way mixed design ANOVA with repeated measures on barrier

type was used to test for differences in severity ratings

for institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers

on the basis of adult students' family status. The two-way

mixed design ANOVAs were used to test for two main effects

and one interaction effect: the between-subjects main

effect for gender, age, marital status, and family status;

the within-subjects (repeated measures) main effect for

institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers; and

the interaction between the between-subjects and within-

subjects (repeated measures) factors (Kennedy & Bush, 1985).

First-order Pearson-Product Moment correlations were

computed between each of the ASES and PSI total scale and

subscale scores to determine if a relationship existed

between the self-appraised problem-solving abilities and the





severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers.



Limitations of the Study


Studies utilizing surveys contain inherent limitations.

Because surveys directly involve the respondent in the

assessment process by eliciting a reaction, they are

considered to be reactive in nature (Isaac & Michael, 1981).

A major limitation of this study is related to the social

desirability external validity factor. Both the ASES and

the PSI require the expression of feelings or descriptions

of behavior that some respondents may be uncomfortable

disclosing. These respondents may give what they consider

to be socially acceptable responses. Dispositional factors

are particularly susceptible to this type of respondent

reaction and may be under-reported (Cross, 1981).

No significant differences were found between students

aged 25 and over and those below age 25 for institutional,

dispositional, and total score when a field test was

conducted to determine the construct validity of the ASES.

This lack of significant differences suggests limitations to

the construct validity of the ASES.

Selection variables may operate to influence the

population of adult students matriculating in college.

Adults who feel that they cannot solve problems related to

the student role may not enroll in courses. Individuals who





-51-


do enroll may feel that they can adequately solve problems

and overcome many of the barriers related to college

attendance. Finally, the sample was drawn from students

enrolled in adult programs. Thus, the results can be best

generalized to other adults enrolled in similar programs.





CHAPTER IV
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION



Results


The purpose of this study was to investigate

differences in types and severity of barriers reported by

adult students on the bases of age, gender, marital statu's,

and family status. Also examined were the relationships

between self-appraised problem-solving abilities and the

types and severity of barriers reported by adult students.

Two hundred twenty-two adult students participated in the

study. Of the 222 adult students, 68 were male and 154 were

female. The participants were degree-seeking undergraduate

students attending the University of South Florida, the

University of Tampa, and St. Leo College. The Adult Student

Experience Survey (ASES) and the Problem-Solving Inventory

(PSI) were administered to these students during the 1986

fall and 1987 spring terms. Data analyses were conducted as

outlined in Chapter III.



Research Question 1


Are there significant differences (p < .05) in adult

students' severity ratings for institutional, situational,

and dispositional barriers? A one-way ANOVA with repeated


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-53-


measures on type of barrier was used to test for differences

in adult students' severity ratings for institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers. The mean scores

and standard deviations for each barrier type and the total

score are shown in Table 2. Significant differences in

subscale ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the ASES (p < .05) are shown in

Table 3. A Dunn or Bonferroni procedure (Dunn, 1961;

Keppel, 1982) was used to determine which of the differences

between group means was significant (p < .05). The mean for

situational barriers was greater than institutional and

dispositional barrier means. The mean for institutional

barriers was greater than the mean for dispositional

barriers. These results mean that there were differences in

adult students' severity ratings for institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers.



Research Question 2


Are there significant differences (p < .05) in the

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students'

gender? A two-way mixed design ANOVA with repeated measures

on barrier type was used to test for differences in severity

ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional

barriers on the basis of adult students' gender. The means

and standard deviations of institutional, situational,









Table 2

Means and Standard Deviations for Institutional,
Situational, Dispositional, and Total Barrier
Scores on ASES


Scales (N = 222)


Institutional
M 2.41
SD .55

Situational
M 2.64
SD .45

Dispositional
M 2.08
SD .51

Total
M 2.38
SD .40


Table 3

Analysis of Variance of Institutional, Situational,
and Dispositional Barrier Subscale Scores on ASES



Source df MS F



Within Ss
Subscale 2 17.57 120.55*
Error 442 .15


-54-


*p < .05





-55-


and dispositional barrier scores for males and females are

shown in Table 4. A significant main effect for gender

(p < .05) is shown in Table 5. No significant interaction

effect for gender and type of barrier was revealed. These

results mean that there were differences in severity ratings

for institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers

on the basis of adult students' gender.



Research Question 3


Are there significant differences (p < .05) in the

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students' ages?

A two-way mixed design ANOVA with repeated measures on

barrier type was used to test for differences in severity

ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional

barriers on the basis of adult students' ages. The means

and standard deviations of institutional, situational, and

dispositional barrier scores for age groups are provided in

Table 6.

Originally, four age groups were included in the

analysis. These four age groups were 25-34, 35-44, 45-54,

and 55+. However, because of the small cell size of age

group 55+ (n = 5), the analysis included only three groups

(25-34, 35-44, and 45-54). No significant main effect for

age and no significant interaction effect for age and

barrier type (p > .05) were found (see Table 7). These


















Subscale


Gender n Institutional Situational Dispositional


Male 68
M 2.36 2.53 1.98
SD .54 .46 .46

Female 154
M 2.43 2.69 2.12
SD .56 .45 .53









Table 5

Analysis of Variance of Institutional, Situational,
and Dispositional Barrier Subscale Scores by Gender



Source df MS F


Between Ss
Gender (G) 1 2.07 4.33*
Error 220 .48

Within Ss
Subscale (S) 2 14.89 102.13
G x S 2 .13 .87
Error 440 .15


*P < .05


Table 4

Means and Standard Deviations of Institutional,
Situational, and Dispositional Barrier Subscale
Scores for Gender

















Subscale


Age n Institutional Situational Dispositional


25-34 99
M 2.40 2.66 2.12
SD .55 .40 .50

35-44 87
M 2.40 2.63 2.07
SD .52 .51 .52

45-54 31
M 2.52 2.67 2.04
SD .58 .40 .55









Table 7

Analysis of Variance of Institutional, Situational,
and Dispositional Barrier subscale Scores by Age



Source df MS F


Between Ss
Age (A) 2 .08 .18
Error 214 .47

Within Ss
Subscale (S) 2 14.26 98.77
A x S 4 .13 .88
Error 428 .14


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Table 6

Means and Standard Deviations of Institutional,
Situational, and Dispositional Barrier Subscale
Scores by Age








results mean that there were no differences in severity

ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional

barriers on the basis of adult students' ages.



Research Question 4


Are there significant differences (p < .05) in the

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students'

marital status? A two-way mixed design ANOVA with repeated

measures on barrier type was used to test for differences in

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students'

marital status. The means and standard deviations of

institutional, situational, and dispositional barrier scores

for marital status are presented in Table 8. Originally,

five categories of marital status were included in the

analysis. The five categories were single, married,

separated, divorced, and widowed. However, because of the

small cell sizes of the separated (n = 3), and widowed (n =

1) categories, the analysis included only three groups

(single, married, and divorced).

A significant interaction for marital status and

subscale (p < .05) is shown in Table 9. Figure 4-1 presents

a graph that shows a disordinal interaction between marital

status and barrier type. A Dunn and Bonferroni procedure

(Dunn, 1961; Keppel, 1982) was used to determine which of








Table 8

Means and Standard Deviations of Institutional,
Situational, and Dispositional Barrier subscale
Scores by Marital Status


Subscale

Marital
Status n Institutional Situational Dispositional


Single 28
M 2.39 2.66 1.94
SD .65 .36 .40

Married 147
M 2.46 2.64 2.08
SD .55 .47 .53

Divorced 43
M 2.26 2.61 2.15
SD .49 .45 .48







Table 9

Analysis of Variance of Institutional, Situational,
and Dispositional Barrier Subscale Scores by Marital
Status



Source df MS F


Between Ss
Marital Status (MS) 2 .23 .48
Error 215 .49

Within Ss
Subscale (S) 2 11.36 81.12
MS x S 4 .44 3.11*
Error 430 .14


*P < .05





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2.8

2.6

2.4 77 0 single
2.2 aC & -- ..J divorcedmare

2.0

1.8
A B C



Figure 4-1. Disordinal interaction between marital status
and barrier type.



the differences between group means was significant. While

the overall test indicated an interaction, the post hoc test

failed to reveal any two means that were significantly

different. These results mean that there were no

differences in severity ratings for institutional,

situational, or dispositional barriers on the basis of adult

students' marital status.



Research Question 5


Are there significant differences (p < .05) in the

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students'

family status? A two-way mixed design ANOVA with repeated

measures on barrier type was used to test for differences in

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers on the basis of adult students'








family status. The means and standard deviations of

institutional, situational, and dispositional barrier scores

for family status are presented in Table 10.



Table 10

Means and Standard Deviations of Institutional,
Situational, and Dispositional Barrier Subscale
Scores by Family Status


Subscale

Family
Status n Institutional Situational Dispositional


None 97
M 2.40 2.54 2.06
SD .55 .39 .47

One 60
M 2.41 2.74 2.19
SD .55 .48 .52

Two 44
M 2.43 2.66 2.06
SD .54 .45 .48





Originally, five categories of family status were

included in the analysis. These five categories were none,

one, two, three, and four or more dependent children

currently living at home. However, because of the small

cell sizes of the three (17) and four or more (4) dependent

categories, the analysis included only three groups (none,

one, and two). No significant main effect for family status

and no significant interaction effect for family status and

barrier type (p > .05) were found (see Table 11). These


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-62-


results mean that there were no differences in the severity

ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional

barriers on the basis of adult students' family status.



Table 11

Analysis of Variance of Institutional, Situational,
and Dispositional Barrier Subscale Scores by Family
Status




Source df MS F


Between Ss
Family Status (FS) 2 .74 1.64
Error 198 .45

Within Ss
Subscale (S) 2 13.52 98.16
FS x S 4 .20 1.46
Error 396 .14




Research Question 6


Is there a significant relationship (p < .05) between

each of four self-appraised problem-solving abilities of

adult students and their severity ratings for each of the

following: institutional, situational, dispositional, and

total barriers? First-order Pearson-Product Moment

correlations were computed between each of the ASES and PSI

total scale and subscale scores to determine if a

relationship existed between the self-appraised problem-

solving abilities and the severity ratings for

institutional, situational, dispositional, and total





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barriers. The means and standard deviations for the PSI

subscales (problem-solving confidence, approach-avoidance

style, personal control) and the total scale scores are

provided in Table 12.



Table 12

Means and Standard Deviations for Provlem-Solving
Confidence, Approach-Avoidance Style, Personal Control,
and Total Scale Scores on PSI



Scales (N = 222)


Problem-Solving Confidence
M 1.94
SD .59

Approach-Avoidance Style
M 2.56
SD .74

Personal Control
M 2.92
sD .96

Total
M 2.47
SD .67





Low positive and significant correlations between ASES

and PSI total scale and subscale scores were found (see

Table 13). The strongest relationships existed between PSI

subscale and total scores and dispositional barrier subscale

scores. These results mean that there were a weak

relationships between self-appraised problem-solving









abilities and adult students' perceptions of the severity of

barriers.



Table 13

Product-Moment Correlation Coefficients Between PSI
and ASES Subscale and Total Scale Scores



ASES


PSI Institutional Situational Dispositional Total


Problem-
Solving
Confidence .13 .18* .37* .29*

Approach-
Avoidance
Style .19* .20* .34* .31*

Personal
Control .07 .15* .24* .19*

Total .14* .20* .35* .29*



*P < .05


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Discussion


There are differences in adult students' severity

ratings for institutional, situational, and dispositional

barriers. Adult students perceive situational barriers to

be more severe than either institutional or dispositional

barriers. Similarly, institutional barriers are perceived

to be more severe than dispositional barriers. Items






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related to situational barriers, e.g., job responsibilities,

money, childcare, were rated as most troublesome by the

participants. These results support earlier findings that

indicated that situational barriers were the most

troublesome to adult students. Several researchers reported

that situational barriers were major obstacles to adults

attending college (Hiltune, 1965; Schmidt, 1983; Smydra &

Kochenour, 1978).

Participants in this study rated situational barriers

most severe, followed by institutional and dispositional,

respectively. These ratings were not surprising. Efforts

have increasingly been made in adult programs to adapt

policies and procedures to accommodate adult students. A

majority of the participants in this study perceived no

problems related to meeting admission requirements,

registering for classes, attending classes at convenient

locations, or obtaining information about re-entry

procedures or program offerings. The participants, however,

did perceive problems related to obtaining information about

and using campus facilities and services. The establishment

of adult programs such as those in which the participants

were enrolled have seemingly reduced or eliminated certain

types of institutional barriers.

Cross (1981) found that dispositional barriers were

typically underreported in studies utilizing surveys.

Similar results were found with this study. The majority of

the participants did not report items related to





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dispositional barriers, e.g., motivation, confidence, or

attitude as being troublesome.

Females have typically reported more barriers related

to home responsibilities, while males have reported more

barriers related to job responsibilities and money. In this

study, male responses follow the established pattern; males

rated job items as being most troublesome. Females, however,

perceived a wider range of problems than have previously been

reported. They rated items related to money and job

responsibilities as being more troublesome than home

responsibilities. It is conceivable that females will

continue to experience a wider range of situational barriers

as they assume new roles such as those of full-time

employees and primary providers in single family homes.

Age had no significant impact on adult students'

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers. Many participants in the 35-54 age

group rated job-related items as being most troublesome,

while those in the 25-34 age group perceived childcare to be

more of a concern. Age was found to influence the

perception of certain types of barriers in female-only

samples. Markus (1973) found that women in the 20-29 age

group were more susceptible to dispositional barriers and

were more likely to drop out of school than other age

groups. In another study, Astin (1976) found that the

combination of age, marital status, and race influenced the

problems experienced by re-entry women. The findings from





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this study were similar. A combination of variables, rather

than age alone, appear to influence the perception of

barriers.

Marital status does not appear to have a significant

effect on adult students' severity ratings for

institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers.

Considering that a majority of the participants in the study

were married, males--66.2% and female--69.4%, this finding

is somewhat surprising. Married adult female students in

particular have been reported to face problems related to

the lack of spousal support and guilt related to role

conflict (Brandenburg, 1974; Geisler & Thrush, 1975; Gilbert

et al., 1980; Letchworth, 1970). A majority of the

participants in this study reported no problems related to

spouse/family support for their attending school or

spouse/family acceptance of the demands of the student role.

In addition, a majority of the participants perceived no

problems related to receiving help with household

responsibilities. Almost half of the participants in this

study (44.6%) were under 35 years of age. It is possible

that these participants and their spouses were less

constrained by traditional attitudes related to male and

female roles.

Family status does not appear to have a significant

effect on adult students' severity ratings for

institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers.

This finding is also surprising. Problems related to









children, e.g., lack of childcare, resistance from children,

and guilt about leaving children, have been reported in the

literature (Brandenburg, 1974; Galliano & Gildea, 1982;

Geisler & Thrust, 1975; Lance et al., 1979). One plausible

explanation for this finding is that 43.7% of the

participants in this study had no dependent children living

in their homes. Those participants who did have dependent

children living at home rated items pertaining to finding

time to study and having a suitable study environment as

being most troublesome. Another possible explanation for

this finding is that the combination of family status with

other variables such as marital status or sex, rather than

family status alone, influenced the perception of

barriers.

There are only weak, positive relationships between

self-appraised problem-solving abilities and adult students'

severity ratings for institutional, situational, and

dispositional, and total barriers. The strongest

relationships were between dispositional barriers and the

PSI factors of problem solving confidence, approach-

avoidance style, personal control, and total. A plausible

explanation for this finding is that both the PSI and the

dispositional barrier subscale measure constructs that are

related to personality variables. It would also seem that

perceptions of oneself as an individual who can adjust to

new roles and environments would be related to perceptions






-69-


of trust in one's ability to solve problems, to search for

solutions, and to maintain self-control.

The findings of this study appear to support the

contention that situational barriers are most troublesome

for adult students. Adult female students perceive more

barriers to be troublesome than do adult male students.

Age, marital status, and family status do not significantly

affect adult students' severity ratings of institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers. Self-appraised

problem-solving abilities are weakly related to adult

students' severity ratings of barriers.





CHAPTER V
CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, SUMMARY, AND
RECOMMENDATIONS



Conclusions


Based on the results of this study, the following

conclusions are drawn:

1. Adult students perceive situational barriers to be

more severe than either institutional or dispositional

barriers. Similarly, institutional barriers are perceived

to be more severe than dispositional barriers.

2. Adult female students perceive institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers to be more

severe than do adult male students.

3. Age alone does not affect adult students'

perceptions of the severity of institutional, situational,

and dispositional barriers.

4. Marital status alone does not affect adult

students' perceptions of the severity of institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers.

5. Family status alone does not affect adult students'

perceptions of the severity of institutional, situational,

and dispositional barriers.

6. There are generally weak relationships between

self-appraised problem-solving abilities and adult students'









perceptions of the severity of institutional, situational,

and dispositional barriers. Among the strongest of these

relationships are those existing between self-appraised

problem-solving abilities and dispositional barriers.



Implications


One implication of this study is that most adult

students find the student role to be satisfying. The adult

students studied reported that they enjoy being students.

Generally, they also believed that the courses they were

taking were relevant to their career, intellectual, and

personal goals. The adult students were highly motivated

and believed that getting a degree was worth the effort

involved.

A second implication is that despite the barriers faced

by adult students they generally persist until the

completion of their degree programs. Seventy-two percent of

the participants in this study were upper-level students.

Eighty-five percent of the participants expected to continue

to enroll in courses. It appears that when situations

become extremely stressful, adult students stop out, but

return to eventually complete their degree programs.

A third implication is that adult programs are

generally meeting the needs of adult students. Adaptations

in university policies and procedures have a positive

effect. Classes offered at worksites, on-site

registrations, and flexible admission requirements have





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decreased the number of institutional barriers that adult

students face. Institutional leaders must continue,

however, to find innovative ways to provide services for

adult students.

A fourth implication is that the most common barriers

to adult students' adjustment to and satisfaction with the

student role are related to life situations. Adult students

face situational barriers more often than institutional or

dispositional barriers. Administrators and faculty must

become more sensitive to how life issues affect adult

students. Student personnel professionals must design

programs and provide services that address problems unique

to adult students. Programs and services for adult students

must emphasize strategies for reducing or eliminating the

effects of situational barriers.

A fifth implication is that employers must be made

aware of the needs and problems faced by adult students.

Job-related responsibilities and demands are perceived by

adult students to be the most troublesome areas. While

employers provide financial support for students in the form

of tuition reimbursement they are less likely to allow

flexibility in working hours or job responsibilities. Adult

students face a tremendous amount of stress related to

meeting the demands of working and going to school. Adult

program staff must provide orientations for employers as

well as students so that both are made aware of the demands

of the student role.





A sixth implication is that special efforts to meet the

needs of re-entry women must continue. Adult female

students appear to be a high-risk group as a result of the

number of barriers that they face. Adult female students

continue to face more barriers than do adult male students.

Adult female students are beginning to face many of the

barriers that have previously been experienced more often by

males. Special programs such as women's re-entry programs

should be continued.

A last implication is that student services are not

adequately meeting the needs of adult students enrolled in

adult programs. Generally, the adult students studied were

not aware of the services that were available. Few adult

students felt that the services were available and

accessible when they were on campus. Adult students also do

not believe that they receive an adequate orientation to the

student role. Student personnel professionals must conduct

outreach programs for adult students enrolled in adult

programs. They must work closely with adult program staffs

to provide the type of services needed by adult students.

Orientation programs must not only provide information about

campus life, but must also adequately prepare adults for the

unique problems that they will face.

Adult students must be informed of the services that

are available for them, and these services must be provided

at accessible times for adult students. Innovative delivery

systems must be developed. Programming for adult students





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might be provided at worksites during lunch hours or after

work. Audio and video tape libraries might be used to

present information that is usually presented in workshops.

Newsletters and other printed materials may be used to

provide information for adult students.



Summary


Adult students have become a very important student

constituency in recent years. In many institutions, the

adult population has helped to stabilize enrollments and to

provide a new source of revenue. Institutional leaders

that are interested in attracting and retaining adult

students are depending upon student personnel professionals

to provide services that meet the needs of this important

student group. Investigating the barriers faced by adult

students is one way to begin the process of providing better

services for adult students. The purpose of this study was

to investigate differences in types and severity of barriers

reported by adult students on the bases of age, gender,

marital status, and family status. Also examined were the

relationships between self-appraised problem-solving

abilities and the types of severity of barriers reported by

adult students. The statement of the problem, purpose of

the study, need for the study, significance of the study,

definition of terms, and organization of the study were

presented in Chapter I.





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Chapter II contained a review of literature related to

barriers experienced by adult students and social problem

solving. The areas included in Chapter II were

categorization of barriers and barriers experienced by

matriculating adult students. Studies of barriers

experienced by matriculating adult students included those

related to gender differences in the experience of barriers,

barriers experienced by re-entry women, and marital and

family status and the experience of barriers. The

relationship between social problem-solving appraisal and

social problem-solving skills was examined in studies

related to social problem solving.

The research questions, population and sample,

instruments, procedures, and analyses of data were described

in Chapter III. Several statistical analyses were performed

to determine if significance existed between and among

groups. An alpha level of .05 was set as the basis for

determining the significance of statistical computations and

correlations.

The results and a discussion of those results were

presented in Chapter IV. Situational barriers were

perceived to be most severe by adult students, and adult

female students perceived institutional, situational, and

dispositional barriers to be more severe than did adult male

students. Age, marital status, and family status did not

affect adult students' severity ratings for institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers. Self-appraised





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problem-solving abilities were weakly related to adult

students' perceptions of the severity of institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers. Self-appraised

problem-solving abilities were weakly related to adult

students' perceptions of the severity of institutional,

situational, and dispositional barriers.




Recommendations for Further Research


Based on the results of this study, the following

research studies are suggested:

1. A study should be conducted to compare the barriers

reported by adult students enrolled in adult programs with

those reported by adults enrolled in mainstream classes. It

is possible that adults enrolled in mainstream classes may

face certain types of barriers more often than adults

enrolled in adult programs. A study of this type would

provide further support for the establishment of adult

programs, since these programs eliminate or at least reduce

the barriers faced by adult students.

2. A study should be conducted to determine the

barriers faced by adult students who either stop out or

drop out. The results of this study would provide

information about the types of barriers that tend to make

college attendance impossible for some adult students.

3. A study should be conducted to assess the barriers

faced by adult students from minority and lower






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socioeconomic groups. This type of study would help

institutional leaders determine how to attract and retain

larger numbers of adult students from minority and lower

socioeconomic groups.

4. A study should be conducted to measure the

effectiveness of problem-solving training on adult students'

perceptions of dispositional barriers. This study would

show the effectiveness of such an approach in counseling

adult students.















APPENDIX A
LETTER TO INSTRUCTORS FROM
ADULT PROGRAM DIRECTOR



Dear ,

I am requesting your assistance in the implementation
of a study involving our adult student population. The
survey is being conducted by Martha Bireda, a doctoral
student in counselor education at the University of Florida.
The study will investigate the institutional, situational,
and dispositional barriers faced by adult students enrolled
in undergraduate programs.

Information obtained through this study will help our
institution to identify factors which may deter or limit
adult matriculation and those adult students who may be in
potentially "high risk" categories. The results of this
study also will aid in the design of programs and services
to better meet the needs of our adult students.

Your assistance is requested in administering two
questionnaires to all students 25 years of age and older
in your classess. It will take students approximately 30
minutes to complete the questionnaires.

Thank you for your assistance with this study. Ms.
Bireda will provide the results of the study during the
spring term.



Sincerely,
















APPENDIX B
ADULT STUDENT EXPERIENCE SURVEY



The purpose of this survey is to collect information on
those factors that may affect your adjustment to and
satisfaction with the student role. We are also concerned
with any problems you may be facing in pursuing your
academic goals.

The information collected through this survey will
assist your college or university to identify and better
understand the needs of individuals like yourself. By
answering the following questions, you can assist college
officials in developing programs and services that better
address your needs.

The information you supply on this survey will be kept
completely confidential. Individual students will not be
identified. Please DO NOT write your name on the
questionnaire.



PART I

BACKGROUND INFORMATION


Directions: Circle the number beside your selected response
to each item. Select only ONE response for
each item. It is important that you respond to
every item.


1. CLASS LEVEL

1. Freshman
2. Sophomore
3. Junior
4. Senior
5. Special or non-degree seeking
6. Other/unclassified


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~


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2. NUMBER OF COURSE CREDITS CURRENTLY ENROLLED IN

1. I to 4 credits
2. 5 to 8 credits
3. 9 to 12 credits
4. 13 to 16 credits
5. 17 or more credits
6. Not enrolled for credit

3. NUMBER OF YEARS SINCE PREVIOUS HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE
ATTENDANCE BEFORE ENROLLING IN CURRENT PROGRAM

1. Less than 1 year
2. 1 year
3. 2-3 years
4. 4-6 years
5. 7-10 years
6. More than 10 years

4. HIGHER LEVEL OF FORMAL EDUCATION

1. Elementary school
2. High school/GED
3. Vocational/Technical school
4. Attended college (but did not complete degree)
5. Associate Degree
6. Bachelor's Degree
7. M.A., Ph.D., or Professional Degree

5. SEX

1. Male
2. Female

6. AGE

1. 25-34
2. 35-44
3. 45-54
4. 55 and over

7. RACIAL/ETHNIC GROUP

1. Afro-American/81ack
2. American Indian, Alaskan Native
3. Caucasian-American/White
4. Asian-American, Oriental, Pacific Islander
5. Mexican-American/Chicano
6. Puerto Rican, Cuban, Other Hispanic Origin
7. Other





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8. MARITAL STATUS

1. Single (never married)
2. Married
3. Separated
4. Divorced
5. Widowed

9. NUMBER OF DEPENDENT CHILDREN CURRENTLY LIVING IN YOUR
HOME

1. None
2. 1
3. 2
4. 3
5. 4 or more

10. EMPLOYMENT STATUS

1. Not employed
2. Occasional employment
3. Employed 1-10 hours per week
4. Employed 11-20 hours per week
5. Employed 21-30 hours per week
6. Employed 31-40 hours per week
7. Employed 41 or more hours per week

11. CURRENT ANNUAL FAMILY INCOME

1. Less than $10,000
2. $10,000 to $20,000
3. $20,000 to $30,000
4. $30,000 to $40,000
5. $40,000 to $50,000
6. Over $50,000

12. FINANCIAL RESOURCES FOR EDUCATION

1. Personal income/family assistance
2. Employer tuition reimbursement
3. Loans/scholarships/grants
4. Other

13. PLANS FOR NEXT SEMESTER

1. Expect to enroll in courses at this college/
university
2. Expect to transfer to another college/university
3. Will graduate this term
4. Plan not to enroll in courses next semester, but at
some future date
5. No plans for additional education at this time
6. Undecided


















PART II

STUDENT EXPERIENCE


1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Agree
3 = Neither Agree nor Disagree
4 = Disagree
5 = Strongly Disagree

Circle the appropriate number.

PLEASE SELECT ONLY ONE RESPONSE FOR EACH ITEM


A. INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS


ITEM

1. Information about college entrance or 1 2 3 4 5
re-entry procedures was easy to obtain.

2. Admission requirements, e.g., letters of 1 2 3 4 5
recommendation, transcripts, entrance
exams, foreign language requirements,
could be satisfied without undue strain.

3. I am knowledgeable of college facilities 1 2 3 4 5
and student support services.

4. I know where and how to obtain infor- 1 2 3 4 5
mation about financial assistance.

5. Information about programs of study and 1 2 3 4 5
course offerings is readily available.

6. I am satisfied with the academic 1 2 3 4 5
advising system.


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14. UNIVERSITY WHERE CURRENTLY ENROLLED

1. USF--Tampa
2. St. Leo College
3. University of Tampa


Directions:


Please indicate the degree to which you agree
or disagree with each statement using the
following alternatives:

















7. The courses I need are usually scheduled 1 2 3 4 5
at convenient times.

8. Registration procedures are well-paced 1 2 3 4 5
and uncomplicated.

9. My instructors are understanding and 1 2 3 4 5
supportive.

10. I find that student services, e.g., 1 2 3 4 5
career counseling, personal counseling,
tutoring are available and accessible
when I am on campus.

11. The courses I need are usually 1 2 3 4 5
scheduled at convenient locations.

12. Required or relevant courses for my 1 2 3 4 5
program of study are usually available.

13. I find that campus facilities/resources, 1 2 3 4 5
e.g., library, bookstore, food services,
are accessible when I am on campus.

14. The time required to complete my program 1 2 3 4 5
of study will be no problem.

15. I received an adequate orientation to 1 2 3 4 5
the academic "culture" or "system."

16. Adequate parking on campus and/or 1 2 3 4 5
adequate public transportation to
campus is no problem.


B. SITUATIONAL FACTORS

17. My employer/coworkers encourage me to I 2 3 4 5
go to college.

18. My employer approves of my working on 1 2 3 4 5
a flex-time schedule so that I can
attend class.


1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Agree
3 = Neither Agree nor Disagree
4 = Disagree
5 = Strongly Disagree

PLEASE SELECT ONLY ONE RESPONSE FOR EACH ITEM

















19. My employer helps me by occasionally 1 2 3 4 5
extending deadlines or providing time
off so that I can complete assignments.

20. My job responsibilities and demands on 1 2 3 4 5
my time make going to college difficult.

21. My spouse/family encourage me to go to 1 2 3 4 5
college.

22. My spouse/family accepts the amount of 1 2 3 4 5
time that I spend away from home, e.g.,
going to class, at the library.

23. My spouse/family helps with household 1 2 3 4 5
chores and errands.

24. My family/household responsibilities 1 2 3 4 5
and demands on my time make going to
college difficult.

25. The cost of tuition and fees is no 1 2 3 4 5
problem for me.

26. I have adequate financial resources to 1 2 3 4 5
cover the total cost of attending
college, e.g., childcare, transportation,
meals, books, materials.

27. My spouse/family accepts my spending 1 2 3 4 5
family money for college expenses.

28. Money used for college is needed for 1 2 3 4 5
the support of my family.

29. I have a quiet and comfortable study 1 2 3 4 5
space at home.

30. My spouse/family allows me adequate 1 2 3 4 5
study time at home.

31. I have no problem finding time to I 2 3 4 5
study.

32. Transportation to and from campus is 1 2 3 4 5
no problem.


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1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Agree
3 = Neither Agree nor Disagree
4 = Disagree
5 = Strongly Disagree

PLEASE SELECT ONLY ONE RESPONSE FOR EACH ITEM








1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Agree
3 = Neither Agree nor Disagree
4 = Disagree
5 = Strongly Disagree

PLEASE SELECT ONLY ONE RESPONSE FOR EACH ITEM

33. The lack of suitable and/or reasonably 1 2 3 4 5
priced childcare makes going to college
difficult.

34. My relationship with my spouse/family 1 2 3 4 5
has improved since I began attending
college.


C. DISPOSITIONAL FACTORS

35. I enjoy being a student. 1 2 3 4 5

36. The courses that I am currently taking 1 2 3 4 5
are relevant to my career goals.

37. The courses that I am taking are 1 2 3 4 5
relevant to my intellectual and
personal goals.

38. I feel free to use family money for 1 2 3 4 5
my education.

39. I feel that I adequately meet my 1 2 3 4 5
responsibilities to my family, e.g.,
spouse, children, parents, or other
relatives.

40. I am comfortable with the amount of L 2 3 4 5
time I devote to all aspects of my
life: school, family, job.

41. I am confident that getting a degree 1 2 3 4 5
is worth the effort involved.

42. I possess the motivation and self- 1 2 3 4 5
discipline necessary to succeed in
college.

43. I don't have the energy or stamina 1 2 3 4 5
necessary for going to college.

44. I am comfortable interacting with 1 2 3 4 5
younger students.


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45. I am confident that I have the ability 1 2 3 4 5
to succeed as a college student.

46. I am satisfied with my academic 1 2 3 4 5
performance.

47. I worry about competing with younger 1 2 3 4 5
students.

48. I feel I have adequate study skills and 1 2 3 4 5
habits, e.g., time management, note
taking, test taking, to meet the demands
of my current courses.

49. I have adequate basic academic skills, 1 2 3 4 5
e.g., reading, math, writing for college
level work.

50. I find it difficult to meet the demands 1 2 3 4 5
of my current courses.

51. I am adjusting to the student role, 1 2 3 4 5
e.g., understanding expectations,
procedures.


THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION


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1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Agree
3 = Neither Agree nor Disagree
4 = Disagree
5 = Strongly Disagree

PLEASE SELECT ONLY ONE RESPONSE FOR EACH ITEM





APPENDIX C
PROBLEM-SOLVING INVENTORY



Purpose: This is not a test. There are no right or wrong
answers. Rather, it is an inventory designed to find out
how people normally react to problems and events in their
daily interactions. We are not talking about math or
science problems, but rather about personal problems that
come up from time to time, such as feeling depressed,
getting along with friends, choosing a vocation, or deciding
whether to get a divorce. Please respond to the items as
honestly as you can so as to most accurately portray how you
handle problems. Don't respond to the statements as you
think you should in order to solve problems--rather, respond
to the statements as honestly as you can, and in such a way
so that you most accurately reflect how you actually behave
when you solve problems. Ask yourself: Do I ever do this
behavior?

Directions: Below is a list of 35 statements. Read each
statement and then indicate the extent to which you agree or
disagree with that statement, using the following
alternatives:


1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Moderately Agree
3 = Slightly Agree
4 = Slightly Disagree
5 = Moderately Disagree
6 = Strongly Disagree

Mark your responses on the answer sheet.

PLEASE SELECT ONLY ONE RESPONSE FOR EACH ITEM




This inventory was developed by Dr. paul Heppner and is
reproduced by his permission and that of Journal of
Counseling Psychology, Amer. Psych. Assoc., May 21, 1985.

Copyright, 1982


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Read each statement and indicate the extent to which you
agree or disagree with that statement, using the following
alternatives:

1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Moderately Agree
3 = Slightly Agree
4 = Slightly Disagree
5 = Moderately Disagree
6 = Strongly Disagree

1. When a solution to a problem was unsuccessful, I
did not examine why it didn't work.

2. When I am confronted with a complex problem, I do
not bother to develop a strategy to collect
information so I can define exactly what the
problem is.

3. When my first efforts to solve a problem fail, I
become uneasy about my ability to handle the
situation.

4. After I have solved a problem, I do not analyze
what went right or what went wrong.

5. I am usually able to think up creative and
effective alternatives to solve a problem.

6. After I have tried to solve a problem with a
certain course of action, I take time and compare
the actual outcome to what I thought should have
happened.

7. When I have a problem, I think up as many
possible ways to handle it as I can until I can't
come up with any more ideas.

8. When confronted with a problem, I consistently
examine my feelings to find out what is going on
in a problem situation.

9. When I am confused with a problem, I do not try
to define vague ideas or feelings into concrete or
specific terms.

10. I have the ability to solve most problems even
though initially no solution is immediately
apparent.

11. Many problems I face are too complex for me to
solve.





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Read each statement and indicate the extent to which you
agree or disagree with that statement, using the following
alternatives:

1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Moderately Agree
3 = Slightly Agree
4 = Slightly Disagree
5 = Moderately Disagree
6 = Strongly Disagree

12. I make decisions and am happy with them later.

13. When confronted with a problem, I tend to do the
first think I can think to solve it.

14. Sometimes I do not stop and take time to deal
with my problems, but just kind of muddle ahead.

15. When deciding on an idea or possible solution to
a problem, I do not take time to consider the
chances of each alternative being successful.

16. When confronted with a problem, I stop and think
about it before deciding on a next step.

17. I generally go with the first good idea that
comes to my mind.

18. When making a decision, I weigh the consequences
of each alternative and compare them against each
other.

19. When I make plans to solve a problem, I am almost
certain that I can make them work.

20. I try to predict the overall result of carrying
out a particular course of action.

21. When I try to think up possible solutions to a
problem, I do not come up with very many
alternatives.

22. In trying to solve a problem, one strategy I
often use is to think of past problems that have
been similar.

23. Given enough time and effort, I believe I can
solve most problems that confront me.

24. When faced with a novel situation I have
confidence that I can handle problems that may
arise.





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Read each statement and indicate the extent to which you
agree or disagree with that statement, using the following
alternatives:

1 = Strongly Agree
2 = Moderately Agree
3 = Slightly Agree
4 = Slightly Disagree
5 = Moderately Disagree
6 = Strongly Disagree

25. Even though I work on a problem, sometimes I feel
like I am groping or wandering, and am not
getting down to the real issue.

26. I make snap judgments and later regret them.

27. I trust my ability to solve new and difficult
problems.

28. I have a systematic method for comparing
alternatives and making decisions.

29. When I try to think of ways of handling a
problem, I do not try to combine different ideas
together.

30. When confronted with a problem, I don't usually
examine what sort of external things in my
environment may be contributing to my problem.

31. When I am confronted with a problem, one of the
first things I do is survey the situation and
consider all the relevant pieces of information.

32. Sometimes I get so charged up emotionally that I
am unable to consider many ways of dealing with
my problem.

33. After making a decision, the outcome I expected
usually matches the actual outcomes.

34. When confronted with a problem, I am unsure of
whether I can handle the situation.

35. When I become aware of a problem, one of the
first things I do is to try to find out exactly
what the problem is.















APPENDIX D
SCORING THE PSI



Scoring the PSI is a matter of summing the responses to each
item (1-6). Items 9, 22, and 29 are filler items and are
not to be scored in any way, simply omitted. Please note
that several items are worded negatively, and scoring these
items must be reversed (i.e., 1 = 6, 5 = 2, etc.).
Following is a list of the reversed items:

1 11 17 30
2 13 21 32
3 13 25 34
4 15 26

Items that constitute the three factors are listed in the
manuscript and are also listed below:

Factor one: Problem-Solving Confidence

5 23 35
10 24
11 27
12 33
19 34


Factor two: Approach-Avoidance Style


Factor three: Personal Control


14
25
26
32

Low scores indicate responses which suggest that the
individuals appraise themselves to be a confident problem
solver, approaches problems, and has personal control.


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