Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Tonks, Stephen M.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Educational psychology; Adult education


In Uruguay, one constant concern for policy makers, authorities, teachers and administrators is student retention. Among adult learners who have returned to secondary school, dropping out of school is an even larger problem. However, there are several students that in spite of their problems and barriers continue studying and return to school. This study focuses on why some Uruguayan adult students attending a night school succeed, finish the school year and think about continuing with their education. These students previously dropped out of traditional education, then decided to re-enroll in education, and are now persisting to graduation. The aim of this study is to understand the reasons these adult students persist. Using interview study methodology, nineteen Uruguayan adult students from first and fourth year of adult secondary school were recruited. Participants were asked to describe their previous experiences with education, the reasons they returned to school and the reasons they persist. Participants revealed that having an explicit objective helps them stay focused and persist. Some common objectives they mentioned were to be a role-model for their children or to "be somebody in life." From the data gathered we can conclude that the students defined themselves as stop-outs, defined as students who drop out of education but always think of returning to it, more than dropouts.


Advisors: Stephen M. Tonks.||Committee members: Daryl Dugas; Laura R. Johnson; Rosita Lopez.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


208 pages




Northern Illinois University

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