Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jeria, Jorge

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Adult education; Higher education; Instructional systems--Design


Adult learners and first-generation learners, as separate groups, have been matriculating in increasing numbers at colleges and universities over the last few decades. Research indicates that enrollment trends for these two groups are likely to continue to increase in the near future, with a growing number of students being dually classified as first-generation and adult. Separate literature bases exist that capture the learning styles and collegiate experiences of first-generation learners and adult learners, yet limited research exists that addresses the transition experiences of first-generation adult learners. This qualitative case study focused on exploring and describing the transition experiences of 10 first-generation adult learners to undergraduate education at one public, research-focused university in the midwestern region of the U.S. As such, four themes were addressed in this study, including (1) the major life events and disruptions that participants experienced that became the catalyst for change in their lives, (2) the ways in which participants navigated transition through undergraduate education, (3) the identification and use of institutional support sources among participants, and (4) the identification and use of external support sources among participants. Subthemes subsequently emerged within most of the major themes. Accordingly, this study begins to address the gap in scholarly research in understanding the experiences of dually classified learners in formal, post-secondary education. Findings from this study have implications for future research and practice.


Advisors: Jorge Jeria.||Committee members: LaVerne Gyant; Elliott Lessen.||Includes bibliographical references.


ix, 153 pages




Northern Illinois University

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