Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Hans Klar

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Brookover

Committee Member

Dr. Jon Christiansen

Committee Member

Dr. Kris Frady


Illiteracy and a lack of a high school diploma are impediments to a fulfilled and meaningful life. Low or reduced literacy and non-attainment of a high school diploma are significant problems in the United States. Adult education can be a vehicle to address these ever-present issues. A disproportionate number of students in adult education are minorities, members of lower socioeconomic statuses and traditionally marginalized groups who lack effective literacy skills and/or a high school diploma. Adult education and its related entities can serve as a vehicle to address these pervasive issues, but adult education as a program type is a field that has not been thoroughly researched. Given the extreme variance in the constituency of many adult education classrooms and the volatile nature of many adult learners’ intrinsic and extrinsic situations, research is limited and effective classroom practices specific to adult education are not well understood. Understanding the nature of the adult education classroom and the student networks within them may provide a better understanding of the complexities of the adult education classroom which, in turn, should engender further research and a better understanding of what types of cooperative learning environments and paradigms work best for adult learners. Social network analysis can assist in learning about the composition and connectivity of student learning groups and the formation of cooperative learning practices which has been shown to promote positive student outcomes. In an ever-changing classroom setting, where open enrollment is the standard, the role of incumbents versus newcomers to the adult education class in creating and maintaining student groups sheds light on how student groups can evolve and affect positive student outcomes both in the classroom and in the outside world.



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