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Learner persistence is the underpinning for academic progress that results in positive outcomes and an improved quality of life for adult learners. NELRC’s work on learner persistence is a direct response to the expressed need and interest by adult educators in New England to address learner persistence.

  • The New England Learner Persistence project aims to expand our collective knowledge base and practical resources from which all adult education programs can benefit.  The New England Literacy Resource Center designed a process that drew on existing research, primarily by the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) and associated promising strategies, and engaged adult education programs as research partners in adapting and testing those strategies for their program contexts.   A total of 18 adult education programs from five New England states participated in the action research project. Their interventions impacted 755 students resulting in significant improvements in the rates of attendance and course completions They implemented persistence strategies in one of four categories: 1) Intake and Orientation; 2) Instruction; 3) Counseling and Peer Support; or 4) Re-engagement.
    Download pdf of the report here.
    Visit the Adult Learner Persistence website here.

  • The Managing Stress to Improve Learning project, directed by Lenore Balliro, is designed help adult learners deal with chronic stress and other psychological barriers to learning and classroom attendance by promoting mental health through creative expression. The project will draw from a variety of disciplines, such as mind/body practices, music, movement, visual arts/crafts, creative writing, and drama. Beginning in the fall of 2010, the two-year project is funded by Jane’s Trust.

    The five programs selected through a competitive process include:

    - Project Hope, Roxbury, Massachusetts
    - The Haitian Multi-Service Center, Dorchester, Massachusetts
    - The Welcome Project, Somerville, Massachusetts
    - Sumner Adult Education, Sullivan, Maine
    - Vermont Adult Learning Center, Colchester, Vermont

Staff from these programs will receive professional development and coaching and will participate in institutes and an online learning community.

Please take a look the Managing Stress to Improve Learning website for full details about and resources from the project.

  • Taking Action to Stay in School (fall 2008) issue of NELRC’s Change Agent magazine offers writings by adult learners about what helps and hinders their efforts to persist in their studies.  How do students support each other to stay in school? How do they work together to find personal and collective solutions? How do they inspire, motivate, and encourage each other to balance a multitude of demands so that they can stay in school? 
    Download the issue at

We offer workshops, keynotes, and consultations in improving learner persistence. Please contact:

Andy Nash
NELRC Director

Please see Andy’s bio.

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