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Drivers of Persistence

In this section, we cast the persistence strategies and their outcomes into a bigger framework of needs that they fulfill in adults. We refer to these as the “drivers” of persistence:

  1. Sense of belonging and community
  2. Clarity of purpose
  3. Agency
  4. Competence
  5. Relevance
  6. Stability

We believe that ultimately, the persistence strategies derive their power from the fact that they meet these affective needs. Adult education providers can boost learner persistence by intentionally addressing these needs through all facets and phases of the program. For example, an informative and welcoming student orientation that begins the goal-setting process and that involves enrolled students as presenters can address various needs for a sense of belonging, clarity of purpose, competence, relevance and agency.

For each driver, we discuss the persistence strategies used by the New England Learner Persistence Project (NELP) programs in light of the affective needs they address and of supporting research. While we do not claim that this is a definitive list of adults’ affective needs, these needs underlie the strategies used by the NELP programs. Like the strategies, the needs are interconnected and reinforce one another.

A 2-page summary of the drivers can be found here.

A Program Self-Assessment by Driver of Persistence is a tool to guide your program improvement efforts.