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Welcome to the adult learner persistence website, where you can find tools, models, strategies, and research about ways to help adult students stay on their learning paths.

This site grew out of work done by 18 programs doing action research through the New England Learner Persistence Project. On this website, we share the findings, and the growing set of research, models, and tools that is emerging not only from the New England work, but from programs and states across the country.

For each component of adult education programming (the leaves on the persistence tree), this site offers an inventory of evidence-based strategies that support learner persistence. From this anchor list, you can find related examples, tools, and research, or you can link to the program self-assessment tool.

Underlying all of these promising practices are six “drivers of persistence” (the trunk of the persistence tree). These are the key adult affective needs that are addressed by the strategies and that explain their power. These drivers can guide programs in developing learner persistence plans that respond to adult needs at every stage of program participation, from intake through instruction and transitions to next steps.

This site also invites contributions of promising strategies, tools, and program examples, which will add to the site’s richness and currency. We welcome your ideas.

The following documents offer an overview of adult learner persistence and what we understand from current research. They vary in length, depth, and perspective, but together provide a rich picture of the issue.

Learner Persistence in Adult Basic Education: CALPRO Research Digest
Sandra Kerka
This research digest synthesizes key persistence-related research, including less familiar studies, and focuses on the implications for practice.

Persistence: Helping Adult Education Students Reach Their Goals
John Comings
For an in-depth overview of adult learner persistence, this article provides a literature review, a full discussion of the NCSALL Learner Persistence study, and commentary on the implications for policy, research, and practice.

Poverty, Residential Mobility, and Persistence across Urban and Rural Family Literacy Programs in Pennsylvania
Kai Schafft, Esther Prins, and Marcela Movit
Putting the issue of adult learner persistence in the broader context of poverty, these researchers discuss the social factors that affect student persistence patterns and suggest that improving persistence requires advocating for social policies that address the needs of poor and working class families.

Research to Practice: Increasing Retention Through Student Success
Kari Malitz and Sarah Nixon-Ponder
This two-page research to practice brief summarizes a set of persistence strategies that are suggested by current academic and practitioner research.