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The Relationship Between Self-Efficacy and Persistence in Adult Remedial Education

Carol L Holmquist, Johnson & Wales University


Despite the need, persistence in remediation hovers at 50% (NCES, 2002) while nearly one third of community college enrollees arrive under-prepared (Hess, 2009). Persistence is correlated with academic preparation (Nash & Kallenbach, 2009), and barriers to persistence include a number of demographic barriers (Education, 2006; Labaree, 2006). Self-efficacy may be a barrier influencing persistence and, therefore, successful academic preparation for higher education or employment training. Studies regarding self-efficacy’s contribution to behavioral change reveal increased persistence in psycho-social areas (Fabring & Johnson, 2008; Goodwin, Bar, Reid, & Ashford, 2009; Miller & Rollnick, 2002; Wahab, 2005). Since there are minimal studies related to adult education, a study exploring self-efficacy’s relationship to persistence in adult education would address the gap in the research. The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed methods study was to investigate and explore the relationship between self-efficacy and persistence in adult remedial education. Research Questions: 1. Relative to their successful completion of their course of study, what is the relationship of student demographic characteristics with the following: general self-efficacy, motivation, academic self-efficacy, and persistence? 2. What is the relationship among general self-efficacy, motivation, academic self-efficacy, and persistence? 3. How do adult remedial education students describe their confidence in their ability to complete their course of remedial study? Phase I survey data (N=75) investigated demographic characteristics related to general self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy, motivation and persistence. No significant correlation between the demographic characteristics and general self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy, motivation or persistence existed, nor was there any significant correlation among these variables, except for general self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy, which did have a significant correlation (r=.56, r2=.32, p<.001). Three major themes emerged from Phase II interview data (N=5) and reinforced the findings from Phase I, indicating that general self-efficacy and academic self-efficacy were correlated. Findings further supported participants’ capacity to focus on the academic work, despite demographic barriers, that affected persistence; additionally, findings indicated that supportive associations, either religious or personal, were important in maintaining focus and persistence. This study’s findings may contribute to practice and policy in the area of adult remediation in preparation for higher education and employment skills training.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Education Policy|Adult education

Recommended Citation

Holmquist, Carol L, "The Relationship Between Self-Efficacy and Persistence in Adult Remedial Education" (2013). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3558389.