Bridging the Working Adult Learner Persistence Gap:

Engagement Factors

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White Paper

As more working adult students enroll in programs, academic providers face an urgent problem: how to improve low retention and persistence rates for working adult learners.

Guild has launched a series of three white papers focused on three independent yet interrelated pillars that strongly influence working adult learner persistence, called Bridging the Working Adult Learner Persistence Gap.

This third white paper in the series explores how engagement factors such as being a part of a learning community, and a sense of peer connection, can improve persistence, and, critically, what institutions can do to make an impact across different levels of scale.

Common engagement factors that can influence persistence for working adults:

  • Participating in a learning community: Students who feel like they are part of a community are 60% more likely to persist in their program at the 12-month mark than those who feel isolated
  • Academic challenge: Working adult students learning online express a strong desire for more project-based and hands-on learning experiences
  • Connection with peers: The effect of peer connection on persistence is visible as early as three months into a program, and appears to increase over time
Download this paper to explore what higher education institutions can do at the institutional, relational, and programmatic levels to address engagement barriers to persistence:

  • What policies and processes can universities and employers adopt to help working adult students persist?
  • How can universities and employers empower working adult students to engage with peers and participate in learning communities?
  • Programmatic: What design and delivery interventions are most effective at increasing persistence for working adult students?

Download the White Paper

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Join Us Live on January 20, 2021 at 2PM ET

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About the Author
Mackenzie Jackson

Researcher and Content Developer, Guild Learning Marketplace

Mackenzie is a researcher and content developer at Guild’s Learning Marketplace. Her work focuses on understanding the whole-person experience of working adult learners and the role of higher education in shaping equitable pathways to the future of work. Mackenzie has a Master's degree in cultural anthropology and is pursuing her PhD in cultural anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where her research has centered on mental health policy, chronic disease management, subjectivity and inequality.

Grace Gardner

Senior Engagement Manager, Guild Education

Grace Gardner is a Senior Engagement Manager on the Learning Marketplace Solutions team at Guild Education. She brings over 15 years of experience in the cross-section of higher education and workforce. Prior to joining Guild, Grace was an Engagement Manager at Entangled Solutions, where she led a multi-year consortia project for a global technology company co-designing solutions for the future of active learning with academic institutions across the United States, in addition to supporting a range of projects focused on building collaboration networks and collective action efforts in the pursuit of scaling innovation in education. Grace started her career in educational design and strategy, leading community outreach to inform long-term master planning work in Los Angeles Unified School District and K-12 districts throughout California and internationally. Since then, her experience has spanned design strategy, user experience design, organizational behavior and communication strategy for K-12, Higher Education and Workplace innovation.

Kara Foley

Engagement Manager, Guild Education

Kara Foley is an Engagement Manager on the Learning Marketplace Solutions team at Guild Education. She brings an expertise in higher education strategy and innovation. While at Guild and previously as a Case Team Leader at Entangled Solutions, Kara has worked alongside universities, philanthropies, nonprofits, and employers to develop transformative higher education learning models to unlock opportunities for individuals. Previously, Kara built the foundation of her career working in market and user research to inform new product development initiatives. She has gained expertise in methodologies such as Jobs to be Done (JTBD) and voice of the customer (VOC) research. Kara earned a dual M.B.A. & MA in Education from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and School of Education, and a B.S. in Marketing from Northeastern University.

About the Authors
Alex Cannon

Manager, Content & Marketing

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Anna Jiang Edwards

Business Development Executive

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tencididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. [Short bio when featuring more than two speakers]

Lisa McIntyre-Hite, PhD

Business Development Executive

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"Traditional admissions requirements such as standardized admissions exams fail to capture the learning they have acquired while working and managing a family."

- Eloy Oakley, Chancellor of California Community Colleges

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