This study was designed to investigate persistence of 2nd and 1st class adult power engineering distance education students from a qualitative paradigm. Existing literature did not offer a suitable explanation and understanding of the observed experience. This study seeks to contribute to the literature through an investigation of learner characteristics, internal as well as external and psychological outcomes manifested as satisfaction and stress. In addition career goals as well as anticipation of financial reward was investigated. A pilot study involved three persisters, and a further twenty persisters participated in the main study, conducted in the British Columbia Institute of Technology Power Engineering Department. Charmaz’s version of a grounded theory methodology was employed. Qualitative interviewing through in-depth individual interviews was the method of data collection. A theoretical sampling approach was used to identify participants for the pilot study as well as for main study. Findings indicated that age seemed to be associated with some factors. One group, in their early twenties and late thirties, made their decisions about pursuing 2nd and 1st class power engineering courses based on the influence of a family member or members that were involved in the power engineering field. A second group of participants, in their early forties to late fifties, often chose to pursue 2n and 1st class power engineering courses because of encouragement at the workplace, or to secure better job opportunities and more quality time with family. Students who persisted in the program had a variety of educational backgrounds, though most did have prior postsecondary education, either in the form of a one or two-year diploma or degree. The proposed model of persistence of 2nd and 1st class adult power engineering distance education students incorporates learner characteristics, as well as external and internal factors that converge through psychological outcomes to student persistence.
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Thesis advisor: O'Neill, Kevin
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