Learning plans and motivation of adult learners.
This study emerges from past research into learner attributes, individualized learning plans, levels and quality of learner- facilitator interaction, student support, and factors affecting learning outcomes, satisfaction, motivation, and persistence. This study explores and describes the effects of creating and using an online learning plan on motivation of adult learners in distance delivery high school completion programs. Using a case study approach, two facilitators and six female adult learners were observed as they used an interactive learning plan in distance learning environments for one semester of the 2003 school year. Observation, documentation, and interviews provided information on facilitator- learner interactions in order to assess the effectiveness of the learning plan in supporting distance learners and its influence on motivation and decisions regarding persistence and withdrawal. The findings of this study indicate that these decisions are private, and the reasons leading to a decision may never be known by the institution. The influence of the learner’s interpersonal environment has a greater influence over these decisions than institutional factors, although interaction with the facilitator via the learning plan can provide encouragement and motivation to continue. The findings support previous research that links strength of goal commitment, interaction between learner and facilitator, and a positive self-concept to persistence of adult learners in a distance education environment. The online learning plan has the potential to link the learner to her educational program, providing the increased motivation, encouragement, and commitment that are crucial to continued participation and success. However, as noted by the facilitators, time for working on learning plans cannot be left to chance; it must be incorporated into their regular routine, and they must be adequately prepared to engage in learning plan dialogue.