Date of Award

Winter 12-27-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Patrick Ainsworth

Second Advisor

Debra Jones

Third Advisor

Keith Larick


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the factors that former Adult Basic Education (ABE) students perceived were important in their transition from noncredit courses to credit coursework offered at 2 community colleges in San Bernardino County and Riverside County, California, using Schlossberg’s (1984) transition theory and 4S system elements. A second purpose of this study was to determine which factors facilitated or hindered their transition from noncredit courses to credit coursework.

Methodology: This qualitative research study utilized a phenomenological approach to explore the transition experience of former ABE students. Semistructured interviews were used to discover the perceptions of former ABE students who successfully transitioned from noncredit to credit coursework.

Findings: Eight findings resulted from the analysis, including 5 elements that were important to ABE students’ successful transition in the areas of faculty, family, and financial support and the students’ desire for personal growth and fulfillment including advancement in their careers. Three findings were related to overcoming language and work barriers and learning coping strategies. An unexpected finding emerged related to the need to develop self-confidence.

Conclusion: Seven conclusions were presented related to the navigation of complicated institutional systems, the importance of support services, the importance of faculty and counselor support, student’s inexperience in dealing with unexpected challenges, the need to better support limited English learners, the vital importance of financial aid, and the applicability of Schlossberg’s (1984) theory to understanding the ABE students’ transition experiences.

Recommendations: Recommendations included increasing the collaboration among community colleges and adult education programs, developing a model ABE transition training program for staff, developing local policies to assist ABE student transitions, collecting and analyzing transition data to support ABE student transition programs, providing dedicated local funding for ABE transition, and including support for ABE student transition within the Cal Grant awards program.