Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


King, Stephanie B.

Committee Member

Coats, Linda T.

Committee Member

Fincher, Mark Edward

Committee Member

Johnson, Susan M.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Educational Leadership


The purpose of this study was to provide qualitative data on challenges faced by female, Hispanic, adult students attending ESL classes within community college programs; data on challenges they face achieving long-term educational goals; and ways the community college adult education programs can help students be more successful. Meeting needs of female, Hispanic, adult, ESL students is challenging, and many are nontraditional learners who have life factors that compete for available time and educational resources. Often, adult, female, Hispanic students experience challenges that cause barriers to success. Because each student is unique, exploring challenges in the areas of gender, age, ethnicity, and prior educational experience were chosen to provide data for program development. The study included two schools and consisted of 15 students. The purposeful sample included 12 students from various academic achievement levels ranging from elementary through college and from the following age groups: a younger age group (ages 21 to 29), a middle age group (ages 30 to 49), and older learners (above the age of 50). Three additional participants were potential students, resulting from a snowball sample, who desired to attend classes but faced challenges that prevented them from doing so. Participants were asked to participate in one 30-minute one-on-one telephone interview, due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns. Follow-up phone calls were scheduled as needed for clarification. Findings suggest that students face both similar and unique challenges. Participants expressed family obligations, adult responsibilities such as jobs, feelings that education was not as important for women in the Hispanic culture, and intimidation caused by the presence of higher educated students in the same classroom. Throughout the interviews, participants expressed satisfaction with the class. However, they shared ways programs could assist. Participants said an adult education counselor or mentor, more life skills classes, computer classes, citizenship classes, additional or more flexible class times, after school programs, a campus social worker, and distance classes were all possibilities. Exploring and educating programs in ways to provide services or partner with other non-profit organizations can help develop solutions, aid with retention, and assist with the achievement of long-term goals.