Award Date

August 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Vicki Rosser

Second Committee Member

Gerald Kops

Third Committee Member

Gwen Marchand

Fourth Committee Member

Howard Gordon

Number of Pages



Adult community college students, age 25 and older, have been understudied in the extensive college transfer literature, which otherwise focuses on traditional-age college students age 18 through 24, or on students of unspecified age. According to the theoretical framework of academic momentum articulated by Clifford Adelman (2006), enrollment patterns during college can speed up or slow down students’ progress. The limited transfer research on adult students suggests that adults respond differently than traditional-age students to certain academic momentum variables that can impact vertical transfer and baccalaureate outcomes.

This quantitative longitudinal study examined 1,712 student records using sequential logistic regression to determine the relative impact of specific academic momentum variables, controlling for individual profile characteristics, on the likelihood of adult community college students achieving vertical transfer or post-transfer baccalaureate degree completion.

Key findings included the fact that adults who select any type of degree or transfer program have higher odds of transfer, adult first-time-in-college students have lower odds of transfer and completion than returning students, and taking courses in Summer terms increased both transfer and completion odds. Other momentum variables such as breaks in enrollment, decreased enrollment intensity and reduced first-year credit accumulation have been shown to hinder traditional-age students from transfer and baccalaureate completion, but did not have the same negative effects on adults in this study. Results suggest that academic momentum variables impact adults’ likelihood of success on the transfer pathway, but the effects of momentum differ between adults and traditional-age students. This finding has implications for the formulation of policies and procedures related to student enrollment patterns that might negatively affect adult students.


academic momentum; adult learners; bachelor's degrees; non-traditional students; post-transfer outcomes; transfer students


Community College Education Administration | Community College Leadership | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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