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Applied Research

Study investigates adult learners' success in college

A study comparing the transition into college for students who have earned General Educational Development (GED) credential as opposed to those who have earned a high school diploma provides educators and the government with information that will be useful in developing policies and learner supports.

The purpose of this study was to explore potential differences in performance between learners with a high school diploma and those with a GED credential at two post-secondary institutions, Holland College and Nova Scotia Community College. The study was conducted by Dr. Audrey Penner, Holland College's Director of Adult Education, Learner Supports and Applied Research in collaboration with the department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Eighteen percent of the working population in PEI and NS does not have a high school diploma. In a labour force that demands increasingly more skilled workers, this creates a deficit in employable individuals.

"Little is known about GED learner performance in Canadian community colleges, and in particular how these learners compare to students who follow the traditional high school to post-secondary learning trajectory," said Dr. Audrey Penner. "By finding out if the transition to post-secondary is more problematic for those with a GED rather than a high school diploma, we can determine if we need extra supports in place to help facilitate their move into a college or university setting."

Dr. Penner studied three areas: how learners with GED credential performed in college compare to learners with a high school diploma; whether performance is influenced by age, gender, or program type for GED credentialed learners compared to high school diploma learners; and whether there is a difference in outcomes in P.E.I. and N.S.

Results showed that females and older learners performed well regardless of their program of study or diploma credential. Learners at greatest risk for poor performance were males under the age of 25 with a GED.

"We now know that we need to develop policies and provide supports that will help young males who have earned their GED continue their education in a post-secondary setting," Dr. Penner said.


For more information about this release, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2011