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The factors affecting enrolment in adult education junior English

courses: implications for administration

Young, Tim-tsan, Alan.; .


Issued Date




The author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights)

and the right to use in future works.


I hereby declare that this dissertation represents my own work and that it
has not been previously submitted to this University or any other institution
in application for admission to a degree, diploma or other qualifications.

August, 1994

The factors affecting enrolment

in adult education junior English courses:
Implications for administration.


YOUNG Tim Tsan, Alan

Dissertation presented in part fulfillment

of the requirements of the
degree of Master of Education,
the University of Hong Kong

Under the supervision of

Dr. Mark Bray

August 1994

Chapter 1. Introduction

Caritas and its programmes
Research Question
Significance of the study
Conception of the study

Chapter 2. Literature Review

A. Theories of Motivation for Adult
B. Theories of Participation
C. Theories of Adult Students'



Chapter 3. Adult Education in Hong Kong


Chapter 4. Methodology



The Sample
Contextual Variables
Data Analysis

Chapter 5. Research Findings


Cross Classification Analysis
Summary of Findings
Summary of Telephone Interviews



Chapter 6. Conclusion


A. Limitation 75


B. Conclusion




Questionnaires (Original Bilingual version)



This study intended to understand the relationship between students' enrolment

intention to the next course at adult education junior English courses and their
expectation and classroom environment. Four hundred and two students taking
junior English courses (primary 1 to 3) were used as the sample for this study.
The sample was taken from eight Caritas Adult Education Centres spreading all
over Hong Kong. Results revealed that there were strong relationships between
enrolment intention to the next course and classroom environment. Students'
expectation and intention to enrol in the next course were only moderately related
with each other. Even when students' demographic data were taken into account,
the expectation and classroom environment were still strong predictors of the
students' enrolment intentions. It is found that family commitments, better job
advancement, and teaching methods also affected enrolment intentions. Finally,
implication for administration were discussed.



I would like to give my deepest gratitude to Dr. Mark Bray , my thesis

supervisor, for his invaluable assistance and advice throughout the entire period
of study. I am also grateful to Mr. Tang Kwok Chun, a research assistant, who
has given me his valuable time and suggestions in the statistical package SPSS.

Lastly, I would like to thank my dearest daughter, Rachel for her understanding
of lending me our play time to study in the past two years.


Chapter One

After completing the paper for individual studies under guidance at the end of the
first year studies, I realized from my study that the enrolment rate of the English
courses at the primary level was dropping and it seemed to need remedy. It is due
to this reason, I intended to investigate on the factors that affect the enrolment of
this group of adult students. I hope that the findings of this study may provide
some understandings on the causes of the low enrolment rate and the factors
which affect them to enrol to the course.

A. Background

Education is an important means to change the present society especially it is

getting near the year 1997 as it plays an important role in the promotion of
democracy. It can arouse one's interest in social issues and increase his
opportunities for participating in cultural life (Duke 1993, Foley 1993).
It is apparent that adult literacy has immediate social and economic implications
for the individual person and a society as a whole. A person with literacy skills

is able to participate in the social cultural and political life of his or her country
in a way that the illiterate person cannot. Similarly, the potential to improve his
or her economic status by accessing information about improved work practices
is also apparent. The ability to read and write enables people to understand their
environment and the environment of others. This understanding is important for
a person to live in a positive way to the development of an increasingly complex

Everybody learns from the experiences of everyday living. Adult education offers
opportunity for the learners to reach beyond their experiences and to grow and
develop. As we are living in a period of rapid technological change, it is no
longer sufficient for the full time education to be the preparation for life. We need
to develop a system that facilitate life-long education. An educated work force is
needed if technological change in the work place is to be beneficial; an educated
population is needed if we are to make wise decision about the pace and the
direction of technological change. Thus there is a clear need to move toward a
situation in which adult education is seen as being as universal and natural as
schooling for the children.

In practice, adult education functions differently according to the needs of


different countries. In developing countries, adult education is for economic

development and social emancipation; while in developed countries it is for
professional advancement and self actualization (Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982).

According to the government census in 1991, a number of 557,297 people of age

over 15 have acquired non or only kindergarten education, the majority of this
figure refers to no education at all. This is 12.8% of the total population of that
age group.

In order to improve the literacy level of the adult population, governments have
the alternative of looking to either the formal or the non-formal education
systems. Throughout the world, governments have almost all looked mainly to the
non-formal system, namely adult education, to solve the problem of adult
illiteracy, rather than to the formal system. In economic terms, non-formal
education is less expensive than formal education. However, there are also
advantages in a social context for using the non-formal system for literacy work.
Non-formal education meets people at their point of need within the community
settings in which they live and work. Programmes to improve literacy offered by
the non-formal education system is therefore economically and socially preferred
option. This second opportunity is of great importance to those who may not have

fully benefited from secondary education or may be following some years of

absence from education or working, who wish to upgrade or re-enter the world
of work. According to the recent launching of the Employee Retraining
Programme by the Hong Kong Government, such programmes have been
particularly appreciated by adults of age over 30 seeking to change their lifestyle
or working nature.

According to the statistics provided by the immigration department, there are

approximately 27,000 migrants coming from inland China each year. Most of
these migrants work in the construction sites, factories, restaurants and fast food
chains. Their education level are mostly primary or junior secondary and a very
small portion of these migrants have received University education. Their English
standard is well below primary level.

As Hong Kong is a society that requires a certain degree of English in its

commercial sectors, it is important to re-train our own workforce in order to
relocate them from the industrial sectors to the commercial sectors and to train the
new migrants to fit into our society. Based on this rationale, Hong Kong can act
as a training centre for China after 1997.


B. Caritas and its programmes

Adult Education Service, under the management of Caritas Hong Kong - the
Catholic Welfare Bureau, is the largest provider of adult training Programmes,
Cheng (1991). It has operated 26 adult education centres all over Hong Kong to
meet the educational needs of adults.
Caritas Adult and Higher Education Service (CAHES) is a branch of the
Education Division of Caritas - Hong Kong. It started its service in 1963 with the
purpose of providing educational opportunities for those who were unable to
continue their formal education in the established school structures of the territory.
The service believes that all human beings are endowed with potential for
development. By Building up their self-confidence and self-reliance, they are more
capable of coping with changes and willing to contribute their own share of work
to society.

Since its establishment in 1963, CAHES offered the first part time courses in
domestic science and secretarial training. In 1966, it established the first adult
education centre. Three years later, it started to offer full time study programmes.
In 1974, CAHES organized Summer Study Programmes for students to study
during their summer holidays, this has since been a yearly major event in the

service. In 1976, CAHES began the functional literacy and adult basic
programmes and the Multi-media education programme which provide courses
through open learning using various teaching media began. In 1978, a number of
tailor made extension programme were being offered to our business community.
Collaboration with mainland China in organizing education" programmes in
Guanzhou, Shenzhen, Zhanjian, Kaiping and other parts of China begun and the
audio-visual technology section was established to provide support service to
member schools. In 1987, a City centre was established to provide human
resources development and educational counselling services. The year later, a
number of linkage with overseas universities/colleges began. In 1990, Caritas
Francis Hsu College was approved by the Governor to offer post-secondary
diploma progammes. In 1993, CAHES offers Employee Retraining Programme
to assist local employees affected by economic restructuring to obtain employment
in another trade began. As at November, 1993, the organizational structure of
Caritas Adult and Higher Education service is as follows:

The Director, Education Services is the person in-charge of all Caritas education
services. Each educational service is under the professional leadership of a Service
Co-ordinator whose responsibility is to overseas the development and maintenance
of standard of the service concerned. In CAHES, the Coordinator consults the

Board of Supervisors and Managers consisted of all the supervisors and managers
from all the schools and colleges on the overall policy of the service. A spirit of
shared responsibility prevails through the Supervisors and Principals Committee
and the Co-ordination Assisting Team composed of organizers and principals
chosen to assist the Co-ordinator in areas of administrative and financial control,
publicity, curriculum planning, course control, staff relations and development,
resources and research, sales and purchasing. The executive policies and planning
proposed by the Co-ordination Assisting team have to be agreed upon by the
Supervisors and Principals Committee before implementation. Academic,

audio-visual technology and City centre affairs

are the

responsibilities of the respective organizers and manager. In each institute or

college, there is a Management Committee which names a member among them
to be the supervisor of that institute or college. The supervisor and principal are
in line functions. Under the principals are the prefect of studies, teachers,
technical and clerical staff. Besides full-time and other extension programmes,
CAHES offers a wide variety of part-time courses for those who wish to utilize
their spare time meaningfully, to make up their early education, to promote thenquality of life, or to enhance their career prospects. Courses are categorized as


Art/Commercial Art
Food and Beverage
China Studies
Other languages
Practical courses
Science courses
Social science courses

At present, CAHES has a total of 26 colleges/institutions registered with the

Education Department, nine of which are full time colleges/institutes. It has a
steady growth of student number from 1,000 to around 100,000 in 1990. Nearly
50% of these student population enrolled in the English courses ranging from P. 1
to F.5 levels. According to my experience in this service for over 10 years, the
students enrolled in the junior English courses i.e. P. 1 to P.6 are mostiy from the
population of the statistics shown in the paragraph above. However, student
enrollment is one thing but whether they will enrol again is another. It is therefore
p. 10

important to find out the factors that affect the enrolment of these students.

C. Research Question

Literature on education research has shown that motivation of adult learners is

largely influenced by psychological and social factors which both compel and
impede participation (Cross, 1981; Darkenwald & Valentine, 1985). In order to
enhance participation, one must attempt to understand how these factors impact
learners' decision to participate and formulate strategies to increase motivation.

The research question for the study is as follows:

What are the factors affecting the student enrolment of adult education junior
English courses?

I am particularly interested to find out whether or not the adult learners'

enrolment is related first to students' expectation, and second to classroom
environment and interaction with teacher and students.


D. Hypotheses

It is expected that high expectation, and better classroom environment would

correlate with higher number of enrolment in the next course and it is believed
that the above relations still hold after controlling the effect due to contextual

The hypotheses are formulated in the null form. They are:

There is no significant relationship between the individual's expectation,
classroom environment and the intention to enrol in the next course.

E. Significance of the study

People attend adult education for different reasons and purposes. Some may take
courses for survival, while other may aim at self fulfillment. As pointed out by
Boshier (1973), the motivation for learning is a function of the interaction
between internal psychological factors and external environmental variables. This
study shows how internal factors such as student expectation, and an external
variables such as classroom environment and teacher's performance, are related
to students' enrolment in adult education junior English courses. The reason why
p. 12

English courses were chosen was that they are courses with the longest duration
among other courses and it has a learning ladder which enable student to study
from level such as primary one up to secondary five and students can applied for
the Hong Kong Certificate Examination through CAHES's schools after
completing the ladder. It is because of this, the researcher "can observe the
enrollment intention for these students. Other short courses do not have this

As adult education can only share a small portion of the education funding from
the government, it is important to see that the money is spent effectively and
efficiently. The study of students' interests and motivation is therefore a major
concern to planners and administrators.

This study hopes to provide information on the important factors that are directly
or indirectly related to students' enrolment rate. This may provide a better
understanding of the motives and purposes of the adult learners. Administrators
and planners can then tailor courses according to the students' needs.

Caritas Adult and Higher Education Service is considered as a pioneer and the
major non-profit making institution which provides a wide range of adult courses
in Hong Kong. The author hopes that this study will help to provide information

for its future planning in its courses, especially in the junior English portion of
its English learning programmes.


F. Conception of the study

From the literature, the conception of this proposed study can be illustrated as
shown in the following diagram:

p. 15

Boshier (1973) suggested that the adult learner's two primary concerns were
maintaining inner harmony with himself and with the environment. If difference
developed resulting in anxiety, then dropout was likely to occur. Boshier talked
about environmental variables from a broad perspective initially and then
suggested students' participation was dependent on their discrepancy in self
concept and other important contextual variables. He treated interaction between
the learner and the environment as self/other incongruenities - a psychological
variable. He then reduced the model by stating that since self-rejection is
pervasive ( and self/ideal was normally regarded as measures of global selfesteem) it was suggested that self/other incongruence as arise from self/ideal

Some students might have unrealistic expectation and be setting unrealistic goals
of the program resulting in an incongruence leading to dropout (Garrison, 1985,
1987). An important motivational concern would seem to be that adult learners
perceived the external environment to be relevant to their goals if they were to
persist (Garrison, 1985). The importance of goal congruence was also supported
by Anderson and Darkenwald (1979). They believed that the satisfaction with and
the perceived usefulness of the courses were the chief element in determining
one's persistence in attendance. The more anticipated benefits could achieve, the

greater the probability that students would retain (Tough, 1979).

Adults are voluntary learners, they are self directing (Tough, 1979). They were
responsible for their own learning, and had acquired ample experience.
Furthermore, learners should have a major role in deciding what would be learned
and how it would be learned.

Beder and Darkenwald (1982) found that the study population perceived adults to
be more intellectually curious, more concerned with practical applications, more
motivated to learn, more willing to take responsibility for learning, clearer about
what they wanted to learn, and more willing to work hard at learning. Adults
were less emotionally dependent on the teacher. They would persist if the
discrepancies between their own expectations and the actual teaching methods was

Persistence in learning ad higher attendance rate required congruencies between

self/ideal and self/other (Boshier, 1973). In regard to enhance participation in
learning, reinforced learner's self-confidence or self-esteem, perceived relevance
of adult education and enhanced the learning environment, such as trusting ,
collaboration, assurance of ample time to master knowledge and skills, creation

of positive learning experiences, and provision of non-threatening and useful

feedback regarding performance (Scanlan, 1986). The effect of the above
variables reflected in the percentage of attendance rate. The present study is
seemed to extend Boshier's congruence model by examining the patterns of
attendance within the framework which he established. It is based on this concept
that the research question for this study is proposed.


Chapter Two
Literature Review and Theoretical Framework

This chapter hopes to introduce the adult motivation for learning and then look at
the factors affecting participation, Then it will look at the factors of retention for
adult learners. Based on these literature, a conception for this research will be

A. Theories of Motivation For Adult Learning

The distinct difference of adult education from the formal education for children
and young people is that adults are volunteers in the learning process. They also
voluntarily choose the subjects that they want to study. There is no limit to the
curriculum of adult education. Houle(1961) formulated a topology that identified
three "types" of adult learner. They are as follows:

1. Goal oriented learners

This type of learners used learning to obtain specific objectives, such as learning
to speak before an audience, learning to deal with problems etc. According to
p. 19

Houle, learning was a series of episodes, each beginning with the identification
of a need or an interest. Such learners do not restrict their learning activities to
any one institution or method but select whatever method will best achieve their
purpose, for example taking a course, joining a group, reading a book, taking a
trip etc.

2. Activity oriented learner

This type of learners participate primarily for the activity itself rather than to
develop a skill or learn subject matter. They might take a course or join a group
to escape boredom or loneliness or an unhappy home or an unhappy work
situation. They might simply want to find a husband or wife or just to uphold the
family tradition. According to Houle, these learners do no reading at all. Houle
suggested that if the sample for his studies had been larger, he might have
included activity oriented people who used reading for purposes other than to
learn the content.


3. Learning oriented

These learners pursue learning for their own sake. They seemed to possess a
fundamental desire to know and to grow through leaning, and their activities were
continued and lifelong. Most of these learners were avid readers; they joined
groups, and even chose jobs, for learning potential offered; they watched serious
programmes on television and made extensive background preparations when
travelling in order to appreciate what they saw.

Cognitive theories assume that motivation was a function of the interaction

between internal psychological factors and external environmental variables.
Indeed, motivational behavior in learning was determined by the individual's
perception and interpretation of environmental factors. The following literature
reviews provide an understanding for the motivation behavior:
Atkinson and Feather (1966) provided a theory of achievement motivation which
pointed out the importance of expectancy in determining people's motivation. It
was further shown that one's expectancy was not only affected by the ongoing
feedback in the current situation but also by one's past experience. For example,
an individual who perceives his/her effort frequently results in success has higher
self-esteem than one who experiences frequent failures (Howard, 1989).

The work of Kjell Rubenson (1977), was a modification and application of earlier
work by Vroom (1964), in which Vroom attempted to explain the motivation and
incentives of people for work. The expectancy-valance model started with
psychological theories of motivation. The "expectancy" part of Rubenson's
formula consisted of two components:

the expectancy of one's chance of success in the activity


the perceived positive consequence (or value) of being successful.

These two components are multiplicative i.e. if each of them assumed a value of
zero, the ending force will be zero and there will be no motivation to participate.
The other part of the formula, Valence, was concerned with effect and could be
positive, indifferent, or negative. Its strength depended on the anticipated
consequences of participation. The valence as the algebraic sum of the values that
the individual put on the different consequences of participation. The major
attention was given to how an individual learner perceived his environment and
what he expected to gain from participation.

Another theory of motivation was based on anticipated benefits such as pleasure,

self-esteem and reaction from others (Tough, 1979). Allen Tough, a leading
proponent of research on self-directed learning, did not have a well-developed
theory about why people undertake self-directed learning but his paper (1979) was
clearly getting close to explanation and toward the conceptual organization of
data. In an interesting experiment, Tough and his colleagues (Tough, Abbey, and
Orton, 1979) asked learners to assign weights to their reasons for learning,
observing that this was a task that people could do quite easily. Their assignment
of the task and people's acceptance of it made a basic assumption about learners
that behavior could be articulated by the subjects of the research. This assumption
underlined most of Tough's research on self-directed learning, showing a faith in
adults not only to direct their own learning but also to understand why they
wished to do so. Tough and his colleagues were not trying to say that the whole
picture of learning motivation could be explained by the participants, but they
built their model on the belief that the anticipated benefits to be derived from
learning were existing in the person's conscious mind and built up a significant
part of the person's motivation for learning. In fact, they claimed that the
learner's conscious anticipation of reward was more important than subconscious
forces or environmental forces. Their initial data suggested that their direct
approach to constructing a theory of motivation based on anticipated benefits was

possible and might provide one piece of the puzzle of a theory of participation in
learning activities.

This model consisted of five stages at which benefits might be anticipated. They
are (1) engaging in a learning activity, (2) retaining the knowledge or skill, (3)
applying the knowledge, (4) gaining a material reward, as in promotion, and (5)
gaining a symbolic regard, as in credits and degrees. At each stage, anticipated
benefits might be classified into three clusters of personal feelings: pleasure
(happiness, satisfaction, enjoyment, feeling good), self-esteem (regarding self
more highly, feeling more confident, maintaining self-images) and a category
labelled others (others regard individual more highly, praise him, like him, feel
grateful). Adult educators had long observed that adults were more motivated to
learn when involved in setting their own learning goals, when given opportunities
for relevant practice, when the pay-off of learning was immediate.
Force-field analysis incorporated basic sociological research in identifying positive
and negative forces in the environment (Miller, 1967). In any study there were
positive forces and negative forces. When positive forces overcame the negative
forces, then one would have the drive to learn.


Harry Miller's (1967) social class theory was built on the needs hierarchy of
Maslow (1954) and the force-field analysis of Lewin (1947). This theory
explained not only why people participated but also why there were large
differences between social classes in what they hoped to attain from participation.
Maslow maintained that people could not be concerned about higher human needs
for recognition (status), achievement, and self-realization until the lower
fundamental needs for survival, safety, and belonging had been met. By
applying to adult education, the needs hierarchy would predict that members of
the lower social classes would be interested primarily in education that met
survival needs, mostly job training and adult basic education, while the upper
social classes would have fulfilled those needs and would see education as leading
to achievement and self-realization. Therefore, those with a high school education
or less were interested primarily in job-related education, while education aimed
towards self-understanding, recreation, personal development, and the like,
appealed primarily to well-educated people and to others not concerned about
survival in the labour market (Carp, Peterson, & Roelfs, 1974; Cross, 1979;
Johnstone & Rivera, 1965). Miller pointed out that the needs hierarchy was also
useful in accommodating research showing a relationship between educational
interest and age and position in life cycle. Early stages of adulthood were
concerned with satisfaction of needs low in the hierarchy, such as getting

established in a job and beginning a family. Older people, having satisfied those
needs, were free to devote energy to achieving status, to enhancing achievement,
and to work towards self-realization.

Miller's basic strategy was to use Lewin's concept of positive and negative forces,
which, when combined, formed a resultant motivational force. The following
figure illustrated Miller's analysis of the forces presented in the motivation of the
lower section of the lower social class for education for vocational competence.
The width of the arrow symbolized the strength of the force, while the position
of the horizontal one indicated the resultant force, quite low in this example,
indicating little motivation for participation.

Figure 1. Education for Vocational Competence, lower

social class. (Miller, 1979)

section of the lower


Note: The various positive and negative forces are defined as:

Positive forces
1. Survival needs
2. Changing technology
3. Safety needs of female culture
(at time, male were dominating the society)
4. Governmental attempts to change opportunity

Negative forces
5. Action-excitement orientation of male culture
6. Hostility to education and to middle-class object orientation
7. Relative absence of specific, immediate job opportunities at the end of training
8. Limited access through organizational ties
9. Weak family structure

The social environment theory, derived from early work by Lewin (1936) on field
theory and Murray (1938) on needs-press, was that behavior was a joint product
of individuals and their environment (Darkenwald & Gavin, 1987). In other

words, individuals and social environments reciprocally influenced each other.

The social environment of a classroom determined in large part the attitudes and
behavior of individual students in learning.

Adults with higher self-esteem, positive valence and positive force in the
environment were more motivated to learn.

B. Theories of Participation

Ever since the early research on adult learning, different approaches had been
used to study participation. Situational, social and psychological antecedents of
participation in adult education were attributable to Knox and Videbeck (1963).
They viewed the educational activity of adults as one of many closely related
"participatory domains" characterizing the general phenomenon of social
participation. A participatory domain" was defined as a cluster of participatory
acts and social relationships related to a single life only. Such acts were
considered patterned if they grouped together to form a meaningful whole and
were systematically recurrent. According to their theory of patterned participation,
variations in participation could be attributed to the interaction between one's
subjective orientation towards participation and the objective organization of one's

lifespace. The objective organization of one's lifespace was conceptually defined

to include the following components: one's role and status configuration, the
availability of participatory opportunities, and the personal structures and
environmental restraints influencing one's participatory alternatives. Also , the
more positive one's attitude toward participation and the greater the perceived
support of social and personal norms, the stronger one's inclination to participate
(Groteluescheu and Caulley,

1977). In concert with this framework.

Groteluescheu and Caulley employed an expectancy-value function to quantify the

differential contribution of dispositions toward participation in continuing
education. They identified three key constraints as antecedents to participation:


an individual's attitude towards participation,


an individual's perception of the expectations of others towards his behavior

(the subjective social norm) and


the expectations an individual imposed upon himself (the subjective personal

norm). Following the qualification approach employed by Fishbein, the
authors generated the following multivariate equation as a basis for predicting
both intention to participate and actual participatory behavior:

= the individual's engagement in recurrent learning (B) as a function
of his/ her intention to participate (I),
= the different weights assigned to the three different factors

= one's attitude towards participation,

SSN = perceived social norms, and

SPN = perceived personal norms.

According to the formula, an individual's engagement in recurrent learning (B)

was determined by his/her intention to participate (1 Behavioral intentions, in
turn, were a function of the weighted sum of one's attitude towards participation
(A) and the perceived social norms (SSN) and personal norms(SPN) governing
such behavior. Functionally, the more positive one's attitude towards participation
and the greater the perceived support of social and personal norms, the stronger
one's inclination to participate. Discrepancies between an individual's measured
intention to participate and his or her actual behavior, according to the model's
advocates, would be attributable to the presence of mitigating factors or obstacles.


The "expectancy-value" paradigm of participation in adult education was

developed by Rubenson (1977). It determined both the perceived value of an
educational activity (valence) and the probability of being able to participate in
and/or benefit from a given learning episode (expectancy). Perceived value of
adult education and readiness to participate were the important variables of
Psychosocial Interaction Model (Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982). To the extent,
therefore, that one's total current environment required or encouraged further
learning, one would perceive adult education as having, at least potentially, high
personal value or utility. When learning press was less pronounced, as it generally
was for persons toward the lower end of the social economics status (SES)
continuum, adult education was less likely to be perceived as potentially useful or
valuable. An individual's perception of the value of adult education quite
obviously would affect that individual's disposition or readiness to participate.

The importance of goal congruence was also supported by Anderson and

Darkenwalds (1979) when they stated that the "most powerful predictor, of
persistence in adult education was satisfaction with the learning activities in terms
of its "helpfulness" in meeting one's objectives" (pp.4-5). Some students might
have unrealistic expectations and set unrealistic goals. This being consistent with
a false sense of self confidence with respect to academic expectations. This was

supported by findings in a previous study where it was concluded that such

incongruities between expectations and the reality of adult learning show promise
in explaining dropout behavior (Garrison, 1985).

Social environment theory was employed to determine the relation of dropout

behavior to the social ecology of the classroom. Research in school settings
indicated discrepancies between students' expectations of a specific classroom
environment and their actual experiences in that environment promote
dissatisfaction (Darkenwald & Gavin, 1987). The social environment of a
classroom determined in large part the attitudes and behavior of individual
students. Degree of congruence between students' expectations and a specific
classroom environment were to some extent inevitable. Such congruence would
result in some degree of satisfaction. The greater the degree of congruence, and
thus satisfaction, the greater the probability that students would persist.

In a learning activity, literature on educational research showed that participation

was a complex phenomenon (McClosky, 1968). It was not a single act but the
result of a chain of responses each of which is based on an evaluation of the
position of the individual in his environment (Cross, 1981). This conception of
behavior as a constantly flowing stream rather than a series of discrete events was

consistent with the "radical theoretical revision" now taking place in the
psychology of motivation (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Chain-of-Response (COR) Model for Understanding Participation in

Adult Learning Activities (Cross, 1981)


Regarding point A, self-evaluation, the stable personality characteristics played an

important role in the motivation for achievement.

Attitudes toward education (B) arose directly from the learner's own past
experience and indirectly from the attitudes and experiences of friends and
"significant others."

Point C, the importance of goals and the expectation that goals would be met,
would be recognized as the familiar expectancy-valence theory of motivation
arising out of the work of Lewin (1938), Atkinson (1966), Vroom (1964) and
Rubenson (1977). It had two components: "valence", the importance of the goal
to the individual and "Expectancy", the individual's subjective judgement that
pursuit of the goal would be successful and would lead to the desired reward.
Expectancy was related to self-esteem (indicated by reverse arrow), in that
individuals with high self-esteem "Expect" to be successful, whereas those with
less self-confidence entertained doubts about their probable success.

Life transitions (D) as periods of change calling for adjustment to new phrases of
the life cycle .were important. Related to the gradual transitions of life were
sudden dramatic changes, such as divorce or loss of a job, which might "trigger"

a latent desire for education into action.

Once the individual was motivated to participate in some form of learning

activity, barriers and special opportunities for adult learning (E) were thought to
play an important role. If adults got to this point in the COR model with a strong
desire to participate, it was likely that the force of their motivation would
encourage them to seek out special opportunities and to overcome modest barriers.

Point F in the COR model, accurate information, was receiving considerable

attention now in the creation of education information centres and educational
brokering agencies. Its role in the model was critical in that it provided the
information that linked motivated learners to appropriate opportunities.

The arrow from G to AB accommodated the well-known research finding that

people who had participated in adult education were more likely to do so in the
future, presumably because such participation enhanced self-esteem, created
positive attitudes toward education, led to increased expectation of success,
overcome the barriers and obtained the opportunities in participation.


C. Theories of Adult Students' Retention

Roger Boshier (1973) believed that motivation for learning was a function of the
interaction between internal psychological factors and external environmental
variables, or at least the participant's perception and interpretation of
environmental factors. His theoretical conclusion was that "both adult education
participation and dropout could be understood to occur as a function of the
magnitude of the discrepancy between the participant's self-esteem and key aspects
(largely people) of the education incongruence and do not enroll" (1973, pp.260).
Boshier seemed to suggest that a number of incongruencies (between self and ideal
self, self and other students, self and teacher, self and institutional environment)
were additive; the larger the sum, the greater the likelihood of nonparticipation
or dropout.

Boshier's theory suggested that the proper matching of adults to educational

environments was important. But he also suggested that certain people, especially
those who showed a high degree of dissatisfaction with themselves (through high
discrepancy scores between self and ideal self), were likely to project their own
dissatisfaction-onto the external environment and to dropout of almost any kind
of environment. Self-esteem of the individual was one of the very important

factors in educational participation.

Using reinforcement theory, Irish (1978), specified three anticipated reinforcers:

goals, expectations and benefits for reinforcing the attendance.

The expectancy-valence theory (Rubenson and Hoghielm, 1978) explained the

learner's goal and expectation. The theory assumed that a person's choice of
activities results from both the "value he attaches to the result of his actions and
of his expectations of being able to carry out the action in question" (Borgstrom,
1980). The basic model could be depicted in Figure 3.
Valence: extent to which
individual regards a course
as a fruitful means of
satisfying perceived
(the strength of
force determine
if individual
completes or
drop course)
expectancy: extent to which
individual believes self
capable of completing or
coping with course
Figure 3: Expectancy-valence Model (Robenson & Hoghielm, 1978)

In a slightly simple explanation, expectancy-valence theory asserted that learners

will persist if they perceived a specific course or learning activity as satisfying an
important need (positive valence) and if they expected to be able to complete or
cope with the course or learning activity in question (positive expectancy). If
expectancy and valence were both highly positive, one would predict persistence.
If both were low, or one had a value of zero, then dropout would be predicted.

Irish (1978) employed reinforcement theory and the functional analysis of

behavior to develop an instrument for predicting dropout from classes in
education. Three sets of reinforcers were identified: those that might take place
in the classroom; those that might take place outside the classroom; and those that
might take place on the job as the result of skills acquired in the class. Her
findings indicated that in-class (ie. classroom social environment) negative
reinforcers were the most potent predictors of dropout.


Chapter Three
Adult Education in Hong Kong

Nowadays, almost everyone will go to school in Hong Kong and usually ends up
in a job of some kind. Some will be fortunate enough to enter Universities or
post-secondary institutions before entering the working world. However, this
world is changing so fast that it is necessary to update oneself in order to keep up
with the demands of the job. This is regardless of ones occupation, no matter
he/she is a professional, clerical, even housewife or domestic helpers, these type
of update knowledge learning is unavoidable. Some of these people may learn on
their own, others may enrol in part-time or evening courses provided by
government funded educational institutions, usually through extra mural
departments or schools of continuing or professional education, or private profit
or non-profit institutions. Improving one's job skills is not only motivation of
these learners. Many of these attend courses out of their interest or even just to
pass time or meeting people. (Lee & Lam 1994)

Hong Kong is a British colony since the 1940s, soon to revert to Chinese
sovereignty in 1997, it is a prosperous and fast moving society, It has a good
harbour and favorable geographic location, its work pace is fast and vibrant. Yet,

about one in eight adults has found time and incentive to participate in part-time
education or training in various settings. (Lee & Lam 1994).


continuing education in Hong Kong is made up of several components:

compensatory adult education at primary and secondary level, in-service evening
studies for occupational or professional upgrading, and part-time or distance
learning for academic qualifications.

The Adult Education Section of the Education Department conduct formal evening
courses which provide adults with a second opportunity to pursue primary or
secondary education. The Section also directly operate (sometimes in cooperation
with other nongovernmental agencies) Adult Education and Recreation Centres for
cultural, social or recreational activities. Other courses or activities are run by
voluntary organizations with government subsidy.

Five of the seven government-funded tertiary education institutions have

departments or schools devoted to provide education for these adult learners, not
to mention the other private profit or non-profit organizations. Since the late
1980s, part-time continuing education has met with tremendous growth. In 1992,
one government estimate put it at 750 000 places (Chan 1992,2). A specific
indication is the enrolment in continuing education divisions in institutions funded

by the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee (UPGC) and the Open
Learning Institute (table 2.1). The total enrolment for 1992 was 165 486. The
actual number of students should be less than this figure as some students took
more than one course and would have been counted twice or more times.

Table 2.1 Enrolment in major institutions in Hong Kong


No. of students

School of Professional & Continuing Education, HKU

43 223


Department of Extra Mural Studies, Chinese University of HK

43 118


Centre for Professional and Continuing Education, HK Poly.

14 376


School of Continuing Education, HK Baptist College

43 083


Open Learning Institute

14 462


Centre for Continuing Education, City Polytechnic of HK

7 224


Source: Based on departmental statistics on headcounts from the institutions for 1992.
(Lee and Lam, 1994)

Apart from these major institutions, there are many other institutions which offer
part-time programmes. The most popular programmes are language studies,
accountancy and other business-related studies. There are both local and overseas
professional institutes which offer professional qualifications or certification by
examination with no required course attendance. Such institutes and examinations

have virtually provided the working youth in Hong Kong a second route to
upward social mobility without detriments to their existing employment. Such
part-time courses are largely provided by private institutions, often very small in
scale. There are also voluntary agencies committed to provide adult learning
opportunities with some government subsidy. The Caritas Hong Kong, a catholic
institute, for example, is among the largest organizers of such programmes
(Cheng, 1991).

The total volume of these part-time opportunity is enormous. In fact, according

to one survey done by the Social Science Research Centre of the University of
Hong Kong in 1991, enrolment at the continuing education division of the UPGC
institutions only accounted for 19.7% of the total number of students involved in
part-time education. In other words, 165 486 students is only about 19.7% of the
total headcount of part time students. Conversion of this figure of 165 486 into
100% gives a rough estimate of a total of 840 030 students. This is even higher
than the government estimate of 750 000.

Besides these local providers of professional and continuing education, there are
also overseas institutions aiming to recruit Hong Kong students. According to Lee
and Lam (1994), these overseas programmes fall into four types:

1. distance learning programmes or offshore programmes which can be completed

by the student without leaving Hong Kong;
2. sandwich courses which require only a minimum residence period in the
overseas country;
3. linked programmes in which students can pursue the first part of the
programme with a local institution and complete the programme in the
overseas country;
4 courses in the standard curriculum that require residence in the overseas
country for a substantial period.

The first three types cater largely to the adult working population who may want
to study part-time.
The cumulative effect of these alternative opportunities, together with tertiary
education expansion in Hong Kong, is that school leavers and adult learners in
Hong Kong are presented with unprecedented educational choices, although not
all of which are of high academic quality.


Chapter Four

In order to get a better understanding of the factors affecting- the enrolment in

adult education junior English courses, a questionnaire was designed and were
distributed to 500 students out of a total of 728 who are presently studying the
junior English courses at the eight Caritas Adult Education centres. There are
sixteen centres all together which provide these type of courses. Three levels of
junior English classes ranging from primary one to primary three were randomly
chosen to complete the questionnaires during lesson. The Questionnaires were
distributed when most courses were at the last week of finishing and a number of
Questionnaires were done in the new courses which had just begun at the first few
weeks. Students were assured that their individual responses would never be
identified and would only be used as research purpose only. The number of
Questionnaires required by each centre was collected and the appropriate number
of Questionnaires were counted and then sent to individual centre for distribution.
The number of returned questionnaires from each centre is shown in table 3.1. As
all 500 questionnaires were distributed during class session by the centre
administrator, all 500 were collected but 402 were found valid. Thus the overall

return rate is 80.4%. This was a 100% sample of eight centres. The eight centres
were chosen because they were located at different districts all over Hong Kong.
Ten to fifteen telephone interviews with students who had dropped out of the
course were conducted in order to see why they left. The result of the interviews
will be shown in the finding section of this paper.

Both the questionnaires and the interview questions are modified from the
instrument developed by Rosenberg (1979), Boshier's participation scale (1973)
and Lam and Wong (1974) and are translated into Chinese.

A. The sample

The Caritas centres were chosen to collect data because Caritas Education Service
is the largest provider of adult education programs. Being deeply committed to its
mission of helping adults, Caritas Adult & Higher Education Service was more
concerned with the situation than other agencies. Besides, the researcher is an
administrator of one of the Caritas Education centres and was able to obtain
cooperation from other member schools. The students of these courses will attend
a total of 16.5.weeks classes. They will meet twice a week with 1.5 hours per
meeting. All students are required to take an entrance test for screening their

English ability in order to arrange them into suitable levels. Therefore all students
in a particular level should possess similar academic standards. All these classes
are conducted in the Caritas premises.

The curriculum of these courses are standardized to all centres and students will
be promoted from one level to another after passing the promotion test at the end
of the course. The promotion test serves as an indicator for the students to decide
whether they want to promote to the upper level or to repeat for another term, it
serves no purpose to screen the students for promotion. This means even if they
failed the test and they decided to carry on to another level, the school authority
will not interfere their decisions. All the students in this sample were being well
informed for this situation.

Students are required to purchase a particular set of text books and workbooks that
are used by other centres. The detailed syllabus of each course is given to the
part-time teachers. All the part-time teachers for these junior English courses
possess at least tertiary education standard. That means the teachers possess at
least undergraduates qualification.


All the students in the samples are either in paid employment or housewife.
Majority of them are blue collars workers. They either live or work nearby their
place of study. The samples chosen in this study were all attending the last week
of their courses before promoting to the next level.

Taking consideration of the above factors, the relationship of sex, age, marital
status, educational level, nature of work, mode of transportation, class sessions
per week and time of travel, with the intention to enrol to the next course will
then be studied.

Table 3.1 shows the number of questionnaire returned from each of the centre.
No . returned

Caritas Chai Wan Night School



Caritas Fanling Night school



Caritas Shatin Night School



Caritas Tsuen Wan Night School



Caritas Kennedy Town Night School



Caritas Aberdeen Night School



Caritas St. Joseph's Night School



Caritas Kowloon Night School



Total: 402


Name of Institution


B. Contextual variables

The present study takes into account the contextual variables such as situational
conditions arising from one's situation in life at a given time, that is, the realities
of one's social and physical environment. Time, child care and transportation
were the problem for geographically isolated and physically handicapped learners.
Lack of time, unavailability of child care service (thus, no one to take care of
one's children), transportation was among the obstacles to education. These
problems were mentioned more often by people who were in their thirties or
forties (vs. younger or older ones), with higher education (vs. lower education
group), and with high-income occupations (vs. people with low pay jobs) (Cross,
1981). Child care presented a significant problem to women between the ages of
18 and 39 (and to few other population subgroups), and transportation was a
significant problem to the elderly and the poor but rarely to the middle class or
middle aged. Institutional conditions consisted of all those practices and
procedures that excluded or discouraged working adults from participating in
educational activities - inconvenient schedules or duration (Cross, 1981;
Darkenwald & Merriam, 1982; Darkenwald & Valentine, 1985). In the following
analyses, age, ,sex, marital status, educational level and nature of work were
treated as the personal factors. In a hierarchical regression analysis, these factors

were controlled to examine the effects of contextual variables on student's

intention to enrol in the next level of studies.

C. Instrumentation

Student expectation

Student expectation is to be measured by an instrument adapted from Boshier's

participation scale (1973). The items and response alternatives has been modified
and then translated into Chinese to suit the present study (see questionnaire later).
All the items are in 5 point scales and responses from the items are to be
aggregated to give a total score.

External environment

The self-other (teacher & fellow students) relationship is to be measured by the

instrument adapted from Lam and Wong (1974). The items and response
alternatives has been modified and then translated into Chinese to suit the present
study (see questionnaire later). All the items are in 5 points scales ranging from
strongly agree to strongly disagree. The responses from the items are to be

aggregated to give a total score.

After discussing with Mr. Raymond Lam of the University of Hong Kong, the
internal consistency reliability coefficients, the Cronbach's Alpha will be used for
testing the reliability of the questionnaire for student expectation and classroom
environment in the pilot study
and they both were found to be satisfactory.

D. Data Analysis

The following procedures were adopted in data analysis:

1. Contextual information was tabulated to give descriptions of the sample.

2. Cross classification tables were used to test which contextual factors affect the
enrolment intention of the student most.

3. Cross-classification tables were used to test how students' enrolment intention

was related to student expectation, external environment.


Chapter Five
Research Finding
A. Findings

Table 4.1 below provided an overall information on the students being studied.
Table 4.1 Demographic & personal information






below 20
21 - 3 0
31 - 4 0
41 & above


Marital Status



Education Level

Junior Secondary
Senior Secondary
No formal education







Service sector


Job Nature

Full time employment

Part time employment


Salary income

below $4,000
$4,000 - 7,999
$8,000 or above


No. of children

more than two


Age of children

below four
5 - 12
above 12


Employed domestic helper



Total sample = 402

There were 26.9% male and 73.1 % female in the whole sample. Regarding age
of the sample, 69.7% were between 21 to 40 years of age, whereas 18.9% were
below 21 and 10.7% were above 41 years old. On marital status, 56% were

single, 42.1 % were married and 1.9% were divorced. Does this mean that family
commitments may be one of the main constraints for adult learners (Wilkinson,
1982)? On education level, nearly half of the sample had attended primary
education, this does not imply that they had completed their primary education to
primary six. 40.9% of the sample had received education up to junior secondary
standard, this meant that they had received education of form 1, 2 or 3 before
they enrolled to the junior English courses. It was interesting to see that there
were 0.8% of the sample had received college or university education, according
to the Questionnaires, the type of university education mentioned here were
University or college from mainland China, they were found to be :

93.3% of the sample had a full-time job and 6.7% are working part-time. This
means that many of the adult learners attended these English courses under the
strain of a full time employment.

79.1 % of the samples under studied earned less than $7,999.00 per month, this
could be used as a guide line to set the school fee for future courses. Over half
of the sample had no children. Only 4.7 percentage had employed domestic
helpers. Does -having domestic helpers help the students to gain more time to
attend part-time courses?

Table 4.2 provides additional information about the adult learners' mode of
transportation to attend the English courses and the time spent to travel to school.
Most of the sample (72%) used public transport to attend classes whereas the
others walked to school.

The majority (79.4%) of the sample could reach school within 30 minutes in
travelling. The writer believed improvement in public transportation would
encourage adult learners to study.
Table 4.2


Mode of transportation



Time taken to school

15 minutes
30 minutes
more than 45 minutes


Preferred Course

Less than 1.5 hours

Duration 2 hours
More than 2 hours


Preferred Course Fee

$500 - $700


$701 - $900
$901 - $1100


Total sample = 402


B. Cross Classification analysis on factors which have significant effect on

the intention to enrol again next term:

Although the frequency distribution on the question "Will you enrol again?"
showed that 89.4% of the samples answered "yes, they will enrol to the next
course again", all factors in the Questionnaires would still be used to crosstab with
this question in order to see which factors affect the enrollment. By using the
statistical computer software package S.P.S.S., the cross tabulation showed below
were the most significant factors which the writer believed to be affecting the
intention of students' enrolment.

Demographic & Personal factors

Table 4.3 Enrolment by Marital Status






180 (56.4%)

133 (41.7%)

6 (1.9%)


18 (46.2%)

21 (53.8%)


Table 4.4 Enrolment by number of children





Three or above







19 (47.5%)

5 (12.5%)

7 (17.5%)

9 (22.5%)

From table 4.3, 56.4% of the students intended to enrol again were single. Again,
could family commitment a factor which affect their intention to enrol again?

From table 4.4, 52.5% of the students who answered "no" were having at least
one children. According to Hibbett(1986), the external and domestic pressures
would easily lead to abandoning the course. Even students had the intention to
enrol at the beginning of the course, they were unable to continue their studies
because of some unanticipated event which occurred after their enrollment. There
were also other factors which would influence enrolment such as changing jobs,
change in working hours and health factors (Wilkinson, 1982).


Table 4.5 Enrollment by education level


Secondary Secondary Univer.














According to Cross (1981), adults learner with poor educational backgrounds

frequently lacked interest in learning or confidence in their ability to learn, they
will avoid the risk required in learning new things, basically because they do not
expect to succeed. In their experience with education in the past, the outcome of
effort is more likely to be the pain of failure than the reward of a new job, a
promotion, the admiration of others, or the self-satisfaction of succeeding at the
learning task. However, from table 4.5, it shows that 85.9% of the students who
answered "yes" were only having junior secondary education or below, it did not
match what Cross raised in 1981, instead the result showed that they have a keen
interest in learning instead.

Apart from these three factors, other contextual variables were not significantly
related to the enrollment. That is, students' sex, age, class schedule, nature of
work, time of travel etc. were not related to enrollment intention.


Students expectation factors

Table 4.6 Enrollment by helping migrating/travelling



















The 1997 factor was indeed having a certain degree of influence in the students'
intention to pursue studies. From Table 4.6, 35.2% of the sample answered "yes"
to enrol to the next course and at the same time treated helping migration as an
important factor.

Table 4.7 below showed that 38.3% of the sample would enrol to the next course
because they wanted to study in order to teach their children at home. This was
very often a reason for enrolling to another level when the writer interviewed
some of these students.


Table 4.7 Enrollment by teaching children at home



















Table 4.8 Enrollment by better job advancement


















Table 4.8 showed that 45.6% of the sample would enrol again because they
wanted a better job advancement after studying the programme.

These factors matched Houle's (1961) typology of one of the three types of adult
learner, i.e. the Goal oriented type, this type of learners used learning to obtain
a specific objective i.e teaching their children at home or getting better job
advancement. However, in this study there were also some factors which did not
fit into Houle's typology, for example, getting a certificate, studying to prepare


entering other courses.

Table 4.9 Enrollment by escaping from routine work,
boredom, unhappy home






















Table 4.10

Enrollment by get to know friends













Enrollment by gaining respect from others













According to Houle's typology (1961), the activity oriented type of learners

participate primarily for the activity itself rather than to develop a skill or learn


subject matter. They might take a course or join a group to escape boredom or
loneliness or an unhappy home or unhappy work situation. However, Table 4.9
showed that only 25.7% of the sample came to study for the reason to escape
from the routine or boredom and Table 4.10 indicated that students enrolled for
the next course was not related to get to know friends. These were not the factors
which would affect the enrollment and it did not agree with Houle's typology
raised in 1961. The writer assumed that there were far more way of escaping
from boredom or unhappy situations or getting to know friends in 1994 than in
1961 and particularly in the place like Hong Kong. Table 4.10 also indicated the
enrollment by getting respect from others. There were only 21.9% of the sample
treated this as an important factor and it did not affect the enrollment at all. This
also did not agree with Tough (1971)'s theory of motivation which was based on
anticipated benefits such as pleasure, self-esteem and reaction from others.


Table 4.11






Enrollment by Knowledge fulfillment




(14.2%) (49.4%)





(15.0%) (57.5%)


Enrollment by filling up early lost of education













Table 4.11 showed that the result matched Houle's third type of adult learners,
i.e. Learning oriented. 74% of the sample would enrol because they treated the
study was for knowledge fulfillment where 71.9% believed by enrolling in these
courses could help to fill up their early lost of education.


Classroom environment factors

Table 4.12
















Sufficient teacher preparation





Satisfying course content






















Easy to access teacher


Satisfied with teacher's teaching method





Table 4.12 showed that most of the sample would enrol again. The writer believes
that these could be due to the fact that the teachers were well prepared for their
courses and they were satisfied with the course content. They could easily get in
touch with their teachers in class for questions. They were also satisfied with the
teachers' teaching method. These factors matched the Boshier incongruence theory
(1973). Boshier seemed to suggest that a number of incongruencies (between self
and ideal self, self and other students, self and teacher, self and institutional
environment) were additive; the greater the sum, the greater the likelihood of
nonparticipation or dropout. Boshier's theory suggested that the proper matching
of adults to educational environments was important. The greater the degree of
congruence, and thus satisfaction, the greater the probability that students would

Students from the above study showed that they were satisfied with their learning
and the result from table 4.12 also matched the theory raised by Anderson and
Darkenwalds (1979, pp.4-5) which stated that the "most powerful predictor of
persistence in adult education was satisfaction with the learning activities in terms
of its "helpfulness" in meeting one's objectives". The above result also matched
the social environment theory which was used to determine the relation of dropout
behaviour to the social ecology of the classroom. Research in school settings

indicated discrepancies between students' expectations of a specific classroom

environment promote dissatisfaction (Darkenwald & Gavin, 1987).

C. Summary of findings
From the above information, the subjects under studied were predominantly
female, half or them were single and half were married, mature, and holding fulltime jobs. They mostly possessed primary school education. They spent not more
than 30 minutes each time on public transport when travelling to attend classes
each week. More than 90% of the subjects wanted the course duration to be not
more than two hours. The majority of the samples (91.6%) would want the school
fee for the course to be within $500 to $700 per course. This is rather natural as
students would normally tick the smallest amount in the Questionnaires when the
subject concerns money. The findings of the study showed that students' intention
to enrol to the next course correlated closely to the student expectation factors
such as migration, teaching children at home, for better job advancement and
knowledge fulfillment but did not seem to have connection with the factors such
as escaping from boredom , unhappy situations or getting to know friends.
The findings also showed that students' intention to enrol to the next course
correlated closely to the classroom environment factors such as good teachers'
preparation, satisfactory course content, able to access teachers for questions and

appropriate teaching methods.

D. Summary of telephone interviews

The writer telephone interviewed nine students, six of them were female and three
were male. These nine students was attending the classes in our selected sample
and had dropped out of the Junior English courses before the survey was
conducted. The nine samples were well informed the purpose of the telephone
interview and reaffirmed that the information would be treated confidentially. The
same questionnaire was used to obtain student information.
The age range of the above sample was between 28 to 45 years old. Eight of them
were married and the other was singled. They were all working full time in
various sectors. There salary range was between $4,000 to $7,999. Some of them
have children and none of them employed domestic helper. Their mode of
transportation to school were all by bus and it took them less than 30 minutes to
travel to school.

When expectation questions were asked, it seemed that no significant different

response was found from the result obtained from 402 samples above. However,
when classroom environment questions were raised and particularly on the

teachers teaching method, preparation of teaching materials, able to ask teacher

questions, satisfying the teacher's performance, all respondents gave strongly
disagree to the above questions. This meant that they were not satisfied by the
teachers' performance and they did not think the teachers had sufficient
preparation for the course. One of the students said he left because the teacher
insulted him in the class by saying "Everyone who is alive in this world should
know that simple grammar!"

They did not think air-conditioning of the classroom was as much important as the
teachers' quality.

From these interviews, the writer re-confirmed the findings of the main sample.
The classroom environment factors were most significantly affecting the students'
intention to enrole to the next course.


Chapter Six

A. Limitation

The above research has the following limitations:

This study is based on a cross tabulation analysis, only correlational relationship

was measured for the independent variables and dependent variables, therefore
causal relationship cannot be attributed.

The sampling in this study is mainly from Caritas Adult & Higher Education
Service Centres. It is the characteristics of student behaviour in this particular
group, therefore it may not be applicable to other adult educational institutions.

The present study only focus on the junior English courses. Courses of other
nature may operate in different situations.


There may be other personal and environmental factors e.g. interference from
daily work, conflict between job and family etc., which may be relevant to this
study. Thus, the application of the findings cannot be over-generalized.

Within each centre, the coordinator of each school distributed the questionnaires
during class and was waiting for them to fill and collected them afterwards.
Therefore, the accuracy and reliability of the students' responses may be affected.

There were only 402 Questionnaires returned out of 500 distributed. If the sample
size was bigger, the result could be more reliable.

Some of the Questionnaires were distributed at the beginning of term due to the
lack of time to prepare for this dissertation and the different start off time in each
centre. The students would not know whether they really want to enrol or not as
the course had just begun. Their answers could well be the impression from the
previous course.

More sophisticated statistical analysis could be employed.


B. Conclusion

Since adult educator cannot arrange people's lives, it is a problem over which the
educator has little control. The most an adult educator can hope for is to make the
course itself more stimulating and provide such reassurance and support that, at
times of indecision, it can help students to decide continuing their studies.
From the above study, the results generated may have the following implications
for the Caritas administration:

Centre coordinator may conduct similar studies in their centres in order to get a
general view of the demographic data of their students.
The particular age group in studying these junior English courses could help the
administrators to design the course material. At present, the course material are
mainly adopted from the primary school text book which is irrelevant for an adult.

The salary income observed from this study could also

help the administration to outline their appropriate course fee. The writer believed
if the course fee could be set within their affordable standard, the enrollment will
also be increased.


The time to travel to school was another important factor for the centre
administrator to plan their promotion strategy. It is useless to distribute leaflets
to any estates or industrial district which would require more than 30 minutes to
travel to your school. At, present, there were often argument between centres on
overlapping district in distribution of leaflets.

A more systematic and comprehend evaluation is needed in order to observe the

teacher's performance.

Teachers should be briefed to allow time for their students to raise questions and
obtain help when necessary.

More staff training is needed for the part-time tutors in order to give them
updated teaching skills.

Adult education contribute to the widening of general resource and life satisfaction
to all people. Thus, this will narrow the gap between the least and the most
educated sectors of the population if the underprivileged could have the chance to
be educated.


The benefits of adult education are significant, both for individuals and society.
It is an important area that should not be overlooked.



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Anderson. R. & Darkenwald. G. (1979). Participation and

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The following questionnaire has been translated into Chinese and was distributed
to 402 students. It was also used as a guide for telephone interviewing the nine
students who had dropped out of the course.

Part one
Student Expectation
1. To supplement a narrow previous education.

12 3 4 5

2. To secure professional advancement.

12 3 4 5

3. To prepare for family change.

12 3 4 5

4. To overcome the frustration of day to day living

12 3 4 5

5. To seek knowledge for its own sake

12 3 4 5

6. To compensate the lost of early education.

12 3 4 5

7. To share a common interest with my spouse or a friend

12 3 4 5

8. To increase my competence in my job.

12 3 4 5

9. To satisfy an inquiring mind.

12 3 4 5

10. To make new friends

12 3 4 5

11. For the sake of better working post.

12 3 4 5

12. To give me higher in my job.

12 3 4 5

p. 80


Self-other relationship
1. How adequate do you feel the course is prepared by the instructor?

12 3 4 5

2. To what extent does the course content meet with your expectation?

12 3 4 5

3. To what extent are you able to follow the course?

12 3 4 5

4. To what extent do you feel that the teaching methods used in the course
are effective?

12 3 4 5

5. To what extent does the medium of instruction obstruct your

understanding of the course?

12 3 4 5

6. How often do you find chances in clarifying your doubts? How often
do you find chances to take part in the discussion.

12 3 4 5

7. To what extent do you find your classmates sociable?

12 3 4 5

8. To what extent do you think the instructor approachable?

12 3 4 5

9. How often have you chatted casually with the instructor.

12 3 4 5

10. To what extent are you satisfied with the instructor?

12 3 4 5

11. To what extent do you satisfied with the course?

12 3 4 5


Part Three Personal Data

1. Sex: Male


2. Age: 16 - 20

21 - 25

26 - 30

31 - 35

36 - 40

41 - 45

46 - 50

above 51

3. Marital Status : Single


4. Education Level: Primary

Senior secondary


Junior secondary

University or College
Please specify:
Never received formal education
5. Occupation :

Self employed
House wife

6. Nature of work : Full time

Part time


7. Monthly salary : below $3,999

$4,000 - $5,999
$6,000 - $7,999
$8,000 - $9,999
$12,000 - $13,999
$14,000 or above

8. Number of children : None

three or above
9. Age of children :

below 4
5 - 8
9 - 12
13 - 16
22 or above

10. Do you employ any domestic helper : Yes


11. What type of transportation do you use to school:


Mini bus



private car



12. How much time do you spend to travel to school:

15 minutes

30 minutes

45 minutes

1 hour

more than one hour

13. You preferred the duration of the English course to be :
3 months

six months

over six months

14. You preferred the duration per lesson to be :

1 hour
2.5 hours

1.5 hours

2 hours

3 hours

15. The appropriate fee for this course:




$901 - $1,100

p. 84