The COVID-19 crisis created unprecedented challenges to serving learners of all kinds, especially at-risk and adult learners. This study examined the crisis from the perspectives of institutional leaders and adult learners, gauging their priorities, actions, and mindset during this difficult time. The partners for this study include Kansas City Scholars, The DeBruce Foundation, and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
For this research, the UERC and CAEL conducted 18 focus groups with institutional leaders, faculty, and adult learners. In the focus groups, staff and faculty highlighted the skills they developed and lessons they learned, which they planned to continue to incorporate post-pandemic. Adult learners discussed how they juggled more responsibilities with asynchronous online and synchronous video conferencing for themselves and their children while often working from home.
The initial practice brief (released February 2021) “Reaction to Crisis: Adult Higher Education’s Lessons Learned” includes key study findings and recommendations with guidelines for implementation that will help institutional leaders improve current and future practices. The second and final report (released September 2021), “Adult Learners & COVID-19: Higher Education in a Pandemic” includes complete and detailed findings by functional area as well as key recommendations for institutions, both in the midst of and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.