Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Jay R. Dee

Second Advisor

Glenn Gabbard

Third Advisor

Cristine Smith


To be competitive in a technological and global economy, adults need a postsecondary credential with labor market value. Yet, adults with GEDs rarely go on to postsecondary education and, when they do, they are not usually successful. Despite significant challenges, some State Directors (SDs) of Adult Education are moving forward to advance a new system goal successful transition to postsecondary education and training for the adult students they serve.

This study examined how four state directors (SDs) of adult education, working within a postsecondary/higher education governance system, shaped the policy and practice environment in their state to advance a new system goal of transition to postsecondary education for adult education students. Four types of data were used to create the case studies: publically available state demographic data, SD responses to in-depth interview questions, adult education policy documents, and policy stakeholder diagrams that were customized by each SD. Bandura's (2006) theoretical framework of human agency was used to analyze the SDs thoughts and actions in terms of personal, proxy, and collective agency, while Kingdon's (2011) conceptual framework was used to describe the policy environment in terms of stakeholders, their resources, and policy solutions and alternatives.

Findings revealed that SDs used personal, proxy, and collective agency to shape the policy environment to reach upstream policy makers and influence downstream policy implementers in three main ways by: 1) making the adult education system visible and relevant to the postsecondary/higher education system leaders, policy makers, and college leaders; 2) redefining transition so that it applied to more students; and, 3) developing and instituting transition models and strategies that were congruent with their personal understanding of transition for adult education students.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.