Community College Research Initiatives

July 29, 2019

What Works for Adult Learners?

Millions of adults in the United States are trying to support themselves and their families without a high school education. Millions more have finished high school but still lack some of the basic reading, writing, and math skills needed to succeed in the current labor market. To address this, the nation needs to scale evidence-based strategies that increase adult learners’ skills which assist them in securing living-wage employment and career advancement opportunities.

Debra Bragg, director of CCRI, collaborated with Barbara Endel and other Jobs for the Future (JFF) colleagues, Nate Anderson, Lisa Soricone, and Erica Acevedo to prepare a brief on lessons learned about career pathways for adult learners. The brief summarizes the results of 16 experimental and quasi-experimental design studies conducted to date on career pathways.

Findings show that most rigorous research and evaluation focus on the early stages of adult preparation, the entry and integrated training phases of the career pathway, and far less is known about adult career progression. Policy and program solutions that prepare adults for all phases of their trajectory into and through careers are needed to support the economy. The brief concludes by calling for more strategic policy, practice and research to help advance career pathway opportunities for adult learners nationwide.

What Works for Adult Learners: Lessons from Career Pathways Evaluations, by Debra Bragg with Barbara Endel, Nate Anderson, Lisa Soricone, and Erica Acevedo, Jobs for the Future. This research is mostly funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services.

Read the Report