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K-State Today

March 8, 2021

Collins, colleagues draft practice report about COVID’s impact on adult learners and higher education

Submitted by Patrice Scott

Royce Ann Collins

Royce Ann Collins, College of Education associate professor of adult learning and leadership, was the lead author of a practice report that addressed the COVID-19 response by 16 of the Kansas City metro area's higher education institutions. The report offered four key recommendations for future practices with 13 actionable items. 

"Reaction to Crisis: Adult Higher Education’s Lessons Learned" is the culmination of 18 focus groups conducted from August to October 2020  — representing the voices of 82 faculty, staff and administrators and 61 adult learners. Participants are members of the Kansas City Scholars Postsecondary Network of institutions, incubated by the Kauffman Foundation. The study was funded in part by the DeBruce Foundation. 

Collins' co-authors are: Scott Campbell, vice president for partnership development for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning at the University of Missouri-Kansas City; Karin Chang, executive director of the Kansas City Education Research Consortium; and Jenny Frenzel, senior research assistant at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Urban Education Research Center. 

Replete with candid comments, the report reveals a broad spectrum of observations ranging from adult learners' frustration with communication, changing fee structures and locating assignments and resources to faculty feeling unprepared — both cerebrally and technologically — to teach effectively online. 

"We heard tragic stories and success stories from adult learners navigating working from home, attending to children's school assignments, and completing college courses themselves," Collins said. "We heard faculty, staff and administrators note that COVID made them create best practices and procedures that they had delayed too long."  

"While the recommendations were drawn during a pandemic, they will improve institutional services to adult learners in any environment."   

A webinar was conducted recently to highlight the report and discuss how some institutions have responded to adult learners during COVID.