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A case study of participation and nonparticipation in an employer -provided educational assistance program

Lois Stacy Creed, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


With the emphasis on creating learning organizations in the workplace and with the change from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, educators and business leaders are increasingly interested in working adults' participation in credit-bearing post-secondary educational courses. ^ This study focused on participation and nonparticipation in one employer-provided educational assistance program, United Technologies Corporation's Employee Scholar Program. The study examined participation at one manufacturing facility in the corporation. It was an instrumental case study using a purposefully selected sample chosen from the plant's employees who were eligible for participation in the program. All respondents were volunteers solicited because of their age, gender, employment category (exempt or nonexempt), and status in the program (participant or nonparticipant). Data was collected through individual interviews with the thirteen respondents. Analysis of the data was accomplished in two ways. First, emerging themes were sorted and coded to gain a picture of the decision-making process leading to either participation or nonparticipation in the program. Second, the data was analyzed using Cross's Chain of Response Model for participation. Member checks and an external audit validated all of the findings. ^ Various themes were identified as points of consideration in the decision-making process: a desire to attend school; personal experiences and views of education; time of life; perceptions of abilities; career ambitions; family roles; and the availability of information and access to opportunities. Two other factors were of major importance to the participants: the various components of the Employee Scholar Program and the respondents' support systems. ^ Corporations seeking to increase employee involvement in credit-bearing post-secondary education would do well to look closely at United Technologies' Employee Scholar Program. For many of the participants in this study, the provisions of the program precipitated their enrollment in courses. No external initiative can induce voluntary participation if an individual has no internal motivation; it can, however, provide impetus toward participation in an individual who already has the seeds of motivation and the desire for additional formal education. ^

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing

Recommended Citation

Creed, Lois Stacy, "A case study of participation and nonparticipation in an employer -provided educational assistance program" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3034372.