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A multiple case study of the perceived personal costs and benefits of participation in a paraeducator career ladder program

Vicky J Jones, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This embedded case study sought to understand employed paraeducators' perceptions of the costs and benefits to participating in a teacher education program offered via distance education, and to understand how those perceived costs and benefits affected their academic persistence. Data were collected from the specific career ladder program files, Kember's Distance Education Student Persistence Inventory (1995), and a semi-structured interview with twelve purposefully selected students representing four major subsets of program participants: U.S.-born Hispanic students, foreign-born Hispanic students, bilingual Caucasian students, and students who withdrew volitionally from the program. ^ Emerging themes and patterns were identified from analysis of the interview transcripts and the findings were placed into the context of previous research on college student attrition and retention literature. Four key themes identified were: (1) personal experiences with K--16 educational systems as both students and employees; (2) challenges to persistence included limited time due to multiple demands of family and household responsibilities, lack of family support, and difficulties with the English language especially among the foreign-born Hispanic participants; (3) strategies employed to counter challenges included prioritizing tasks, exerting determination and effort, and asking for and accepting help from others; and (4) reported personal and professional growth in family relationships and in the workplace was reflected by improved skills, self confidence, and establishment of realistic goals for the future. ^ The results allowed for development of a preliminary persistence cost/benefit analysis model which included fixed, variable, and unexpected costs (challenges) balanced by personal and professional benefits accumulated over time (growth and change). ^

Subject Area

Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Jones, Vicky J, "A multiple case study of the perceived personal costs and benefits of participation in a paraeducator career ladder program" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3216346.