Last Updated: November 1, 2019, 6:19 pm

University strives to improve experience for adult learners


Jacob Fink, a 44 year-old junior biology integrated science major from Tracy California, studies during the gaps of his tight schedule of schooling and family life. Photo by Kristi Harris.

Dixie State University administration is hopeful to create an adult learning program by the fall of 2020 that will help coordinate and administer programs for working adults.

Provost Michael Lacourse said he and a group of faculty and staff volunteers are in the process of building this new educational model to give working adults better access to university resources for higher education.

Darlene Dilley, assistant vice president for enrollment management, said an option that was discussed in a recent meeting was to offer courses and programs in a variety of forms such as online, in-person, blended (mix of online and in person), evenings, weekends, etc.

Lacourse said it will also be beneficial for adult learners to have access to services outside of the more traditional times.

A few of these services include admissions, purchasing textbooks, access to online classes and scheduling, tutoring and graduation.

Lacourse said they’re looking to answer two questions: How can the university create more convenient services for working adults, and how can the university create scheduling classes and educational programs in a way that is also convenient and accessible to working adults?

“As a comprehensive university… we are responsible for providing programming of all sorts for a wide diversity of individuals,” Lacourse said. “We need to find a way to provide [our resources] in a way that is more accessible.”

“We need to find a way to provide [our resources] in a way that is more accessible.”

Provost Michael Lacourse

Jacob Fink, a 44 year-old junior biology integrated science major from Tracy, California, said the university could improve their advertisement for resources available to students with special circumstances.

For example, Fink said he paid out-of-state tuition his first year at DSU after moving from California, but later found out he didn’t need to because he is a veteran. He said the university was helpful in fixing the issue and did refund him.

“I was very appreciative for that, but it would have been nice if I would have [known beforehand],” Fink said. “The more information available up front, the better.”

Fink said one of the really frustrating things about this semester is having classes that require specific time outside of class for field trips.

“I just don’t have that kind of flexibility in my schedule all the time,” Fink said.

Fink said he is a working father and it is challenging to balance his academics and time with his family. He plans his whole life six months in advance based around his class times, but when classes begin and he finds out about certain time commitments on different days — sometimes weekends — he has to find a way to schedule around another required time slot.

Fink said a solution would be for specific requirements similar to this be clearly stated in the class registration.

Lacourse said: “That’s a great point. We should be disclosing expectations for out of class activities in advance so that students can plan accordingly.” 

Dilley said the volunteer group of faculty and staff discuss these types of issues pertaining to adult learners with the goal to improve.

The group of faculty and staff recently sent out a survey to students asking why they chose to attend DSU, what their goals are at DSU, what their responsibilities are outside of school, and what services they currently use or would like to see provided at the university.

Dilley said the volunteers have been meeting since late 2017 and continue to meet quarterly, or more often if needed, to make future plans for the program.

“This is a very important initiative for the university; we are committed to building a program that meets the needs of our region,” Lacourse said.

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