Publication Date

Summer 2015

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jim Berger (Director), Aaron Hughey, and Jie Zhang

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The purpose of this study was to explore the factors that affect retention of adult basic education teachers in Kentucky. This qualitative study utilized data from interviews conducted with former or retired adult basic education teachers in Kentucky. Vrooms expectancy theory was examined as the theoretical framework to review the outcomes and their relationship to this theory. Results from this investigation determined several significant findings, with low salary being the main determining factor that affects retention of adult basic education teachers in Kentucky. There are additional factors that affect retention of adult basic education teachers in Kentucky such as: (1) adult basic education teachers feeling underappreciated; (2) a perceived lower status of the profession in the field of education; and (3) budgeting issues resulting in many part-time teachers in the field. The results from Vroom’s (1995) expectancy theory in regard to the factors reveal a relationship does exist to some aspects of the theory. In regard to valence in Vroom’s theory, considering that the participants chose adult education because they needed a job and an income, valence explained 62% of the work motivation of the participants. However, in Vroom’s theory, expectancy is that an adult educator would continue to work because of a particular outcome, specifically, a positive outcome that leads to Vroom’s idea of instrumentality, which is a value of the second outcome associated with the first. As the participants continued to work as an adult educator, the valence was less than expected which would be a -1 in understanding Vroom’s theoretical framework. When individuals no longer value the rewards of working, the motivation ceases to exist. At that time, they will choose to leave the position. However, even though there were few to no salary increases and only benefits for full time teachers, adult education instructors still continued to teach in the field, which conflicts with Vroom’s theory of instrumentality and work motivation.


Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching | Education | Education Economics