This report explores factors contributing to absenteeism and attrition in government-funded adult ESL programs. Because adult learners enrolled in inexpensive programs typically juggle numerous priorities and responsibilities beyond their schooling, their motivation must be maintained in order for them to continue to attend their language classes. As consumers, they "directly or indirectly assess the cost-benefit ratio of their program participation every time they attend or do not attend classes/tutoring sessions" (Tracy-Mumford & Baker, 1994, p. 8). Tendencies toward absenteeism can ultimately lead to attrition, which poses serious challenges for programs as it inhibits their success rates, their funding, and ultimately their ability to continue to offer services. This research attempted to identify key factors in program procedures, structure and organization, as well as key classroom factors that negatively affect adult Hispanic students' motivation to continue to attend. Specifically, it focuses on which aspects of overall program structure and which classroom factors have the greatest impact on students motivation and attendance patterns. We found that student affective factors (e.g., social sensitivity, lack of congruence), ineffective teaching methods or incomplete methodologies, students' perceived lack of progress, and assessment issues were the most prominent factors that emerged from the analysis of the data. Additionally, we offer suggestions for influencing these factors so that retention is boosted and attrition minimized.



College and Department

Humanities; Linguistics and English Language



Date Submitted


Document Type





attendance, attrition, absenteeism, motivation, persistence, dropout, adult education, ESL, Hispanic

Included in

Linguistics Commons