Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Sharon M. Herbers


John A. De La Garza


Stephanie A. Grote-Garcia


Trevor D. Alexander


Higher education as a baby boomer brings mental, physical, and economic adjustments, concerns, and insecurities. Additionally, life delivers unexpected challenges and barriers which can cause hardships requiring various types of motivation. Fortunately, there are also catalysts which can contribute toward successes. Literature from four major elements were the focus in this study: motivation, adult learning, challenges, barriers, and catalysts. Theorists and theories included Vroom’s expectancy theory of motivation with the added factor of cost, and Ryan and Deci’s theory on self-determination; Mezirow’s transformative learning and Knowles’s self-directed learning; Cross’s theory on educational barriers—situational, dispositional, and institutional; and Cobb’s social support theory. This research study is qualitative; specifically, evocative autoethnography. Data for analysis consisted of written narratives, white boards, posters, sketches, and verbal conversations. Sensemaking and memory work were utilized in reflective analysis. Through the autoethnographic process, I recognized the following salient themes: (1) this “do over” time was enabled by my owning the advantage of longevity in my encore years; (2) I was motivated in various ways, especially when my fears met my faith; (3) my higher educational experience that I have accomplished up and to this point was instigated and supported by Honey and influential others; and (4) the accretion through learning proved transformative. The purpose of this research study is intended to bring into focus, awareness, and understanding to the challenges being faced by baby boomers, adult learners and nontraditional students, as well as to the educational institutions of higher education and their administrators and faculties.