Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Robin Hurst

Second Advisor

Dr. Joan Rhodes

Third Advisor

Dr. James McMillan

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Rolander


The teacher is the most influential and important variable in the classroom for student achievement. Therefore, the need for teachers to identify and utilize best teaching practices is fundamental to a progressing society. Despite the literature advocating and proposing the student-centered approach as the preferred method of teaching in adult education, most empirical studies indicate that teachers employed the traditional teacher-centered approach. The purpose of this study was to examine the teaching style preferences of adult education instructors and the influence of gender, age, participation in professional development in adult education, years of teaching experience, teaching subject, and levels of education on teaching style preferences. A quantitative survey research design was used in which a two-part survey was utilized to collect data from the teachers. The first part of the survey was developed by the researcher to gather personal information about the teachers, while the second part of the questionnaire utilized the unmodified Principles of Adult Learning Scale (PALS). The data used for this study was collected from (N = 67) adult education instructors. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, independent samples t-tests, and one-way ANOVA. The dependent variables were the total scores on the PALS and the total scores of the seven PALS factors. The independent variables were the demographic variables of gender, age, educational level, years of teaching experience, professional development, and teaching subject/program.

The results from the study showed that most of the teachers (n = 49) scored below the norm mean (teacher-centered) as determined by the mean scores of PALS. Also, the results of the seven PALS factors revealed mixed method use of both teacher and student-centered approaches but a strong inclination to teacher-centered. The independent samples t-tests results showed that there was no difference in teaching style preferences between male and female teachers and among those with different levels of education. The ANOVA results revealed a significant relationship between teaching style and the demographic factors of age, years of teaching experience, and the teaching subject. In the age category, there was a significant difference in Participation in the Learning Process factor. In the category of years of teaching experience, there was a significant difference in the total PALS score. In the teaching subject category, there was a significant difference in Relating to Experience factor. There was no significant difference in teaching style and participation in professional development in adult education. The lack of differences and relationships in some of the factors and variables may be attributed to the sample size used in the study.


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