The research problem was an insufficiency of knowledge regarding the aesthetic experiences of naturalistic decision making for seven nontraditional age college students in their senior year, and the role of the timing of students’ critical educational decisions in light of persistence, which has led to insufficient advisement approaches for this population. Seven students volunteered to participate in the study who reflected diversity in both the age (from 26 to 58 years old) and the racial composition of the sample (American Indian, Black, Hispanic and White). Six of the participants were female and one of the participants was male. The study included a basic qualitative interpretive design that used an active interview technique. The data were analyzed via the constant comparative technique of grounded theory analysis to explore participants' interpretations of their aesthetic experiences of naturalistic (contextual, intuitive and experience-based) decision making and the role of decision timing. The researcher constructed an interpretive analytic framework for understanding the central phenomenon of this study. The analysis found the role of aesthetic experience in the timing of participants’ decision making, in combination with an emergent sense of moral purpose inspired by a decision or awakening event, enabled the participants to integrate action into their lives in such a way that over time the participants engaged in decision making that integrated their actions and contributed to a sense of continuity and self-efficacy that was supportive of their efforts to continue through their educational program. An example of the central phenomenon of this study included a student, whose experience of 9/11 led to a dramatic awakening of consciousness (experienced aesthetically) that played a role in changing her life, and indirectly the timing of her educational decisions, leading to an interest in social action work. An expanded understanding of participants’ decision timing through aesthetic experience can potentially contribute to the understanding of those interested in an in-depth examination of decision issues related to student retention and supporting nontraditional students’ decision-making process.
|Adviser||Michael T. Worthington|
|Subjects||Management; Adult education; Aesthetics|
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