Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


English Rhetoric and Composition


Beth Brunk-Chavez


This study surveys the learning characteristics of non-traditional students aged 24 years and older. Since the California State University (CSU) system enrolls a significant non-traditional student demographic, understanding the needs of this student base is a critical component to its success. This Dissertation seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the CSU system: its history in the state of California, the context of its students and their needs, the policies and support structures it has in place to support the non-traditional student, how it defines the non-traditional student and how this definition is manifested in its goals and outcomes for the university. Institutional writing assessment programs at the CSU, such as the Writing Proficiency Screening Test (WPST), is also analyzed to understand what programmatic goals are directly related to the needs of non-traditional students and how these needs are met using certain pedagogical strategies and ideologies at the departmental level. This study continues to look further down the institutional chain at how composition faculty perceive the needs of their non-traditional students and the ways in which they address these needs through pedagogical ideologies, classroom activities, assessment practices, etc. The final and critical component of this study addresses the perspectives and experiences of non-traditional students at the CSU. These students provide insight into their experiences in the composition classroom and the problems they face as they juggle both educational responsibilities and those outside of the classroom. Finding out what has helped them remain successful, or what has deterred them from their educational goals as they navigate through the composition classroom and the institution will be useful information to institutional administrators in helping them understand and retain the non-traditional student.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

157 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Cassandra Dulin

Included in

Rhetoric Commons