Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. E. Paulette Isaac-Savage


Dr. Kathleen Haywood

Dr. Cheryl Polson

Dr. Michael Porterfield


Today, more adults are participating in online education than ever before. The latest data from the Department of Educational Statistics show an increase of students taking all coursework online grew to 15.4% (Ginder, Kelly-Reid, & Mann, 2018). Despite this trend, some adults lack the readiness to engage in formal adult education. Readiness and other factors such as time and personal matters adults encounter are some of the most significant challenges for institutions in addressing attrition rates, which average 38% (USDE, 2011). The Army higher education programs experience the same problem in their educational institutions (U.S. Army War College Data, 2016). Retention and education of military service members directly impacts the readiness of military units.

This study examined the relationship of self-directed learning readiness and completion of the Army War College Distance Education Program (AWCDEP). Prior research has examined other aspects of student achievement in the AWCDEP, yet self-directed learning readiness has not been specifically explored. The AWCDEP is the equivalent to a civilian master’s program for the Army formal education system. The data for 165 respondents were analyzed which included 134 completers and 31 non-completers. The Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS) was utilized for the study. Overall the research results indicated a high readiness for self-directed learning by both completers and non-completers of the AWCDEP. The three variables of family, AWCDEP course hours and participant work hours were examined. Participant work hours was the only significant indicator of AWCDEP completion. All participants with part-time (<40 >hours) work hours successfully completed the AWCDEP. The SDLRS as an indicator of AWCDEP readiness was not a valid indicator of course completion. Work hours may impact future preparation of students for successful completion of the AWCDEP.