Organization, Information and Learning Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



Purpose — This study explored the learning processes related to projects used by adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), along with the environmental factors that aided or detracted from learning. Design/methodology/approach — Using a modified appreciative inquiry type question approach, adults with ADD/ADHD were asked to participate in either an online questionnaire or a focus group conducted in late 2015. The population consisted of adults, age 18 or older, who could attest to having ADD/ADHD diagnosed in childhood or as an adult. The intent was to discover successful strategies employed by this population to start, create, and finish projects. The theoretical approaches included selflearning, embodiment as a different way of knowing, and transformational learning. Findings —The results indicate that complexity, novelty in using new programs or researching a topic, persistence, passion for a topic or process, and choice were motivational factors among the participants. Participants also shared the challenges, such as procrastination or electronic distractions, that they adapted to in order to create final portfolios for classes, spearhead resistance to urban sprawl, start on a masters degree or graduate school, and to organize, fundraise, create a business plan, and apply life experiences in advocating for others. Originality/value — The results can be used to consider ways to improve instruction and add to a growing field of research into whole-body ways of learning. These findings could also start a conversation that focuses on how this population can add to a better understanding of adult learners overall, rather than concentrating on deficits.

Degree Name

Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

First Advisor

Victor, Law

First Committee Member (Chair)

Townsend, Lori

Second Committee Member

Gygi, Kathleen




ADD/ADHD, Transformational learning, Embodiment, Projects, Adult education, Qualitative research, Instructional design

Document Type