Organization, Information and Learning Sciences ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to explore the metaphors and cognitively structured metaphors older adult students of the Baby Boomer generation use when discussing their experiences of beginning a bachelors program. Research regarding the cognitive abilities of older adult students was explored. A phenomenological approach was used employing open-ended questions during a single interview designed to elicit information about four areas of interest: support systems, motivation, expectations and a comparison of this experience to another life experience. The analysis of students' responses identified figurative metaphors and metonymy. Qualitative analysis was applied to the data, followed by identifying cognitive metaphors and synecdoche. Themes and patterns to the responses to the four areas of interest were identified. Five major themes also emerged: challenges, transformation, self-efficacy, resilience and desire. The study demonstrates the power added to a qualitative study when including the analysis of cognitively structured metaphors. The findings have implication to colleges and universities that are committed to helping older adult students be successful.

Degree Name

Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology

Level of Degree


Department Name

Organization, Information & Learning Sciences

First Advisor

Boverie, Patricia

First Committee Member (Chair)

Bramble, William

Second Committee Member

Noll, Bruce A.

Third Committee Member

Wilcox, Phyllis P.




Baby boom generation--Psychology, Adult college students--Attitudes, College freshmen--Attitudes

Document Type