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Educational Support through the Career Life-Span of Professional Working Adult Learners: An Integrative Theoretical and Experiential Reflection from the Learner’s Perspective

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Career Development in Engineering: From Higher Education to Industry

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

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Paper Authors


Mitchell L Springer PMP, SPHR, SHRM-SCP Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Dr. Mitchell L. Springer

Dr. Springer currently serves as an Executive Director for Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute located in West Lafayette, Indiana. He has over 35 years of theoretical and Defense industry-based practical experience from four disciplines: Software Engineering, Systems Engineering, Program Management and Human Resources. Dr. Springer possesses a significant strength in pattern recognition, analyzing and improving organizational systems. He is internationally recognized, has contributed to scholarship more than 200 books, articles, presentations, editorials and reviews on software development methodologies, management, organizational change, and program management. Dr. Springer sits on many university and community boards and advisory committees. He is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, most recently, the Purdue University, College of Technology, Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy Award. Dr. Springer is the President of the Indiana Council for Continuing Education as well as the Chair of the Continuing Professional Development Division of the American Society for Engineering Education.

Dr. Springer received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Purdue University, his MBA and Doctorate in Adult and Community Education with a Cognate in Executive Development from Ball State University. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR & SHRM-SCP), in Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), and, in civil and domestic mediation. Dr. Springer is a State of Indiana Registered domestic mediator.

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Mark T Schuver Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Mark Schuver is the Director for the Center for Professional Studies in Technology and Applied Research (ProSTAR) in the Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is responsible for the administration/operations of the Center with Program Management oversight of the Rolls-Royce Master of Science Degree, the Construction Management Master of Science Degree and Product Lifecycle Management Certificate Programs for working professionals. Prior to joining Purdue in 2002, Mark was employed by Caterpillar, Inc for 35 years with assignments in Product Design, Research and Development, Supplier Management, Quality Management, Logistics Management and various leadership positions. He holds an Associate Degree in Drafting Technology from North Iowa Area Community College, a BS in Business Administration and MS in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Mark is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and serves on the Executive Board of the Continuing Professional Development Division. He is also a member of College/Industry Partnerships, Engineering Technology and Graduate Studies Divisions of ASEE. Mark is a Lifetime Certified Purchasing Manager with the Institute of Supply Management (formerly NAPM).

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Life-span career educational needs of professional working adult learners are premised on a self-perspective that is multi-faceted. At the lowest level are underlying foundational needs of motivation; this given there is an expected and desired outcome from an applied level of effort. As careers progress, there is an acute awareness of the remaining opportunities available for professional pursuit; this frequently is referred to as having “a short runway”, and, is the underlying basis for pursuing educational opportunities correspondingly aligned.

Aside from the many fleeting opportunities attendant to an aged career, there are numerous life phase motivators, as well as those attendant to biological, psychological and cognitive changes that have a direct impact on desire and/or willingness to exert energies toward educational pursuits.

Ageing Slows Consumption Patterns - as we chronologically age, we have very predictable patterns of spending. These patterns of spending are directly linked to what have been coined gerontological life phases. When we refer to gerontological phases we are referring to the scientific study of human development. The scientific study of human development is the science that seeks to understand how and why people change, and how and why they remain the same, as they grow older.

Career Opportunities and the short runway - much has been written about the shortfall of skilled workers due to the ageing population. Many have written about the average retirement age for men and women in the United States. More recently, there have been articles on life expectancy of working men and women with college education in non-physical jobs extending past the average life expectancy stated in actuarial tables. This paper frames the learner’s perspective and subsequent educational needs, and value add of administrative organizations in meeting the needs of professional working adult learners as they transition through their career life-spans.

Springer, M. L., & Schuver, M. T. (2017, June), Educational Support through the Career Life-Span of Professional Working Adult Learners: An Integrative Theoretical and Experiential Reflection from the Learner’s Perspective Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28199

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