Surviving Job Loss: Motivation Among Second Year Trade Adjustment Assistance(taa)students

Open Access
Karnes, Sandra Lee
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 20, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Fred Michael Schied, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Fred Michael Schied, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Melody M Thompson, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Special Member
  • TAA program
  • Adult Education
  • Second Year College Students
ABSTRACT This ethnographic case study investigated second year college students who participated in the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program at a technical college in northeastern Pennsylvania. In order to understand how learners stayed motivated in a college setting, I selected participants who were in their second year of the TAA program. A total of eleven (out of a population of twenty-two) TAA students participated in this study. Using semi-structured interview data, observations, and document analysis, six themes emerged: 1) Gaining Opportunities, 2) Supportive Environments, 3) Traveling in the Dark, 4) Coming to Terms and Accepting the Situations, 5) Obstacles, and 6) Gender Issues. This study suggests that TAA participants are motivated to work toward completion of their college degrees despite the obstacles they encounter even though evidence suggests that displaced workers earn significantly less than at their previous jobs. However, training programs at educational institutions have reaped monetary benefits for the institution through the TAA program. This study shed some light on the 2 X 2 model of achievement motivation framework established by Elliot and McGregor (2001). Although a forced-choice questionnaire was not used with the TAA participants, the 2 X 2 framework – 2 (mastery vs. performance) x 2 (approach vs. avoidance) – provided a partial way of understanding TAA participants’ motivations. The mastery goal concept stood out because participants wanted to master the course material in order to move forward with their programs. Even when obstacles surfaced, participants did not demonstrate characteristics of avoidance. However, the 2 X 2 framework has a narrow focus and was not sufficient to entirely explain TAA participants’ motivations. As a result, the study suggests that motivation is a multi-faceted concept that is outcome-based and might best be understood by what is accomplished through individuals' actions.