Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Adult Education

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Thomas G. Reio, Jr.

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Kyle Bennett

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Sarah Mathews

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Melody Whiddon-Willoughby

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


absolute proximity, corporate learning, corporate training, edtech, executive education, learning preference, management training, Millennial learning, online learning, ubiquitous blend

Date of Defense



The purpose of this dissertation is to undertake a learner-centered exploration of delivery mode relevance in professional learning. Given the increasing pervasiveness of technology-mediated online delivery in nondegree professional learning at the individual and enterprise levels, this study has a particular focus on learning value ascribed by learners to online and in-person delivery in relation to their professional development.

Qualitative and quantitative methods were used in this study to collect and examine data from adult professionals in an effort to determine how value is ascribed to learning. With this aim in mind, this study focused on the following research questions:

  1. Are there differences in preferred learning format between men and women?
  1. Are there differences in preferred learning format between professionals in varied age groups?
  1. Are there differences in preferred learning format between professionals who have engaged in learning online and people who have not?
  1. For participants who indicate learning format preferences, how do they define and describe their preferences and on what aspects of the learning experience do they base their preferences?
  1. For participants who indicate learning format preferences, how are these participants describing and interpreting meaningful relevance for learning in their day-to-day professional lives?

A key driver of this exploration was a scarcity of representative understanding in wider research about the relationship between varied modes of professional learning delivery and professional learning transfer, which has long typified learning value in the adult professional context.

By exploring professionals’ learning experiences and delivery mode preferences, this study arrived at several explanatory concepts, to include: learning preference premiums as impactful value-drivers for learners; ubiquitous blend as a comprehensive value-based approach to professional learning design and delivery; and absolute proximity as a deliberate technology-mediated merging of work and learning contexts that supports professionals in achieving full applicability of their learning.





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