Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

William H. Young, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Kathryn Borman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rosemary Closson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard A. Krueger, Ph.D.


Continuing Education, Adult Education, Professional Meeting Planning, Associations, Conferences


Many adults attend and rely on continuing professional education (CPE) throughout their careers, and CPE is big business for associations. One way associations deliver CPE is through educational conferences. While adult education theories and frameworks offer developmental and operational guidance and advice, there is little practice data to understand what meeting planning professionals actually do as they implement adult education conferences in practice. The purpose of this study was to identify the elements that practicing meeting planning professionals in associations utilize in CPE conference planning and which elements are considered the most important. This study accessed a senior group of association planners who held credentials offered by meeting planning industry associations. In all, 40 participants with a cumulative 784 years of experience participated in eight, online focus group discussions. Utilizing a constructivist orientation, the study employed grounded theory to identify 23 specific elements which were divided into three overarching categories: CPE-related, business-related, and venue. When compared with the cited theoretical models, six of these 23 elements were strongly supported, eight elements were supported, and nine elements were not supported. Only two elements in the cited literature did not appear in the research group-derived list. The three most important elements that emerged were goals and objectives, budget, and venue. A model to describe these findings is offered. This project studied actual practice to understand it better in light of the literature of adult education program planning models. The subject pool was very narrow and the results of this research cannot be generalized. The findings, while partially represented in the literature, fit no single previous model. The most important implications of this study may be to provide insight into adult education in CPE association conference application and suggest areas for future research.