Title page for ETD etd-08082007-120021

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Jackson, Marsha Elizabeth
URN etd-08082007-120021
Title Herstory :intergenerational transformational learning in upwardly mobile African American women
Degree PhD
Department Adult and Continuing Education
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wiswell, Albert K. Committee Chair
Boucouvalas, Marcie Committee Member
Cline, Marvin Gerald Committee Member
Stubblefield, Harold W. Committee Member
Welch, William A. Sr. Committee Member
  • learning models
Date of Defense 1996-02-05
Availability restricted
The intricate dynamics and tensions of social histories--the realities of adversity-and anticipations of African American women greatly inhibit many of them from reaching their potential. Despite the adverse experiences, African American women have succeeded in achieving socioeconomic upward mobility. Their ability to defeat the odds has drawn attention to their patterns of adaptation and the process by which transformative experiences evolve. There is a strong need for qualitative research focusing exclusively on the early learning experiences of African American women and the transformative learning process; since studies of this topic are limited and most of them relate to a particular characteristic and its development.

The purpose of this study was to examine the transformative learning processes of African American females who, despite their lower class origins, transcended the negative social and economic forces inherent in their backgrounds, thus moving beyond the status of their parents. Mezirow's transformative learning model, perspective transformation, was the conceptual framework guiding this inquiry. The research questions for this study were: 1. How has a small selected group of African American women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds been able to break the particular poverty cycle that their parents endured to become upwardly mobile achievers? 2. What transformative learning process did they engage to overcome specific obstacles in order to attain a higher level of socioeconomic mobility? 3. To what extent are the steps of perspective transformation descriptive of the process as experienced by the women in this study? A multiple-case study design was selected to accomplish the objective of the research. Participants were recruited through informal requests and referrals. Eight women were selected from an initial pool of twelve potential participants. The data were gathered through in-depth personal interviews and analyzed using Ethnograph coding software. Data were presented in descriptive narrative case study profiles. Four categories of major themes were identified as common among the participants: (a) a value laden upbringing, (b) productive self perception, (c) influences of others, and (d) significant mobility experiences. Findings revealed only a partial experience of transformational learning from these women. A strong maternal influence led to the indoctrination of lifelong values and beliefs consistent with a process in which mothers and grandmothers had begun but were unable to complete. This intergenerational transformative learning process passed down to the next generation, in this study. Results revealed upward socioeconomic mobility and a decline of the poverty cycle. Recommendations for educators and future studies were addressed.

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