Title page for ETD etd-08082007-120021
|Type of Document
||Jackson, Marsha Elizabeth
||Herstory :intergenerational transformational learning in upwardly mobile African American women
||Adult and Continuing Education
|Wiswell, Albert K.
|Cline, Marvin Gerald
|Stubblefield, Harold W.
|Welch, William A. Sr.
|Date of Defense
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
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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