Constructing Literacy Identities Within Communities: Women's Stories of Transformation
AuthorBacon, Heidi Regina
AdvisorAnders, Patricia L.
Committee ChairAnders, Patricia L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAdult education has often been described as a start and stop process for second chance learners. Hierarchical, decontextualized, and scripted materials remain prevalent in adult education programs. Differences in and among programs often present barriers to participation that profoundly affect adult learners' lives and literacies. Albertini (2009), Hull, Jury, and Sacher (2012), and Street (2004) call for more innovative, tailor-made programs to support adult learners. The Women's Literacy Network (WLN), a literacy and empowerment program for women, is an innovative, tailor-made program that trains adult women with GEDs as literacy tutors and matches them with women working on their GEDs. In this narrative inquiry, I examine the literacy identities of five WLN tutors through the lens of social practice theory. I conceptualize literacy identities as lived in and through participants' storied lives. Constructions of literacy identity are revealed in participants' histories, stories, and practices and the ways in which they enact and express their literacy identities. Participants' stories are told using a braiding of memoir with narrative ethnography. Each woman's narrative centers on a prominent thread that weaves throughout the fabric of her literacy identity. These threads are then connected across the narratives to reveal how the women were positioned by others, their internalization of or resistance to this positioning, and their own positioning in historical time and space. Findings indicate that participants' literacy identities were rooted in a metaphor of "identity-as-difference" (Moje & Luke, 2009, p.421). Isolation was a common theme, as was the need to affiliate and belong. Participants reported gaining confidence and experiencing a sense of community and belonging. Gender mattered; participants stated that "women understand women." Mothers revealed that their learning influenced and shaped their family literacy practices. According to participants, the WLN offered opportunities to build relationships that helped expand their social networks. Frequent, intense interactions were important in keeping participants connected to the WLN, its coordinators, and each other. Participants framed and reframed their literacy identities, re-positioned themselves in their life roles, and came to revalue themselves as literate beings (K. Goodman, 1996b).
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture