Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Heather Bonds



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher & Adult Education

Committee Chair

Wendy Griswold

Committee Member

Wendy Griswold

Committee Member

Donna Menke

Committee Member

Edith Gnanadass


AbstractMany African American single mothers have embarked on an academic journey, which oftentimes symbolizes the desire of these mothers to fight against structural and personal forces that have prevented them from achieving life goals, one of which is moving beyond poverty. Despite their efforts, this population continues to encounter barriers to access, retention, and completion of their educational endeavors. There is much literature documenting public and political discourse surrounding poverty policy and the dominant imagery created by this discourse that influence policy decisions. However, is this discourse taking space from individuals who most need to talk? Historically, this is a population that has been greatly affected by poverty policies and associated discourse. The purpose of this study is to describe how ten African American single mothers experience transformative learning while participating in a post-secondary education program in the era of welfare. The single mothers narratives speak to their personal experiences and ways of knowing that are unique to their positionality in American society. Their voice can serve as a bridge that connects their experiences and needs to policymakers and leaders and assist in designing policies and programs that will effectively address the barriers encountered by this population. This is a qualitative study using a phenomenological methodology and the theoretical framework of Transformative Learning, Race-centric Transformative Learning, Critical Race, and Black Feminist Thought to inform the study. Data will be collected using semi-structured oral history interviews. Life change/transformation in the context of welfare is the phenomenon of importance for this study. The following research question will guide the study: What are the lived experiences of African American single mothers as learners in a post-secondary education program in the context of welfare?


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest