Liberation or reproduction: Exploring meaning in college students) adult literacy tutoring

Linda Ziegahn, Kathleen A. Hinchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The purpose of this paper is to explore the voices of college-level literacy tutors as they come to understand their work with less literate adults. The design of this inquiry began within the phenomenological traditions of symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969). Qualitative data gathered included field notes, interview transcripts, and student journals. Initial analysis resulted in categories that represented concrete aspects of the tutoring experience. Analysis also revealed that a large part of tutors' attention was spent in considering their own position relative to those with whom they worked: discovering how they learned best as a base for considering the learning of others, negotiating an educational role with adult learners, and identifying their place in the world of educational ''haves'' and ''have-nots.'' Some of the tutors' words suggested an awakening to inequities throughout the educational system, which pushed the analysis into a more interpretive arena (Denzin, 1989 Schwandt, 1994). Initial categories were reconsidered to develop a larger cultural representation of tutor success and literacy. Students' interpretations were further contrasted with the theories of critical pedagogues and with educational practice, both in literacy education sites and in university classrooms. Suggestions are made as to why there is a lack of connection between critical theories and practice at the levels of both basic and higher education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-101
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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