Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

Number of Pages



To provide insight into adult literacy learning, a case study of the interactions between adult students and their families was conducted. The primary sources of data were transcripts of tutoring sessions; interviews with the students and family members; notes from informal conversations with the students; and writing of the students and family. Grounded in theories of social constructivism, literacy acquisition, and family systems, this study attempted to add to the body of research on adult literacy learning; The two adult students who participated for the full six months presented a contrast. One was a 46-year-old black man, a complete non-reader, whose family was highly involved with his learning. The other was a 28-year-old black woman who read at about the fifth grade level but whose family knew nothing about her reading and writing problems. During the six months that the students stayed with the literacy program, the man attended 37.5 hours of tutoring sessions; the woman attended 27.5 hours of tutoring sessions. While an informal reading inventory showed that neither student progressed from their original entry levels, tutor observations and student comments showed that the man had, indeed, progressed from his non-reader status while the woman had made more changes in her perception of herself than in her reading and writing; The data revealed that changes occurred during the students' learning period in three areas: concepts of literacy and literacy learning, perceptions of the students by themselves and their family members, and supportive and non-supportive interactions. As these changes occurred, conflict arose, stemming the student's literacy progress. While not all conflict originated in the literacy learning, it still affected the students' progress; The results of this study suggest (1) a need for further research of larger populations to determine if there are varying degrees of conflict during learning depending on the literacy level of the adult students; (2) the need for literacy programs to plan for family involvement so that concepts held by the family, the student, and the tutor are aligned; and (3) the need for a means of help in resolving family conflicts that will probably occur during an adult student's learning.


Acquisition; Adult; Adult Learners; Case; Family; Learners; Literacy; Study; Systems; Adult Learners

Controlled Subject

Individualized reading instruction; Adult education; Social psychology

File Format


File Size

8693.76 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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