Finding personal power through literacy : Latina women's tranformative learning experiences in two family literacy programs Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/jq085p046

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  • This research focused on the experiences of 15 low income Mexican women immigrants participating in MAS and Superando, two family literacy programs at the center of these women's sociocultural change. This research sought to understand the extent to which participation in these two programs empowers women to create change in their lives. Mezirow's (1991) transformative learning theory was used to guide this work. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the 15 women. The interviews were transcribed and translated verbatim, then codes were developed using an open coding method (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Results from the qualitative analysis revealed that participation in these two family literacy programs fostered transformative learning in the lives of the women interviewed. All participants related experiences that reflected the essential elements of transformative learning, beginning with a dilemma or life crisis or major life transition. Other phases included self-examination, critical assessment of assumptions, recognition that others have shared similar transformations, exploration of new roles or actions, development of a plan for action, acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing the plan, tryout of the plan, development of competence and self-confidence in new roles, and reintegration into life on the basis of new perspectives. The women related a broad range of positive outcomes as a result of program participation, including increased self esteem, self-confidence, and decreased feelings of loneliness, isolation, fear, and depression. As the women became empowered and began to explore new roles, this inevitably resulted in changes in their closest relationships. Many of the women reported interacting with their husbands in very different ways, including being more assertive, more communicative, and more independent. These changes that the women made through their transformative learning experiences were the outermost manifestations of their learning and development, which resulted in a power shift in their relationships with their husbands. The findings indicate that the program fostered healthy family relationships through increasing the women's capacity to effectively communicate their needs in their relationships. This research has important practical implications for practitioners and policies, especially for the development of interventions for low-income Latino families.
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