Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Frankie Santos Laanan

Second Advisor

Larry Ebbers


Sokolowski (2000) summarized the phenomenological attitude by saying, "We look at what we normally look through" (p. 50). Through interviews and document analysis, this study looked at the lives of six students and their decision to return to their education to earn a high school diploma. The purpose of this study was to illuminate how the students made meaning of their return to education, considering their life experiences and significant people who influenced them in their lives.

The findings of the study reflect that although the students may have experienced trigger events that led them to transition back into a school environment where they felt that they mattered, their liabilities continued to distract them from meeting their goals. Not addressing their needs, such as lack of problem-solving skills, lack of or minimal resources to support them in addressing personal and family issues, and the absence of a stable support network, may prevent them from finishing their GED. In addition, their fragile determination may be overcome by the influence of people who chip away at their self-esteem and commitment, including significant individuals who, as polar catalysts, may be encouraging and discouraging at different times.

Adult literacy program staff can support students by providing opportunities to build a social network among students, being intentional about identifying potential barriers to success and personal liabilities, and guiding students to use their assets to counteract what could potentially deter them. The students' strengths, the people who influence them, their educational lifeline, and their ability to set and achieve goals related to their education can be actualized through these efforts.


Copyright Owner

Helene Joyce Grossman



Date Available


File Format


File Size

172 pages