Single Welfare-Reliant Mothers’ Student Identity Development

By Rebecca McPherson and Mary Alfred.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 20, 2014 $US5.00

Single welfare-reliant mothers are a unique disadvantaged student population that requires investigation to inform practices that enable their persistence in post-secondary education. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe single welfare-reliant mothers’ identity development experiences that impacted career choice and decisions to access and persist in post-secondary education as sole providers. This study answered the question, "what was the essence of six single welfare-reliant mothers’ experiences in their life course from poverty to post-secondary education that influenced their perspectives as learners?" This study utilized a phenomenological methodology supported by a developmental life course framework and women’s identity development theory. The major findings identified (a) children as primary anchors, (b) exploration and commitment of possible future identities in identity development, and (c) identity markers that contributed to persistence in post-secondary education and career goals.

Keywords: Identity Development, Learner Diversity, Persistence

International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 20, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.57-66. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 20, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 394.765KB)).

Dr. Rebecca McPherson

Adjunct Faculty, Human Resource Management Program, University of Maryland University College-Europe, Ansbach, Bavaria, Germany

Dr. Rebecca McPherson is an Adjunct Faculty member for the Human Resource Management Program in the European Division at the University of Maryland University College Europe. Her research interests include investigating adult learning and development over the life course as it relates to career development through formal and non-formal distance education, career choice, identity development, and the subsequent impacts on employment relationships. As a practitioner, she has a background in the field of human resource management and is certified as a senior professional in human resource management. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Human Resource Development with a focus in Adult Education from Texas A&M University.

Mary Alfred

Professor, Education Administration and Human Resource Development, Texas A&M University, Bryan College Station, Texas, USA

Dr. Mary Alfred is Executive Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs and Professor of Adult Education and Human Resource Development in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include learning and development among marginalized populations with special emphasis on women of the African Diaspora, sociocultural contexts of immigration, welfare reform and women’s economic development, and issues of equity and social justice in higher education and in the workplace. Her latest book, Learning for Economic Self-Sufficiency: Constructing Pedagogies of Hope among Low-Income, Low-Literate Adults was published in 2010. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a focus in Adult Education and Human Resource Development Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin.