Publication Date

Fall 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Kristin B. Wilson (Director), Jim Berger, and Aaron Hughey

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


This study explores a small, southern, rural community’s interrelational domains engaged in literacy development and the choices made by community leaders related to their understanding of literacy. Community domains affected by community members’ literacy deficiencies is ascertained by acknowledged sentience to the problem; however, the response to the challenges of inequitable access and denied liberties to all its members (i.e., education, employment, social strata, and governance) serves to articulate disparities in leadership for social justice and equity.

Within the context of ontological and epistemological assumptions, the transformative leadership conceptual framework by Brown (2006) of adult learning theory, transformative learning theory, and critical social theory are interwoven interrelationally with the three andragogical processes of critical reflection, rational discourse, and policy praxis to form an understanding of a community’s deficient literacy development construct. A qualitative research paradigm is used for the investigation of this single-site case study, which includes interviews from 11 leaders representing various community domains (i.e., community college, secondary schools, library services, chamber of commerce, judicial services, civic services, and non-profits). Further, data collection techniques include transcripts from interviews from a semistructured interview protocol, community documents, an auto-ethnographic examination, and archived documentations. The study also operates from a pragmatist paradigm to explore the contextual and experiential principles from which inadequate literacy development practices originate.

Findings indicate that a collective origin of oppression (i.e., power, culture, epistemology, purpose, and literacy development) that goes unchallenged can continue to maintain class inequities in educational attainment, employment opportunities, social mobility, and a structure of governance.

The strategies are established to understand the way in which small, southern, rural community domains are interrelated. The transformative and reflective practices in which community members and leaders actively engage (e.g., educational, political, and emancipatory interests) articulate their understanding of literacy (Brown, 2006). Specifically, when examining “ontological and epistemological assumptions, values and beliefs, context and experience, and competing worldviews” (Brown, 2006, p. 700), it may be possible to develop community members and leaders that understand the shared cultural meaning of literacy.


Adult and Continuing Education Administration | Community College Education Administration | Educational Leadership