Date of Award

Summer July 2013

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Marta P. Baltodano

Second Advisor

Jill P. Bickett

Third Advisor

Mary K. McCullough


This qualitative study had two goals. The first goal was to understand how a critical, non-formal, adult literacy program addresses the challenges and successes, which the students and volunteers identify at Amanecer Adult School. The second goal was to explore the perception of the student Spanish-speaking immigrants on the extent to which this program contributes to their second language acquisition and critical citizenship. These goals were examined through studying a local nonprofit organization, Amanecer Adult School, (AAS) that espouses critical literacy as its main goal. Using qualitative methodology and an inductive analysis approach to the data, the findings of the study were disheartening. At best, functional language learning was being both taught and learned in class, focusing on basic verbs and vocabulary. There was no critical work being done in the classroom.

The challenges of the program far outweighed the positives found in the data. The students, while respecting their teachers, were rarely assessed; there was no established curriculum nor means to discuss the students’ lived realities. Additionally, the lack of resources, including money, time, space and classroom materials, at AAS was almost overwhelming for the volunteers. The lack of training in, and no understanding of, popular education by the volunteers at AAS stood out as a major issue.