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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The literacy moment: A theory for understanding the transactional nature of literacy motivation for young mothers in Ireland
by Davey, Heidi, Ed.D., Northern Illinois University, 2012, 614; 3552280
Abstract (Summary)

This study examined the literacy lives of young mothers in Galway, Ireland in order to develop a theory of literacy motivation. Seventeen young women ranging in age from 16 to 27 participated in this grounded theory study. All participants were young mothers when they conceived their first child and all still availed themselves of services and organizations connected to young motherhood. Semi-structured interviews were the primary data collection method as the theory sought to capture the participants' experiences with literacy. Observations, reading diaries, and interviews with program facilitators were used for triangulation.

The theory that emerged captures a highly variable and transactional process of literacy motivation, one that is deeply situated in the lived experience of the participants. The core category, the literacy moment, consists of three main categories: the literacy opportunity, the young motherhood context, and isolation and escapism dynamics. These three categories, while conceptually distinct, are inseparable in the transactional moment, impacting each other and the ultimate motivational position in regards to a particular text at a particular time. While each literacy moment consisted of a unique interplay of categories and properties, three general motivational positions emerged: balanced motivated literacy acts, unbalanced/ compensatory motivated literacy acts, and terminated literacy acts.

The findings of this study have several important implications. First, practitioners and policy-makers must recognize the fact that motherhood was universally perceived by participants as having a positive impact on their literacy motivation, even as it created practical barriers to actualizing that motivation. Acknowledging the reality of this finding suggests that the overarching negativity with which young motherhood is commonly discussed may create a barrier to truly understanding young motherhood and its potential impact on literacy motivation and behavior, thereby preventing effective program development. Second, social and educational support structures that help young mothers to navigate practical barriers will help enable literacy motivation to lead to motivated action. Third, this research indicates that literacy motivation is inextricably tied to experiential factors, suggesting motivational supports that move beyond dichotomies of text and reader to address ways to set up motivational transactions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stahl, Norman A.
Commitee: Armstrong, Sonya, Elish-Piper, Laurie, Pitney, William
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: Literacy Education
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 74/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Educational psychology, Literacy, Reading instruction
Keywords: Adolescence, Adolescent pregnancy, Ireland, Literacy, Motherhood, Motivation, Reading
Publication Number: 3552280
ISBN: 978-1-267-90702-8
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