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Participant leadership in adult basic education: negotiating academic progress and leadership responsibilities

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This article examines the conflicts and challenges that student leaders in adult basic education and literacy programs experience in balancing their leadership responsibilities with academic endeavours. Based upon a case study of an adult basic education student leadership council in New York City, the article shows that leadership activities can both support and impede academic progress. The mediating factors were time requirements for implementation of leadership activities and the perceived priorities of the participants, who used various strategies to manage their academic and leadership responsibilities. Council involvement also supported and changed their academic, vocational and personal aspirations. This study alerts adult educators to the ways in which leadership activities can complicate learners’ academic pursuits, the need both to respect student leaders’ choices and to provide guidance on balancing their multiple responsibilities, and the importance of cultivating literate capabilities through leadership activities.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Pennsylvania State University, USA

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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