Adult literacy learning: perceptions and motivations of volunteer tutors

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University of Alabama Libraries

Most adult literacy studies tend to focus on learner outcomes, and the few that do include tutors usually focus on their compassion as volunteers and/or assess the effectiveness of tutor training. Since community adult literacy programs are largely dependent on volunteer tutors to provide instruction, tutors come from various backgrounds and are not required to meet a standard of educational training. It should not be taken for granted that tutors are familiar with all of the theoretical approaches in adult literacy instruction, and it is reasonable to assume that different tutors may approach learning situations differently, based on their own underlying assumptions and experiences. This study was conducted to better understand how tutors think about different aspects of their work and why they volunteer for the cause of adult literacy. Findings suggest that most tutors find at least some value in literacy activities representative of the main themes in the literature of the field, and that different subgroups of tutors share preferences for particular types of activities. Findings also indicate that tutors have a sense of universal ethics when they think about fairness in the context of societal organization, view tutoring as a way to express their humanitarian values, and are motivated by the worth they place on literacy in a socially just society.

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Educational psychology