Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Susan Piazza, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Selena Protacio, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jonathan Bush, Ph.D.


Literacy, adult learners, community college


This study investigates the critical literacy practices of adult learners at a community college. Student participants were selected from four different leveled reading courses. In this study, four guiding questions were adopted from Klenner and Sandretto (2011): (1) How do students make personal connections to text?; (2) In what ways do students identify multiple points of view in the text?; (3) In what ways do students identify where people in the text and included or excluded from social situations?; (4) In what ways do students discuss the influences the text has had on their views of society? These four questions comprise the critical literacy framework, and the data included in this case study came from journals, discussions, and survey questions.

Findings from this case study research indicate levels of critical literacy engagement we not determined by course level. Student participants placed in the lower-level classes had higher levels of critical literacy engagement across all data sets while those student participants in the highest leveled course had the lowest level of engagement. The data also showed that level courses had a greater impact on critical literacy engagement than lived experiences. Students who had diverse lived experiences and were in the higher-level courses had fewer critical literacy engagements than those in the lower level reading courses.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access