Date of Award

Spring 4-9-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Mary Ann Cappiello

Second Advisor

Dr. Caroline Heller

Third Advisor

Dr. Torie Weiston-Serdan


This qualitative study investigates how creative writing plays a role in strengthening and deepening literacy skills of adults in community-based high school equivalency diploma programs, which are operated under the publicly funded, adult basic education umbrella. Specifically, the study explores two sub-questions: How can creative writing processes support adult high school equivalency students’ achievement of personal and/or academic goals? How does a curricular focus on individual storytelling build students’ literacy confidence and/or their sense of student agency? Data sources includes pre- and post-surveys, pre- and post-interviews, field notes, and student work based on a curriculum designed using best practices in writing instruction, critical literacy, and adult learning. Informed by student work, interviews and field notes, three narrative case studies were written to describe each student and his/her individual contexts in order for this research to paint a full picture of the findings.

The findings support what we already know about effective writing instruction from experts such as Applebee & Langer (2013), Calkins (2006), Emig (1971), Galda (Galda & Beach, 2001), Gallagher (2006), Graham and Perrin (2007), Graham (2019), Graves (2003), Newkirk (2004), and Shaughnessy (1971), and contribute to the limited research on effective writing strategies for adults in high school equivalency programs pursuing General Education Development (GED) or High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) diplomas. The study suggests that creative writing is a viable and effective tool to promote literacy acquisition, build student voice, and support student agency and ownership of their own ideas and identities.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.




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