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

Brendaly Drayton, Esther Prins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-365
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Participant leadership in adult basic education: Negotiating academic progress and leadership responsibilities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this