A phenomenological study of Oklahoma's widening opportunities in the workplace program

by Sagastizado, Tammy Norton, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2010, 204 pages; 3426700


The purpose of this in-depth phenomenological study was to examine the perceptions of participants in the state of Oklahoma’s Widening Opportunities in the Workplace [WOW] program that is a work-based education program. The Oklahoma State Department of Education, in collaboration with local school district’s adult learning centers, and local businesses, operates the WOW program. The method of data collection used was a series of semi structured, formal interviews with participants that included the following stakeholder groups: ESL adult learners, instructors, administrators, and managers. Memoing was used during all phases of the data collection. After all the data were collected and were entered into the qualitative software, NVivo, the memos were used to help further understand the themes that were developed through NVivo. The data collection and analysis utilized interviews and phenomenological methodology, which was used to describe the feelings, perceptions, and actual realities for 15 study participants. Six themes emerged from the interviews with stakeholders in the WOW program from this study, which reflected their experiences. The following six themes were: (a) moving from dependency toward self-direction, (b) life experiences help one understand new information, (c) look for new knowledge to fulfill societal roles, (d) adults seek immediate relevance for their learning, (e) incentives for taking classes, and (f) scheduling difficulties. The results of this study determined that the participants believed that the WOW program did indeed; develop basic skills to meet the literacy needs of workers. Additionally, the study made clear that a literacy program that is designed to interact with a company's other programs for safety and training is especially useful. It revealed the significance of connecting workplace vocabulary and literacy classes to provide a ready-made source of relevant, meaningful material for the adult students, serve employees more effectively, and yield greater benefits to the employer through: fewer employee errors, better communication, and higher employee loyalty to the company. Recommendations for workplace literacy programs such as WOW that are conducted on the work premises, in order to function well; must work in partnership within companies that recognize their value and assist employees in scheduling their participation.

AdviserStephanie Fraser-Beekman
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsEnglish as a second language; Management; Adult education
Publication Number3426700

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