Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Edward Kim

Abstract

The number of households headed by single mothers living in poverty exceeds that of all other categories of poverty-stricken households, and poverty impacts the children negatively in various ways. When single mothers choose not to continue their education, they lessen their chances of finding higher paying jobs and raising their families out of poverty. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to better understand why some single mothers decided to continue into higher education. The study considered the decisions of 6 single mothers of young children in Montgomery County, Texas, and the obstacles they overcame while completing their education. The women were recruited from a co parenting workshop using snowball sampling. The inclusion criteria included single mothers of children ages 0-10 years old and who obtained a degree or specialized certificate. The conceptual framework was based on Bandura's concept of self-efficacy and Carspecken's critical theory. Interviews were used with the 6 women to collect data that were then transcribed, compared, coded, and thematically analyzed. Emergent themes included overcoming obstacles, receiving help from others, acting as their children's role models, dealing with the impact of the father's absence, and receiving motivation from their own parents. The social significance of this research is that it illuminates the problem of poverty among single female-headed households and increases the understanding of why some single mothers decide to continue into higher education.