Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rose, Amy D.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Mothers--Education; Experiential learning


This investigation revealed the evolution of learning of mothers over a lifetime of raising children. Through a multiple case-study design using iterative, one-on-one interviews with mothers of large families, three research questions were explored: (1) What different meaning emerges when mothers of many children reflect on their life experiences? (2) How did mothers of many children evolve as learners? and (3) What are some of the informal ways of learning women used to learn how to mother many children? Data were gathered from mothers who had their first child in or after 1945, raised eight or more children until their last child reached the age of 18, were married during the time they raised their children, lived in the Chicagoland area, and were able to participant in three separate interviews. Using the research findings, a double helix model was designed. This model displays the evolution of learning over the lifetime of the mothers in this study. It shows how the concepts of knowing along with the tactical process of knowing-in-action and reflection-in-action were intertwined to create knowledge. As the mothers continued their learning process, the concepts of learning how to learn were embedded throughout their lifework. The double helix model shows how these three theories, in concert with one another, portray how learning occurred over a lifetime of mothering many children.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [239]-243)


xxvi, 277 pages




Northern Illinois University

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