Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Summers, Kelly H.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF)


This dissertation examines the concept of legal literacy in the field of education, specifically as it pertains to public school teachers and administrators and how adult learning theory could have a positive impact on the level of legal literacy. The dissertation is divided into three different parts, all of which support each other and all of which are critical when examining legal literacy within the field of education. Paper 1 encompasses a review of the literature that currently exists in the area of legal literacy. The first paper also examines the field of social work, where the level of legal literacy is higher, and the types of practices that are attributed to the marked difference in legal literacy between educators and social workers. As a result of Paper 1, the need to complete a study to investigate further the level of exposure to legal topics in both teacher and administrator preparation programs emerged.

Paper 2 explores all of the law-related courses within baccalaureate teacher preparation programs and master’s-level education administration programs across the United States. All states were examined and the data was divided into the 12 U.S. circuit courts. All colleges and universities offering both degrees were evaluated to determine whether or not the program required law content in courses. The data for the First and Eighth Circuits were analyzed in depth using a comparison model. In addition, the comparison model was also used to provide an overview of all 12 U.S. circuit courts.

As a result of Papers 1 and 2, the need for professional development for both teachers and administrators became evident. Paper 3 examines adult learning theory and the critical practices to consider when building learning opportunities to reduce the gap in educator legal literacy. Not only is adult learning theory a critical theory to consider, but self-efficacy theory helps to strengthen the approach when creating professional development. As a result, Paper 4 dives into the S.E.A.L. (Self-Efficacy Adult Learning) Professional Development Framework that was created. If the framework is used, the professional learning will be grounded in both theories and practices that will support growth in the area of legal literacy.


117 pages




Northern Illinois University

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