Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Fostering a Community of Learners in a Workplace Setting: A Case Study

Marilyn Grapin, James Hickey, Margaret Tally, Sybil Deveaux.

As recent literature on adult education suggests, the adult learner faces obstacles that the younger undergraduate does not. These obstacles – job, children, family responsibilities – may, at the same time, provide support systems for the adult that is unavailable to the younger learner. In fact, the literature in the field explicitly and increasingly points to the need for individual, family, and community support as informal relationships, which are crucial to the academic success of the adult student. In this paper we will look at how these informal relationships can be used within a more formalized corporate college setting. Over the past twelve years, the Verizon Corporate/College Program, affiliated with SUNY Empire State College, has developed a mentoring model to meet the needs of minority adults in the corporate workplace. Using real life examples from this innovative corporate-college partnership, we will explore the role of faculty mentors, co-workers, and family members as a means of achieving academic success for the primarily female African-American and Hispanic population who are being served by this program. The goal of the paper is to demonstrate how these students attain success, while working within a highly structured, highly stressful corporate organization draw on these informal, yet crucial, supportive relationships. Our presentation will further show how they can learn to use these informal relationships to confront and overcome such issues as anxiety in math and writing skills. These relationships also help them to grapple with larger life-transforming issues, which can potentially impede academic success, issues such as low self-esteem, death or illness of a parent or relative and differential treatment based on race and gender.


Marilyn Grapin  (United States)

James Hickey  (United States)

Margaret Tally  (United States)
Associate Professor
Corporate College Program
State University of New York

Margaret Tally is an Associate Professor at Empire State College of the State University of New York. She works in the area of sociology of media, women's studies, and the sociology of work.

Sybil Deveaux  (United States)

  • Workplace
  • Social networks
  • Mentoring

(Virtual Presentation, English)