Embracing Servant Leadership While Teaching Writing to Adult English Learners: A Case Study

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Adult learners' English proficiency and communication abilities are crucial for obtaining specialized jobs in highly competitive labor markets. Fulfilling the specific needs of adult English language learners (ELLs) defined the gap in the literature and suggested additional theoretical analysis and research. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate adult educators' perceptions of embracing servant leadership while teaching academic writing in two adult education centers in Western Florida in the spring of 2023. The problem was that adult educators hesitated to adopt the servant leadership approach to advance adult ELLs' academic writing competitiveness for the workforce. Two theories of transformative learning and servant leadership guided this qualitative study. Themes for servant leadership and the use of technology for teaching academic writing answered the first research question. Adult ELL educators' perspectives on writing strategies were identified through the lens of leadership while fostering a sense of belonging, which answered the second research question. The themes were coded using the triangulation technique through NVivo, using researcher-written questions for interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires. The qualitative research method was used in a case study design. A sample size of 15 adult educators was selected by inclusion criteria for instructing advanced ELL learners from a total population of 65 educators. Study findings confirmed that adult ELL educators viewed themselves as leaders as they provided high-quality instruction and feedback in a diverse cultural environment. Recommendations for further research included flipped classroom implementation for ELLs’ workforce readiness using advanced technology, empowering adult educators, and professional development with administrative support.