Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Catherine H. Glascock

Committee Members

James H. Lampley, Theresa A. Lloyd, Virginia P. Foley


The purpose of this study was to determine the obstacles and motivators Evelyn Thompson Lawrence addressed in her thirst for lifelong learning and desire to share that learning through her life stories. The researcher also sought to understand how everyday events played a role in the outcome of Lawrence's life. More than just observing major events, the researcher considered ways the smallest moments made an impact on Lawrence's continued desire for learning. This study evolved through Lawrence's accounts. By allowing this African American woman, who was a lifelong Appalachian, to explore her past and present, a wide array of experiences emerged that would provide a more holistic view of a lifelong learner.

The interviews with Lawrence were both video- and audio-taped to ensure proper acquirement of Lawrence's life stories told in narrative form. In addition to the interviews, Lawrence provided numerous primary documents such as awards, photographs, news clippings, and books to add a deeper dimension to the portraiture. To verify the information Lawrence provided, three subjects who had connections with Lawrence in specific areas of her life were interviewed. The interviews from this qualitative research with Lawrence and the secondary subjects were transcribed, coded, and considered for emergent themes. Three distinct areas appeared as the portrait of Lawrence's life was painted through her life stories: her connections to her family, her profession and academics, and her community.

Through this research the researcher recognized that history was a factor in motivating Lawrence to become a lifelong learner, and there was a connection between research results on the characteristics of lifelong learners and the characteristics exhibited by Lawrence. Her desire to acquire knowledge, both formal and informal, continues to this day.

Future studies might include provisions for the needs of the lifelong learner and the importance of looking at the individual's life in its entirety as a means for determining how best to nurture a love of learning as an adult. Throughout this research it became apparent that the adult could find meaning from the past and motivation for the future through life stories.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.