Higher education helps single mothers become effective role models

Zeev Greenberg, Vered Shenaar-Golan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Single mothers living in poverty face numerous challenges raising their children. Their environs, limited free time, and difficulties negotiating daily life are obstacles that programmes attempt to circumvent by helping their children break free from the cycle of poverty. These issues are discussed in literature on the importance of increasing social and economic mobility through improved access to higher education. This research examined, from their children's perspective, the significance of an academic programme designed to achieve that goal for single mothers coping with poverty in the Northern Israel periphery. In-depth interviews with their children revealed distinct characteristics of the mothers' modelling fostered by their new identity as college students. Mother-child collaboration was created based upon common learning tasks. From the children's descriptions emerge values and activities they identified as meaningful in their mothers' lives, improving her situation and defining her as successful. Older children described a new dialogue characterising their relationship. The dialogue, based on mutual admiration, drew upon topics from the mother's academic world and stimulation of personal and social activism. These findings contribute a theoretical aspect to the definition of modelling–learning from the other–and elucidate influences of higher education on single mothers from their children's perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-129
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 28 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Modelling
  • cycle of poverty
  • higher education
  • self-efficacy
  • single mothers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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