Skip to main content
Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Marlon Fernandes Sanches, Education

Critical Pedagogy in a Freirean Tradition to Promote Social Justice in Adult Education: A Qualitative Study

Date & time
Thursday, August 25, 2022 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


The advancement of neoliberalism, the increase of disinformation, the rise of fascist ideals and the suppression of freedom are putting democracies in danger all over the world. Adult education is critical to keep learners informed. Critical pedagogy in a Freirean tradition has the potential to empower citizens with critical skills to respond to challenging issues. It revolves around social justice-oriented practices aiming at the development of critical awareness (conscientização) in individual and collective perspectives. Common aspects of critical pedagogy are centred around the humanization of teaching and learning, education as a political act, problem-posing strategies, banking education, pedagogical praxis, and hope, among others. This dissertation engaged adult educators in non-formal learning situations who self-identify as critical pedagogues in a Freirean tradition, to reflect on their daily practices. The overarching research questions was: How do adult educators who self-identify as critical pedagogues in a Freirean tradition implement critical pedagogy principles into their daily practices in non-formal settings? The specific questions searched for definitions of critical pedagogy, reasons to practice it, key characteristics of critical pedagogues, principles of critical pedagogy that are primarily implemented, strategies and evaluations used, and challenges and barriers found on the way and how to overcome them. A qualitative research methodology was used to answer these questions. Twelve adult education practitioners generously shared their stories and their expertise on how they implement critical pedagogy in their own contexts. Participants also provided images that represented critical pedagogy for them, and artifacts were collected to corroborate participants' responses. Findings revealed that critical pedagogy in a Freirean tradition is non-hierarchical and starts with learners' experiences. Recurring themes that emerged were the educators' orientation towards social justice and commitment to learners. This study amplified the voices of educators who have made sound contributions to adult education. Their voices have the potential to empower future practitioners with encouragement and curiosity to challenge current issues in education.

Back to top

© Concordia University