Cover image for Becoming adult learners : principles and practices for effective development
Becoming adult learners : principles and practices for effective development
Drago-Severson, Eleanor.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Teachers College Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 223 pages ; 23 cm

Format :


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Material Type
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LC5251 .D72 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This book offers a new and promising way to support adults in Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) programs specifically, and learners in adult education in general. Applying renowned Harvard University psychologist Robert Kegan's constructive-developmental theory, Drago-Severson depicts an in-depth investigation into how and why adults develop "ways of knowing" to better prepare them for their work in the 21st century. This book provides practical suggestions for applying Kegan's theory in adult education classrooms that will enable teachers, curriculum developers, program designers, and policymakers to better respond to adult learners' strengths and learning needs.

Author Notes

Eleanor Drago-Severson is a lecturer on education at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, where she conducts research into and teaches courses on leadership for adult development and qualitative research methods.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Drago-Severson (Harvard Univ.) has written an intriguing account of the perspectives adult learners have on their own learning. The book describes a study conducted by the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy. The study's participants were adults enrolled in an adult diploma program at the Polaroid Corporation. The researchers applied Kegan's constructive-development theory of adult growth and learning to illuminate how these adults made meaning of their learning experiences. The book is organized in the traditional research report style. It details the purpose and theoretical underpinnings of the study and the research methods employed. Included is a rich description of the learning site. Drago-Severson devotes three chapters to the findings of the study and an additional chapter to discussion of the implications of these findings for practitioners. The book is well written and thorough in addressing its subject. As an excellent work of grounded theory, the book provides insight and direction for further work in the same area. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Of interest to practitioners in the field of adult basic education, upper-division undergraduate and graduate students, and researchers in the fields of adult education and psychology. R. K. Eubank St. Mary's University of Minnesota

Table of Contents

Laurent A. Parks Daloz
Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
1. Introduction: Aims, Purposes, and Intentions of This Bookp. 1
The Field of Adult Basic Skills Developmentp. 3
The Adult Development Team Studyp. 8
The Content of this Bookp. 10
Contributions of this Research to the ABE/ESOL Fieldp. 14
2. Understanding Constructive-Developmental Theoryp. 17
The Nature of Transformational Learning: Development of Selfp. 18
Kegan's Constructive-Developmental Perspective on Adulthoodp. 20
Kegan's "Ways of Knowing"p. 23
Why Ways of Knowing Matter in the Classroomp. 33
The Holding Environment: A Dynamic Context for Growthp. 35
Summaryp. 36
3. Research Methodp. 37
Site and Participant Selectionp. 37
Research Questions: What Did We Want to Learn?p. 40
Data Collectionp. 40
Data Analysisp. 48
Summaryp. 51
4. The Polaroid Learning Sitep. 55
About Polaroidp. 55
About CEI's Adult Diploma Programp. 58
The 1998-1999 CEI Program at Polaroidp. 64
Cohorts and Collaborative Learning Definedp. 67
Summaryp. 70
5. "Not I Alone": The Power of the Cohort and Collaborative Learningp. 72
"Everybody Thinks Differently": The Cohort as a Holding Environment for Learning and Teachingp. 73
"Like a Family": The Cohort as a Holding Environment for Emotional Supportp. 90
"I Have a Better Appreciation for People": The Cohort as a Holding Environment for Perspective Broadeningp. 94
Conclusionp. 99
6. "Good Teachers Understand Their Students": A Developmental View of Learners' Expectations of Their Teachersp. 103
How Learners Conceptualized Teacher-Learner Relationshipsp. 105
Summary and Conclusionsp. 124
7. "We're Trying to Get Ahead": Changes in Learners' Conceptions of Themselves, Their Skills, and Their Relationship to Workp. 129
How Program Learning Influenced Learners' Work Livesp. 131
Conclusionp. 150
8. Implications of a New Pluralism for Program Design, Curriculum Development, Practice, Policy, and Researchp. 154
Designing Programs that Center on the Cohort and Collaborative Learningp. 155
Creating a Developmental Curriculump. 160
Contextualizing the Curriculum: Goal Settingp. 164
Conceptualizing Competency as a Developmental Continuump. 167
Creating Opportunities for Development in the Classroom: Teaching Practicep. 168
Policymaking in Support of Developmental Learningp. 171
Promising Avenues for Developmental Researchp. 175
An Appetite for Learningp. 177
Epilogue. Graduation: A Red-Letter Dayp. 181
Notesp. 187
Referencesp. 191
Indexp. 205
About the Authorp. 223