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Focus On Basics

Volume 5, Issue B ::: October 2001


Being the parent of two youngish children (6 and 8), child development is often on my mind. I subscribe to stage theory, as in "one I hope he'll move out of soon" and "it's only a . . .".  I never thought about adult development and its role in my instructional choices when I was a classroom teacher, but, after putting this issue of Focus on Basics together, if I return to the classroom or to training teachers, I will.

As in most fields of research and theory, adult development has a variety of "camps" - different schools of thought on how adults develop - four of which are described by Lisa Baumgartner. Behavioristic / mechanistic; psychological / cognitive; contextual / sociocultural; and integrated, Lisa points out that our teaching choices reflect the school of thought we subscribe to, whether that subscription is conscious or not.

The NCSALL Adult Development Research Group takes that concept one step further. They suggest that, since adult basic education classes are comprised of learners at a variety of developmental levels, educators need to ensure that their program design and instruction supports learners at all developmental levels. Their research findings also reveal that the group plays an important part in supporting learners, regardless of  developmental levels. Read about their research and related findings, then learn how Sylvia Greene and Matthew Puma, Massachusetts teachers, support the developmental growth of their learners in the interviews.

Carol Eades, of Kentucky, shares techniques she uses to support learners' developmental transformation. At TV411, Debby D'Amico and Mary Ann Capehart explore the dynamics that occurred in a group of learners who, working with a facilitator, used specially designed television shows and related materials as instructional guides. See this article and a commentary on the developmental theories implicit in TV411.

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You can discuss the findings of the NCSALL Adult Development Research - and all NCSALL's research - via the Focus on Basics electronic discussion list. The researchers are eager to get feedback and answer questions about their work. 


Barbara Garner

Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL