Becoming adult learners: Principles and practices for effective development

| February 15, 2011

Title:  Becoming adult learners : Principles and practices for effective development

Author: Eleanor Drago-Severson

Publisher: Teachers College Press

Call NumberHD58.8 .K43 2009

From the Publisher:

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-development 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 to enable teachers, curriculum developers, program designers, and policymakers to better respond to adult learners’ strengths and learning needs.


  • The first comprehensive examination of adults’ perspectives on their own learning experiences in an adult diploma program at a workplace site by employing a constructive-developmental approach.
  • A variety of pedagogical approaches that attend to supporting the growth and development of students with a diversity of learning needs and “ways of knowing.”
  • Stories of hope, struggle, learning, literacy, enhanced competencies, and development from adult learners themselves.
  • A cogent analysis of how program learning transfers to work, school, and home for adult learners.
  • Practical implications for program design, curriculum development, practice, policy, and research.

About the Author:

Eleanor (Ellie) Drago-Severson is an associate professor of education in the department of organization and leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to her research into adult learning and leadership, she was a teacher, administrator, and staff developer in K-12 schools in New York, Florida, and Massachusetts. Drago-Severson teaches, conducts research, and consults with teachers, principals, and other educational leaders. Her work is inspired by the idea that schools must be places where adults as well as children can grow.

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