Educational Theory

Malcolm S. Knowles, Elwood F. Holton III, and Richard A. Swanson— The Adult Learner, 6th edition. Gulf Publishing Company, 2005

Preview this bookThis foundational text in educational theory addresses the unique characteristics of adults as learners. Malcolm Knowles’ contribution to this field takes the form of what he calls andragogical theory. This is based on four assumptions about adult learning: 1) that adult learning includes changes in self-concept 2) experience plays an important role 3) learners exhibit a readiness to learn and 4) they have a particular orientation to learning. These four components are in accordance with educational assumptions of Supervised Pastoral Education. As well as andragogocal theory, traditional theories of learning and teaching practices are reviewed, and a helpful eleven-page bibliography is included. In the fifth edition Elwood F. Holton and Richard A. Swanson have revised and updated the work of the late Malcolm Knolwes. Malcolm was the founding Executive Director of the Adult Education Association, and Professor of Adult and Community College Education at North Carolina State University. Elwood F. Holton is Jones S. Davis Distinguished Professor of Human Resource, Leadership and Organization Development, and School of Human Resource Education at Louisiana State University. Richard A. Swanson is Professor of Human Resource Development and Adult Education at the University of Minnesota.

ISBN 10: 0750678372


Dorothy MacKeracher— Making Sense of Adult Learning, 2nd edition. University of Toronto Press, 2004

Making Sense of Adult Learning Second editionMaking Sense of Adult Learning is a readable reference tool for adult learning theory. It provides background about the nature of adult learning, and presents characteristics that typify adult learners. It seeks to dispel widely held assumptions about learning theory, and gives adult educational professionals concrete advice for communicating with their adult students. In the second edition Dorothy MacKeracher has reorganized and revised a number of chapters. Updates include concepts developed from learning-centred and learner-centred perspectives, and related learning and teaching principles. Dorothy MacKeracher is a Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick.

ISBN-13: 978-0802037787


Sharan B. Merriam, Rosemary S. Caffarella, and Lisa M. Baumgartner. Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd Edition. Josey-Bass, 2006

Learning in Adulthood is an overview of foundational work in the study of adult education. Exploring the nature of the learning process, it draws from the disciplines of sociology, philosophy, critical social theory, and educational psychology. It addresses key issues such as the role demographics and social context play in shaping adult education, as well as what adults learn and why. The third edition includes additional material on self-directed learning, experiential learning, transformational learning, spiritual, embodied, and narrative learning, non-western perspectives, critical theory, and feminist perspectives. Sharan B. Merriam is a professor of adult education at the University of Georgia who has written three books on adult education. Rosemary S. Caffarella is professor and chair of the Department of Education in the College of Agriculture and Life Science at Cornell University. Her focus is adult development and learning, program planning and evaluation, and leadership development. Lisa M. Baumgartner is an Associate Professor of Adult Education at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. She writes about adult learning and development and women’s contributions to the field of adult education.

ISBN: 978-0-7879-7588-3


Jossey-Bass Publishing Incorporated publishes many other books on adult education. They can be found on the Jossey Bass website under “Adult and Continuing Education,” and in the Series in Higher & Adult Education.


Peter Jarvis— Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Human Learning. Routledge, 2006

cover of Towards a Comprehensive Theory of Human Learning

Peter Jarvis presents a thorough and systematic study of educational research on lifelong learning. Believing that research on the process of learning has previously been scattered and heavily weighted in the field of psychology, Jarvis argues that learning is existential and necessarily dynamic and interdisciplinary. He explores and critiques a number of current educational theories, in order to incorporate them into what he hopes can be a more complex, interdisciplinary model. These topics include: contextual learning, learning outcomes, cognitive theory, the influence of emotion on learning, and experiential learning. This integration of numerous disciplines is particularly helpful for the integrative, multi-dimensional work of Supervised Pastoral Education. Peter Jarvis is Professor of Continuing Education at the University of Surrey, UK, and an honorary Adjunct Professor in Adult Education at the University of Georgia. His work on adult learning and continuing education is internationally renowned.

ISBN: 978-0-415-35541-4


Routledge publishes other adult education and experiential learning titles in their Adult Education section. These include: Experiential Training: Practical Guidelines, Lifelong Learning in Action: Transforming Education in the 21st Century, Adult Education and Lifelong Learning: Theory and Practice, A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice and Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning.


John L. Elias and Sharan B. Merriam— Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education, 3rd edition. Krieger Publishing, 2005

Philosophical Foundations of Adult EducationThis historical approach to adult learning discusses the philosophy and praxis of adult education. It presents and examines liberal, progressive, behaviorist, humanist, radical/critical, analytic, and postmodern approaches. This book was motivated by the authors’ belief that philosophical orientation matters. They emphasize that it is important that professional educators know why they do what they do, and so urge educators to reflect critically upon the educational stance they have chosen and why they have chosen it. In this revised and updated edition, a chapter on radical adult education incorporates recent developments in radical education, phenomenology, feminist educational theory, and critical social theory. In the past 25 years Sharan Merriam has made significant scholarly contributions to adult education in the areas of philosophical foundations, adult learning and development, and qualitative research methods.
ISBN -57524-254-0


Other adult education titles can be found at Kreiger Publishing in their “Adult Education” section.


Paulo Freire— Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Translated by Myra Bergman. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000

Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a foundational text in critical pedagogy, which is a Marxist teaching method designed to help students question and challenge dominative beliefs and practices. Paulo Freire examines the roles played by the oppressor and the oppressed in the struggle for liberation. He puts forth a theory for transforming oppressors. Freire encourages one to identify oneself as the oppressor in order to divest oneself of one’s complicity in oppression and form solidarity with the oppressed. Throughout his work Brazilian educational theorist Paulo Freire (1921-1997) insists that education is either used for domination or freedom. He encourages students to think critically about their education, and to recognize the importance of the social contexts in which they are embedded. Freire’s literary methods have empowered countless impoverished and illiterate people worldwide.

ISBN13: 9780826412768


Paulo Freire has written numerous other books on education, including: Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Education for Critical Consciousness, Pedagogy of the Heart, The Politics of Education Culture and Power and Liberation. Many of Freire’s books can be found on the Continuum Books website.

Eleanor Drago-Severson— Becoming Adult Learners: Principles and Practices for Effective Development. Teacher’s College Press, 2004

This practical volume utilizes a variety of pedagogical approaches in order to offer support to students with a diversity of learning needs. Eleanor Drago-Severson utilizes Harvard University psychologist Robert Kegan’s constructive-development theory, in an investigation into how and why adults learn the way they do. She provides practical suggestions for applying Kegan’s method to adult education classrooms in order to enable educators to better respond to the diverse needs of adult learners. The book includes case examples and stories of struggle and hope. It advocates an integration of cognitive, academic skills with emotional development, understanding these to be mutually reinforcing. The strengths of this book for CPE supervision is its concrete, qualitative method, and its integrated perspective. Eleanor Drago-Severson is a lecturer on education at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She teaches and researches qualitative research methods and leadership for adult development.

ISBN: 0807744840


Colin Beard and John P. Wilson— Experiential Learning: A Handbook of Best Practices for Educators and Trainers, second edition. Kogan, 2006

Experiential Learning (9780749444891)Experiential Learning brings together the theory and the practice of activity-based and experiential learning. This well-researched book addresses topics such as ways of learning, imagining and experiencing the future, and productive work-learning spaces. It provides references, examples and guidance for successful implementation. While this book is appropriate for all types of learners, particularly relevant to SPE supervision are sections on emotional intelligence, working with multiple senses, facilitation, ethical practice, and creative ways to develop and motivate staff. The theoretical underpinnings of the experiential learning approach this book presents bears much similarity to SPE educational philosophy. Colin Beard is a lecturer in the Faculty of Organization and Leadership at Sheffield Hallam University and an HR consultant. John P. Wilson is an independent consultant and researcher who has done consultancy work for educational institutions and private sector industries in Sweden and Saudi Arabia. He has been CPD Manager at the University of Oxford, and has also been involved with work based learning at the University of Bradford.

ISBN: 9780749444891


R. Dean Johnson— Teachable Moments: Essays on Experiential Education. University press of America, 2006

Teachable Moments: Essays on Experiential EducationTeachable Moments examines the pedagogy of experiential education at Prescott College, a liberal and environmental arts college in Prescott, Arizona which has embraced experiential education for over thirty years. The essays in this volume are written by scholars in fields as wide ranging as environmental science, religious studies, psychology, literature, and dance. They examine the challenges and rewards of experiential education. The principles of experiential education, from pedagogy and preparation to actual experience, are shared in story and anecdote form. Contributors include: David Lovejoy; Walt Anderson; Erin Lotz; Randall Amster; Samuel N. Henrie; K.L. Cook; Susan Hericks; Alison Holmes; Wayne Regina; Liz Faller; and David Gilligan. Editor R. Dean Johnson is an author and former fiction editor. He has taught at Kansas State University, The University of Alabama, Arizona State University, Cameron University, and currently Prescott College.

ISBN: 978-0-7618-3346-8



Micah Jacobson and Mari Ruddy— Open To Outcome: A Practical Guide For Facilitating & Teaching Experiential Reflection. Wood N Barnes, 2004

Open To Outcome: A Practical Guide For Facilitating & Teaching Experiential ReflectionIn Open to Outcome experiential learning is paired with facilitated reflection. The authors of this book believe that previously proposed modes of facilitative questioning are either too conceptual for application or too simple to encourage significant learning. Responding to this perceived weakness in experiential learning literature, they present a learning cycle model built around a template of five straightforward yet comprehensive field-tested facilitative questions. The authors’ vision of facilitation is similar to that of SPE supervision. They conceive of facilitation not simply as teaching, but as a blend of teaching and coaching, which they take to be more self-directive and personal than pure teaching. Also helpful for SPE supervision, the authors present techniques to generate group discussion, increase individual member participation, learning, and internal reflection. Micah Jacobson holds BA degrees in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Claremont McKenna College. He has been a keynote speaker and leadership consultant who has trained internationally. Mari Ruddy is a professional speaker and seminar leader who has worked with a variety of schools and organizations. She provides services in team building, facilitation, leadership retreats, and youth development.

ISBN-13: 978-1885473592