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date: 19 November 2019

Continuing to Build a Discipline at the Borders of Thought

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter sets the stage for the content that follows. Noting that conceptual advances are often made at the boundaries of disciplines, the reciprocal learning-development equation is explored as the pathway to greater understandings about the complex, changing adult. The youth of knowledge in adult development and learning is examined, as are recent changes in prospects for adult life and longevity. The role of cognitive engagement in forestalling mental deterioration is addressed, as is recent knowledge that neurocognitive plasticity continues in the adult brain. The key concepts of adult development and adult learning are then defined and examined. An overview of the remainder of the edition closes the chapter.

Keywords: reciprocal, learning, development, adulthood, cognitive engagement, neurocognitive plasticity

Advances in thought are often made at the border where one discipline meets another. In the natural and social sciences, significant transformations have often occurred, not because knowledge has accrued in any one discipline, but because innovators have bridged knowledge from two disparate fields. In effect, this requires a new way of seeing, a “switch of gestalt” (Kuhn, 1970, p. 85). From John Dalton’s link between meteorology and chemistry, to Einstein’s bridge between mechanics and electromagnetism, to Talcott Parsons’s joining of sociological and economic thought, boundaries were transcended and knowledge reconceptualized (Holton, 1972; Kuhn, 1970). In adult development and learning, this means not only the fusion of two separate disciplines, but an altered way of seeing in which the limiting periphery of those disciplines is transcended.

As was true of the first edition of this handbook (Hoare, 2006), the authors of this volume forge a new way of seeing. They ask how various forms of adult development and learning are not only connected, but reciprocal. That is, how does active learning result in development (e.g., of intelligence, wisdom, insight) and how do positive changes in development lead to greater learning? As before, this dual question does not imply that all adults will continue to develop and learn, nor does it assume that adults will develop in uniform ways. Clearly, some adults have had more success in their prior learning ventures than others. Those who learn and develop successfully will, in all likelihood, continue forward on this trajectory. To others, the sense of “I have not” readily becomes “I cannot.” The latter viewpoint poses a barrier to positive developmental and learning excursions in the future.

Critics will suggest that the reciprocal development-learning equation is skewed toward adults who are privileged by endowment, enriched childhoods, educational credentials, current resources and learning opportunities, and ongoing motivation. This is indeed the case, as is our tendency to tilt toward positive developmental change. The authors of this (p. 4) edition understand that development includes negative as well as positive changes during the mature years of life. We do not overlook the negatives. Yet, our main emphasis is on how one force, learning or development, spurs the other toward significant advances. This is congruent with scholars who elaborate on human strengths, those who consider how development forges successful aging and vitality (Aspinwall & Staudinger, 2003; Depp & Jeste, 2010; Peterson & Seligman, 2004; Snyder & Lopez, 2002).

Scholarship on adult development and learning is a recent phenomenon. The term adult development first appeared in Psychological Abstracts in the late 1970s. The concept of adult learning, as distinguished from learning in childhood, is somewhat older, dating to Thorndike and Burton’s (1922) study on the ways in which adult teachers reflect on their own learning processes. Still, most early studies of adult learning focused largely on the attitudes and opinions of adults toward learning, and on their interests in various topics. It was not until the latter part of the 20th century that this superficial focus gave way to investigations into, for example, intellectual, emotional, and reflective processes that are preludes to learning engagement. Now, studies into genetic, lifestyle, and motivational characteristics of adults permeate the developmental and learning literatures.

Despite separate advances in the human development and learning fields, it is only within the last 15 years that researchers have begun to consider how adult development and adult learning might be integral to one another. This delay is due to the fact that scholars have been credentialed and working within their own disciplines of psychology or learning. The net effect is an absence of interconnected journals, associations, societies, and conferences (Smith and Pourchot, 1998). The prior edition of this handbook (Hoare, 2006) focused attention on the need for a connected, integral terrain. Today, the need remains for investigators who are willing to move to this hybrid area from their own familiar disciplines and preferential studies.

Changing Views and Prospects of Adult Life

Adult development and learning have primarily focused on ongoing continuity from childhood to middle adulthood, and then subsequent decline from the middle through the later years of life. Some of the historical factors that have contributed to this tendency include Freud’s success in charting a vacuum for psychological development in the adult years, and prior views of adults as physically complete renditions of their childhood selves (see Hoare, 2002, p. 29, for this “rubber band” fallacy). Previously, little attention was given to adulthood as a period of life sui generis, that is, a span of life with its own qualitatively unique content, processes, and contexts. The continuity view was influential in considering the adult years primarily on the basis of their expression in marker events such as marriage, parenthood, and retirement. In addition, many prior studies of adult functioning removed subjects from their principal contexts for the purpose of studying various traits and processes. We now know that investigations must be ecologically sound, that is, persons must be studied within the unique contexts and roles of their lives instead of as subjects in artificial laboratories. For example, studies on psychometrically based properties of adult intelligence have given way to persons’ practical, successful intellectual performance, and their typical intellectual engagement as they tackle real day-to-day problems (e.g., Sternberg et al., 2000).

Prospects for adult life have also changed considerably. By the beginning of the 21st century, mean life expectancy was nearly 80 years and the median age of the population was 35.9 years (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009). When one compares this with 1785 when U.S. life expectancy was a mere 28 years, or with 1900 when life expectancy had risen to only 59 years, recent gains in longevity have made it incumbent that we consider the variables that will avert decline until the very end of the adult years. Clearly, progress in medical knowledge and technology have been important in longevity gains as have nutritional improvements and contemporary changes in attitudes that do not conceive of the adult years as those of passivity in which one has little agency in augmenting successful aging. We now know that lifestyle factors are key to a high quality and quantity of life. Among the prominent, avoidable risk factors, obesity, smoking, hypertension, and sedentary lifestyles are notable.

In short, increased longevity, the design of ecologically sound research, and understandings that adulthood holds qualitatively unique content have rendered inadequate the prior view of mere developmental continuity followed by decline. Also changed is the passivity with which the adult years were once seen. We now understand that positive psychosocial attributes, favorable attitudes and motivation, a belief in personal agency, and enriched, complex environments have dramatic, salutary effects on (p. 5) health and adaptive abilities. Therefore, although it is clear that adulthood entails losses, a different view demands our attention. It is that of how competence, optimal functioning, and sustained, at times improved, abilities can define successful aging, and the role of every adult in providing for this quality of life. The U.S. population, once shown as a triangle with very few elders at the apex, is now represented by a square, one with a bulk of elders occupying the top tier. This “squaring of the pyramid” (Pifer & Bronte, 1986), in our society and throughout the world, commands attention to the reciprocal effects of development on learning and learning on development. An important goal is not that of merely extending longevity but of “morbidity compression,” that is, telescoping the active years of elders’ healthy functioning, while condensing physical and psychological impairment into the far reaches of life (Fries & Crapo, 1981). If such compression is to occur for great segments of the aging population, it is essential to chart a course forward in which adults institute the tenets of successful aging in their developmental and learning endeavors. The elderly population will expand exponentially in coming decades, with those over 85 years of age representing the fastest-growing age group. While the 65-years-and-older age segment is projected to expand from 39 million in 2010 to 69 million in 2030, not quite doubling its current size, those in the 85-years-and-older group will double its current size of 5.7 million by 2025. This group of elders will be four times its current number by 2050 (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration on Aging, 2010).

The Role of Cognitive Engagement in Forestalling Decline

Preservation of cognitive functioning is a hallmark of successful aging; thus I highlight it here. Intact cognition is treasured at the individual level and a valued commodity at the societal level. At the individual level, from middle age onward, adults express a near-universal fear of cognitive degradation during the older years, fears that have led increasing numbers of middle-aged and older adults to engage in cognition-enhancing exercises such as playing crossword puzzles, chess, and musical instruments, and performing brain fitness video games. At the societal level, forestalling cognitive decline is important to the prevention or limitation of dementia. In 2009, when the contributions of unpaid caregivers are not factored in, the care of those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias cost almost $144 billion in the U.S. (Maslow, 2010); treatment costs alone are projected to reach $332 billion by 2025. Adults with low levels of cognitive engagement are shown to have approximately 2.5 times the likelihood of developing dementia compared to those with high levels of such engagement (Hertzog, Kramer, Wilson, & Lindenberger, 2009). In one study of 500 persons over 75 years of age, high levels of cognitive engagement were correlated with a lessened risk of developing dementia during the subsequent 20 years (Verghese, Lipton, Katz, Hall, Derby, & Kuslansky et al., 2003). Thus, prevention of cognitive decline, especially among the young-old whose diminishing brain functions are most remediable, would decrease Medicare and related spending substantially. For any number of individuals, dementia disability may be prevented or at least compressed into the very far fringe of life.

Historically, theories of aging have largely posed deficit views of aging. However, in the recent 35 years, evidence has accumulated that while educational level does not in and of itself prevent mental decline, a cognitively engaged lifestyle maintains, and sometimes expands, cognitive functioning. Among those for whom cognitive engagement and learning are integral to everyday life, a number of positive effects are seen. Cognitive flexibility is enhanced, openness to experience and learning are maintained, and cognitive powers press toward new, additional learning. Such findings have been amply shown by data from the Seattle Longitudinal Study (SLS). In the SLS, Schaie (e.g., 2005) demonstrated that, among those who show a continuation of learning, live in enriched circumstances, and do not suffer the burdens of cerebrovascular or cardiovascular disease, cognitive powers are maintained or enhanced into the seventh decade of life (see also Fillit et al., 2002; Knoops et al., 2004). Schaie reports that travel, expansive reading, and attendance at cultural, club, and professional association gatherings lower the risk of cognitive decline significantly. Based on related data, Rowe and Kahn’s (1987) oft-cited article and their subsequent text (1998) on the topic partitioned “successful” from “usual” aging. “Successful” aging is described as that in which cognitive functions are maintained or expanded, ongoing autonomy is supported, and superior physiological functioning underwrite greater health, ability, and longevity. Typical or “usual” aging is that which exhibits the deterioration of cognitive processes, autonomy, and physiological functioning and shows curtailed longevity. Rowe and Kahn, Schaie, and many others (e.g., Lachman, Rosnick, & Rocke, 2009) have (p. 6) demonstrated the individual’s agency and sense of control in sustaining and improving cognitive functioning and its correlates.

Although definitions vary, the term that is most frequently used to describe the positive brain changes of neurocognitive functioning is plasticity. Plasticity means the role of experience and learning in shaping the “structure, connectivity, and functional behavior” of neurons or groups of neurons (Jessberger & Gage, 2008, p. 684). Not very long ago it was universally held that the adult brain cannot make new neurons (neurogenesis), new synapses (synaptogenesis), or new capillaries (angiogenesis). However, functional neuroimaging studies now show that such structural and connectivity alterations occur throughout adult life. Perhaps most important to cognitive development, the development of new neurons has been found in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, a location that is fundamental to learning and memory (e.g, Erickson, et al., 2009). Plasticity is also seen in the amygdala, a brain region that is integral to social cognition and emotion (Ohman, 2002), in visual pathways (de Haan, Humphreys, & Johnson, 2002; de Haan, Paascalis, & Johnson, 2002), and in the sensorimotor cortex (Hamilton & Pascual-Leone, 1998).

In addition to structural changes in neurons, synapses, and capillaries, a number of other adult cognitive changes have been seen after significant learning. These include increased activation of the prefrontal cortex and posterior parietal cortex, increases in cortical thickness, recruitment of adjacent brain areas, increased hippocampal volume, and reorganized brain circuits (Greenwood, 2007; Maguire, Woollett, & Spiers, 2006). Expanded hand images are seen in the right somatosensory cortex of experienced string musicians (Elbert, Pantev, Wienbruch, Rockstroh, & Taub, 1995), and expansion of the relevant brain sulcus has been found in jugglers (Draganski et al., 2004). A frequently cited study is that of London taxi drivers who showed expansion of the posterior hippocampus, a brain area associated with learning and spatial representation, after extensive didactic learning and driving experience (Greenwood, 2007). Those with more years of driving experience showed greater hippocampal volume than those with fewer years of experience (Maguire, 2000; Maguire, Woollett, & Spiers, 2006). It thus appears that the “use it or lose it” saying rings true. Undoubtedly, Schooler and Caplan (2009) are correct: Superior social and psychological conditions and opportunities lead to greater later advantages in psychological and social functioning among those who were thus privileged in earlier life. However, even among the previously inopportune, self-initiated strategies and training provisions may hold the promise of improvements in cognitive vitality.

Key Concepts

Adult Development

As was stated in the first edition of this handbook, adult development means systematic, qualitative changes in human abilities and behaviors as a result of interactions between internal and external environments. Interactions and qualitative changes are influenced by genetics, endogenous and exogenous influences, and adaptive powers and personal interests (Hoare, 2006). Many constructs include multiple dimensions. For example, adult personality incorporates multiple facets and is influenced by genetics, modeling in early life, and the contexts in which it finds expression.

Development necessarily means change, those alterations that are predictable, and which occur in an orderly, sequential manner. Development during adulthood is necessarily bidirectional, for there are positive changes as well as decrements. Some decrements are seen beginning in a person’s late twenties in abilities such as processing speed, reflexes, and, for some, sensory acuity.

In this edition, although we are cognizant of the losses of aging, we primarily address the positives. And, in the face of certain losses, substitute gains often occur. Declining fluid intelligence (e.g., inductive reasoning and spatial orientation) may be offset by increments in crystallized intelligence (e.g., word fluency and verbal meaning). Losses in the sheer power and sponge-like learning ability of youth may find substitution in more careful deliberation and the incorporation of many more factors as one learns and reasons to a conclusion. Indeed, for many adults an awareness occurs that knowledge does not merely conform to silo-like disciplines and content areas the way it was taught, but that it transcends those artificial boundaries. Furthermore, the losses incurred in closing out the earlier chapters of youth and young adulthood may give rise to appreciations that can occur only in the middle and closing chapters of life. A decline in the absolute time left to live is often offset by a better, deeper understanding of history, one’s own personal history, and that of a shifting society and world. Among some, growth in understanding, complemented by an ever-lessening time on earth, leads to an expanded spirituality and heightened ethical development. (p. 7) And, as Erikson (1982, 1987; Hoare, 2002) often found, the later years bring a new appreciation of parents and the other key players in one’s life.

The qualitative changes that occur during adulthood often move to greater complexity as one views and interprets the self and the world. The adult developmental trajectory is itself complex in that there is individual variance in traits, functions, and motivations. The contextual effects of sociocultural, economic, and cohort differences can be deterministic in development, just as there are great differences in, for example, genetics, traits, resources, attitudes, motivation, and tendencies to engage in continual learning. Furthermore, we must put to rest arguments in favor of nature over nurture or vice versa. We now know that key contributions and interactions occur between and among hereditary givens, internal and external environments, resources, and the intentional choices one makes. Thus, adults become increasingly different, one from another, during the expanding adult developmental eras. In part, this is due to different personal constitutions and the way they play out in a person’s unique parentage, educational preparation, experiences, roles, and tendencies. In this way, for example, some adults will develop more mature coping strategies over time, while others will remain fixated at an immature level of mental functioning or regress to childish levels of behavior. Some adults will advance in intellectual acumen; others will deteriorate. Some adults will maintain an adolescent-like level of moral (and moralistic) development; others will move to the higher level of ethical development in which principled behavior defines their stance and functioning (Hoare, 2009).

Variance is also apparent in the sociocultural contexts and values that augment different forms of development. For example, during youth mathematical and verbal abilities are stressed in the United States; these skills tend to predict later occupational success, itself highly valued in this country. Other societies emphasize different abilities. In particular, in less literate societies rewards are based on the development of spatial, kinesthetic, visual memory, musical abilities, expression of geometric design concepts, and navigation skills (Gardner, 1985; Hofstede, 2001; Hutchins, 1993; Matsumoto, 2001; Schliemann & Carraher, 2001). Individual abilities develop in response to environmental demands (Berry, 1987; Irvine & Berry, 1988). Language, unique environmental needs, and culture-specific symbols hold their own curious logic, expression, and form. At the macro level, cultures and societies also differ with respect to the way certain norms are expressed and others are suppressed. Among other factors, ways of expressing competition and assertiveness, relationships to authority, rule orientation, power relationships, conformity, and individualism versus collectivism have been examined (e.g., Hofstede, 2001; Matsumoto, 2001). Culture thus imbues its unique form of “mental programming” in which the “crystallization of history in the minds, hearts, and hands of the present generation” occurs (Hofstede, 2001, p. 12). During the course of adulthood the socioculturally specific abilities and traits that were emphasized in childhood become fine-tuned. This adds another variation to mature, interindividual developmental differences.

Adult Learning

As before, this volume addresses adult learning that itself constitutes a developmental process and activity. Adult learning is a change in behavior, a gain in knowledge or skills, and an alteration or restructuring of prior knowledge. Learning includes, but is not limited to, acquiring or applying content or changing the ordering of currently held information, for new material may replace, subsume, or superordinate dated content. Both the procuring of information and its mental revision in one’s cognitive apparatus require learning; cognitive development is integral to this learning. However, learning can also connote a positive change in self-understanding or in the development of personal qualities such as interpersonal skills or coping mechanisms.

In the prior edition of this handbook, I distinguished between conscious and unconscious learning, and between declarative and procedural knowledge. It is useful to do so again lest it seems implied that only rational, aware changes are involved. Conscious learning occurs when the person acquires knowledge, skills, or attitudes that expand or change performance or information. Primarily unconscious learning occurs when one is unaware of the changes that involve learning. Largely unconscious learning is often the case in, for example, certain forms of role-modeling, in appropriating and using tacit or implicit knowledge, and in developing and extending one’s identity (Erikson, 1987; Hoare, 2002; Reber, 1993). Unfortunately, such unconscious learning is difficult to study and has been largely ignored. However, one can observe the effects of this form of learning when the previously acquired content of which one is aware moves to the unconscious form of automatized, procedural functioning (p. 8) (Berg & Sternberg, 2003). This occurs, for example, in learning to operate a vehicle, in many forms of industrial skill performance, and in the flow of writing or solving a problem. Procedural knowledge is also called implicit or tacit, that is, the practical, practiced use of intelligent behavior (Neisser, 1976; Sternberg, Wagner, & Okagaki, 1993; Sternberg et al., 2000). In adults who engage in continual learning, such knowledge and expert functioning increase during the active, involved years of life (Charness & Bosman, 1990; Ericsson & Charness, 1994; Torff & Sternberg, 1998). Any number of experts have conducted investigations showing that learning as well as its associated tacit, procedural knowledge is not related to intelligence or aptitude test scores (e.g., Ceci & Liker, 1986, 1988; Colonia-Willner, 1998). This supports the weak association that has consistently been found between scholastic performance and life success.

Chapter Conclusions

When we integrate adult development and adult learning, a new, burgeoning area of conceptualization, study, and practice emerges. In this hybrid area a number of points are essential. First, when seen as a composite, development and learning occur in a complex adult, one who adapts the self and the environment to changing needs and shows the promise of changing positively in a number of qualitatively unique modes. Necessarily, losses occur with advancing years; however, many adults will continue to develop and learn throughout the adult span of life. In this, adults are prime, active agents, not passive recipients. We recognize, however, that interindividual, cultural, cohort, and societal differences operate. These unique factors militate against any homogeneous concept about adults, their abilities and skills, and their complex, developmental and learning forms and possibilities.

As I have explained, the resources and rich or poor contexts that are available and used by adults interact with experience, heredity, social events, motivations, attitudes, and environmental conditions. As a result, some will show expanded development and learning opportunities and outcomes, while others will manifest the consequence of static or deterrent backgrounds and inclinations. We need to remember as well that although adult abilities do not fully redound to childhood origins and youthful development, and adulthood holds a number of unique abilities, views, skills, and understandings, the earlier life of every adult is always encapsulated within; necessarily, adults exist in a seamless narrative and may not be able to fully escape the deprivations of earlier life. Clearly, however, origins alone should not be held inviolate as the factors that will alone determine an adult trajectory of active control and differentiation.

It will always be necessary to chart adult development and learning in light of attributes that mirror the society and times that embed them, for sociohistorical changes and evolution are permanent forces. In differing societies and eras, some abilities will be emphasized over others, and there will always be dynamic interactions between each context and era and between macro-level societal facets and individual-level development. The macro level is beyond the scope of individual attributes addressed in this handbook. At the individual level, however, it is incumbent on us to forge new knowledge showing the reciprocal influence of development and learning on each other, for such knowledge holds societal implications.

Overview of This Volume

The chapter authors of this volume consider a number of topics and do so from differing viewpoints and levels of appraisal and analysis. As was true of the first edition of this handbook, a variety of topics, dimensions, and attributes are in focus. The reciprocal influence of development on learning and of learning on development remains on the nascent cusp of potential theory and research. Thus, it is not possible to cover the full complement of this hybrid area. Our effort is that of continuing to join two previously separate disciplines of study and practice and, hopefully, to inspire thought and work on the unique ways in which learning and development influence one another. As before, readers will find that the contributors tend to preferentially emphasize development or learning. But the primary question continues as before: Where is there synchrony between these forces and how might researchers and practitioners forge a purposeful unity in which development and learning are seen as co-occurring attributes that together delineate the landscape of adult change through time? Such advances in thought, with all of their inherent complexity and difficulties, should soon define any elaboration of adult potential. Adults themselves, in the display of their various forms and gains in development and learning, demonstrate the catalytic, bidirectional effects of one on the other. We have only to find better ways to study and discover the reasons, augmenting factors, and goal-directed endpoints of the positive trajectory their actions manifest.

(p. 9) To begin the Foundations section, Clark, Merriam, and Sandlin build on Merriam and Clark’s chapter in the handbook’s first edition. There, they had reflected on their own developmental journeys and the ways in which their beginning adult narratives led to the development of identity, insight, and long-standing professional commitments. Their personal stories led them to examine the relationship between development and learning, forces that promote or constrain that relationship, and forms of teaching that foster its interplay and outcomes. In this edition, in Chapter 2, the authors, now joined by Jenny Sandlin, continue to explore the development-learning connection, this time from the meta-narrative of modernity. They consider two counter-narratives, critical cultural pedagogy and non-Western learning and development. They examine individualistic and collectivistic cultures as contexts that penetrate and shape adult learning and development differently, historically and philosophically. The authors lead readers to understand that multiplicity and uncertainty together create a contemporary reality, one in which development and learning continually shift.

Moving to the methodological, Lim examines qualitative research into development and learning in her Chapter 3. She explores generic qualitative research, case study methodology, the process and methodology of grounded theory, and autobiographical narrative research. She explores the growth of qualitative inquiry in the social sciences. She distinguishes between positivistic/post-positivist and interpretive assumptions, carefully defining them and their philosophical perspectives. In pointing us toward future research enterprises, Lim addresses the underutilization of ethnographic research and pinpoints its usefulness in studying the composite of development and learning in contexts, both personal and sociocultural.

In Chapter 4, Caskie surveys quantitative methods in development and learning. She presents a conceptual overview of growth models in general and reviews concepts of multilevel modeling within a latent-variable framework. She provides specific examples and descriptions, urging researchers to employ latent growth modeling in their studies. To Caskie, such an approach is useful in studying change over time, perhaps particularly in a connected discipline.

Lamoreaux and Taylor complete the foundations section of this volume. In their Chapter 5, the authors use the metaphor of “map maker” to describe changes in ways of knowing as learning, developing adults move from a “mapless” station through a level in which they are “multiple map users,” and to their eventual form as “cartographers.” Described is a journey of cognitive development in which adults as eventual cartographers can reconstruct and create anew their maps to that of a shifting, ever more complex world. Educational approaches that support advances in such development are explored.

In four key areas, part III examines the reciprocal fuel of development for learning and learning for development. Schaie and Zanjani’s Chapter 6 explores how continual immersion in learning activities promotes positive cognitive development during the later years of life. The authors include data from the Seattle Longitudinal Study to show that current cohorts are more likely to display more positive cognitive trajectories than earlier cohorts. They claim that protective factors tend to compensate for the cognitive decline and neurological losses that are frequently seen in those of extensive longevity.

In Chapter 7, King and Siddiqui take us to the constructs of self-authorship and metacognition that inform ill-structured problems in college students. The construction of knowledge and developing learners’ advances in evaluating and understanding the basis for their uniquely personal judgments are considered, as are important aspects of intrapersonal and interpersonal development. Higher-order executive processes are carefully considered, along with some scholars’ tendencies to blend or misconstrue metacognition and important aspects of self-regulation. Educational applications are then examined.

Chapter 8 elaborates on the regulation of emotion and its relationship to learning across the adult years. After reviewing current findings about the mechanisms and age variations in the experience of emotion, Consedine considers the myriad ways in which the aging self interacts with learning tasks, motivations, and personal regulatory strategies. As this author ably demonstrates, learning about their own resources, capacities, and tactics aids adults to offset losses in certain important areas with gains in others.

Related to the preceding chapter, in Chapter 9 Wagner and Lang examine the aspects of interpersonal competence and motivation in social contexts. Regulatory strategies of learning in social environs are seen as those methods by which adults themselves actively create and adapt stimulating situations, circumstances, and contexts in their striving (p. 10) for continual development. The theories of socioemotional selectivity and relationship differentiation are focal throughout. The mutual exchange of knowledge is examined in the realms of parenting, work-family roles, and e-learning endeavors. Affective learning and emotional regulation round out the discourse as the authors look to the processes of intrinsic motivation and personal meaning construction.

Chapter 10 begins Part IV on the important self-system in adult development and learning. In this chapter, Kroger and McLean consider the ways in which identity narratives configure development and learning during the adult span of life. They examine identity continuity and change as these relate to development and learning. Importantly, they focus on identity transitions in order to derive principles of intervention that might assist adults during major identity change. Kroger and McLean then provide an example of how identity change processes can be facilitated, and the opportunities such change poses for both development and learning.

Applying the concept of identity transitions, in Chapter 11 Mahler examines mid-life generativity and learning in 21st century careers. She looks to the ways in which major technological, economic, social, and political changes have increased the number of adults who experience mid-life work role transitions. Generativity is considered as the development of a legacy in which adults at mid-life begin seriously to consider what they will leave behind. The author holds that personally volatile alterations in work role transitions provide valuable psychosocial perspectives for examining intertwined development and learning dynamics. The interpretation and mastery of constructive-developmental tasks are seen as mechanisms that support and strengthen identity through self-directed behaviors. In what some have termed “boundaryless careers” as the replacement for earlier long-term, traditional careers, mid-life generativity concerns often become the engine that drives change.

In Chapter 12, Artistico, Berry, Black, Cervone, Lee, and Orom examine the fundaments of self-efficacy as a lens for understanding learning and development in adulthood. Using the perspectives of Cervone’s knowledge-and-appraisal personality architecture and Baltes’s selective optimization and compensation theory, they demonstrate the essential interplay among dispositional, motivational, situational, and developmental attributes that undergird successful adaptation in adulthood. Building on their chapter in the first edition of this handbook, the authors provide fresh evidence concerning the prominence of self-efficacy in adult development, aging, memory maintenance, health, work, and problem-solving arenas. Their unifying theme is that of the individual’s ability to adapt flexibly to opportunities for learning by relying on perceived self-efficacy as a strategy as they navigate the changing cognitive, social, and physical terrains of the adult and late adult years.

Chapter 13 finds Sinnott considering the way adults recreate the self as they face aging, decline, and death. Personal, existential questions are considered in the development of complex thought and learning. Sinnott addresses the ambiguity that is inherent in reconstituting a self that must now reframe and transcend the meaning of a previously constituted self. The very real potential for an identity crisis during this reconstruction is examined, as are the ways in which this may be averted. Portions of the chapter consider how ambiguous loss, a re-examination of meaning, and the development of wisdom and integrity together create an expanded unity. Cognitive processes, the evolving self as fuel for development and learning, and personal coherence frame the author’s examination.

Miller’s Chapter 14 ends the self-system section as he examines how psychoanalysis and spiritual practice can each transform the adult experience in the development and extension of adult maturity. He notes that although the process of psychological transformation has been applied extensively, much of the research has used traditional stage models of development. Miller departs from that tradition, exploring the ways in which the combination of psychotherapy and spiritual practice might potentiate one another. This combination, he explains, might lead to more psychologically complex and advanced levels of maturity.

Part V of the volume addresses the higher reaches of adult development and learning, framed here in terms of creativity, wisdom, morality, religiousness, spirituality, and mindfulness. In Chapter 15, Commons, Ross, and Bresette look to the connection between postformal thought, stage transition, persistence and ambition, and major scientific innovations. Using the four postformal orders of hierarchical complexity, the authors distinguish between normal or everyday creativity and the creativity that inspires major scientific innovations. In terms of their impact, the authors hold that innovative creativity tends to transform assumptions about how the world works. The rarity of such endeavors, the role (p. 11) of postformal cognitive development, and stage transitions in cognitive complexity are examined. The authors then explore scientific ambition and persistence, openness to challenge, and personal traits that show relationships to highly creative innovations.

Bassett then considers forms of wisdom and learning in Chapter 16. Building on her chapter in the first edition of this handbook, she explores definitions, theories, and empirical studies of wisdom. She explains her wisdom model, represented as a dynamic systems approach. Age and cross-cultural differences in wisdom end this part of the chapter and serve as a prelude to her consideration of wisdom in management and leadership. The contributions of neuroscience, the measurement of wisdom, and the teaching and support for the development of wisdom are examined. Throughout, Bassett shows the integrated effects of adult development and learning.

In Chapter 17, Day considers moral, religious, and spiritual development during adulthood. Together, their effects on psychological well-being undergird his discourse, yet Day distinguishes between religious and spiritual development. The chapter looks to the role of psychological science in informing current views and provides an appraisal of Piagetian and neo-Piagetian thought. Day explores findings from recent studies of cognitive complexity as they relate to religious, spiritual, and moral development, and interweaves these with learning. He ends the chapter with a consideration of contributions from object relations, attachment theory, and identity theory as these relate to the higher reaches of the development he explores.

In Chapter 18, the final chapter of this section of the volume, Barner and Barner explore how mindfulness, openness to experience, and transformational learning lead to developmental advances. The authors examine mindful practice and nonjudgmental attitudes as factors that are key to the experience of openness, and consider ways in which adults guard against the dissonance and related threats to self-concept that openness creates. Adult development and learning are framed as facets that are fundamental to the attributes Barner and Barner explore.

Part VI considers certain essential contexts for adult development and learning. The chapters by Demick and by Lanthier and Campbell complement one another, with Demick addressing the way children are catalytic to adult development and learning, and Lanthier and Campbell considering the role of sibling relationships in this respect. Demick integrates 50 years of theory and research in his Chapter 19, explaining that children play an extensive but ill-considered role in adult development. Against a backdrop of historical antecedents that looked only to the unidirectional effects of adults on children’s development, Demick considers bidirectional developmental effects. Then, using a Holistic/Systems-Developmental framework, Demick provides implications for the ways in which children affect parental growth.

In a related and similarly understudied area, Lanthier and Campbell examine the ways in which sibling relationships fuel development and learning opportunities in adulthood. In Chapter 20, they address six areas in which the potential for change is seen: inter-sibling support, caring for aging parents, alcohol use and abuse, divorce and remarriage, mental health and disabilities, and death. They examine the developmental course and key variations in affective qualities. The nexus of learning and development are integrated throughout.

In Chapter 21, focusing on identity and personality, Hoare explores the ways in which paid work sponsors development and learning in the adult years. Noting that the positive effects on individuals of engaging in jobs that foster personal growth have received rather little theoretical and empirical attention, she considers the meaning and evolution of adult identity in a time of high job mobility and the demise of the social contract. She then examines six personality attributes in light of their developmental and learning relationships. These attributes are autonomy, conscientiousness, interpersonal competence (including prosocial behavior), maturity, openness to experience, and intelligence.

Chapter 22 finds Demuth and Keller looking to the roles of prevailing cultures as these foster identity development and learning processes. They show how narrative self-constructions provide insights into the ways culture mediates early socialization practices and adults’ reflections on early personal experiences. Importantly, identity development is considered as a sociocultural adaptation to the environment. The authors examine how autonomy and relatedness infuse and organize the life course. They provide excerpts from life stories to show how the protagonists made sense of their lives in these and other respects.

The final section of the handbook, Part VII, considers how adult development and learning can be measured and applied. In Chapter 23, Dawson and Stein address cycles of research and application in (p. 12) optimal adult learning and development. They explain how the methodology of development maieutics bridges research and practice. The building of collaborative relationships informs their discourse, one in which all participants are learning and developing together.

Drago-Severson examines adult growth through participation in cohorts and collaborative groups in Chapter 24. She focuses on how adults with different developmental characteristics and orientations understand their experiences in such groups, and how cohort and collaborative groups are powerful supports for positive change. Using Kegan’s constructive-developmental theory, the author assesses how levels of development inform perspectives and learning. She then provides practical applications that can enrich teaching practices, structure activities for adult learners at different skill and developmental levels, and ensure classroom designs that facilitate development and learning.

Stevens-Long and Barner, in their Chapter 25, address the intended and unintended consequences in the development of advanced graduate students. They examine the cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes that graduates attribute to their doctoral programs. They note that the integration of intellect and emotion is fundamental to wisdom and is a key characteristic of maturity. As the authors attend to intellectual, emotional, and cognitive development, they consider four developmental pathways to full inclusion in a learning community within the larger society and, along the way, learners’ understanding of their own culturally based assumptions and biases. They conclude with implications for the reformation of doctoral study.

In the final Chapter 26, Rogers, Reisetter Hart, and Mentkowski employ the theories of Loevinger, Kohlberg, Gilligan, and Perry to describe a holistic developmental factor that underlies individual differences. In so doing, they propose features of a structural developmental construct of a moral self that accounts for observed empirical distinctions between cognitive and holistic development. They consider how mutuality with others, openness to experience, and creativity are self-reinforcing, developmental learning processes. They show the relationship among development, learning, and performance. They expand and update their chapter based on their first edition contribution, now adding workplace abilities and learning as well as development across performance settings in relation to learning. Toward the end of their chapter, the authors describe their educational model of the person in terms of “learning that lasts.” They conclude with the bidirectional inclusion of theory in practice and practice in theory.

Part VIII contains a single epilogue chapter. In that Chapter 27, I contemplate key research imperatives that will help us move forward in our understandings about the interplay between adult development and learning. In rounding out the volume, I build on the various contributors’ sense of future directions in their respective areas of study. I also ponder the potential of our endeavors to understand the complex adult who learns and develops in synchrony.


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