ADAPT Program -- Accent on Developing Abstract Processes of Thought


Date of this Version

October 1982


As a second generation ADAPT staff member, the first to add an essay to this series, it properly falls to me to extend the reflections of my colleagues.

Before doing so, let me outline my relationship to the ADAPT Program. Piagetian theory attracted me for several reasons; most of them are alluded to elsewhere in this book. I had first become aware of Piaget's work about ten years ago when participating in a teacher training project, but had not worked out its implications for college teaching very fully. So I was curious when I heard of the ADAPT Program and kept in touch with Professor Narveson of my department as it developed. I had no more than occasional contact with the founding seminar, made but small contribution to the formation of the Workshop, and had no close contact with the first year's activity. But my interest in the project and in the Program's development made me a logical choice for inclusion when it became clear that professional demands on the staff would require recruitment of new faculty. So, after a summer of study (subsidized to the equivalent of one course), I joined the ADAPT staff in English and have taught in the program for two years.

I should be clear that I am not a psychologist, that my report is based on the experience of an amateur. Hard assessment must come, and is coming, from others competent to develop and assess the data. Further, I make no claims of magical success. The invention of learning cycles is hard work, their outcome is not always predictable nor their success assured. Students frequently resist the demands such exercises make upon them, especially when those exercises are not part of their regular educational experience. (One advantage of the ADAPT Program is that its students come to expect such exercises as normal.) Further, intellectual growth is a long term process, one which seems to follow circuitous routes, often by fits and starts. But I believe my experience validates, and the evaluations (elsewhere in this book) support, the claim that the program has beneficial effects on students. Personally I have found the frustrations of my own teaching are diminished when I have a theoretical base on which to build a coherent set of classroom procedures. It is a relief to know how to plan what exercises might work with students and how to examine my procedures in the face of failure. I feel pedagogically vital without feeling I have resorted to suspicious fads or to hit-or-miss tricks.

My colleagues have covered that territory pretty well. What I should like to do is to explore some understandings we have gained in further experience over the last several years.