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Program Planning Models for Adult


Let us start by saying, that planning on the whole and planning educational process in particular is a very complex thing due to a number of reasons that are characteristic for this type of activity. It must be mentioned that the context of planning and social factors connected with the planning influence it greatly. Besides, planning is a complex process, because it is connected with the future and moreover, it is aimed at the establishment of control of the future events.

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Planners are people who manage the process of planning, create aims and establish criteria and guidelines for planning. Cervero (1994) says: “… program planners … are practical theorists who must use their intuition to make judgments about what to do in specific contexts …” (p. 19). In the course of history, different planners applied various models of education program planning and the estimation of their value and efficiency should be done in order to maximize the learning opportunities.

Main Body

Linear Model of Adult Education Program Planning

It is necessary to mention that defining a “program planning model”, Caffarella (2002) states that program planning model is usually built up with the help of ideas of about the way how programs should be put together and what is necessary to guarantee a successful result.

It should be mentioned that there is a great variety of program planning models – ranging from very simplistic, for instance, those that are built of less than 5 steps to very complex ones. Linear model may be imagined as the path that defines major steps to final completion of the task. As an example of a simplistic linear model the following plan may be considered: first of all, the planners should create and develop the idea; then they make up the program; the third step is the material delivery and final step is the assessment of the results. So, this is the example of a linear planning model that was a called-for planning model some twenty years ago. The reasons for high popularity and need for this planning model may be explained by the fact that it certainly simplifies the task of the planner and provides a certain level of security as in the case when a person follows a recipe of an apple pie from a cookery book when cooking. It is always easier to follow someone’s experience than to make something from scratch.

Knowles (2005) suggests the following model of planning that is the example of linear planning model: to establish an organizational climate; to establish a structure (committees and other structures to support and promote adult education within th organization); to assess needs and interests; to translate needs into programs objectives; to design a program; to operate and evaluate it (Foley,2004, p.108).

Still, in our case this type of planning is preferable only for newcomers, for those planners who have no experience, but soon its appeal is sure to vanish, because this planning model does not agree with day-to-day reality of the majority of program planners. Thus, we can say that the usage of conceptual model of training program planning is far more useful and reasonable.

Conceptual Model of Adult Training Program Planning

Let us mention that conceptual model of adult training program planning is more promising and useful, especially in case of the educational process is aimed at adult students. Boone, E.J., Safrit, R.D., and Jones, J. (2002) suggest a model that is based on a “systemic approach” that consists of three subprocesses. “Each of [processes] is guided by a number of assumptions, is contingent on several organizational concepts, and is made of a number of “processual tasks” (Foley, 2004, p.108). This is the definition of the conceptual model of program planning. The good example of such model is Caffarela’s (2002) twelve-component “interactive model”. She presents the model in the shape of a circle and the author stresses that her model is not sequential in comparison with the linear model. This enables the planner to start the process from any step that is the most useful at the present moment. Each step reminds the program planner about the whole planning process and necessary results.

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This planning model is based on several assumptions suggested by Caffarella (2002): necessity of preplanning and possibilities of planning at the last moment; focusing on learning; paying special attention to diversity of students and differences in cultures; taking into account that program planners are learners.

Planning adult education in a holistic way also presupposes the usage of conceptual model of planning. Kilgore, D. (2003) says: “To view the program planning process holistically is to view all it components as inseparable from one another” (p.81). She emphasizes the fact that the process of planning becomes unique when adult students are in mind.

Lifelong Educational Program Planning has been studied by many scholars (Jarvis, 2004), (Field, 2006), (Bank, 2003). They have proved that it is the one that may be referred to as an example of the practical usage of conceptual planning model. It includes the following elements: “exercising professional responsibility, engaging relevant context, designing the program, and managing administrative aspects” (Kilgore, 2003, p. 82). Practice has shown the strength of this approach.


Drawing a conclusion, it should be stated, those linear models may be applied mostly with usual students, but conceptual model is more preferable with adult students, because they form a specific group of students. Still, program planners “must deal with the constraints of the institution or setting in which they work, with the resources and available to them, and with people – from supervisors to potential learners…” (Merriam and Brockett, 2007, p.121).

Reference List

Boone, E.J., Safrit, R.D., and Jones, J. (2002). Developing programs in adult education, A Conceptual Programming Model, 2nd ed. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

Cafferella, R. (2002). Planning programs for adult learners: A practical guide for educators, trainers and staff developers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cervero, R. and Wilson, A. (1994). Planning responsibly for adult education: A guide to negtotiating power and interest. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Field. J. (2006). Lifelong Learning and the the New Educational Order. Sterling: Trentham Books.

Foley, G. (2004). Dimentions of Adult Learning: Adult Education and Training ia a global Era. Maryborough: Allen & Unwin.

Jarvis, P. (2004). Adult Education and Lifelong Learning: Theory and Practice. NY: Routlege.

Kilgore, D. (2003). Planning programs for adults. New Directions for Student Services, 102, 81–88.

Knowles, M.S., Holton E. F., Swanson R.A. (2005). The Adult Learner: the Definitive Classic in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. USA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Merriam, S.B. and Brockett, R.G. (2007). The Profession and Practice of Adult Education: An Introduction. San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons.

World Bank (2003). Lifelong learning in the global knowledge economy: challenges for developing countries. Washimgton D.C.: World Bank Publications.

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