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Adult Learning and Leadership
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Adult Learning and Leadership

In the Department of Organization & Leadership

About > Diversity Initiatives
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  • Diversity Initiatives

    Diversity Initiatives in the Adult Learning
    and Leadership Program

    The Adult Learning and Leadership (ALL) program aims to foster transformative learning by helping students surface and challenge their assumptions in order to lead and change themselves and their organizations and communities. Over the past two and half years, a steering committee of ALL faculty, staff and students have been working to improve the ALL program such that it better meets student need and aligns with objectives necessary for success in the 21st century. Based on data from interviews and focus groups with current and former students, one area in which the ALL program could improve is in the representation of diverse viewpoints across the curriculum. The timeline below outlines the work that has already been done as well as outlines future work.

    Adult Learning and Leadership: Timeline of Diversity Initiatives
    Adult Learning and Leadership Diversity Initiative Timeline: List of previous and ongoing Diversity in Teaching and Learning initiatives in the ALL program:

    Date Outcome

    January 2012—June 2012

    Develop 21st century competencies for the Adult Learning and Leadership MA Program

    September 2012—May 2013

    Dean’s Fellowship for Teaching and Diversity:
    —Examining the AEGIS Program: Integrating Diversity into Teaching and Learning

    September 2014

    Dean’s Fellowship for Teaching and Diversity:
    —Using a design thinking process to facilitate a group of students, faculty and staff to address the question, "How might we better engage diversity in the Adult Learning and Leadership program MA?"

    June 2014

    Data gathering: Appreciative Inquiry of best practices and surfacing of issues/concerns

    July 2014

    Begin Literature Review: Best Practices in Diversity in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

    August 2014

    Workshop materials and agenda designed for:
      —Faculty (core and adjuncts) workshops (2)
    —Student Workshops (2)

    Begin Development of online materials

    September—December 2014

    Faculty Workshops (2)
    Student Workshop: November 2014
    Data collection: Ongoing

    January—May 2015

    Student Workshop: February 2015
    Data collection: Ongoing
    Present findings to ALL/TC Community: May 2015

    Summer 2015

    Present findings at conference

    ALL Diversity Initiatives: Additional Resources
    1. Dean's Fellowship for Teaching and Diversity: Debrief and Feedback Prezi: Presentation given by Stacey Robbins to share Design Thinking & Diversity Ideas (Click here for Prezi.)
    2. Grant Application 2014: Grant written by Stacey Robbins and Victoria Marsick for Summer 2014 (Click here to learn more. Click here for PDF).
    3. Teaching and Learning for Critical Reflection on Diversity: The Need to Go Beyond the Western Perspective in a Doctoral Program in Adult Education: Paper Presentation by Maria Liu Wong and Lyle Yorks at AERC 2014 (Click here for PDF).
    Adult Learning and Leadership Competencies
    Adult Learning and Leadership Competency Table: 21st Century Competencies for ALL Masters Program developed by working group of ALL faculty and students.

    Self in SystemReasoning and InquiryCapacity for ChangeLearning & Design TechnologiesImplementation

    Self-awareness & Self-regulation

    Attends to one's internal states including preferences, strengths, limitations, and intuitions; notes impact of performance and personal effectiveness (Wolff, 2006, p. 3) and manages one's own impulses when triggered by leveraging personal resources (Wolff, 2006, p. 3)

    Environmental scanning

    Inquires into and interprets the political, economic, social and technological events and trends which influence a system or organization.

    Instrumental learning

    Applies expertise and tested methods when solving routine problems

    Critical Literacy

    Understands how language and discourse shape the way we understand our history and conceptions of self and society (Foucault, 1980)

    Reflective practices

    Regularly examines past actions and their results in order to self improve (English, 2005; Schön, 1983)

    Collaboration and Team Development

    Works and learns cohesively to achieve common goals

    Problem framing and solving

    Defines and situates challenge or opportunity in relevant context and then applies process to reach solution

    Adaptive Learning

    Learns from experience and thinks and acts with a critical stance in addressing novel situations (p. 16)

    Contextual and Developmental Needs Assessment

    Identifies and considers gaps in relationship to desired states and goals taking into account personal capabilities and Ways of Knowing (Green et al 2006; Bates, 2004)

    Communication (written, verbal and non-verbal)

    Effectively dialogues with others through appropriate use of spoken, written and non-verbal language skills.

    Cultural responsiveness

    Creates a safe learning environment that is knowledgeable, respectful and inclusive of multiple cultural perspectives.

    Critical thinking

    Conceptualizes, analyzes and synthesizes information and beliefs that guide actions.(Scriven & Paul, 2003, in Petress, 2004)

    Transformative Learning

    Critically reflects on assumptions to permit a more inclusive and discriminating integration of experience (Mezirow, 1990)

    Design thinking and program development

    Employs generative thinking and planning process to create innovative initiatives grounded in understanding of adult learning (Brown, 2008)


    Planning and Goal Setting

    Assesses expected length and difficulty of tasks, establisheskey milestones to monitor progress, and defines priorities (Maltbia, 2007, Day 5, p. 17; Lombardo & Eichinger, 2001)



    Creates shared direction, alignment and commitment in order to achieve agreed upon outcomes (Drath, et al., 2008)

    Informed Decision Making

    Considers stakeholders, consequences and evidence in selecting a course of action among alternative scenarios

    Ambiguity and complexity

    Engages in personal and social inquiry processes in unpredictable conditions marked by multiplicity, interdependence, and flux (Based on Courtney, et. al; Richardson & Tait, 2010; Torbert).

    Immersive learning

    Collaborates using interactive technology and other co-creative means (Kapp & O'Driscoll, 2010)

    Ability to Execute

    Manages life and work, using metacognitive skills, to organize and integrate work with others (p. 12)

    Systems thinking

    Understands the relationship and interaction among various bounded elements and how these govern outcomes they produce (Meadows, 2008; Senge, 1990)


    Collects and analyzes information to increase understanding of a topic or issue (Creswell, 2008)

    Creativity and Innovation

    Contributes to the generation and production of new knowledge (p. 15)

    Digital citizenship

    Understands and exercises rights and responsibilities of a participatory democracy with and on the internet


    Uses systematic process to assess the effectiveness of the design and delivery of a program and whether the proposed outcomes were met(Merriam, 2001)

    Please note: All definitions are taken from 21st-Century Competencies and Their Impact: An Interdisciplinary Literature Review (Finegold & Notabartolo, 2010) unless otherwise noted.

    1. Bates, R. (2004). A Critical Analysis of Evaluation Practice: The Kirkpatrick model and the principle of beneficence. Evaluation and Program Planning, 27, 341-347.
    2. Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84-92.
    3. Cafferella, R. S. (2001). Planning programs for adult learners: A practical guide for educators, trainers, and staff developers 2 ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
    4. Courtney, Kirkland, & Viguerie, Strategy under uncertainty, Harvard Business Review, November-December, 1997; 
    5. Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational Research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.
    6. Drath, W. H., McCauley, C. D., Palus, C. J., Van Velsor, E., O'Connor, P. M., & McGuire, J. B. (2008). Direction, alignment, commitment: Toward a more integrative ontology of leadership.The Leadership Quarterly,19(6), 635-653.
    7. English, Leona M. (2005) International encyclopedia of adult education. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
    8. Finegold, D., & Notabartolo, A. S. (2010). 21st century competencies and their impact: An interdisciplinary literature review.Transforming the US Workforce Development System: Lessons from Research and Practice
    9. Kapp, K. & O'Driscoll, T. (2010). Learning in 3D: Adding a new dimension to enterprise learning and collaboration, San Francisco: Pfieffer: A Wiley Imprint.
    10. Green, M. G., Linsey, J. S., Seepersad, C. C. & Wood, K. L. (2006). Frontier Design: A Product Usage Context Method. IDETC/CIE Conference Proceeedings, Philadelphia, PA.
    11. Lombardo, M. M. & Eichinger, R. W. (2001).. The Leadership Architect: Competency Sort Cards, v. 10.1.a Minneapolis, MN: Lominger Limited, Inc. Card #47.
    12. Maltbia, T. E. (2007). Internal Coach Intensive (ICI)--Columbia Coaching Certification Program. New York, NY: Teachers College Columbia University. Participant’s Binder, Day 5 p. 17.
    13. Meadows, D. (2008). Thinking in Systems: A primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
    14. Mezirow, J. (1990). How critical reflection triggers transformative learning.Fostering critical reflection in adulthood, 1-20.
    15. Petress, K. (2004). Critical Thinking: An Extended Definition. Education, 124(3), 461.
    16. Richardson, K. A., & Tait, A. (2010). The death of the expert?.Complexity and Knowledge Management, 23-39.
    17. Schön, Donald A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books.
    18. Senge, Peter M. (Ed.). (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.
    19. Torbert, W. (2004).Action inquiry: The secret of timely and transforming leadership. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
    20. Wolff, S. B. (2006). Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI): Technical Manual. Boston, MA: HayGroup McClelland Center for Research and Innovation.