Cultures of Program Planning in Adult Education

Concepts, Research Results and Archives

by Bernd Käpplinger (Volume editor) Steffi Robak (Volume editor) Marion Fleige (Volume editor) Aiga von Hippel (Volume editor) Wiltrud Gieseke (Volume editor)
©2017 Monographs 283 Pages


This book is a unique approach in relating mutually international and comparative research from scholars on program planning for adults. Program planning is about needs, finding topics, making offers and bundling different contents. It makes organizations of adult education visible and contributes to their existence and is therefore a core activity of the professionals in adult education. The volume originates from an international conference hosted by Leibniz-University Hannover, which was organized by a plural expert group with key actors at Humboldt-University Berlin and the German Institute for Adult Education. The authors demonstrate the unique research method program analysis and present archives which offer an established infrastructure for heterogeneous research questions.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction (Bernd Käpplinger / Steffi Robak / Marion Fleige / Aiga von Hippel / Wiltrud Gieseke)
  • Section I: Concepts and Approaches
  • Programs, Program Research, Program-planning Activities – Rhizome-like Developments (Wiltrud Gieseke)
  • Programs, Organizations and Providers in Adult Education – Insights from Program Analyses in Adult Education Organizations in Germany (Steffi Robak / Marion Fleige)
  • American Perspectives on Adult Education Program Evaluation (Alan B. Knox)
  • Tackling the endpoint enigma (Ralf St. Clair)
  • Section II: Comparative Studies
  • Models of Program Planning in Germany and in North America – A Comparison (Aiga von Hippel / Bernd Käpplinger)
  • The Relationship between Organizations of Adult and Further Education and Program Design as illustrated by the Comparative Study on Germany and Poland (Wiltrud Gieseke / Sylwia Słowińska / Hanna Solarczyk / Helga Stock)
  • Addressing 21st Century Learners – A Comparative Analysis of Pictures and Images in Programs of Adult Education Providers in Canada and Germany (Bernd Käpplinger)
  • A Comparative Inter-Institutional Perspective on Program Planning in Germany (Lisa Marie Lorenz / Claudia Pohlmann)
  • Section III: Country Studies
  • An Empirical Study of the Construction of Programmes for Adult Online Higher Education in China (Bai Bin / Li Mixue)
  • Programs and Cooperation in “Adjunctive” Adult Education – The Example of Arts Education in Museums in Germany (Marion Fleige / Inga Specht)
  • Understanding Need in Program Planning within the Context of Career Based Basic Education: Insights from the USA (Amy D. Rose / Marion Fleige)
  • Provider Accreditation and Program Planning as Policy Levers for Continuing Medical Education (Ronald M. Cervero)
  • Challenges and Contradictions of Programme Planning in Russia (Tatiana Mukhlaeva / Irina Sokolova)
  • Responsible Planning for North Korean Refugees as Adult Learners (Romee Lee / Kyung-Ran Roh)
  • Section IV: Archives
  • The Austrian Archives of Adult Education (Stephan Ganglbauer / Christian H. Stifter)
  • The Program-Archive of the DIE – Background, Development and challenges (Klaus Heuer)
  • The Archive of Programs of Adult Education and Further Education Berlin/Brandenburg: A Collection in progress (Wiltrud Gieseke / Aiga von Hippel & Maria Stimm & Iva Georgieva & Stephanie Freide)
  • Contributors
  • Series index

← 8 | 9 →

Bernd Käpplinger & Steffi Robak & Marion Fleige & Aiga von Hippel & Wiltrud Gieseke


This anthology refers back to the international conference ‘Cultures of program planning in adult education: policies, autonomy, and innovation’, which was held in Hannover on September 28th – 29th, 2015. For the present volume, we assembled some of the papers presented at the conference and added some additional papers by other international colleagues interested in theory and research on cultures of program planning in adult education. The conference was a cooperative effort by the Leibniz University Hannover, the German Institute for Adult Education, Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning, and the Humboldt University, Berlin. It was organized by the expert group on program planning and analyses in Germany (https://www.die-bonn.de/institut/dienstleistungen/servicestellen/programmforschung/default.aspx). The following members of this expert group were in charge of the call for papers: Dr. Marion Fleige and Dr. Klaus Heuer (German Institute for Adult Education, Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning), Prof. Aiga von Hippel, Prof. Bernd Käpplinger, Prof. Wiltrud Gieseke (Humboldt University, Berlin), Prof. Steffi Robak (Leibniz University Hannover). The conference was funded by the institutions named above and by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG).

Until that date, program planning in adult education had not been subject of a single conference at the international level, yet, ‒ a rather surprising fact, considering that the planning and provision of programs for adults is one of the core activities of the professional personnel working in adult education. Furthermore, crucial issues of adult education regarding policies, autonomy, or innovation can be focused upon by taking a closer look at programs and by investigating the mechanisms of their development. The professional action of program planning comprises all activities required for developing programs, individual educational courses, or projects. It is about finding topics, formulating offers and bundling different contents into programs or even profiles of organizations of adult and further education. Program planning secures the curricular structures/supply structures of organizations of adult and further education; – it even and above all legitimizes the organization as such. Programs reveal trends and developments in the diverse content areas (areas of study) of adult and further education (arts and culture, health, languages, professional training, basic education, etc.). They ← 9 | 10 → throw light on the specific concept of education. They reflect a specific period of time as well as the groups of addressees they are aimed at, not just in the manner in which these are addressed. Analyses of programs and of planning actions create links with various other discourses. These can refer to types of organizations (adult education center, university, company and so forth), to topic or content areas (e.g. art/cultural education), to regions and localities (e.g. Berlin and Brandenburg), to educational-political instruments and policies (education vouchers, paid educational leave), or to individual providers (e.g. Protestant Adult Education). Program analysis also takes into consideration the presentation of programs, the aim of which is, on the one hand, to reach the target groups and, on the other, to document the courses offered. A program may be distributed in the form of a book, a brochure, a flyer, through the internet, or as an advertisement in newspapers etc. And, last but not least, program analysis comprises the forms and strategies of planning actions as such and their framework conditions.

Based on these considerations, the following aspects and research questions were chosen as topics for the international conference ‘Cultures of program planning in adult education: policies, autonomy, and innovation’ (or, at least, for the call for papers), with the focus being kept on accentuations in the field of policies, autonomy, and innovation in program planning:

Hard factors in program planning are policies, legal regulations, and financing flows. Adult education relies on active processes of institutionalization. In the field of schooling, these would in most countries be regulated through compulsory school attendance and through a more or less nationwide state provision of schooling. This is not the case in the field of adult education, where the program put forward by the respective adult education organization is flexible and where creative concepts and pedagogical professionalism are dependent on the pedagogues responsible for the planning actions. Thus, policies and modes of financing are required to secure the interplay between supply and demand and the organizations of adult and further education needed in that equation. Within this framework, program planning requires the consideration of institutional and social structures of expectations with regard to adult education and its use (or benefits), of social needs and individual learning needs. These planning activities are ensured by the educational management, which secures the resources, announces the programs to the public and, in cooperation with the planners, decides on program priorities, thus shaping the content-related profile of the respective organization of adult and further education. ← 10 | 11 →

Within these fields of tension specific to adult and further education, actions of program planning are characterized by leeways and restrictions, dependencies and paradoxes. Those members of the pedagogical staff responsible for planning need to create a balance between the diverse demands and their personal pedagogical and professional convictions. This process has been defined as “alignment action” (“Angleichungshandeln”) by Gieseke/Gorecki (2000). There are manifold ways of developing a program or an offer of a range of courses, ranging from innovations or continuations of tested classes (that sold well) to adjustments and reconceptualizations. According to the empirical insights gained so far, pedagogical innovations behave not only reactively, they also proactively lay the ground for social developments. Planning is carried out in a successive mode, based on sedimentary forms of planning action (“knowledge islands”/“Wissensinseln”, ibid.), which allow for relative autonomy and for professionalism in these actions.

Within the international context, different concepts have evolved which subsume these complex activities: program planning, program delivery, curricular development. In addition to obvious conceptual differentiations used to describe similar forms of action, these concepts suggest different foci emphasizing planning, management, or processes of institutionalization. These could, in turn, point to subtle differences in acting, to different theoretical traditions, or to differences in the forms of institutions, in the structures of the systems, or in the policies regarding adult and further education.

Against this background, the following questions were addressed by the expert group at the international conference on program planning: How does a program evolve? What are the guiding didactic and theoretical premises, fields of knowledge, and educational-theoretical interpretations? What is the scope of action within the framework of political and other management interests in the diverse countries? Which autonomous scopes of action exist? How do program innovations emerge and which content-related program innovations are at present evident in the different countries? Which types of adult and further education organizations develop these programs in the respective countries? How are program planners prepared for their job in the respective countries? Which forms of presentation are used for the programs in the different countries and how are they meant to promote target-group appeal? The investigations into these issues were presented at the conference in order to clarify country specifics; however, they also provided information on basic comparative categories, developments, and questions. Which work concepts ‒ that will certainly differ from one country to ← 11 | 12 → another ‒ do we presuppose? What do the respective conceptualizations depend upon and which implications do they carry?

The conference had five objectives:

  1. To stimulate exchange between scholars and to establish international networks in the field of program planning and program analysis, because adult education is increasingly confronted with the challenge of implementing scientific dialogue and networking in transnational and international contexts.
  2. To make research on program planning and program analysis more visible on an international level. To analyze and compare different models used to explain program planning. To contextualize program planning within diverse national and international contexts. To shed light on tensions and contradictions between new public management, educational actions and provisions.
  3. To identify comparative frameworks for international research on program planning. To highlight differences and commonalities with regard to terminologies, categories, theories, and methods. To map the field of research on program planning.
  4. To present existing archives that collect programs. To discuss possible ways of access and of meeting new challenges, such as the digital shift. To investigate the innovations made possible by being able to access programs worldwide rather easily via the internet.
  5. To make visible study programs in adult education designed to teach program planning. To examine how key competences in program planning are being taught. To identify the challenges to be encountered and the diverse innovative solutions to be found in the teaching of program planning, – a field that is generally not considered fashionable at present.

As stated before, this anthology assembles some of the papers presented at the conference as well as papers by other colleagues from different countries who also did research or theory building on the matters and problems of program planning in adult education outlined above.

The first section of the book addresses concepts of and approaches to programs and program planning. Two of the contributions in this section cover both theoretical considerations and systematizations of theory and research (Gieseke; Robak & Fleige). The other two contributions introduce practical concepts of and approaches to program planning and evaluation from different theoretical angles (Knox and St. Clair). The section combines concepts and approaches from – so far – both a North American and a ‘German’ perspective, thus triggering a comparative discourse. ← 12 | 13 →

Wiltrud Gieseke offers fundamental theoretical interpretations of “Programs, Program Research, Program Planning Activities” and the recently observed “Rhizome-like developments” in the field. Relying on program analyses available in Germany and on observations from the Archive of Programs of Adult Education and Further Education in Berlin/Brandenburg (see section four), Gieseke describes current developments in the highly flexible field of adult and further education. By systematizing the studies according to their objectives, the concept of the ‘program’ is considered in a substantial theoretical manner. One of the contribution’s focal points is that type of program analysis that identifies program structures in exemplary regions of Germany and across providers. The conceptual notion of the “rhizome”, derived from Deleuze and Guattari, is discussed. It is linked to Gieseke’s analyses of the relatively (in)dependent professional actions of program planning in manifold areas of tension. Gieseke outlines recent tendencies in adult education as an ever more pluralistic and market-driven field. Against this background, professional challenges for program planning are discussed.

Some of the program analyses introduced by Gieseke also put forward “classifications” of adult education institutions and organizations. We consider such classifications important to an understanding of the field. Thus, the paper by Robak and Fleige included in this volume takes up and deepens this perspective in discussing “Programs, Organizations and Providers in Adult Education” and by presenting “Insights from Program Analyses in Adult Educations in Germany”. The authors address a specific theoretical issue raised in the discourse on programs and program planning: the interrelation of particular programs, program structures and profiles, on the one hand, and the organizational form of the respective educational institution, such as adult education centers, academies, etc., on the other. Furthermore, the providers’ influence on the programs is discussed. Robak and Fleige base their study on the specific example of cultural and intercultural education (leading back to the study on programs in cultural education by the German-Polish research team introduced in section two of this book, see below). They support their argument regarding interrelations and tensions in the field with findings from two recent studies. The authors close with an outlook on further (comparative) studies on the issues raised in their contribution.

In the subsequent chapter, Knox provides “American Perspectives on Adult Education Program Evaluation”. The article makes visible actors, decisions, and processes in program evaluations and proposes different tools. Moreover, several dimensions of evaluations ‒ such as “objectives”, “focus”, “methods”, “influences”, and “outcomes” ‒ are addressed, so that the reader gains a brief, but substantial insight into evaluation methodology. However, in order to promote professional ← 13 | 14 → awareness of evaluation strategies, Knox unfolds the multifaceted aspects of evaluation taking into account both the diverse structure of “stakeholders” and practical examples from the field. Thus, a comprehensive picture not only of evaluation standards, but also of adult education structures and programs in North America is painted. In the paper’s final section, the comparative value of this angle on adult education programs is stated – not without illustrating current institutional and financial shortfalls that often form barriers to professional action.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (May)
Weiterbildung Erwachsenenbildung Programmplanung Internationaler Vergleich Bildungsforschung Programmanalyse
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2017. 283 pp., 19 b/w graph., 15 b/w tab.

Biographical notes

Bernd Käpplinger (Volume editor) Steffi Robak (Volume editor) Marion Fleige (Volume editor) Aiga von Hippel (Volume editor) Wiltrud Gieseke (Volume editor)

Bernd Käpplinger is Professor at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen. Steffi Robak is Professor at Leibniz University Hannover. Aiga von Hippel and Wiltrud Gieseke are Professors at Humboldt-University Berlin. Marion Fleige is Head of Department "Programmes and Participation" at the German Institute for Adult Education in Bonn.


Title: Cultures of Program Planning in Adult Education
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291 pages