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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: This book serves as a foundational work bringing together the fields of development and learning by evaluating the intersection of their rudiments, higher reaches of development and learning, essential contexts, and specific applications.
Purpose: According to the editor, the purpose is to introduce a conceptual integration of adult development and learning. This is done from different frames of reference and levels of analysis. The focus is on the continued development of adults throughout the lifespan — an area typically neglected in the developmental literature.
Audience: The editor does not indicate a specific audience. In major measure, this book appears to be targeted at students and those teaching courses on these topics, not practitioners or clinical researchers. The editor's peer-reviewed publication record is minimal and focuses mostly on the unpublished papers of Erickson. With a few exceptions, many of the contributing authors also seem to have gained their expertise from years of teaching, giving talks, or life experience on these topics, rather than from rigorous scientific contributions. Those researchers who have made resounding seminal contributions to this field are conspicuously missing from the list of contributing authors.
Features: The immediately noticeable feature upon opening this book is its small and dense print, making it demanding to read. In addition, there is frequent overlap between chapters, which can be tedious. The chapter on methodology is absent of unique contributions to the topics of development and learning, and provides an all-too-brief summary of general methodological issues. While it is difficult to identify specific problems with other chapters, the main points in each chapter are arduous to tease out for some reason. It is difficult to see the overarching relevance of each chapter and how it fits into the framework of the book. Several authors indicate that there is little empirical research on these topics, but they themselves have clearly not endeavored to build this body of scientific knowledge. The only strength of the book is that the existing literature is reviewed satisfactorily and references to important articles are included.
Assessment: This is clearly a fledgling attempt at creating a handbook. It tends to read like a review article, which includes topics from adult development and learning, but does not clearly integrate them, as was the purported goal. There are a few worthwhile chapters for those interested in this area, but there is significant work left before this can be considered a handbook in anything more than name. Many fields are interrelated and deserve a multidisciplinary look, but this book falls short of convincing that a handbook devoted to a new integrated field of development and learning is necessary.