The work of Paul Emile Bergevin: Adult education pioneer

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Roger Hiemstra


Bergevin, Paul Emile, Adult education

Subject Categories



This dissertation focuses on the life and contributions of Paul Emile Bergevin to the philosophy and practice of university based Adult Education in the United States. The introduction explains the need for adult educators to understand their history and describes reasons why Bergevin is a good subject for an analysis. I discuss biography as a form of history and continue with a brief description of the analysis that follows in the remainder of the dissertation.

Chapter one traces Bergevin's life. I trace his intellectual development through his writings and actions. I illustrate how his early writings became the framework for the development of his instructional design model and of his educational philosophy. I describe his early experiences as an educational administrator and illustrate how these early experiences influenced the manner in which he developed the academic program he created at Indiana University. In my chronology of Bergevin's writings I illustrate the interconnections between his philosophy, his instructional design and his program at Indiana.

Chapter two describes and analyzes Bergevin's landmark book A Philosophy for Adult Education. It was the publication of this book that cemented Bergevin's reputation as an educational philosopher. In this chapter, I present the principles upon which Bergevin built his philosophy and show how his instructional design model mirrors those principles. I analyze Bergevin's discussion of problems facing adult educators and concepts they should use to implement educational programs. Connections are drawn between the problems facing adult educators and the solutions to these problems that are inherent in his instructional design model.

Chapter three analyzes Bergevin's instructional design model. His model, known as Participation Training, is broken down into several components. The principles on which the design is based are described. The design itself is analyzed and connections are drawn between participants' roles within the model and the behaviors desired in a democratic society as described in Bergevin's philosophy book.

Chapter four describes the Bureau of Studies of Adult Education Bergevin created at Indiana University. The history of the bureau and the individuals employed within the bureau are traced. The foci of the bureau at various times in its history are described and related to the development of his philosophy. Requirements for the various degrees offered by the bureau are described. Required courses and Bergevin's teaching style are described.

In the conclusion, I pull together Bergevin's instructional design model, his program at Indiana, and his philosophy of adult education and show the connections between them and illustrate how an understanding of his instructional design, his philosophy, and his program is enhanced by an understanding of all three.


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