|Interactive Distance Education
for the Adult Learner:
What’s up next? What’s in it for the teacher?
The following is the main section of an email message written by Prof. Bruce Roberts of St. Olaf College, sent on 9/20/95. His ideas are those incorporated into the outline of the presentation.
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 1995 10:06:57 -0500
To: Mark Warschauer
Cc: Lonnie Turbee
Subject: Re: Definitions of empowerment…
**What are empowering processes anyway?
Riger (1993) argues strongly that such conceptualizations are unhelpful. She indicates that in our multicultural society we can not afford to think about empowerment just in “traditional” terms like mastery, power, autonomy, conflict and competition. In fact, we can not give empowerment
Thankfully, empowering processes are increasingly being identified as involving an organizational climate of collaborative action and learning-oriented norms (Argyris, 1983) infused with a reciprocity of knowing, helping, linking and caring (Maton, 1987; Roberts & Thorsheim, 1988). Maton and Rappaport (1984) linked empowerment with a psychological sense of community and a commitment to others in the setting, and Thorsheim and Roberts (1990) reported on the importance of engagement of people together in activities and the sharing of personal stories of one’s own involvement in life as a key to empowering outcomes. Such connection of
**The skills of affirming the contributions of each other
There is a problematic silence in much of the literature on specific skills needed in order to create a climate in which people can feel empowered. Perhaps affirming others is seen as such an obvious and natural behavior that it hardly can be called a “skill”. On the other hand, the research is
In a number of informal studies Roberts and Thorsheim (See for example, 1987) have identified skills which facilitate an empowering community, as being actively involved with others in meaningful activities, noticing what others do well and commenting on those characteristics to them, active listening, using the ideas of others and publicly acknowledging them for their ideas, showing interest and enthusiasm for new ideas/projects of others, thinking aloud, using the names of others when talking to them, and asking for help from others.
There clearly are some quite specific skills, which if used by members of a community as they interact with each other, will assist in developing an empowering organizational climate.
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Argyris, C. (1983) Action science and intervention. The Journal of
Bond M. & Keys C., (1993) Empowerment, diversity, and deliberation:
Maton, K. & Rappaport, J. (1984) Empowerment in a religious setting: A
Maton, K. (1987) Patterns and psychological correlates of material
Rappaport, J. Seidman, E., Toro, P., McFadden, L. Reischl, T., Roberts, L.,
Rappaport, J. (1987) Terms of empowerment/exemplars of prevention: Toward
Riger, S. (1993) What’s wrong with empowerment? American Journal of
Roberts, B. & Thorsheim, H. (1986) A partnership approach to consultation:
Roberts, B. & Thorsheim, H. (1987) Empowering Leadership: A Brief
Thorsheim, H. & Roberts, B. (1990) Empowerment through reminiscing:
Zimmerman M. & Rappaport J. (1988) Citizen participation, perceived