Dissertation Proposal Defense by Valerie Townsend Livesay

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

Friday, April 20, 2012 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.


Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, Room 201

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110






Constructive-development theory proposes that context is paramount in the construction of meaning and focuses on humans evolving beyond their current capacity to make meaning of the world. Constructive-development has been the foundation for several models of human transformation, many of which are based on stage development theory, which posits that individuals move through different stages or action logics, over the course of their lives. A recent review of literature on the leading stage theories concluded that most research has focused on exploring stages and their behavioral correlates, but little work has been done on how individuals move between stages.

Stage theory has primarily been conceived of as a linear and unidirectional transition from one stage to the next, which encompasses all earlier stages, but emerging research has revealed that stage transition may be more fluid and bidirectional than originally thought. Limited research has begun to show that developmental movement, while primarily forward-moving, does involve fallback to earlier stages in certain circumstances, and this fallback to an earlier stage of meaning-making may prompt learning that can lead to growth.

The purpose of this study is to examine the phenomenon of fallback through a series of interviews with five key thinkers in the field of adult and leader development. Key thinkers are those who have done extensive thinking around models of developmental theory that one or several of the originators of the theory created, and have integrated these models into their own research and application. This study will use grounded theory methodology to address how these key thinkers understand the fallback phenomenon within their own theoretical frame. The research questions that guide this study are: how do key thinkers in the fields of adult and leader development understand the fallback phenomenon within their own theoretical frame? How does each key thinker make sense of the stories that post-conventional-measured individuals tell about their fallback experiences? How do we more deeply understand the fallback phenomenon as situated within current developmental theory? And, how might the fallback phenomenon be researched with participants in the future?

**Open to USD faculty and graduate communties