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Cynthia Stevens


Assistant Professor
College of Professional Studies and Advancement
School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Programs/Classes Taught:


ABS 300 Adult Development & Learning

ABS 309 Critical Thinking  & Writing

ABS 400 Methods of Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences

ABS 401 Independent Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences

LAS 331 Dynamics of Group Behavior

LAS 426 Multicultural Dimensions

LAS 105 Intoductions to Sociology

LAS 300 Contemporary World Cultures


Additional courses taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels at other institutions can be provided.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Prior learning assessment and constructing knowledge through expereience.
  • Coaching youth sports
  • Volunteerism
  • Health and wellness coaching
  • Training adults


I was inspired to teach when a professor introduced perspective transformation and showed the movie “Educating Rita.” She explained that people could be transformed through education. Her words, in addition to my experiences as an adult learner have fostered my inquiry into many facets of adult education and adult learning. A few of my professors, when I had returned to school, had influences on my trajectory in adult education, however, it was the manner in which they connected with students while facilitating open discussions on concepts and theories that ultimately motivated students and myself to reach deeper understandings in our courses and fueled my desire to teach in higher education. As an adult educator I believe “we make the road by walking” and I am committed to: (1) challenging students to seek knowledge, sharing open dialogue in class, and encouraging transformation through education, (2) continuing to research and produce publications and presentations in adult/higher education topics, and (3) practice and promote lifelong learning.

To achieve my goals with students I utilize both andragogy assumptions and pedagogical concepts. I do use a facilitation method for my course delivery and I try to limit the actual lecturing that I do in class. I prefer to bring topics to open discussion by encouraging full participation of my students. I acknowledge that students bring with them a wealth of experiences as well as their own identities and I find opportunities for the students to share their knowledge and find avenues that connect classwork to real-world application. I utilize active learning, student presentations, and group projects in class. I realize that classrooms are full of different kinds of learners, so I incorporate auditory learning through verbal activities, I use PowerPoint presentations and video clips for visual learners, and I actively engage the students through participation in course activities in class and online. I work to find many resources for each class that I teach.

In a course that I have taught entitled “Linking Theory to Practice” I worked with graduate students on their last course in their master’s program. I designed the steps to not only revisit concepts from throughout their program, but also expand and proceed into new concepts. I believe in the importance of understanding my students, so I had conversations with each about their goals for their degree and how their degree would benefit their practice. In the course I used journaling to reach introspection through reflection on topics related to sensitive subjects such as spirituality in adult education. I opened the topic by presenting a PowerPoint conversation over the current research and debate in the area of spirituality and religion in adult education. I highlighted the confusion about the topic. I brought in the works of bell hooks, Paulo Friere, and Myles Horton, and contemporary writers such as Elizabeth Tisdell and introduced the connection adult education and spirituality both have to social justice. For many students this was their first endeavor in understanding social change. Fostering critical thought on social justice is valuable to both the practice and understanding adult education. Recommendations were given to each student to build a professional library with course books and additional outside reading in books, electronic files, and printed articles. This became another means for sharing information between students when they found new sources.

I guide the students to select their own topics related to their research interests for a small paper that they present in class. For final papers I encourage students to connect topics from the course to their capstone for their degree. I bring in examples of final papers and use a jigsaw learning session to read through them and then bring open discussion on both the topics and the structure of the papers. I incorporate the use of rubrics to help students format their papers and to itemize learning/grading criteria. I encourage students to submit drafts prior to the final paper deadline to promote a better understanding of how their paper is being assessed. I strive to bring the students into a deeper understanding of their program and brainstorm ways to link their work to their practice.

I have a vast interest in topics in adult education and higher education. I have studied the global use of prior learning assessment and often discuss my views of knowledge construction and understanding. I am intrigued by the use of recognizing prior learning in higher education as a means to right the social injustices of Apartheid in South Africa. I bridge the topics with explanations about the use of this process for social transformation. I incorporate the study of learning and knowing from Non-Western, Postmodern, Critical Theory, and Feminist perspectives. I compare and contrast these and make each perspective accessible to my students. I encourage students to incorporate the ways of knowing into their practice by using in-class exercises that showcase learning and knowing along with philosophical perspectives. I use surveys that were created to narrow into philosophical perspectives and then have the students actively research perspectives and present them to the class. I then request a journal entry and ask students to either agree or disagree with what the survey results labeled as their philosophical perspective and ask them to expand with specific reasons in their analysis.

Ultimately my hope is that my students continue their quest for knowledge and skill building. I encourage critical thinking and help the students identify their path while in higher education. I instil a mission for lifelong learning and discovery by sharing dialogue with students about trending research and the relevance to their practice and also introduce them to the literature of multiple fields.  I create a connection between their education while building their knowledge of their field. “We make the road by walking” and I engage learners, continue my contribution to the research, and promote lifelong learning; and I know my path in adult education was fueled by the professors before me that believed, as I do, that people can be transformed through education.


Bachelor of Arts

Applied Behavirol Science

National Louis University August, 2002


Master of Science in Education

Adult Continuing Education

Northern Illinois University  December, 2004


Ed. D in Adult and Higher Education

Northern Illinois University December, 2013

Research and Interests:

Adult Education

Prior Learning Assessment

Experiential Learning

Nontraditional Education

Staged Self Directed Learning

College-Level Learning

Developmental Education specifically in Literacy

Contact Information:

Cynthia R Stevens



    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

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