Allen M. Tough, learning projects and lifelong learning. Allen Tough deepened our appreciation of lifelong learning through his studies of the ways in which adults conduct learning projects as part of everyday life. Here we examine his contribution.
Allen M. Tough (1936-2012) is best known for his research and writing around the processes that adults use to learn and change. In particular he looked at how adults undertook self-directed learning projects – and the scale of these within everyday life. His work The Adult’s Learning Projects became a key reference point for writers in the field of adult education. Allen Tough received a number of awards including the Malcolm Knowles Memorial Award for significant lifelong contribution to the field of self-directed learning (2006) He was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. His citation notes:
Tough’s inquiry contributed to an expansion of the dialogue on adult learning to include self-directed learning. He was instrumental in catalyzing movement from research focused primarily on who participates in organized adult education to one that embraces the entire range of intentional adult learning.(IACE 2006)
Tough went on to work in the field of future studies and was also concerned with the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
Born and raised in Toronto, Allen Tough went on to study at the city’s main University before gaining his PhD at the University of Chicago. He came back to the Toronto and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in 1964 to teach and research (The Institute became part of the University of Toronto in 1996). Allen Tough spent 33 years at the University as a faculty member and retired early in 1997 to focus on his research interests. He became a Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto.
Diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy – a rare degenerative disease – he continued to research and teach. He died on April 27, 2012 aged 76. He was survived by his wife Cathy Rand and his children Susan Tough (Russell Wardell) of Renfrew, Ontario, and Paul Tough (Paula Shapiro), and his grandson Ellington of Montauk, New York (legacy.com 2012).
International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. (2006) Allen Tough. Norman OK.: University of Oklahoma. [http://www.halloffame.outreach.ou.edu/2006/tough.html. Retrieved January 7, 2013]
Legacy.com. (2012). Allen M. Tough. Obituary. [http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?pid=157356346#fbLoggedOut. Retrieved January 7, 2013].
Tough, Allen M. (1967). Learning without a teacher. A study of tasks and assistance during adult self-teaching projects. Toronto: OISE (second edition 1981). The full text is downloadable from allentough.com
Tough, Allen M. (1968). Why adults learn. Toronto: OISE. Also available as ERIC Document no. ED 025688.
Tough, Allen M. (1971). The adult’s learning projects: A fresh approach to theory and practice in adult learning. Toronto: OISE (Second edition, Austin, Texas: Learning Concepts and Toronto: OISE, 1979. The full text is downloadable from allentough.com
Tough, Allen M. (1980). Expand your life. New York: College Entrance Examination Board.
Tough, Allen M. (1982). Intentional changes: A fresh approach to helping people change. Chicago: Follett.
Tough, Allen M. (1991) Crucial Questions About the Future. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. The full text is downloadable from allentough.com
Acknowledgement: Picture: Allen M Tough 2004 speaking at at the International Astronautical Congress, Vancouver BC Canada. Available on Allen Tough’s website: http://www.allentough.com/