Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Transformative Learning Theory

Defend the theory of transformative learning as the basis for adult learning.

182 comments:

eliz said...

"The Transformative theory best explains why adults learn because…."
Mezirow credits adult learners with ability to direct individual learning and form critical reflections of new content. Transformative learning theory as described by Mezirow, explains how adults are able to critically examine previously integrated knowledge and determine how new information will fit into an individual perspective (King, 2007). Adult learners are unique in methods of learning and assigning meaning to new information. Developmental stages that adults progress through are opportunities for gathering and assembling of experience and prior knowledge that will impact how new experiences are perceived. Mezirow’s Transformative learning theory allows for individual interpretation of life experiences creating transformation with resulting growth and development (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 132).
Mezirow focuses on how adult learners develop and learn through a process of reflection (Kreber & Cranton, 2000). Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner (2007, p. 147) credits Mezirow’s transformative learning with using experience as a method for reflection of new information. Mezirow describes adult learning as occurring when a transformation of meaning occurs when learners are faced with a dilemma calling for action. This action is in the form of a critical thinking process. Experience, an adult characteristic, is critically examined and then growth will occur as the adult learner integrates new information into meaning resulting in change and further development (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, p. 149). Taylor (2000) suggests transformative learning is a uniquely adult theory and attempts to explain how adult expectations influence meaning assigned to experience. Transformative Learning perceives adult learners as being instrumental in individual learning.
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood. A Comprehensive guide. (3rd ed.). John Wiley & Sons.
King, K. P. (2007). The transformation Model. International Journal of Information and communication Technology Education. 3(2), p. 26-32. Retrieved on February 1, 2009 from ProQuest online library.
Kreber, C. & Cranton, P. A. (2000). Exploring the scholarship of teaching. The Journal of Higher Education. 71(4), p. 476-495. Retrieved on February 1, 2009 from EBSCOHost online library.
Taylor, E. (2000). Fostering Mezirow’s transformative learning theory in the adult education classroom: a critical review. The Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education. 14(2), p. 1-15. Retrieved on February 1, 2009 from ProQuest online library.

Frank said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because as Mezirow (2004) states, “There is a common recognition that the fully developed learner moves through a series of developmental forms to arrive at the highest potential for understanding—the capacity to engage in transformative learning (¶ 1). Mezirow goes on to explain that the arrival at this point occurs only in adulthood and perhaps most adults never arrive. He contends that the adult educator should “help these adults acquire the insight, ability and disposition to realize this potential [to engage in transformative learning] in their lives” (¶ 1).

Much of Mezirow’s (1978) earlier comments dealt with the adults’ transformation of perspective. “If the culture permits, we move toward perspectives which are more inclusive, discriminating, and integrative of experience” (1978, abstract). “Perspective transformation is seen as one of the learning domains and the domain most uniquely adult. The nature and etiology of perspective transformation is elaborated with particular focus on the function of reification and of reflectivity” (Mezirow, 1981, abstract). Reflection is believed to be necessary in the completion of the transformation. “Mezirow (2000) differentiates among three types of reflection…content reflection…process reflection…[and] premise reflection” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 145).

Two short, personal, examples highlight my belief that transformational learning does exist as a powerful force. As a young boy growing up in pre-civil rights Texas, I adopted the perspective of the adults around me toward African American and Hispanic (and virtually every race not ranching and farming in my limited world) peoples. This perspective began to change after entering a desegregated high school, continued to change throughout college, and matured into my working adulthood. This changed perspective from my point of view, was arrived at essentially through the five phases described by Brookfield (1987; 1994; as cited in Merriam et al.). However, in my case, adopting a new, broader, perhaps cosmopolitan point of view toward persons of color, race, religion, and/or creed did come with a social price. I found myself alienated not only from friends of my youth, but also from close family members, including my parents. This ideological gap widened even further when two of my children married “outside” their race.

My second example shows the desire of adults to engage in transformational learning. Although, for the most part, my Chinese students are reserved and silent in class (due to the cultural norms of the educational environment, i.e. teacher-centered classrooms). However, at our informal weekly English Corner, many of the students ask probing questions and make disturbing comments about the oppressive elements in their lives and the “superior” elements of my home country. Although this is undoubtedly a trigger event, I have to play down the question for several reasons. First, I agree with Merriam et al. (2007) when they stated, “…what right do adult educators have to tamper with the world view (mental set, perspective, paradigm, or state of consciousness) of the learner…?” (p. 154). These students are, in my estimation, exploring the feasibility of dramatic social change, and China has a long history of painful acceptance of radical social changes. Additionally, my contract with ECIT comes with many clauses, ranging from obscure to crystal clear, concerning my words and actions toward any authority symbol in the PRC. These students’ willingness to seek out differing viewpoints and reflect upon their findings to illustrate the human ability to transform perspectives as justified by their new knowledge. However, these same students’ voice remains silent in the classroom, as prescribed by socio-cultural norms.

The transformative learning theory is not a panacea for adult learning. As previously stated, Mezirow said most adults may never reach such a development stage. Finally, as Daloz (1999) concluded in his book, “…results of the study were often mixed (not everyone changed the way I thought they ought to)…and people are wonderfully, endlessly complex” (p. 266).


References:

Daloz, L.A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Mezirow, J. (1978). Perspective transformation. Adult Education Quarterly, 28(2), 100-110. Retrieved January 31, 2009, from http://aeq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/2/100

Mezirow, J. (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education Quarterly, 32(1), 3-24. Retrieved January 31, 2009, from http://aeq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/32/1/3

Mezirow, J. (2004). Forum comment on Sharan Merriam’s “The role of cognitive development in Mezirow’s transformational learning theory”. Adult Education Quarterly, 55(1), 69-70. Retrieved January 31, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.

Marydee Spillett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marydee Spillett said...

Hello All,

This is a reminder to list your FULL NAME when posting to this blog so that you will receive the appropriate credit for discussion participation.

Thank you. Dr. Spillett

Maria Gillespie said...

The Transformative Learning theory best explains why adults learn because it is comprehensive, can easily be used in or out of the classroom, and is flexible enough to be used in different areas of education. The end result of Transformative learning is the learner institutes social change. It is a change process that enables the learner to progress through a series of steps until the change is part of the learner’s life. Because change is continuous, you might as well get used to making meaning of your changing life (Taylor, 2008). It shows a link between learning and development, and a learner who takes control of his learning.

Jack Mezirow introduced Transformative Learning theory in 1978. In a nutshell, Transformative learning begins as we are: set in our ways in terms of our moral, ethical, and philosophical leanings and in our value judgments and attitudes. He calls this “frame of mind”. He then says we get a jolt. Something that makes us uncomfortable – this is called an “experience”. It is important that we are uncomfortable. The uncomfortable experience, then, starts us to reflecting. We reflect on the experience itself, ways to problem solve the experience, and our frame of mind. During this reflection we will become angry, fearful, or anxious as our frame of mind is turned topsy-turvy. So, we begin a discourse or dialogue with people about our experience and in the process find others who have been through the same experience – a support group. This is where the social change comes in. You and/or your support group become agents for change and change a way of life or a way of thinking (yours and others). Then the last step is we begin to reflect again, this time, positively, about the experience as our frame of mind starts to even out again and we get set in our ways again – only this time aware that we have made change.

This theory can be used in the classroom to effect social change by creating a safe environment for students to dialogue encourage students to think about their experiences, beliefs and bias (think about what makes them uncomfortable), using teaching strategies that promote student engagement and participation, posing real-world problems that address societal inequalities and helping student implement action-oriented solutions (Meyers, 2008).

This theory has been used in higher education (Daloz, 1999) focusing on teachers as mentors and dialogue is accomplished through story telling. It has also been used to change EdD curricula (Montford, 2005), online learning (Meyers, 2008) and to facilitate student reflection (Grossman, 2009).
I believe this is an example of, if teachers raise the bar; students will reach for it.

Key concepts: experience, critical reflection, development, dialogue.


References:
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass.

Grossman, R. (2009). Structures for facilitating student reflection. College Teaching, 57(1), 15-22.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Chapter 6, “Transformational Learning” pp. 130-158.

Meyers, S. A. (2008). Using transformative pedagogy when teaching online. College Teaching, 56(4), 219-224.

Mezirow, J. (1978). Perspective transformation. Adult Education, 28(1), 100-110.

Taylor, E. W. (2008). Transformative learning theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 119, 5-15.

Mountford, M. (2005). The journey toward transformational learning in a statewide doctoral program. Innovative Higher Education, 30(3), 213-227.

Respectfully submitted,
Maria Gillespie

Maryjane Burdge said...

The Transformative Theory best explains why adults learn because education is about the journey of change, growth, and reformatting your life. Those of you in my age group may struggle as I do, with putting your thoughts out in a web log, commonly known as a blog, because children of the 50's and 60's didn't share all of their learning with fellow students, there weren't involved in the collaborative learning pieces that we now experience, there wasn't the confidence built in having your thoughts to share for all to see. Or perhaps you live in a community full of bloggers and because you are a public figure in the community, you have been the topic of past blogs where non-educators have blogged about your job and how it could be eliminated to save the taxpayers money. But enough about my issues, let's get back to the transformative theory and why it truly captures the adult learning piece. As Daloz (1999) indicates in his research, we all experience growth in our career paths because there are mentors - both formal and informal who help guide of development.

What I found most interesting in Daloz (1999) is that mentors or guides do not have to be older and wiser in your life, they are people who have accomplished what you are setting out to do, they offer encouragement and real answers to dilemmas that are posed so that you can reach for the goal you have set for yourself. That means adults can learn from someone in another generational group and the old system of hierarchy in work settings can begin to dissolve. Daloz goes on to quote Sam Keen about mentors and the questions asked - "what is my journey? Who will go with me?" (p. 23) When thinking about the two questions, there are so many life experiences that come to mind - both when I have served as a mentor and when I have been the protege. The transformations in both roles are lasting and transformational. The power of mentoring to change lives - mentor, protege and then students is incredible.

My first teaching position was in an inner city school in New Jersey and at age 21, my mentors were those in their 40's. I thought for sure that I would change the lives of my students through nurturing, having fun, and showing them how to enjoy learning. My mentors said I had to be tough, not smile for the first month, and accept no nonsense from my 5th graders. I knew I was better than that and I was determined to do things my way. 1974, don't trust anyone over 40, and live for the kids - that was who I was at the time. Learning the hard way was what I had to do but it did transform my thinking within a couple of years. I learned that there was a line between teachers and students and that I was the one to establish it; I learned that my mentors were right about curriculum pieces, about how to handle the classroom discipline - firm but fair, it wasn't about having fun; and that I would never be done with learning just because I had a bachelor's degree. I also learned from the students and how to be an adult when the situation called for it, how to listen to what students needed so that the curriculum adjusted to what they needed to survive, and what I should "fight" and what I should accept. The impact of my mentors and the students is still felt today, 35 years after those experiences - in my reflections, in my choices, in my style of interaction. I must set boundaries, I must listen to many and make decisions based on data, and there must be respect for ages. Currently I am an assistant superintendent in a school district in suburban Wisconsin so the journey has been physical as well as mental with many stops along the journey - everyday I know more than yesterday and I also know more of what I don't know and need to discover next.

Now think about the transformation each of us are experiencing with our classes at Walden. This is a new form of learning for many of us. Yet it is the fastest growing form of pedagogy/andragogy out there according to Clayton Christensen who wrote Disrupting Class. Often bloggers refer to websites to visit as they blog so I am going to post Christensen's blog here for you to visit as part of taking a look at transformation in action - changing the face of education on a worldwide basis. http://disruptingclass.mhprofessional.com/apps/ab/ (OK, I'm not so proficient with posting it as a hotlink - something I'll need to work on!)

In my school district, we are using Christensen's methods to disrupt the learning in its traditional form and introduction customized learning, student centered classrooms, pondering the distribution of computers to all high school students and working with our students to get ahead globally. Christensen, Horn & Johnson (2008) challenge us all to disrupt class and reach out to our students in a different fashion. Close to anarchy, they compel us to disrupt the "old" ways to reach students in this new fashion. It is a head spinning change and we are collecting data in order to prove that this disruption will change the face of education to a truly 21st century model.

Transformation and transformative learning are terms used interchangeably according to Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner (2007) to mean change. These authors refer to transformative theory as the convergence of "experience, inner meaning, and reflection" that create the change within us and then is transferred to the practices we use. (p. 130) As we continue to read and write about theories, have new experiences, discuss our findings and own experiences, we create new meanings for ourselves and often, with each other. Fellow learners on this journey - we are being transformed as we progress toward our next goals. This process has been going on for each of us as we take on the new challenges, listen to each other, and read topics of interest. New ideas form and change who we were yesterday and it will continue to happen because we are being transformed based upon our past, present and future.

For more information seek these references:

Daloz, L.A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Christensen, C., Horn, M.B., & Johnson, C.W. (2008) Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw-Hill.

http://disruptingclass.mhprofessional.com/apps/ab/ (retrieved 2-4-09)

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

April Bell said...

April Bell- Transformative Learning

“Transformative learning requires an environment that encourages and rewards intellectual openness” (McGonigal, 2005, p.1).

Transformative learning serves as a learning process in which a person becomes critical of their assumptions and the assumptions of others. This learning theory as proposed by Mezirow, who throughout his career best explains why adults learn. Transformative learning is somewhat different from other forms of learning, as it allows us to make meaning of our lives; thereby making sense of our lives.

This learning theory is indicative of not only classroom learning, but valuable in real-life learning as well. Transformative learning also allows us to confer inferences about our lives, our family, our jobs and even the world in which we thrive. As Mezirow states, “this learning occurs when there is a transformation in one of our beliefs or attitudes (meaning scheme), or a transformation of our entire perspective (habit of mind)” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 133)

Transformative learning encompasses four major factors: a problem (in most cases a life experience), reflection, change and a plan of action. Usually brought on by an unfortunate life experience, transformative learning occurs when a person becomes aware of the sanctions that caused the experience. Upon realization of the problem, comes acceptance and reflection. At this point, one must be critical of their own assumptions and work to make changes. Once the changes are actually placed into action, transformative learning has occurred. The key factor in this process is reflection. For this reason, transformative learning as discussed by McGonigal (2005) “requires an environment that facilitates and rewards intellectual openness” (p.1).

McGonigal (2005) makes mention of a students’ prior experiences whether they are in the classroom or in a real-life situations, by stating that sometimes students may lack experiences in your area of specialization and therefore as instructors, just merely “presenting new information is not enough to guarantee optimal learning” (p.1). He further states that at this point, “true transformation of the students’ existing knowledge” must occur (McGonigal, 2005, p.1).

Nevertheless, Mezirow states that engaging in the transformational process can lead to “frames of reference that are more permeable to additional amendments, reflective, inclusive, discriminating, and overall more emotionally capable of change, rather than acting upon the purposes, values, feelings and meanings that we have uncritically assimilated from others”( Mezirow, 2008, p.8). Therefore transformative learning engages the principles and emotions of our life experiences and or transformed by our proceedings.

As life-long learner, my first experience with transformative learning was leaving home at the age of seventeen to start college over five hundred miles away from home. I can still remember the excitement of packing and the drive; I was so excited. My experience (problem) occurred when it was time for my family to leave. I was under the impression that they would at least spend the night, but the unpacked me, feed me and then they left me. I was devastated! I can even remember calling home before they could even reach Mobile to tell my grandparents to send them back. Needless to say, they never showed, I cried for weeks. By Thanksgiving, it was time to go home and of course I was ready! But to my dismay, my first visit home, I was ready to go back to school. Things and curfews at home were different from school; which meant I had to go. I consider that my time of reflection between my old life of being an only shelter child, to that of being an independent adult. Merely eighteen years old, I knew that I had to make some changes and maybe invite my parents to stay with me, so that they could experience this new found life of freedom. Well as soon as I could, I was able to move off campus and my parents were able to visit. Upon their approval, my transformation really began.


References

McGonigal, K. (2005, Spring). Teaching for transformation: From learning theory to
teaching strategies. The Center for Teaching and Learning- Stanford University,
14(2), 1-5.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A
comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco,Ca: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

John Hedrick said...

Hi Frank, How do feel about keeping your mouth shut in China when we have freedom of speech in the U.S. and how does that relate to transformative learning? Sincerely, John Hedrick

Lisa Minor said...

Hi Maria G.
I just read your post on the blog and thought you did an outstanding job explaining the Transformative Theory. You explained things in clear terms and made it easy to understand. You talked about the Transformative Theory beginning with someone who is set in their ways and then transforms into a different mindset. That is exactly how I understood this theory too and found it intriguing. Many times the elderly are very set in their ways and would not change a single thing if they had to, as some of us have seen, yet they learn new things too. How do you think that the Transformative Theory would apply to them? Just curious about your thoughts here. Thanks for sharing your post.
Lisa Minor

Lisa Minor said...

Hi Maryjane,
I read your blog post and enjoyed it very much. Your explanation of the Tranformative Theory was clear, concise and thorough. Thank you for sharing it. I like how you mentioned that our mentors did not have to be older than we are and that is so true.

Many times in my field of nursing the new nurses show us updated and innovative ways of looking at and solving a problem. They are up on the latest and newest techniques and many times we are the mentor but are learning more from them than they are from us. I think that is the Tranformative Theory occurring in two instances both for the mentor and the one who is being mentored. I have been transformed numerous times and have changed my thought process when I look at something through another's eyes. Would you agree with this in your field?

As an Asst. Superintendent I am sure that you have mentored numerous teachers and staff. Have you ever found yourself in a situation were you are learning as much or more than the one you were mentoring? I sure have. Many people take offense to a younger person telling them the best way to tackle something, I chalk it up to a wonderful learning opportunity. How about you?
Lisa Minor

rtapia said...

Hi Frank, this is Ron Tapia. Enjoyed reading your post. It made it easier to understand the theory, not to mention that the use of a personal example from your life gave it even more validity. I see by reading some of the information on this theory that Mezirow feels that in order to experience a transformational learning experience a person has to go trough what he calls a "disorienting dilemma"(2000,p.50) Do you agree with this? Do you think one can only learn by experiencing such events? I can see by your experiences that you went through your transformational change in stages. May I ask at what point you started to experience doubts about how your particular group felt about these things? Did you as Mezirow indicates, go through a period of "self-examination with feelings of guilt or shame?" (Tsao,Takahashi, Olusesu & Jain, 2006) If so, what made you start deconstructing your old beliefs?
Finally, do you think that an adolescent or even a child could experience a transformational change of the type Mezirow proposes?
Thanks-Ron Tapia

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tsao, J., Takahashi, K., Olusesu, J. & Jain, S. (2006). Transformative Learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging pe

Chandra said...

Maria, my only concern regarding transformative learning is that adults may or may not be an appropriate starting point to experience transformation. Many adults have not yet reached a point where they have developed their capabilities for articulating and criticizing the underlying assumptions of their own thinking. What is the recourse?

Jennifer High said...

Maria,

In your post you stated, "The end result of Transformative learning is the learner institutes social change." Do you think that all learning can result in social change? Do you think all learning needs to result in social change?

Jennifer

Kenneth Patterson said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because it outlines practical stages explaining why, how, and for what purpose adults learn. Utilizing a constructivist approach, transformative learning allows adults to create meaning, rather than presume that knowledge already exists and is waiting to be “discovered”. Adults come to the learning environment with an innate tendency to control and manipulate their environment and learning activities naturally relate to that previously established form. (Habermas, 1971) By constructing meaning, adults link learning to previous knowledge, skills, and experience, which provides a more in-depth learning experience than memorization of facts or theories. In the higher education classroom, I consistently see higher standards of performance with students engaged in practical linking to new knowledge, skills, and experience exercising a constructivist approach to learning over those students who work simply to memorize theories and concepts of the curriculum.
Transformative learning theorists generally value dialogue as a necessary practical approach to adult learning, a critical step in the learning process. With dialogue integrated to facilitate the learning of the individual, interaction with others who hold varying beliefs, values, attitudes, knowledge, skills, and experiences provides an efficient and effective means of exposure to diversity in our society and world. Tennent explores the role of the teacher providing this diversity of views (Tennent, 1991), but Mizerow contends that meaning is more personalized when dialogue explores differences between peers in the learning environment. (Mizerow, 1981) Working with students half my age, I’ve found that presenting an issue or problem to a “resolution group” and allowing that group to resolve the issue on their own, with very little input from me is the best way to promote peer interaction. Creating the group to be as diverse as possible increases the dialogue of differing ideas and approaches, increasing the likelihood that the group will produce a positive outcome as a resolution to their problem.
As another example of how adults best learn, transformative learning theory also explains how reflective learning is employed to encourage the learner to examine personally held existing beliefs, values, and attitudes and evaluate these holding in light of an expanding base of knowledge, skills, and experiences gained through dialogue. Tisdell and Tolliver approach this practice from the viewpoint of spirituality and cultural identity in transformative learning. An understanding of personal spiritual and cultural identity is necessary so that there is a measurement against what is held to be true and what is to be questioned in the process of an expanding worldview. (Tisdell & Tolliver, 2003) Through group argumentation projects in the field of pre-law argumentation, I am able to place students in a position of first examining their own beliefs, values, and attitudes, then having to argue a case usually directly opposed to individually held ideals. Students come out of the exercise either with an expanded worldview and changed beliefs and values, or they come out with an expanded worldview and better grounded in what they originally believed. Either way, they have had the experience of reflectively assessing and evaluating personal beliefs and values and measuring them against the beliefs and values held by others.
As an end result, transformative learning assumes that if a learner is truly changed through the learning, s/he will potentially use that transformation process to affect social change. Freire takes an extensive view of this process through the presentation of conscientization and how humans, having experienced transformative learning, are naturally inclined to follow through with cultural actions that aim to affect social change. (Friere, 1998) While a transformed learner may be more inclined to undertake social change, I do not agree that action is a qualified measurement of transformative learning. Working with undergraduate students in co-curricular learning projects, I regularly see transformative learning take place. Usually in the context of building houses for Habitat for Humanity, sorting toys and clothing for The Salvation Army, or feeding homeless men in a community soup kitchen, these students are exposed to a different worldview and placed within a context where social change is introduced and a continuation of that social change is encouraged. Not all students respond with a desire to continue the social change exercise. While disappointing, this is not a marker that transformative learning did not take place. I estimate that cultural action as a result of transformative learning is a highly valued desire, but not a hard and fast requirement as measurement that the learning actually occurred in the first place.


Habermas , Jurgen. (1971). Knowledge and human interests. Boston: Beacon Press.
Mizerow, J. (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education Quarterly, 32(3), pp. 3-24.
Tennent, M. C. (1991) The psychology of adult teaching and learning. In J. M. Peters, P. Jarvis, & Associates (Eds.), Adult education: Evolution and achievements in a developing field of study (pp. 191-216). San Francisco: Josey –Bass.
Tisdell, E. J., & Tolliver, D. E. (2003). Claiming a sacred face: The role of spirituality and cultural identity in transformative adult higher education. Journal of Transformative Education, 1(4), pp. 368-392.
Friere, P. (1998). Cultural action and conscientization. Harvard Educational Review, 68(4), pp. 499-521.

Patty Smith said...

“The transformative theory best explains why adults learn because it gives learners the opportunity to look deeper within them and offer ways to help change the world through social interaction”. As an advocate for social interaction, and an adult learner, I have found that as I look beyond what I read and think of how it relates to my family or even day to interactions with people, I get a greater since of the process of life-long learning experiences. The transformative learning concept has been used in the workplace, as well as in adult education classrooms. The concept of transformative learning was introduced by Jack Mezirow. Mezirow proposed that adults should be more open to other points of view to find meaning and validity to rational discourse. Through his concept of transformative learning, adult learner should find meaning thereby emphasizing learning through meaning schemes and meaning perspectives. Theses schemes and perspectives shape how adult learners understand their experiences. Meaning schemes are a learner’s specific beliefs, attitudes, and emotional reactions by how they interpret their world. Meaning schemes stem from being aware of reality (Mezirow, 1991). As I work with people from several cultures, whether they are co-workers or families that participate in the Head Start program for which I am employee, I have formed some meaningful relationships. In a lot of ways I have developed what Mezirow spoke of regarding openness and communication with people on a day-to-day basis. I’ve developed meaning schemes that had broaden my experiences with people of different cultures. My view of the world has developed from a small view of other cultures to an awareness of their beliefs and attitudes.

Paulo Freire, has contributed to the transformative concept. Friere’s theory of transformative learning has a consciousness-raising twist and has significantly responded to critical perspectives in adult learning. Adult learners who study and learn through this concept are challenged to think critically by analyzing, posing questions and taking action for social change that influence their lives (Dirkx, 1998). I think that adult learning environments that allow adults to think critically and participate in discourse with their peers, could only lead to a greater respect and acceptance of the views of others. Sharing and reflection are a healthy part of education, in my opinion. It is through dialogue and problem-posting that learners consciously become aware of the inequalities and oppressions that exist in their world. Students are encouraged to engage in dialogue with their peers as well as their community in order to raise consciousness. This is call praxis. It is Freire’s intent that student help change the world by feeling free to reflect and communicate through the transformational learning process (Dirkx, 1998). I think Freire’s concept explains how change comes about especially when groups chose to consciously stand for issues that bring about significant changes.

Robert Boyd’s model of transformation is more analytical and involves small group interaction. Adult learners embark on a more individualized journey in which they come to understand, through reflection their own identity. This could include a discovery of new talents, a sense of empowerment and confidence, a deeper understanding of their inner self and a greater sense of self-responsibility (”Transformative learning”, 2009). I wonder which undiscovered talents that exist within me that could improve me as a person as well as an adult learner. Boyd thought that transformation would only occur when individuals experience a significant change through psychosocial development. There is a type of unconscious freedom from cultural norms and patterns that serves as potential self-actualization (“Transformative learning”, 2009). It was Maslow who said that adults would never reach a since of self-actualization? Boy was he wrong. Individuals are able through transformation to come to terms of the first half of their lives and integrated with the second half. Boyd, however somewhat different from his counterpart, Mezirow, focuses on an individual’s conflict that exist within themselves and the resolution that lead to a transformation of their ideas (Transformative learning”, 2009).

References:
Dirkx, J. M. (1998). Transformative learning theory in the practice of adult education: An
overview. Retrieved February 5, 2009. www.coe.iup.edu/ace/PAACE%20Journal%20PDF1998/Dirkx1998.pdf.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Franciso: Jossey-
Bass.

Transformative learning theory-an overview. Retrieved February 3, 2009
www.web.gseis.uda.edu/~pfi/Doucmens/taylor_02.pdf.

KProft said...

How are learning outcomes measured through transformational theory? Do certain students start off with a greater propensity to learn because they have "richer" experiences to draw from? Does this then skew the "grading curve"? This approach to learning seems to be more about the outcome than the process???

Kari Proft

Suzanne Crawford said...

Transformational learning theory does a commendable job of explaining how adults learn. Its fundamental essence exists in how it recognizes the “dramatic, fundamental change in the way [people] see [themselves] and the world in which [they] live” (Merriam, Cafferella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 130.

Genuine learning extends to this deeper layer of change. As I teach basic writing skills, it is my hope and intent that as students become more skilled as writers, they will become more skilled as thinkers and will, as a result, see and experience their worlds differently. For example, one universal truism in teaching writing is the call for writers to be more specific. Goldberg (1986) suggests that thinking in more specific terms actually causes a person to behold a thing differently: to say “’the geranium in the window’ [rather] than ‘the flower in the window’ … penetrates more deeply into the beingness of that flower” (in Trimmer, Lilienfeld, & Ruscio, 2008, p. 1). This is closely akin with the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, which suggests a person’s perception of the world is connected to the language used to describe the world.

Thus, consistent with transformational learning theory, as my writing students develop and refine their language use, true transformational learning takes place for them beyond just their immediate tasks.

Transformational theory is further strengthened by its inclusiveness of several other commendable theories. These theories include seven lenses, three of which are individual and four of which are sociocultural. Those respected theorists associated with the former include Mezirow, Boyd, and Daloz. The first of these theorists postulates how adults make sense of their experience, which includes a “habit of mind [which] is ‘a set of assumptions—broad, generalized, orienting predispositions that act as a filter for interpreting the meaning of experience” (Merriam, Cafferella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 133). The second theorist recognized is Boyd, who offers a psychoanalytical approach, “grounded in depth psychology [and views] sees transformation as an inner journey of individuation from parts of the psyche such as the ego and the collective unconscious” (Merriam, Cafferella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 139). Finally, Daloz (1994), a proponent of storytelling as a means to assist individuals in their transformational learning, offers insights as to how educators can better mentor adult learners.

For its inclusiveness of such theorists and the validity of its basic premises, transformational learning offers essential insights on adult learning.

References
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Goldberg, N. (1986). “Be specific.” In Looking glasses and rabbit holes (2008). Eds. Trimmer, J., Lillienfeld, S. & Ruscio, J. (pp. 1-2). Mason, OH: Cengage.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Carol said...

Maria, your explanation of transformative learning is simplistic enough to follow and understand. I pose this question to you; does transformative learning always lead to social change? I understand the set in our ways, the uncomfortable event that causes us to rethink the way we view life. What I question is these events leading to social change. There appears to be an assumption that each person who has such experiences will engage in social change.

Kimberly Witzig said...

Suzanne Crawford, Your presentation of information was well accommodated and easily comprehended, sometimes a task very hard to accomplish. I enjoyed reading your post. I was challenged by writing on reflective Learning and Schon the author of reflective learning believes in his “reflection in action” which means: “the way we change practice and theory during practice.” This theory enables an individual to reflect on what one visualizes, hears and or conceptualizes which in turns enables their ability to critically think. In your post you discuss the fundamental changes that occur within an individual and how they internally see themselves and the world. This theory reminds me a lot of the humanistic orientation. Maslow and Rogers agree that “human being can control their own destiny; people are inherently good and will strive for a better world; people are fee to act, and behavior is the consequence of human choice; people posses unlimited potential for growth and development” Humanist theorist also emphasize “perceptions are centered in experience, and it also emphasizes the freedom and responsibility for becoming what one is capable of becoming.” (Merriam, Cafferella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 282.) I was wondering how an individual achieves self awareness and self acceptance let alone a new perspective on the world if they are unwilling to self evaluate? And if they are not able to self evaluate how do they facilitate themselves to move pass static learning? Does this theory include all individuals, some individuals or just the self directed and self conscious?

Posted by: Kimberly Witzig

Kinsella, E. A. (2007, August). Embodied reflection and the epistemology of
reflective practice. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 41(3, Pt. AN 28556858), 395-409, 15. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9752.2007.00574

Merriam, S. B., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood:
Comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Suzanne Crawford said...

Hello, Kimberly, your questions are very interesting and engaging. You have accurately perceived what I, too, see as unpinning much of Transformative Learning: that strong humanist philosophy as related to Rogers and Maslow. Your questions are excellent because some of my students are less willing to do that self-reflection than others. I forget what term one of the theorists used--post adolescent or late adolescent (I think the latter)--but many of my students are not truly adult learners yet; they are in that 17 to 22 "between" state. However, as I think about it, a person could be in his/her 50s or 60s and still resistant to any sort of self-analysis.

Well, back to your question. I think that even those who are not prone to such analysis are affected by learning, but less so than those who engage in the self-reflection. In my example about how using more specific language may extend beyond how the learner communicates to how he or she perceives the world, this change probably happens regardless as to whether the learner engages in self-reflection or not. However, those that do, probably transform more deeply, more fully, more completely.

One of the devices I have turned to lately to help encourage this process in my students is to have them write reflections. With each paper, there is a pre- and post- reflection I ask them to submit. One has them reflect on and share their experiences writing the paper; the other is their reflection (upon receiving the graded paper back) about what they may have learned.

I hope including such activities enhances the learning process.

Thanks again for your insightful and engaging questions.

Suzanne

Sahar Aldujaili said...

Sahar Aldujaili said....
“The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because...” of "critical reflection, rational discourse, and collective participatory action" (Mezirow, 1995, p. 68). The learning and changes of participants experience are characterize the major lifestyle change within adults’ education and comprises their critical reflection with rational discourse (Mezirow, 2000).
Transformational learning as presented by Mezirow posits critical reflection by the learner as central to the process, (2000). This critical reflection is an “understanding of the historical, cultural, and biographical reasons for one’s needs, wants, and interests, such self-knowledge is a prerequisite for autonomy in learning” (Mezirow, 1995, p. 27). Further, it is our job as adult educators “to assist adults to learn in a way that enhances their capability to function as self-directed learners” (Mezirow, 1995, p. 39).
Merriam and Caffarella (2007) referred “instructional” models of the process on what instructors can do in the formal classroom setting is to foster transformation control of student learning. For example, whereas a dependent learner needs more introductory material and appreciates lecture,
drill, and immediate correction, a transformative learner can engage in independent projects, student-directed discussions, and discovery learning.
In the transformation perspective, knowledge, coming from social interaction and fostering personal and social change, requires reflection (Mezirow, 1995). Transformation requires that students examine assumptions on which they base decisions, objectively consider facts, reflect on discrepancies, alter perceptions, and make new decisions (Mezirow, 1995). As Mezirow (1995) stated "A transformative learning experience requires that the learner makes an informed and reflective decision to act" (p. 30-70).

References:
Merriam, S.B., & Caffarella, R.S. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (1995). Transformation theory of adult learning. In M. R. Welton (Ed.), In defense of the lifeworld (pp. 39-70). Albany: State University of New York Press.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sahar Aldujaili said...

Frank,
the power of change is an essential attitude in transformative learning but "we do not transform without some kind of learning experience" and in many situations, adults have unlimited life experiences. However, adult student need mentoring for transformation. How mentoring for transformation play important role in you teaching strategies?

timothy boone said...

The Transformative theory best explains why adults learn because it brings together neatly three elements essential for a positive learning outcome. The three elements are prior experience, critical reflection, and development (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). The goal here is for the adult learner to achieve a positive learning outcome. No one element is more critical than the other and all three are inter-related as I have seen in the college classes I teach.
It is necessary to 'development' or grow as an individual in order to get the most out of the learning experience.With this growth comes the ability to transform ones' self into a more socially conscious individual; an individual capable and competent to build meaning and context from the global world around him/her (Mezirow, 1996). Societal contribution most often occurs for the benifit of the group as a whole. I do not think that this societal benefit is realized all the time.
Transformation of self through learning is the most relevant realization of the experience. The ability to free one's mind from pre-conceived notions or ideas and the increase in self-esteem would be two of the most immediate goals of adult transformative learning.
The aim of adult educators should be to assist the adult learner to a fuller realization of his/her potential.

References

Merriam, S.B.,Caffarella,R.S., & Baumgartner,L.S. (2007). Learning in Adulthood. A Comprehensive Guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco:Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J.(1996). Contemporary paradigms of learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 46, 158-172.

Jose A. Gonzalez said...

The Transformative theory best explains why adult learn because “it offers a theory of learning that is uniquely adult, abstract and idealized, grounded in the nature of human communication” (Taylor, 2007, pp. 173). The theory is about to change – dramatic, fundamental change the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live (Merriam, Caffarela, & Baumgartner, 2007, pp. 130). One of the characteristic of a living element is the constant change that occurs. The human being is always changing and the way we learned is by those changes or developmental stages. A person life is define by different developmental stages that happened since the day of birth. Those changes are characterized by a learning process for every stage. As an adult, we keep growing through a lot of changes in our life that make us move from our comfort zone to a new one that require us to learn.
Dictionary.com defined transformative as a change in form, appearance, structure, condition, nature, or character. Using the definition it is more clear to understand why the transformative theory best explain the learning process. Merriam,(2007), et al, says “that transformation is the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frame of reference to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide actions” (pp. 133).
Applying the theory to a personal experience made me clearly understand that transformative theory is one of the best theory that best explain why adult learn. I was raised in a country town of Puerto Rico. In country areas were people are more conservative in terms of what the society accepts as moral or immoral.
One of the taboos is the fact that people with same sex preference are governed by the devil. You take that issue for granted. When I started in college I have classmates that they clearly expressed their same sex preferences. At the beginning it was very shocking for me. After few months, I started to question myself beliefs through an internal process of questioning and looking for new information about that matter. It was very shocking for me when I found that my beliefs were based on the cultural environment that I had when I was a kid. Then I changed or transformed my beliefs and open to new knowledge. That what the transformative learning theory is all about.
REFERENCES
Fleischer, B.J. (2006). Mezirow's theory of transformative learning & Lonergan's method in theology: resources for adult theological education. The Journal of Adult Theological Education, 3(2), 147-162.
Merriam, S., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M., (2007). Learning in adulthood; A comprehensive guide. San Fransisco, CA; Jossey-Bass
Taylor, E. (Fall 2008). Transformative learning theory. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 119(Fall 2008), 5-15.
Taylor, E. (2007). An update of transformative learning theory: A critical review of the empirical research. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 26(2), 173-191.
transformative (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved February 6, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/transitional.

Peg said...

Peg
The Transformative Learning theory best explains why adults learn because it helps us understand changes that occur as a result of a “disorienting event” (Tsao, Takahashi, Olusesu, Jain, 2006) such as the loss of a job or a home, events that are occurring on a regular basis in today’s’ society. When this event occurs, the person becomes aware that their ability to deal with this new information or event is limited and therefore they will need to “critically examine (their) view” and then become more open to alternatives, and then, hopefully, change their view on the topic. With this process of self-reflection and examination, the person can then transform some aspect of their life (Cranton, 1997). As Daloz stated “the task facing (the learner) is to reframe and understand in a radically new way the meaning of the world they once knew” (1999, p. 27).
Jack Mezirow originally proposed the theory of Transformational Learning in 1978 and it has been a source of debate and discussion since. Mezirow does not believe that all learning is transformational. In Learning in Adulthood by Merriam, Cafarella and Baumgartner, page 133, Merzirow is quoted “We can learn simply by adding knowledge to our meaning schemes or learning new meaning schemes…and it can be a crucially important experience for the learner” (1991, p. 223). This explains the role of memorization and skill development that doesn’t necessarily cause a social change.
Mezirow’s theory proposes a 10 step process which encompasses 4 main concepts. The initial concept is the “event” which exposes the learners’ limitations. Second, the learner evaluates existing assumptions and knowledge and begins to critically self-reflect. Then the learner discusses with others these beliefs (discourse occurs). And finally the learner has an opportunity to try out their new knowledge. When this process occurs, the learner may adopt the new knowledge and become transformed (McGonigal, 2005).
I feel that this theory is particularly valuable with my “adult” learners. Notice that I placed quotes around the word adult. I think it is less valuable with children and adolescents, due to their limited knowledge base and difficulty with self-reflection. An example that reinforces this belief came when I took 13 of our second year nursing students on a study abroad medical mission to the Dominical Republic. Initially, the first 2 days, some of the students were quite unhappy because they weren’t allowed to go to town every night and email their friends and get fast food and be kids. But as the work progressed, and they saw how important what they were doing was, a transformation occurred. The complaints stopped, and the work progressed, and the students began to express real joy in what they were accomplishing. They were required to journal nightly and when we reviewed the journals we were able to see the dramatic transformation. I was truly in awe of these students. They left Iowa as typical American, self-absorbed, young adults, and came home as caring, compassionate nurses with an expanded world view. Every one of them, stated as they got off the plane when we got home “I want to go back next year and I want to stay longer.” Transformative learning can be painful and challenging and at times very emotional, but the outcome can be extremely rewarding. As adult educators our role in facilitating transformational learning has to be one of support and acceptance. The environment in our classrooms has to encourage dialogue and allow for disagreement. This type of learning cannot occur in an atmosphere of intimidation. (McGonigal, 2005)
Resources:
Daloz, L. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners. San Francisco, CA.: Jossey-Bass.
Cranton, P. (1997). Transformative Learning in Action: Insights From Practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education No. 74. San Francisco, CA.: Jossey-Bass, Summer, 1997.
McGonigal, K. (2005). Teaching for Transformation: From Learning Theory to Teaching Strategies. Speaking of Teaching, Spring 2005, Vol. 14 (2).
Merriam, S., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide. San Francisco, CA.: Jossey-Bass.
Tsao, M., Takahashi, J., Olusesu, J. & Jain, S. (2006). Transformative Learning. From Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology. Retrieved 2/3/09 from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

Steve Elder said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because of its inclusion of other learning theories (refelective and experiential) coupled with the guidance from a mentor. According to Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner (2007), transformational learning is centered on change. Changes in life construct new challenges and simulations that promote learning and development. Much of this learning alters "the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live" (p. 130). Transformational learning is the practical application of knowledge through critical analysis of three fundamental concepts - experience, critical reflection, and development. Adults assimilate and transform new experiences based on past experiences. Mezirow (as cited by Cross) suggested "new learning is not just additive to what we already know but, rather, transforms existing knowledge to bring about a new perspective" (1981, p. 231).
The critical analysis of experiences is an integral part of learning. Without careful analysis of new and past experiences, growth and development may not occur. Some experiences differ in their immediate impact on the adult learner. Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner (2007) stated transformational learning begins when "one cannot accommodate [an experience] into the prior life structure" (p. 145). After an experience, change is encouraged through critical reflection. Mezirow believed reflection is based on either "a habit of mind" or one's point of view (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 132). This stage is often challenged by doubters because of its contextual nature. Interpretation is derived solely from the learner and can be stoked by a teacher or mentor. Mezirow also understood that careful analysis did not always lead to change or transformational learning. However, Aslanian and Brickell (as cited by Cross) found that adults learn because transitions in life are inevitable (1981). Therefore, transformational learning is the best adult theory because it incorporates experiences and reflection into growth and development. "Appropriate educational growth, as Dewey put it long ago, must always create the conditions for further growth (Daloz, 1999, p. 242).

References
Cross, K. P. (1981). Adults as learners: Increasing participation and facilitating learning. Jossey-Bass Publishers: San Francisco.

Daloz, L.A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Jodi Appelt said...

The transformational theory best explains why adults learn because it is a theory of adult learning that centers on the individual person and his/her structuring of meaning based on one’s life experiences. It is a process that builds on prior experiences which are altered by life changes, ideas, or insights that lead to shifts in perspectives. It is within this framework that knowledge is constantly evolving and emanates from self-reflection and discourse with other learners and mentors. In transformative learning, learners are encouraged to challenge, defend, and explain their beliefs; and to judge arguments (Grabove, 1997, p. 91), the ultimate goal is personal growth, independence, and independent thinking. It is the educator’s role to help learners function as more autonomous, socially responsible thinkers (Mezirow, 1997).

There are many theorists who have formulated their own specific interpretations of transformational learning. Although each may look at this theory through different “lenses”, they agree on premise that adult education should strive to directly effect change (transformation) on a personal level. One such theorist is Jack Mezirow. According to Mezirow (1997), transformative learning is a process by which our mindsets and points of view are changed into beliefs and opinions that are truer or justified to guide action. The essential element to Mezirow’s theory is critical-refelction. Through self-reflection, one begins to address issues in life, problem-solve, and reason. Dialogue (with self and others) enables the learner to engage in more rational discourse and plan of action. In general, cultural and previously learned assumptions are evaluated for meaning and newer ways of thinking and acting are changed. I see examples of this process occurring frequently in my life. As an instructor in American Sign Language, I often encounter people who have the preconceived notion that people who are Deaf consider themselves disabled. Through discussions and participation in Deaf community events, their original assumption is transformed and they begin to see deafness not as a disability, but as something that is embraced and cherished by those who share its uniqueness. It is a wonderful experience.

Other transformative theorists include the works of Laurent Daloz, Robert Boyd, and Paulo Freire. Daloz focuses on the instinctive nature of transformational learning, where mentoring and storytelling play important roles. Mentors serve as external observers who help the learner examine current assumptions, attitudes, and beliefs while increasing their self-awareness and confidence in themselves. An effective mentor uses stories to provide support and challenge the learner to see things in a different light. Boyd (1989) defines transformation as a fundamental change in one’s personality involving the resolution of a personal dilemma and the expansion of consciousness resulting in greater personal integration. The key to learning is that the learner must be receptive or open to alternative ways of thinking. Freire bases his theory on the empowerment of a person and social change. The ultimate goal of education is liberation, or praxis, the action and reflection of adults upon their world in order to transform it (Freire, 1985).

In summary, there are many facets of transformational learning theory in practice today. Transformative learning changes the way people see themselves and their world. It attempts to explain how their expectations, framed within cultural assumptions and presuppositions, directly influence the meaning they derive from their experiences.

Resources

Boyd, R. D. (1989, November). Facilitating personal transformations in small groups: I. Small Group Behavior 20(4), 459-474. Retrieved February 2, 2009, from PsychINFO database. doi: 10.1177/104649648902000406

Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education: Culture, power, and liberation. South Hadley, MA:Bergin & Garvey.

Grabove, V. (1997). The many facets of transformative learning theory and practice. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 74, pp. 89-96. Retrieved February 2, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.

Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74, pp. 5-1.

rtapia said...

Jose,
I agree with you about how certain negative beliefs are deeply rooted in all cultures. I think racist, sexist, homophobic attitudes can certainly affect our capacity for mental growth. I don't think a person can have a transformative episode unless he/she strives to have a better cultural understanding of what a diversified society is all about. We are all 'enculturated' by our surrounding environment, and we learn from those around us. Often, significant people in our lives are responsible for perpetuating these noxious attitudes, don't you think? I am curious as to how you handled the process of change. I imagine it was very hard for you to deal with at first.

NCHAH said...

Namyoung Chah

TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING THEORY
The transformative theory best explains why adults learn because transformative or transformational, the interchangeable terms in literature, learning is about change. The transformational learning theory has three important concepts: experience, critical reflection, and development (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). In contrary to the four sociocultural approaches in transformational learning including Freire’s social emancipatory, Tisdell’s cultural-spiritual, race-centric, and planetary, the three perspectives, which are Mezirow’s psychocritical, Daloz’s psychodevelopmental, and Boyd’s psychoanalytic approaches, are focused on individuals. Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner (2007) summarize Mezirow’s psychocritical approach as “the learner must critically reflect on his or her experience, talk with others about his or her new worldview in order to gain the best judgment, and act on the new perspectives (p.137).” Mezirow reinforces the significance of discourse which can be defined as dialogue devoted to searching for a common understanding and assessment of the justification of an interpretation or belief. Additionally Meziorw states that discourse is not a war or a debate; it is a conscientious effort to find agreement, to build a new understanding (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 134).
Unlike Mezirow’s theory, which is based on the experiences of White, middle-class women and concentrates primarily on personal transformation, Freire’s social-emancipatory theory emerges from the context of poverty, illiteracy, and oppression and is set in a larger framework of radical changes. To the extent, Paulo Freire claims that personal empowerment and social transformation are inseparable processes. Banking education and problem-posing education are two types of education categorized by Freire. Whereas banking education, which resists dialogue between teacher and students, serves oppressors, problem-posing education is liberation (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 140). Paulo Freire (1999) explains transformational learning through his problem-posing education as follows:
Problem-posing education, as a humanist and liberating praxis, posits as fundamental that the people subjected to domination must fight for their emancipation. To the end, it enables teachers and students to become subject of the educational process by overcoming authoritarianism and an alienating intellectualism; it also enables people to overcome their false perception of reality. The world – no longer something to be described with deceptive words – becomes the object of that transforming action by men and women which results in their humanization (p. 67).


Reference
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood. A comprehensive guide (3rd Ed). Transformational Learning (pp. 130-158), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Freire, P. (1999). Pedagogy of the oppressed (Rev. ed.). New York: The Continuum.
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Frank Cannon said...

Hello John Hendricks,

Actually, I see little difference in "keeping my mouth shut" here in China and "politically correct" in the United States. My life experience in business taught me early that the fastest way to earn a position on the "cut with this layoff" list is to discuss the wrong politics or religion at work. I've even seen Pam lose her teaching position deep in the woods of East Texas due to the fact that we "attended the wrong church".

True for many expats it seems like a great cloud of "big brother", but to me--I see litte difference. If I want to keep my job and stay, I play the game by their rules. Just as I have always done.

Frank Cannon

S.Dodson said...

Shaneisha D. post....
Transformation learning occurs when there is transformation in our belief or attitudes, or transformation of our entire perspectives. Transformative learning is a shift of consciousness that can dramatically and permanently alter one’s way of being in the world. Such a shift involves an understanding of one’s self; of relationships with other humans and the natural world; of the relations of power in interlocking structures of class, race, and gender; of body awareness; of alternative approaches to living; and of the possibilities for social justice, peace, and personal joy (O’Sullivan, 2003).
Mezirow states transformative learning is made up of four main components: experience, critical reflection, reflective discourse, and action. The transformation process begins with the learner’s experience. Transformational experiences are often preceded by a catalyst, an emotionally charged situation, that fails to fit one’s expectations. Mezirow (1991) referred to these situations as “disorienting dilemmas.” Learners experience is something that makes them completely lose their bearings and become lost. This disorientation occurs because what happened or what they have learned does not fit with their preconceived notions, with their frame of reference or personal paradigm. This perspective change can be triggered by an acute personal or social crisis.
Reflection involves us examining the underlying beliefs and assumptions that make sense of the experience. Discourse is dialogue devoted to searching for a common understanding and assessment of the justification of an interpretation or belief. Action is the final component. During this component the person may take immediate action, delayed action or reasoned reaffirmative of an existing pattern.
I believe there is some truth in transformative learning. I think it is important for people to reflect back on their experiences to understand why they react the way the do in certain situations. Sometime we wished we could have reacted differently.
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
O’Sullivan, E. (2003). Transformative learning. Retrieved April 30, 2004 from http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/~tlcentre/index.htm
www.kon.org/archives/forum/14-2/forum14-2_article4.html


from Shaneisha D.

Deb said...

Deb Cipale
In Defense of Transformational Learning
While definitions of transformational learning throughout the literature differ in context, similarities in theme persist. Significant change, critical self-reflection, paradigm shift, and discourse are some common themes. The transformational learning theory best explains why adults learn because the focus on lifelong learning engages the adult learner in the process and fosters the relationship necessary to learning to occur.
Clark (1993) defines transformational learning as producing “far-reaching changes… which have significant impact on subsequent experiences” and “a normal part of our lives and intimately connected to the developmental process” (p. 47). Robertson (1996) describes transformative learning as causing “the learner’s paradigm to become so fundamentally different in its structure as to become a new one” (p. 43).
Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner (2007) describe the key elements of transformational learning. Experience, critical reflection, reflective discourse, and action are all necessary for transformational learning to take place.
Critical reflection, prevalent throughout the literature and presented by Mezirow (1997) describes the process of evaluating experiences. Essential for the transformation of the frames of reference responsible for innate structures of assumptions regarding the world, the interpretation of the experience will determine the depth transformational learning taking place.
Transformational learning focuses on a change in consciousness. Therefore, critical reflection is an integral element of that process. This reflection offers the opportunity to learn more about the reflective process and its application to transformational learning. “…transformational learning adds a new dimension to our conceptualization of learning in adulthood” (Clark, 1993, p. 54). “Critical reflection is the core of transformative learning (Sokol & Cranton, 1998, p. 15). “Reflection is the key process in becoming aware of assumptions and meaning perspectives” (Cranton, 1994, p. 731). Critical reflection is facilitated by the element of reflective discourse, another of the key elements of transformational learning.
Reflective discourse is more than a simple request for information and the response to that request. Students engaged in the transformational learning process must seek out those who have had similar experiences and their guidance. While Mezirow (as cited in Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner, 2007) is concerned about the process of reflective discourse, another transformational learning theorist, Daloz (as cited in Merriam et al.)focuses on the importance of the relationship of the participants in the process.
Sokol and Cranton (1998) and Cranton (2002) both describe the requirement of a precipitating event to energize transformational learning. That precipitating event provides the stimulus for questioning the status quo and the search for deeper meaning through critical reflection.
“Modeling critical self-reflection and setting up an environment in which critical self-reflection is a group norm may be one of the most important ways to teach for transformation” (Cranton, 2002, p. 68). The true collaborative classroom will provide examples of the educator engaging in critical self-reflection and allow for an exchange of ideas and discussion of assumptions rather than an administration of knowledge in the form of a lecture.
“To facilitate transformative learning educators must help learners become aware and critical of their own and other’s assumptions. Learners need practice in recognizing frames of reference and using their imaginations to redefine problems from a different perspective. Finally, learners need to be assisted to participate effectively in discourse”. (Mezirow 1997, p. 10)
Students who undergo transformation in their education often find that transformation occurs in other areas of life as well. For example, Robertson (1996) discusses transformation which may occur in the significant others of students as education increases. Students who have experienced the submissive role in a relationship may find that relationship too confining for their new paradigm. Consequently, the relationship roles must also transform if it is to survive. “This is a time that can mix excitement, grief, wonder, and guilt to create a strange brew indeed” (p. 45). How often have stories been told of the nursing student who ends up divorced before graduation? Perhaps the transformation the occurred in this student was too significant for the relationship to bear.
Facilitating the process of transformational learning requires alteration of the student instructor relationship. The instructor who is accustomed to being perceived as an authority figure may be uncomfortable with the revelations brought about by critical self reflection. Freire’s (as cited in Donahue, 1986) characteristics of ‘humanizing’ education include the transformation of the role between student and instructor from one of “domination-subordination to one of cooperation and mutual respect”. (p.65) Robertson reiterates the necessity of transforming the role of the instructor as a “disseminator of knowledge” to that of a facilitator of learning” Robertson (1996, p. 46)
In conclusion, transformational learning produces significant, long lasting change in the student. Critical reflection is vital to successful transformational learning. Examinations of assumptions in any given situation are the catalyst for questioning the status quo and liberating the mind in readiness for transformational change. Seemingly unimportant events may potentiate transformational learning. The instructor must facilitate critical self assessment in transformational learning by providing a safe environment for the student.

References
Clark, M. C. (1993). Transformational learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 57(Spring), 47 - 55.

Cranton, P (2002). Teaching for transformation. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 93, 63-71.

Cranton, P. (1994). Self-directed and transformative instructional development. Journal of Higher Education, 65, 726-745.

Donahue, J. M. (1986). The Nicaraguan Revolution in Health. Westport, CN: Bergin & Garvey Publishing.

Merriam, S., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in adulthood: a comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74(summer), 5 -12.

Robertson, D. L. (1996). Facilitating transformative learning: Attending to the dynamics of the educational helping relationship. Adult education Quarterly, 47(1), 41-53.

Sokol, A. V., & Cranton, P. (1998). Transforming, not training. Adult Learning, (spring), 14 - 16.

Inez Cutler said...

Transformational Learning Theory
The Transformational Learning Theory is one that takes a more in depth view on learning. It seeks to change what we know through what we already know instead of constructing new knowledge from scratch (Merriam, Cafferella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 130) Oppose to understanding that the sky is blue one whom indulges in this theory seeks to figure out what is blue or why was blue the chosen color for the sky? This approach to learning allows for one to bring about social change as they are more open to a deeper level of understanding and knowledge. The major figures in this theory include Jack Mezirow, Laurent Daloz, and Robert Boyd. While they all fall under the Transformational Learning Theory they each had distinct ideas on the topic. While the later two are not as well known as Mezirow they bring a fresh perspective including the use of symbols or the unconscious or the intuitive nature of stories in this theory (Merriam et al. 2007).

Mezirow looks on the transformational learning theory is using what we do know to construct new ideas. This approach reminds me of the dissertation process. We are using ideas and information to construct a new research that will bring about change for our community, or school or even our own lives.
Mezirow states “Transformation theory's focus is on how we learn to negotiate and act on our own purposes, values, feelings, and meanings rather than those we have uncritically assimilated from others -- to gain greater control over our lives as socially responsible, clear thinking decision makers.” (http://hent.org/transformative.htm, retrieved February 4, 2009).
This Theory seeks to allow a person to find themselves, their own beliefs, and their own values in the midst of a world where people become content with one answer to a question or one way to fix a problem. It opens the door to allow one to not only think outside of the box, but to create an entirely new box. This idea of transformation motivates one to get up and to find a better way, a better answer and a better idea to solve a problem or to make a change in the lives of others.


Holistic Education Network (2005). Transformative Learning. http://hent.org/transformative.htm Retrieved February 4 , 2009.


Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Elizabeth Cooper-Gaiter said...

Transformational Learning Theory

The transformational learning theory best explains why and how adults learn because it is adaptable and flexbile and because it is based on aspects of psychology (for example cognitive and developmental psychology) and research involving adult learners that sought and achieved educational outcomes that far exceeded their expectations and resulted in the transformation of their perspectives, ways of thinking, and techniques for accomplishing actions.

Mezirow related that the goal of the transformative learning theory is to enable adult learners to “become a more autonomous thinker by learning to negotiate his or her own values, meanings, and purposes rather than to uncritically act on those of others” (Mezirow, 1997, p. 71; as cited by Cercone, 2008, p. 149).

There are at least four approaches or perspectives or strands that offer differing approaches for utilizing transformational learning in educational settings. Jack Mezirow developed the most well-known strand that is called perspective transformation that focuses on making meaning of our experiences and includes both development and learning (Merriam, 2004). The other strands included: “Freire’s emphasis on consciousness-raising, Daloz’s contention that transformation is the result of development, and Dirkx’s concept of integrating the emotional/spiritual dimension into daily experiences” (Fewell, 2005, p. 1). Fewell offered a model (for providing insights on women seminarians’ decisions to pursue ordination) based on using aspects of each of the four strands of transformational learning in adults.

Before you run off and try to apply this theory in any environment for any group of students, consider consulting the article by Merriam (2004) in which she questioned characteristics of Mezirow’s theory regarding the attributes needed to undergo “transformations” and consider pondering Mezirow’s (2004) response to the thoughtful insights posed by Merriam. Bottom line – in order to successfully engage in transformational learning, according to Mezirow (2004), the individual must be an adult and not all adults can experience transformative learning and must have the “capacity” for transformation. A few examples of groups that have experienced transformations include Freire’s work with illiterate peasants, environmentalists, and ethical vegans (Merriam, 2004), women seminarians (Fewell, 2005), Walden’s doctoral candidates, and adult women returning as students (e.g., like those studied by Mezirow in the 1970’s).

Elizabeth

References

Cercone, K. (2008). Characteristics of adult learners with implications for online learning design. AACE Journal, 16(2), 137-159.

Fewell, J. W. (2005). Transformative learning: Insights into women seminarians’ decisions to pursue ordination. Retrieved February 6, 2009, from https://idea.iupui.edu/dspace/handle/1805/430

Merriam, S. B. (2004). The role of cognitive development in Mezirow’s transformational learning theory. Adult Education Quarterly, 55(1), 60-68.

Mezirow, J. (2004). Forum comment on Sharan Merriam’s “The role of cognitive development in Mezirow’s transformational learning theory”. Adult Education Quarterly, 55(1), 69-70.

Schleurious "Van" Gaiter said...

Transformational Learning Theory

Transformational (or Transformative) Learning Theory is an important learning theory for adult learners because various perspectives of how adults learn are documented, tested and fully deployable by teachers and instructors to effect educational experiences that go well beyond the traditional threshold of mere learning. Depending upon the teacher’s preference for using a particular transformational perspective and characteristics of the learning environment, a process for teaching adults can be chosen that takes full advantage of the teacher’s skills and how adults learn best.

Theorists who have advanced our knowledge and practice of the transformational learning include Jack Mezirow, Paulo Freire, Laurent Daloz, and Robert Boyd. Each theorist offered a different strand (or perspective) on how adults learn and in turn proposed different styles of teaching to accomplish educational goals. Mezirow’s transformation as critical reflection is one of the leading transformational-learning strands (Dirkx, 1998). Others include Freire’s transformation as consciousness-raising, Daloz’s transformation as development that is also implicit in Mezirow’s views, and Boyd’s transformation as individuation (Dirkx, 1998).

Grounded in cognitive and developmental psychology and originating in work completed in the 1970s involving adult women who returned as students, Mezirow’s primary focus of his theory was on the process of meaning making from experiences through reflection, critical reflection, and critical self-reflection (Dirkx, 1998). Later, he renamed this process “perspective transformation to reflect change within the core or central meaning structures (meaning perspectives) through which we make sense of the day-to-dayness of our experiences” (Dirkx, 1998, p. 2). An individual’s perspectives consist of her or his beliefs, values, and assumptions gained through life’s experiences.

Educators can design learning environments and scenarios that can facilitate learning transformations using the 10-step process developed by Mezirow in his earlier works. Franz (2007) provided Mezirow’s 10 steps or phases that people go through when they experience a transformation are that Learners: “(1) Experience a disorienting dilemma, (2) Undergo self-examination, (3) Conduct a deep assessment of personal role assumptions and alienation created by new roles, (4) Share and analyze personal discontent and similar experiences with others, (5) Explore options for new ways of acting, (6) Build competence and self-confidence in new roles, (7) Plan a course of action, (8) Acquire knowledge and skills for action, (9) Try new roles and assess feedback, and (10) Reintegrate into society with a new perspective” (p. 2).

Van

References

Dirkx, J. M. (1998). Transformative learning theory in the practice of adult education: An overview. Retrieved February 5, 2009, from http://www.coe.iup.edu/ace/PAACE%20Journal%20PDF/PDF1998/Dirkx1998.pdf

Franz, N. (2007). Adult education theories: Informing cooperative extension’s transformation. Journal of Extension, 45(1), 1-8.

Lorrie said...

The transformational learning theory best explains why adults learn because the learner is intimately connected and impacted by the theory in diverse experiences in and outside of the walls higher education. Mezirow states that the learner “must critically self-examine the assumptions and beliefs that have structured how the experience has been interpreted” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 134). All learning has meaning and the experience can be interpreted as an individual transforms in to the depth of his theoretical framework. Mezirow highlights the interpretation of the learning experience as the action of self-reflection that will positively change the learners perception.

Experiences do not make the learner aware of the need for change but make the learner makes the experience, leaving the imprint that will transform thinking in to social change (Mezirow, 1978). In the concept of transformational learning the action stage is occurs when the person takes, “immediate action, delayed action or reasoned reaffirmation of an existing pattern of action.” The implementation of change is a personal decision by the individual who understands his or her own worldview. The learners worldview is not only deep rooted but it is a reflection of personal values, morals, and attitudes.

Under the umbrella of higher education there is no theory like Mezirow’s theory because it is inclusive of “specific assumptions about oneself and others until the very structure of assumptions becomes transformed” (Mezirow, 1981, p.8). In the profession of higher education Mezirow’s theory requires the learner to consciously utilize critical reflection that mirrors the uncertainty of an experience while providing linkages to emotional character building. As college professor I strongly support this groundbreaking theory and believe that it is “more purposeful and less accidental” and it will continue to strengthen our learning communities” (Erickson, 2002, p. 105).

References:

Erickson, D.M., (2002). A developmental constructivist examination of meaning making capacity among peer instructors in learning retirement programs. Dissertation Abstracts International, 63(05), 1668A. (UMI No. 3052875)

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Mezirow, J. (1978). Perspective transformation. Adult Education Quarterly, 28(2), 100-110. Retrieved January 31, 2009, from http://aeq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/2/100

Mezirow, J. (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education Quarterly, 32(1), 3-24. Retrieved January 31, 2009, from http://aeq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/32/1/3

mlstroh said...

How is Tranformative theory and Reflective theory different? Why is tranformative theory anymore effective than reflective?

Lorrie said...

(Updated Blog) The transformational learning theory best explains why adults learn because the learner is intimately connected and impacted by the theory in diverse learning experiences. Mezirow states that the learner “must critically self-examine the assumptions and beliefs that have structured how the experience has been interpreted” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 134). All learning has meaning and the experience can be interpreted as an individual transforms in to the depth of his theoretical framework. Mezirow highlights the interpretation of the learning experience as the action of self-reflection that will positively change the learners perception.

Experiences do not make the learner aware of the need for change but the learner makes the experience, leaving the imprint that will transform thinking in to social change (Mezirow, 1978). In the concept of transformational learning the action stage is occurs when the person takes, “immediate action, delayed action or reasoned reaffirmation of an existing pattern of action (Mezirow, 2000, p. 24).” The implementation of change is a personal decision by the individual who understands his or her own worldview. The learners worldview is not only deep rooted but it is a reflection of personal values, morals, and attitudes.

Under the umbrella of higher education there is no theory like Mezirow’s theory because it is inclusive of “specific assumptions about oneself and others until the very structure of assumptions becomes transformed” (Mezirow, 1981, p.8). In the profession of higher education Mezirow’s theory requires the learner to consciously utilize critical reflection that mirrors the uncertainty of an experience while providing linkages to emotional character building. As college professor I strongly support this groundbreaking theory and believe that it is “more purposeful and less accidental” and it will continue to strengthen our learning communities” (Erickson, 2002, p. 105).

References:

Erickson, D.M., (2002). A developmental constructivist examination of meaning making capacity among peer instructors in learning retirement programs. Dissertation Abstracts International, 63(05), 1668A. (UMI No. 3052875)

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Mezirow, J. (1978). Perspective transformation. Adult Education Quarterly, 28(2), 100-110. Retrieved January 31, 2009, from http://aeq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/2/100

Mezirow, J. (1981). A critical theory of adult learning and education. Adult Education Quarterly, 32(1), 3-24. Retrieved January 31, 2009, from http://aeq.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/32/1/3

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kim Brown said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because it incorporates the past experiences and knowledge an individual possesses and connects it to the individual’s changing perspectives of the world around them. “We transform our frames of reference through critical reflection on the assumptions upon which our interpretations, beliefs, and habits of mind or points of view are based.” (Mezirow, 1997). Adults are continuously transforming their opinions and thoughts as they learn to think critically and build on their knowledge. As a person learns, they often change their point of view on a given topic. It is important for the learner to reflect on the opinions of those around them and on their personal experiences so that learning can occur. “Critical reflection on the origin and nature of our submerged assumptions, biases, beliefs, and values, and in Boyd’s case, symbols, is also necessary for change and growth to occur” (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007). As an individual develops educationally, their views and approaches will often change. When this occurs, the individual is able to perceive the world around them differently and build upon the knowledge they previously possessed.

When teaching children, educators spend a great deal of time teaching them to color inside of the lines. Teachers even provide grades that reflect the student’s ability to accomplish such a task. The grades provide reinforcement as to the importance of staying in the lines and creates a pattern that influences how the learner approaches other educational requirements. As adults, we are often asked to think outside of the box. This is especially true in the workplace. It is through this process that individuals reflectively analyze their work responsibilities and develop new, more efficient ways to accomplish their tasks. According to Mezirow (1997), resources should be directed toward creating a workforce that can adapt to changing conditions of employment, exercise critical judgement as it manages technology systems, and flexibly engage in more
effective collaborative decision making. Employees must have the ability to critically and reflectively think about their approach to assigned jobs in order to continuously develop in the workplace. As technology continues to increase, the way individuals perform tasks change. Employees may be asked to learn to operate new equipment, new computer programs or to simply analyze a process in an effort to increase efficiency. Transformative learning allows employees to build on the knowledge they possess and identify new, improved ways to meet their goals.

As a corporate trainer, I am often faced with the challenge of training seasoned employees to handle change. We are currently in the process of implementing a high performance work system. This concept utilizes high performance, self directed work teams in the production facility. In the past, employees received their work assignments and production plans from a Supervisor. It was the responsibility of a mechanic to provide maintenance to the production lines, including label changes and other light duty mechanical functions. As a high performance team, these responsibilities now lie with the production workers. Employees are expected to create their own job assignments, create production plans and identify and correct any issues that arise. The supervisor serves as a coach, helping employees use the skills they possess and build on that knowledge in an effort to broaden their responsibilities. “The essential learning required to prepare a productive and responsible worker for the twenty-first century must empower the individual to think as an autonomous agent in a collaborative context rather than to uncritically act on the received ideas and judgments of others” (Mezirow, 1997). The end result of implementing a high performance work system has been a more skilled workforce that has transformed culturally in an effort to achieve success. Employees take ownership of their jobs and take pride in the work they perform.


Merriam, S., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in Adulthood a Comprehensive Guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mezirow, J (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 74, 5-12.

Thomas Case said...

The transformative theory best explains why adults learn because it very clearly incorporates the ideas of other theories into a more comprehensive whole.

For example, transformative learning incorporates many of the ideas of Knowles' andragogy. Knowles, states that adult learners have a wealth of experience that can be connected with new information in order to increase the likelihood of learning. The implication of this idea for adult learning is that teachers should attempt to find ways within the classroom to connect new information to students’ prior experiences in meaningful ways, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will retain the information (Merriam, 2007; Knowles, 1998).

This idea can also be supported by the ideas of cognitive psychologists, who base their learning theory on the idea that prior learning affects present learning (Merriam, 2007).

Mezirow (1997) incorporates both assumptions. His ideas about helping adults transform their frames of reference assumes that adults use this past experience mentioned by Knowles (1998) and cognitive psychology (Merriam, 2007) in their learning processes. He also takes it a bit farther by including the ideas of emotion and personal bias. Mezirow states, "To become meaningful, learning requires that new information be incorporated by the learner into an already well-developed symbolic frame of reference, an active process involving thought, feelings, and disposition" (Mezirow, 1997, p. 10).

A personal example could be my experience when going to college. I had not had any significant experience with any other cultures when I began my studies, and thus came in to college with a certain level of ethnocentrism as a frame of reference. However, as I was engaged by many students and professors from other cultures and forced into a place in which I had to either defend or change my points of view, my frames of reference were significantly modified. I came to look at the world and at others who were from different cultures very differently, and no longer came into a situation with the general idea that my culture was somehow superior. This came about based on a transformation of my previous frames of reference, and cannot be explained only by the ideas of andragogy or other educational theories (Mezirow, 1997; Knowles 1998).

References -
Knowles, M. S., Holton, E. G., & Swanson, R. A. (1998). The adult learner: The definitive classic in adult education and human resources development. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company.
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. 57, 5-12.

NickytheSaint said...

The Transformative Learning Theory best explains why adults learn because their education is a ‘transformational journey’ (Daloz, 1986, p.16) that should ‘promote development’ (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p.138).

Wilhelmson (2006) states that “the theory of transformative learning offers possibilities of analyzing learning processes in communication and interaction. The transformative learning theory deals with a deepened learning process based on critical reflection. Through transformative learning theory’s main theoretical concepts are the work processes of joint leadership they can also be analyzed and understood as processes of learning” (p.500).

Scott (2003) “highlights the social construction of transformation, which includes five processes: disequilibrium, internalization, relationships, imagination and changes in consciousness” (p.270).

I agree heavily on the viewpoints, theories, and the results of scholarly research performed by Daloz, who envisioned transformative learning as more of a ‘holistic’ and ‘insightful’ approach to adult education. I believe in Daloz’s goal for transformative learning, that is lifelong personal development for the adult, with the teacher as the mentor in the process (Merriam et al. 2007). I feel as though the teacher should be a guide, advisor, coach, and counselor to their adult students. They have to be there for their adult students; providing feedback, letting them know the expectations, holding them accountable for growth and development, establishing educational, professional, and personal goals, and enabling them to reach their full potential. I work hard on educating, enlightening, motivating, and advising students on working and developing their tangible and intangible skill-sets. I do this because I can see the aspiration, dedication, genuineness, eagerness, and willpower in the eyes and body language of my adult students.

Concluding, for adult learners who want to strive and achieve a higher education; I feel and believe that they want to gain knowledge (which can be used as power), attain credibility (which allow no one to second guess them based on their education anymore), prove something to themselves (internally) as a student and a person, and set them up for a higher level of success in their future professional and educational endeavors. For these reasons listed, I can make a respectable case how the transformative theory best explains why adults learn.

References:

Daloz, L.A. (1986). Effective teaching and mentoring: Realizing the transformational power of adult learning experiences. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. B, Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Scott, S. (2003), “The social construction of transformation”, Journal of Transformative
Education, 1(3), pp. 264-84.

Wilhelmson, L. (2006). Transformative learning in joint leadership. Journal of Workplace Learning, 18(7/8), 495-507. Retrieved February 6, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1146623781).

Charlene said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because transformation is based on the “notion of profound physical or psychological change“(Merriam, 2001, p. 15). Physical and psychological changes are both measurable scientific outcomes. As a result, the transformative learning theory is supported by “neuroscience research findings” (Cercone, 2006, p. 298). According to Cercone, “brain imaging has revealed that the longer certain areas of the brain are stimulated, the better information is remembered. In addition, personal experience intensifies activation, focus, and concerntration. The more elaborate a memory is (in terms of sound, touch, vision, etc.)” (Cercone, 2006, p. 298). This directly coinsides with Mezirow’s theory that “learning (is) the process of using a prior interpretation to construe a new or a revised interpretation of the meaning of one’s experience in order to guide future action” (Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., Baumgarner, L. M., 2007, p. 133).
Further, transformative learning in particular is the direct result of a transformation, or a ‘new, or a revised interpretation’ of an old mindset that produces a different behavior. To demonstrate this point, Merriam uses an illustration about a non-tradional student’s math anxiety. “(Karen) always had trouble in math courses and had assumed that she was not academically inclined” ((Merriam, et.al, 2007, p. 133). Similarly, I shared ‘Karen’ math anxiety when I first returned to college. In my case, my eight grade pre-algebra instructor suggested that I should enroll in business math because of my pre-algebra difficulty. Unfortunately, I took his comments to mean that I was not capable of doing a higher level of math. As a result, I delayed my college entry based on this fallacy. According to Mezirow, a “crisis cannot be resolved throught the applications of previous problem-solving strategies” (Merriam, et.al, 2007, p. 136) Although I do not remember exactly when my “disorienting dilemma” occurred, yet, once I entered college, I was able to enroll in remedial math courses that assisted me in my deficiency. (Merriam, et.al, 2007, p. 136).
Daloz, another theorist, “recognizes that people need to make meaning of their experiences and that individuals are often in a developmental transition when they seek higher education to ‘help them make sense of lives whose fabric of meaning has gone frayed” (Merriam, et.al, 2007, p. 138). As a career college administrator, I can attest to the accuracy of this theory. Most incoming students entering our school are in that “developmental transition’ that Daloz mentioned. For many, economic hardship is a contributor, which could be based on unemployment or underemployment. Both Daloz and Mezirow’s theory focus on the adult student. Yet, Daloz has a distinquishing characteristic – mentorship. According to Daloz, “the teacher - mentor challenges students to examine their conceptions of self and the world and to formulate new, more developed perspectives” (Merriam, et.al, 2007, p. 138). Mezirow’s theory focuses soley on the individual.

References:

Sorensen, E. K., & Murchu, D. O. (Eds). (2006). Enhancing learning through technology. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Merriam, S. B. (Ed.). (2001). The New Update on Adult Learning Theory: New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., Baumgarner, L. M., (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.,

DYGarcia said...

Dorothy Garcia said:

The transformational theory best explains why adults learn because, when taken as a whole, it provides the most inclusive and well-rounded insight into human learning. Mezirow’s psychocritical approach laid a foundation by exploring the nature of adult learning with regard to rational thinking – why people think the way they do, and what influences changes in their points of view and habits of mind (Merriam, Cafferella, & Baumgartner, 2007). Daloz added to the field with his psychodevelopmental perspective by bringing feeling and emotion into the conversation, particularly involving personal journeys – how a people’s own stories relate to their learning (Daloz, 1999). Boyd put individual spirituality and psychology into the mix by connecting the “resolution” of “personal dilemna[s]” with one’s connection to the collective unconscious (Merriam, Cafferella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 139).

The aforementioned ideas, based on individual development, are balanced by the sociocultural perspectives, which connect transformative learning to more expansive issues. Paolo Freire injected a more overtly political angle into the dialogue with his social-emancipatory approach which has, as its ultimate goal, liberatory praxis, or the continuous cycle of conscious action and reflection to bring about social change (Freire, 1970). Like Freire, Tisdell also is concerned with race, class, gender, etc. in his cultural-spiritual perspective, but also focuses on the importance of spiritual development and the need for educators to be spiritually grounded. In contrast, the race-centric approach applies specifically to individuals of the African-diaspora and locates learning in connection to African identity, which is in opposition to the dominant culture. Finally, the planetary perspective pulls back and looks at the very biggest possible picture – humanities interrelatedness with not only itself, but the planet and the universe (Merriam, Cafferella, & Baumgartner, 2007).

I don’t usually structure a writing assignment as I have above, which may seem encyclopedic and regurgitory, but I must confess to being inspired by the history of the transformational learning theory. My problem with so many theories and ideologies is that they feel dead and disconnected from my experience and that of my students. Transformational learning has an elastic quality that feels organic – it is remarkable that something that qualifies as a single learning theory is expansive enough to hold so many points of view within a single “category.”

The breadth and depth of the transformational learning dialogue, beginning with the individual and moving to the social, the political, the spiritual and the cosmic, make it the most comprehensive learning theory. The evolution of the theory through ongoing critical conversation is itself a wonderful example of the capacity of people to question and expand their thinking through thoughtful exchange.

References:

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Seabury Press.

Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Frank said...

The Transformative theory best explains why adults learn because ..... adults learn from "understanding the meaning of their experience"(Imel, 1998), or when they construct meaning to their experience (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007), or if we consider Knowles assumptions #6, they need to know the meaning of something to learn it (Merriam, et al., 2007). After reading all the posts here I see that most people are just quoting all the text, articles, books, and journals that refer to Mezirow. One can quote several more than show listed here and support the premise that Transformative Theory best explains why adults learn and support their statement. But there is also just as much research to support other theories. I can personally relate to the reality of transformative theory because of my own learning experience. I also see it work every day while I am at work (I am a Dean of a for profit private college). Reflective learning, learning the meaning of, constructing the meaning of, etc... is the way people learn and retain what they learn. I believe that is the key. One must retain what they learn and once a person has "transformed" from one level to the next they retain that experience.

Jose A. Gonzalez said...

R. Tapia,
Definitely was very difficult due to the fact that you need to removed something that your parents teach and transform to something that the a group in the society teach. But then is so relaxing. Same happened with my daughters. I am divorced and have two beautiful daughters that live with her mothers. I have a beliefs in some are different to her mother and I learn not to impose one belief, I just talk the them I shows the difference. Both are very smart to understand and drive their one conclusion. Each individual have to go through their own process.

Robyn said...

Frank,

Thank you for some new insights into transformative learning other than Mezirow! Also, as I was reading your post, I felt that you were defending not only the transformative learning theory, but you also hinted at reflective and experiential theories as being just as important to one's learning. If you believe that is the case, I applaud you as I feel that the three learning theories are intimately connected to each other, and no one theory can best explain how adults learn. However, since the assignment was to defend one theory over the others, we were stuck with proving why our particular theory was better. I appreciated your post, as it showed that all the theories essentially must work in tandem in order for effective learning to take place. Bravo!

Robyn York

HECTOR ALVAREZ-TRUJILLO said...

Blog 1: Transformational Learning Theory
Hector Alvarez Trujillo
EDUC-8101-3: How Adults Learn: Theory and Research
February 6th 2009

Transformational Learning Theory

As an educator, I believe that the transformational learning theory, when appropriately employed, can really promote effective and lifelong learning. The transformation theory provides educator, by means of its different conceptualizations and perspective (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 130) , separate and distinct methods to help adult students realize the main goal of teaching, that being meaningful or “transformative learning” ( Merriam, et al. p.133). One of transformation theory chief architects I Jack Mezirow, he tried to position together a set of tools, that educator could used at any given time. Cranton (2002) explains this efforts as follows, “Merzirow developed the theory of transformative learning through a careful integration of theories, models and ideas from a wide variety of sources.” (p. 65) Taylor (2007) explains that learning, for Transformation theory “…is understood as the process of using a prior interpretation to construe a new or revised interpretation of the meaning of one’s experience in order to guide future action” (p. 173).
As an educator if I had to choose one of from the seven lenses provided by Taylor (2005), individual conceptualizations (psychocritical, psychodevelopmental, and psychoanalytic) and sociocultural perspective (social-emancipatory, cultural spiritual, race-centric and planetary approaches), I would have to pick: The Psychocritical approach to the transformative learning theory, developed in 1978 by Mezirow theory. (Merriam, et al., 2007). The way Mezirow (2000) vies learning, “the process of using a prior interpretation to construe a new or a revised interpretation of the meaning of one experience in order to guide future actions.” (Mezirow, cited by Meriam, et al., p.132), is the heart of his whole theory. In other words learning occurs when a meaningful transformation takes place, as to say, the “transformation of one of our believes… or a transformation of our entire perspective.” (Mezirow, cited by Meriam, et al., p.133). For adults learners this could work really well since adults place high value in the role of their experiences in how the learn. (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 1998). Also important and useful for adult teaching and learning are Mezirow’s two forms of leaning: Instrumental and communicative learning. (Fleisher, 2006). Fleisher (2006) explains the implications of both forms of learning:
Instrumental learning involves learning how to perform a task or how to do something…. [I]t…. involves…. testing and trial-and-error learning in order to achieve an envisioned goal. It is a problem-solving process in which the learner gains competence in a particular operation. Communicative learning…. focuses on learning to understand another’s meaning coherently. The learner is attempting to understand the other’s communication, whether it be in the form of “speech, writing, drama, art, or dance”…. communicative learning depends more on dialogical skills and free discourse among those searching for common meaning. (p. 149).
To conclude, the value, for educator and students, of the of Mezirow’s transformational theory was best described by taylor (2008) when he stated, “Since the early 1980’s, the learning theory has spawned a number of alternative theoretical conceptions and a treasure chest of research about both the basic assumptions of transformative learning and the fostering of transformative learning in the classroom.” (p. 7).




















References
Cranton, P. (2002). Teaching for transformation. New Directions for Adult and Continuing
Education, 93, 63-71. Retrieve from Ebsco Premier data base.
Fleisher, B. J. (2006). Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning and Lonergan’s method in
theology: Resources for adult theological education. The Journal of Adult Theological
Education, 3(2), 147-162. Retrieve from Ebsco Premier data base.
Merriam, S., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive
guide. (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Taylor, E. W. (2008). Transformative learning theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing
Education, 119, 5-15. Retrieve from Ebsco Premier data base.
Taylor, E. W. (2008). An update of transformative learning theory: a critical review of the
empirical research (1999-2005). International Journal of Lifelong Education 26(2), 173-
91. Retrieve from Ebsco Premier data base.

tom oneil said...

The transformational learning theory best explains why adults learn because it allows a person to more fully understand their life experiences; question their own actions, beliefs, and perspectives; and question the activities in the world around them. According to Taylor (1998), transformational learning is more concerned with why we do things instead of how we do things. Although it is necessary to know how to do things, as an adult we must also understand and evaluate why we do thing and as a result possibly change how we do things.
Experiential learning is useful for teaching a person to understand a concept and then to generalize and apply that knowledge to new situations. It teaches a person to understand a principle and then apply that knowledge to new situations. Reflective learning does allow one to scrutinize and make meaning of, interpret, one's experiences; however transformational learning allows one to use what they have learned through reflective learning to "construe a new and revised interpretation of the meaning of one's experience in order to guide future action" (Mezirow, 1996: p. 162). I believe that reflective learning takes experiential learning one step forward and, subsequently, transformational learning takes reflective learning one step forward. Through transformational learning, a person learns to think for themselves and to question what they have learned. Pough (2002) states that "individuals undergo transformative experiences when they actively use a concept, find that it allows them to see aspects of the world in a new way, and personally value this way of seeing" (p. 1104). These are necessary qualities for an adult.
In addition, there are two broad types of learning, informational and transformational. Informational learning increases a person’s knowledge. This can be accomplished through both experiential and reflective learning. However, after we have accumulated this knowledge, what do we do with it? Transformational learning uses this knowledge to gain a new or expanded understanding and perspective of oneself, one's experiences, and the surrounding world. One learns to be more accepting of new ideas and the ideas of others; and less defensive about your own perspective.
An adult must constantly be willing to reflect and recognize things in ourselves and/or the world around us that need to be changed. From this, we can change ourselves and/or the world around us. We must be willing to accept that the way we and society acted/reacted in the past may no longer be acceptable today and in the future. This is Boyd’s last stage in transformational learning, grieving.
An example of transformational learning occurs to many people during military service. In the military, one is trained primarily using the behaviorist theories. Soldiers are taught not think about a stimulus, only to react to the stimulus in a specific way. However, after using some of the skills they had learned, after being part of and witnessing traumatic events, some soldiers start to reflect on their training, on their moral values, and on their experiences. They realize that some of these actions were not acceptable for the person they want to be. They became much more empathetic, much more concerned with the plight of other people. The most significant change is that they learn to question, to doubt, what they are told. Their reaction to many stimuli and their concept of the world around them has changed significantly.
This is transformational learning. The disorienting dilemma is the result of a series of a series of traumatic events that lead to a much broader change in not only one’s self, but in one’s view of the world.

Taylor, E., & ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, C. (1998, January 1). The Theory and Practice of Transformative Learning: A Critical Review. Information Series No. 374. . (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED423422)

Mezirow, J. (1996, January 1). Contemporary Paradigms of Learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 46(3), 158-72. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ525537)

Pugh, K. (2002, January 1). Teaching for Transformative Experience in Science: An Investigation of the Effectiveness of Two Instructional Elements. Teachers College Record, 104(6), 1101-37. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ658387)

Gudewich said...

Transformative learning theory is most notably associated with Mezirow who began his work 30 years ago. Mezirow focuses on how adults make sense of their life experiences. He defines the learning process in which individuals use their prior understanding to assemble a new or modified understanding, in an attempt to direct future action (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 132). The theory of transformative learning is exclusively reserved for adult learning, because it is rooted in experience, knowledge, and understanding. Taylor explains that the theory describes the, “the process of constructing and appropriating new and revised interpretations of the meaning of an experience in the world” (Taylor, 2008)

Mezior identified 10 points in his theory namely, a disorienting dilemma, self-examination, critical assessment of assumptions, recognition of one’s discontent, exploration of options, planning a course of action, acquiring skills and knowledge to implement plan, provisional trying of new role, building self-confidence, and reintegrating into one’s life. In order for transformative learning to occur three requirements must be first met. To begin with, the circumstance must be suitable for transformative learning, second, the student must self-reflect, and finally the learner must engage in critical discourse. (Snyder, 2008)

This theory best explains why adults learn because it draws on the experiences of their lifetime and requires them to undergo a transformation through a process. Merriam et al. breaks down Mezior’s 10 stages into four sections, those being experience, critical reflection, reflective discourse and action (2007, p. 134). She goes on to explain that merely having life experience is not enough for transformative learning to occur, adults must critically reflect on their experiences and decipher meaning. Furthermore, they must engage in discourse. Discourse is not a battle of words, it is however, “a conscientious effort of find agreement, to build a new understanding” (Mezirow, 1996). Ultimately, there is action, which can be taken immediately or in the future. Merriam et al. goes on to describe the three-step process for social action to occur (2007, p. 135)

In summary, the growth of the transformative learning theory continues to be an area of study that is intriguing and has significant implications in the field of adult learning. Taylor goes so far as to assert that, “the growth is so significant that it seems to have replaced andragogy as the dominant educational philosophy of adult education, offering teaching practices grounded in empirical research and supported by sound theoretical assumptions” (2008, p. 12-13). There is still much to be learned about transformative learning and the implications in the adult classroom. More research is needed so that we have a clearer understanding of the student’s role and responsibilities, as well as those of the mentor (Taylor, 2008, p. 13). Snyder concluded that, “as the academy increases its understanding of adult learners, the potential to improve the quality of instruction adults receives will increase (2008, p. 180). All seem to be in agreement that teaching form the transformative perspective is not easy, and while it may offer a tremendous reward for both teacher and learner, “it demands a great deal of work, skill and, courage” (Taylor, 2008, p. 13). It requires the mentor willing to transform, for if they are unwilling or in capable of engaging themselves, it is unlikely they will foster transformation in their mentees.


References
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Mezirow, J. (1996). Contemporary paradigms of learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 46(3), 158-172.

Snyder, C. (2008). Grabbing hold of a moving target: Identifying and measuring the transformative learning process. Journal of Transformative Education, 6(159), 159-181.

Taylor, E. W. (2008). Transformative learning theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 119(Fall), 5-15.

HECTOR ALVAREZ-TRUJILLO said...

Hi Maryjane;

First of all, nice talking to you again. I loved your posting, especially your anecdote about mentoring. It resounded big with me, something very similar happen to me when I started my first teaching job in a New York City bilingual HS; but in my case, I did listen to my mentors as I began, thank God it didn’t took me too long to understand they were wrong. Although my mentors had a world of good intentions, what they didn’t have was the necessary knowledge of my student’s ethnical, cultural and economic backgrounds, therefore did could not understand where they were coming from, sort of speak. That brings me to my next point and something I could not discuss in my original posting, were I barely discussed it some of Mezirow’s views. After reading about Freire’s theory more in depth, maybe because of my Caribbean background, I have found his theory to be extremely valid. Especially the origins of his theory, “Freire’s theory emerges from the context of poverty, illiteracy, and oppression and is set in a larger framework of social change (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 140). Does this in anyways would have applied to your first experience? And, going back to Daloz’s (1999) qualities of the prototypical mentor, in my view best described by Brookfield, “Two hallmarks that distinguish the good mentor from the mediocre teacher are recognition that passion is central to learning and the capacity to provide emotional support when is needed.” (p. 34) Do you think that the mentor’s (your first) may have lack the necessary information or knowledge of your student’s backgrounds and that that could not allowed them to serve as true mentors? I look forward to your insights,

Truly, Héctor…

Inez Cutler said...

Hi Lorrie,

I posed this question to someone in the Reflective Learning theory blog and I am posing this question to you as well. How do you see that the transfomative theory and the reflective theory are different? You discussed Mezirow and his attempt to make one within this theory to "critically reflect" whch is a characteristc shared with that of the relfective theory. Is there even a big difference betweens the two or just a few simple concepts shifted around?

Patricia said...

Hi Mary,

Mary I agree with you for the statement of struggles. I am from the 60’s and no, we did not engage in activities such as blog. I never heard of Christensen’s method, therefore, my question to you is after reading Christensen’s method do you stand in agreement with the methods to disrupt and chance the face of education for the 21st century?
Very good post when you introduce new information.

Robin said...

Hi Patty Smith,

After reading your blog it was great to see how you compared three theorists to explain the transformative learning theory. Each theorists although addressing the same topic have a different approach to learning. I think it is important to use more than one method of teaching. However, as an educator it is difficult to balance the curriculum,keep the students actively engaged while incorporating new instructional strategies. There are times when new programs are created that can take away from instruction time just to be used effectively. It would appear that the incorporation of all three theorists would not be practical. Which theorist do you think closely represents how adults learn and provides a practical way to implement their strategies of transformative learning?

Alexxandar said...

"The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because it is the exploration of self-being. In this aspect, a person becomes aware of his or her bounds of understanding the life through life experience, critical reflection and development. Mezirow (2000) calls this "becoming critically aware of one's own tacit assumptions and expectations and those of others and assessing their relevance for making an interpretation" (4). Mezirow (2000) identifies three dimensions of transformation learning, psychological, convictional and behavioral. The psychological concept deals with changes in understanding of the self). The convictional theory believes a person must have a revision of belief systems, and the behavioral concept notes a person must make changes in lifestyle to transform the learning process.

Transformative Learning perceives adult learners as reflective beings who have life experience by which they develop. “Effective learning does not follow from a positive experience but from effective reflection” Criticos (1993, 162). Thus learning is not gained from events because they are positive or negative events but rather the reflection on those events. To do this, a person must consider experiences, the current experience and values and beliefs about the experience (Merriam, 2007, 144-144). Thus, development, what meanings are gained from reflection of an experience is the outcome (147). Transformative learning supplies people the means to make meanings more rational, for which rationality promotes “rational ways of knowing” (Taylor, 2000, 306).


Sources:

Criticos, C. (1993). “Experiental Learning and Social Transformation for a Post-Apartheid Learning Future,” in Using Experience for Learning, Boud, D., Cohen, R. & Walker, D. (eds.). Bristol, PA: Society for research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: Comprehensive Guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, Jack. (2000). Learning Earnings as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Taylor, E. W. (2000). “Analyzing Research on Transformative Learning Theory,” in Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress, Mezirow & Associates (eds.). San Francisco, California: Josey-Bass

cheryl.dumas said...

Alexander, great post about the transformative theory of learning.

You stated, "thus learning is not gained from events because they are positive or negative events but rather the reflection on those events".

Are you saying that if one does not reflect upon the events, that learning is not gained?

Would you also agree that if the learning is to continue, one needs to be able to tranfer the information learned through the reflection to be utilized within future events to achieve a higher rate of positive outcomes?

ella abela said...

To Maria Gillespie,

You commented about a series of steps of change presented by the transformational learning theory. Could these series of steps be the same in relation to Lewins theory of change. You mentioned how an unsettling issue makes the individual uncomfortable, causing the person to begin the refletion process. I do not believe the reflection process requires an uncormfortable circumstance. In fact, if this was the case, all uncomfortable circumstances would force each individual to reflect, I contend that this does not answer the issue of those who do not learn from mistakes.

Frank Cannon said...

Hi R.Tapia,
From my own limited experience, anytime I have gone through a change of viewpoint it has been disorienting. I think anytime a belief is proven false, a person has to struggle to re-evaluate that belief and replace it with a revised version. I guess growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was a very disorienting time for all. From my own perspective, I lost a lot of faith in the beliefs of my parents and townspeople. Not only did I find they were inaccurate in their estimating the value of other races, I found their unfailing trust in government and its officials at odds with the evidence I witnessed every evening on the news. I don’t know that one has to “experience” an event, as long as he trusts and believes the source reporting an event and has the ability to seek out other perspectives and transform accordingly. Personally, my change in racial prejudice occurred slowly as the opportunity to associate with other races (as in the case of my high school) and realize they are just as human as anyone I had previously known. I guess I probably felt a guilt for ever believing the way I did and I know I was ashamed of my parents, grandparents, etc. for not only believing the values they once taught me, but for ever steadfastly attempting to maintain that particular status quo.

Frank Cannon said...

Hi Sahar Aldujaili:

Unfortunately, at this stage of my teaching career, I can incorporate very little mentoring into my strategies. I have a huge number of classroom students and only see them for two hours every three weeks, this educational climate affords little opportunity for a true mentoring climate. At best, I try to “guide” students toward activities which will inspire them to venture out of their comfort zones and into a world where a mentor may be needed.

ijustbeme said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Queena Fuller said...

It's 1965 and our nation is undergoing a major change and it is a critical time during the civil rights movement. One young man has been severly beaten by a member of a radical racial group for trying to help African-American's register to vote. Now fast fowrard to toady. It's 2009 the nation has elected its first African American President. The young man who was beaten has grown and is now a congressman. He meets the man who almost blugened him to death. He is met with tears, hugs and sincere apologies.

The transformative theory explains why adults learn best because the internal change that occurs is evident. Meziro believed that it's the process by which we transform our taken for granted frames of reference to make them more inclusive, discriminating , open emotionally capable of change and reflective so hat they may generate beliefs and opinions that wil prove more true or justtified to guide action. Through transformative learning we are freeed from uncritical acceptance of others' purposes values and beliefs.

The gentleman who had the change of heart has learned through a tranformative learning process. Mezirow also believed that transformative learning could occur through an incremental or epochal event. His ephocal event was the election of an African American to the white house.

Transformative learning starts with an experience but just having the experience is not enough. The learner must critically self examine the assumptions adn beliefs taht have structured how the experience hs been interpreted (Merriam, Cafferella, Baumgartner, 2007. p. 134)

To Robert Boyd the transformative process goes far beyond cognative practices and involves the affective social and psychological domains (Scott,1997,p.42) Boyd felt taht it was necessary to acknowledge that adults primary learning occurs through communicative learning and that this too impacts transformative learning.

Although it is not a cure-all for tramatic occurances it can however give adult learners the tools neede to negociate and act on their own purposes, values, feelings and meanings.


Reference:
Scott,S. (1997). the grieving soul in the transformation process.In P (Ed). Transformative Learning in Action;Insights from practice. (pp41-50) Sam Francisco, Jossey Bass


Merriam, S.B., Cafferalla, R., Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood; a comprehensive guide. (3rd ed). John Wiley & Sons

Kenneth Patterson said...

To: Kari Profit

Thanks for your questioning. Let me see if I have some means of addressing the issues.

The feelings that I have when reading the transformative theorists' writings is that the discussion is much more about the process than the outcomes. As a classroom teacher (higher ed) I, too, have the same question. Mizerow sees action as the final component of the trasformative learning process. Daloz describes his three "maps" of development, but doesn't have any measurement of effectiveness at the end point of the process. Perhaps Freire gives the best measurement of transformative learning through his goals of liberation or "praxis". I would question this, though, due to Freire's views of that liberation being exhibited through a more radical social action. While a good measurement, it certainly wouldn't easily fit into my gradebook.

I don't see these theories as describing some adults as having a greater "propensity" to learn because of richer experiences. I think it more strongly points us to a granular approach to learning based on the individuality of the student. While some students will have a richer and more diverse background of experiences, some will not. That doesn't mean the less experienced students won't learn, just not in the same way, maybe to the same level, and quite possibly not the same lesson (outcome). For more discussion on this... see paragraph above. This approach would truly place educators into teaching individuals and not classes, and in regards to a "grading curve"... perhaps it would no longer be relevant.

I'm sensing that Freire is the standout in the crowd in measurement of the outcome. His theory is strongly based on social action as a result of the transformation. That's not to say he isn't interested in the process, just that he is looking beyond the process to the results of the process.

I would be interested in hearing from others concerning the issues of outcome measurement within this theory. How do you make it fit the gradebook? the grading curve? classroom application?

-Kenneth Patterson

Kenneth Patterson said...

To: Jose Gonzaelz

So how do we measure outcome under The Theory of Transformative Learning? How would you place hard measurements on your transformation as a college student faced with a "disorienting event"?

Kenneth Patterson said...

To Peg:

How would you suggest that we find or create a "disorienting event" in the lives of our learners? I taught on the high school level for several years and regularly saw a sampling of students who were mature enough to learn through a transformative process. What do you see as some of the markers of learners being taught through this approach? Do you think this is viable for secondary education? younger? exceptional education?

-Kenneth Patterson

Kenneth Patterson said...

To Rtapia:

I love your word "enculturated". Is that original? Bravo for calling it like it is...

-Kenneth Patterson

Kenneth Patterson said...

To: Inez Cutler

Do you think a teacher or "facilitator" can lead learners to construct an incorrect or "wrong" meaning? Better way... better idea... better answer... better to and for whom? How do we decide what is right in terms of construction?

-Kenneth Patterson

Kenneth Patterson said...

To: Kim Brown

How do you see this theory of learning applying to the seasoned employee resistant to change? Where can you fit "We've always done it that way!" into creating a need for the transformation?

-Kenneth Patterson

Kenneth Patterson said...

To: Dorothy Garcia

Do you think the feeling you have with The Transformative Learning Theory can also apply to learners and be used to motivate them to learn? Is understanding the process of Transformative Learning important to the transformation?

-Kenneth Patterson

Carol V. Kreitner said...

Frank, it's amazing how we have the same experience in the exact opposite way. In my calculus class, I find that the chinese and middle class white students are the most expressive, especially when I make a mistake, and the black and other minority students are usually silent. Here I can see the socioeconomic background affects of the transformative learning theory.

Demond Radcliff said...

Hi Timothy Boone

I understand your prospective view on the Transformative Learning Theory. I would like your point of view on one question. Will the adult learner's mind become free of preconceived notions or ideas or do adults who practice transformative methods allow social changes to deter them from relying on past experiences.

Myrtle Brown said...

Question for Steve Elder.

Steve,
You noted in your post that there is a common thread among the theories. Could you expound on this please, or just give an example of how they intersect.

Are there any one of the theories that you would adopt as a "best theory",or a "preferred one?"

Michele said...

The Transformative Learning Theory best explains why adults learn because it refers to how existing knowledge and experience is changed by new information and/or experiences. “It is transformative learning theory that explains this learning process of constructing and appropriating new and revised interpretations of the meaning of an experience in the world” (Taylor, 2008, p. 5).

When I am engaged in a learning experience, my knowledge is much stronger when I have past experiences or knowledge to use as scaffolding. “It is when an axon grows and meets up with another neuron that learning occurs. This explains why adult students need consideration of their prior experiences. Adults need to connect new information with old information” (Cercone, 2006, p. 297). This corresponds with Transformative Learning Theory.


References:

Sorensen, E. K., & Murchu, D. O. (Eds). (2006). Enhancing learning through technology. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Taylor, E. W. (2008). Transformative learning theory. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education. (119), 5-15.

Michele Denton

Michele said...

Maria,

I do agree with you on the points you brought up i regard to Transformative Learning. When you stated, "So, we begin a discourse or dialogue with people about our experience and in the process find others who have been through the same experience – a support group." It made me wonder, what if the support group that some people have are not that of individuals that grasp change? What if they are individuals that help to continue and feed the anger and fear? I know some individuals that I think live in this kind of culture. Even though they are included in forms of higher education, for what ever reason, they do not join in on discussions with others in the same learning experience. Instead they go home into this other culture. This makes their change or learning much harder, but at the same time more important. What do you think?

Michele Denton

F. Green said...

To Michelle,

Taylor (2000a) notes of Meizirow's theory that "critical reflection is granted too much importance and does not give enough attention to the significance of affective learning--the role of emotions and feelings in the process of transformation" (Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner, 2007). What role does affective learning play in the writing skills of your students?

~Falisadoll

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. Jossey-Bass.

Kelly Bailey said...

The Transformative Learning theory best explains why adults learn because it is the most powerful example of the dynamic potential of the educative process. No other theory of education better captures the power and potential of life-changing learning than the transformational or "transformative" learning process.

Taylor (2005) suggests that the transformational learning process occurs through seven lenses - three individualistic lenses and four sociocultural perspectives. It is certainly obvious how the acknowledgment of the individual and sociocultural perspectives give a great holistic approach to this type of learning. Particularly in the sense that the two basic frameworks of the adult influence are given consideration and inclusion in the theory of transformational learning. This is but one of the many strengths of this learning theory and further demonstrates the power of its transference to other, later theories within adult education. Keegan (2000) goes on to explain that while informational learning adds to our existing framework of reality, it is the transformational learning that refers to changing that existing framework. This perhaps best captures the power of the transformative learning theory. Education in itself and in its most powerful state is the basis for social change and literally making the world a better place - one learner at a time.

Mezirow (2000) considered the "father of transformational learning", centers his theory on how adults make sense of their own life experience. This transformational learning occurs when there is a shift in our own beliefs or attitudes that transform our entire perspective. This is the individual basis of collective world-altering behaviors such as the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, and on the negative front, Hitler's realm of terror in Nazi Germany during World War II. These are powerful examples of how the collective transformative perspective of a people group changes the world and those effects in turn shape our society, our reality and our societal perspective of the earth around us.

Another important distinction of the transformative learning theory provides for the adult learner’s individual interpretation of their own life experiences, thereby creating transformation with resulting growth and development (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 132). And while Mezirow recognizes that not all learning is transformative, he indicates that, “we can learn simply by adding knowledge to our meaning schemes or learning new meaning schemes…and it can be a crucially important experience for the learner” (1991, p.223). Each experience in the life of the learner is seen as important, significant and vital to the growth process.

Later works by Daloz and Boyd also augment the earlier works of Mezirow. Daloz’s focus on the psychodevelopmental perspective, particularly in the realm of adult learning in higher education, views the teacher as the mentor in the transformative learning process (Taylor, 2005). This example of effective teaching methods bodes well for successful classroom facilitation methods, as well as providing adult education instructors a good guide for their role in the classroom. Utilizing Daloz’s mentoring teacher’s role is also a good fit for workplace training and professional development activities at the job site. On another important note, Boyd (1991) places importance on the spirituality in the educative process. Boyd defines this transformative learning process as “a fundamental change in one’s personality involving conjointly the resolution of a personal dilemma and the expansion of consciousness resulting in greater personality integration” (p. 459). Once again, the transformative learning process is holistic in its approach to learning, bearing the experiential, spiritual and cognitive aspects of the learning process.

Perhaps the most powerful example I can provide of the powerful transformative learning process has occurred in my own life in the last six months. My husband and I have been married two years, and had so far been very ‘foot-loose and fancy free”. We have been career and educationally focused, worked long hours when necessary, and planned extravagant and lengthy vacations all over the world as often as possible. However, all of this has come to a dramatic halt when I found out that we were having a new addition to the family to be born on May 30, 2009. This immediately and systematically brought on the most transforming event in both our lives. I became immediately obsessed with reading every childcare book I could get my hands on, began saving my vacation days at work, and I have totally transformed (no pun intended) my house into a ‘baby-friendly’ zone. When I first began studying transformational learning, I immediately identified with the notion because of my recent life-altering experience. It is as if my life now, in an instant, has taken on a new meaning, has a completely new focus, and absolutely transformed my own perspective on life itself. What a powerful example of the transformative learning potential!

Transformational learning is a dynamic, life-changing theory that encapsulates the wealth of occurrence in the human experience. In my estimation, it is this theory that best understands that field of adult education and is translatable into the realm of higher education. It is perhaps this wealth of experience that so greatly reflects the adult learner, and no other theory takes this difference into greater importance than the transformative learning process.

References:

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood. A Comprehensive guide. (3rd ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Taylor, E.W. (2005). Making meaning of the varied and contested perspectives of transformative learning theory. In D. Vlosak, G. Kielbaso, & J. Radford (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Transformative Learning (pp. 459-464). East Lansing: Michigan State University.

SLuke said...

Maryjane,
I was very interested in reading your post, and wondered if there was ever a time when you learned from your mentor because you disagreed with the guidance provided?
Sharon Luke

kenneth bazemore said...

"The Transformative theory best describes why adults learn because..." Mezirow describes the conditions and processes necessary for students to make the most significant kind of knowledge transformation: paradigm shift, also known as perspective transformation. Mezirow (1991, p.167) also describes perspective transformation as: ... the process of becoming critically aware of how and why our assumptions have come to constrain the way we perceive, understand, and feel about our world; changing these structures of habitual expectation to make possible a more inclusive, discriminating, and integrating perspective; and finally, making choices or otherwise acting upon these new understandings.

The transformative theory has envolved into a comprehensive and complex description of how learners construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experience (Cranton 1994, p.22). Mezirow's theory, which is based on psychoanlytic theory (Boyd & Myers, 1988) and critical social theory (Scott, 1997), expresses three themes: centrality of experience, critical reflection, and rational discourse.

Transformative learning is the result of a learning experiences. A student becomes aware of the process by which they gain their knowledge, as well as the values that influence their perspectives. Feinstein (2004) cites that transformative learning is facilitated by two processes. Reflective discourse explores different perspectives after which a judgement is made. Critical reflection uses experiences to come to "paradigmatic, structuring assumptions" (Feinstein, 2004, p.109).

Reflective discourse and critical reflection alone do not guarantee transformative learning. Certain conditions are needed to facilitate it. Feinstein (2004) reports that the environment in which students learn must incorporate high levels of "dialogue, exploration, and reflection" (p.110). Students must also feel comfortable participating in such activities (Feinstein, 2004).

Pugh (2002) summarizes the transformative experience as being defined by "active use of the concept, an expansion of perception, and an expansion of value" (p.1104).

References;

Boyd, R.D. & Myers, J.D. (1988). Transformative education. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 7(4), 261-284.

Cranton, P. (1994). Understanding and promoting transformative learning: a guide for educators of adults. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Feinstein, B.C. (2004). Learning and transformation in the context of Hawaiian traditional ecological knowledge. Adult Education Quarterly, 54(2), 105-120.

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative demensions of adult education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Pugh, K.J. (2002). Teaching for transformative experiences in science: investigation of the effectiveness of two instructional elements. Teachers College Record, 104(6). 1101-37.

Scott, S.M. The Grieving soul in the transformation process. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74, 41-50.

timothy boone said...

To Demond Radcliff,
I think in a perfect world the adult learners' mind would become free of preconceived notions or ideas free of social influences.
However, we do not live in a perfect world and no matter how hard the adult learner tries there will always be some trace of a preconceived influence. I think the trick is to lot allow it to become debilitating. Recognize it and try to deal with it in a rational non-biased way..

Tim Boone

Michele said...

F. Greenem,

I am guessing that you are responding to me (Michele) because the other Michelle (with 2 l's, does not seem to have a post on this page.

I currently do not have students in the sense of classroom with writing assignments. I hope to someday, but currently am a training coordinator and technical assistance advisor. I would think that when someone has experience and knowledge that is tied directly to an emotion or emotional experience, that the emotion might come through their writing. This could be in the form of stronger language and conviction in the subject. Michele Denton

Mary Courtwright said...

In Defense of Transformative Learning Theory

According to Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner (2007), transformative learning theory focuses on a change in learner perspective with regard to the self and the extended world. Mezirow’s approach to this learning theory is self-centered, in that he believes that learners must transform their own paradigms in order to change and grow (as cited in Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). Mezirow (1996) holds that this shift in perspective requires both critical reflection and experiential integration. Adding to this definition, Laurent Daloz states that adult learners seek mentorship and personal development, while Robert Boyd adds that Jungian psychology woven into adult education can foster personality integration, whereby paving the way for self-actualization (as cited in Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007).

Transformative learning theorists who focus on the relationship between self and the greater world contribute social and spiritual ideas to the approach (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). Paulo Freire promotes problem-posing instruction wherein students are empowered to work with each other and the instructor cooperatively (as cited in Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). Additionally, Tisdell (2006) offers that the spiritual aspect of adulthood should not be isolated from the mature learning environment; rather, adult education should offer learners a chance to shift holistically. She states that “…transformative learning is best facilitated through engaging multiple dimensions of being, including rational, affective, spiritual, imaginative, somatic and sociocultural domains”, underscoring that each of these aspects of self is an integral part of the adult journey in education (p.38).

Transformative learning theory is a powerful approach for instructors to take when entering the mature classroom. Contributors to this theory suggest that shifts in perspective must take place at the individual level, as well as those that serve the greater whole (i.e., interpersonal, communal) (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). The endeavor to transform one’s personal outlook requires reflection on experience and the employment of critical thinking skills (Mezirow, 1996). Additionally, as Tisdell (2006) posits, growth must occur on multiple levels, including the spiritual and social realms. Thus, transformative learning theory, is an effective approach to adult learning because it offers a holistic, multidimensional model from which instructors can affect the whole adult student.

Reference

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. (1996). Toward a learning theory of adult literacy. Adult Basic Education, 6(3), 115-126.

Tolliver, D. E., & Tisdell, E. J. (2006). Engaging spirituality in the transformative higher education classroom. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 109, 37-47.

Jose A. Gonzalez said...

To Kenneth Petterson

Hello, to best of my knowledge I have an answer for your questions.

So how do we measure outcome under The Theory of Transformative Learning? According to Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgatner (2007) "learning is a change in behavior, is a process focuses on what happens when learning take place" (pp 277) That mean observation is one of the best tool to measure outcome.

How would you place hard measurements on your transformation as a college student faced with a "disorienting event"? As teacher you need to be aware of students behavior and avoid those hard measurements when they are facing "disorienting events". Also, you need to establish a well define and open communication channel with your students in order for them to express any particular situation that affect their learning.

Lorna said...

To Maryjane Burdge:

I smiled as I read your blog because I could relate in so many ways. This is my first time blogging. Not knowing the technicalities of how to blog, I believe my original blog was posted incorrectly and out "some where" because I noticed today that I was not able to view it on the comments (I have since figured this thing out).

Being a first time on-line student, has definately taken me out of the traditional form of learning. This type of learning does challenge me. However, it has provided me with so many insights that our classmates have shared. As a child from the 60's, what has challenged you in this learning environment?

Lorna Manglona-Williams

Dolly Harris said...

Frank,

Thank you for your insight.
I see merit in all three theories discussed in the blogs. I think that transformative learning is best applied with a deeper meaning or reasoning behind the learning. This deeper meaning is usually preceded by a dramatic or significant life event. In addition, everything is relative. One students interpretation or derived meaning could be quite different from another's. I think this is most applicable to an individual who has some kind of unique experience that creates meaning and drive. I don't think most people have truly experienced significant or dramatic events that give them deeper meaning or that changes their perspectives. Not until they experience such events as illness, death of someone close to them, being a victim of some sort, or job loss. I think the cause of the transformation needs to be significant and not everyone is faced with learning in this manner.

Dolly

Mary Buck said...

The transformative learning theory best explains how adults learn because it is comprehensive, including such approaches as Mezirow’s psychocritical approach, Daloz’s psychodevelopmental perspective and Freire’s social-emanicpatory philosophy, and because education should be about transforming one’s life. The end product of transformative learning should be personal and social change.

Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgartner (2007) define transformative learning as being “about change-dramatic, fundamental change in the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live” (p.130) and they also say that experience, critical reflection and development are all integral to transformative learning. If you have ever had one of those “ah-ha” moments when learning something that changes your ideas, habits, or outlook, you’ve experienced transformative learning.

In his 1999 book, Daloz says of transformative learning, “This does not mean that the old world has been abandoned; rather, it has been incorporated into a broader awareness of its place. It is seen in an new way” (p. 27). This, to my mind, means that something has occurred to change one’s mind about things as they are and focuses the mind on things as they can, or should, be. Additionally, his use of Virgil and Dante from The Divine Comedy as an example of the mentor/student relationship and transformative experience is quite accurate.

As most of you, I have seen transformative learning in action. When I was working on my M.S., there was a young man in one of my classes, Internal and Externalized Oppression, who was vehemently anti-gay. There were 3 gays – 2 female and 1 male - in the class who sat quietly while he made some very nasty comments. Then, they “came out” to him. Needless to say, he was quite surprised as he had no idea that there were gays in the class. At the end of the semester, he admitted that his thoughts about gays were wrong and that they had changed his perspective.

I believe that transformative learning is not a panacea for all of adult education’s ills, but it is a fine beginning. As Daloz says, “..good teaching lies in willingness to care for what happens in our students, ourselves, and the space between us” (p.246).

References

Daloz, L.A. (1999). Mentor (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S. and Baumgartner, L.M. (2007) Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Joel said...

Comment from Joel R. for Peg E.

Peg,

Very nice post! In my response to another classmate's posting, I mentioned that every semester I deal with many students who severely struggle with key concepts in A & P, and these are the students who want to enter your nursing programs! As an instructor, my top priority is to help my students succeed, but I am forced to believe that some of them honestly have no chance to achieve their dreams of becoming nurses. For students such as those, is it unfair of me to feel they will never become nurses? When a student faces a difficult situation such as failing a class that they must pass in order to enter a nursing program, do I as their instructor/mentor have an obligation to pull them aside and suggest that they consider an alternate career choice? As I mentioned before, I deal with this every semester, and all too often I see students fail to be transformed by the trials they face. I am looking forward to your hearing your thoughts! Have a great week!

Joel

Mary Buck said...

Hi, Ron

I can't speak for Frank (and wouldn't presume to), but I can tell you that I think that a diesorienting experience is often required for transformation.

I had a major health issue in 2001 that nearly lead to my death and I have lingering damage that will not get any better. Believe me, I've thought alot about my life and what things mean to me and I've come to the conclusion that my family and friends are the most important things in my life and always will be; my job and pretty much everything else is now second in my life.

Peg Erdman said...

Peg Erdman says
To Kenneth Patterson,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. In response, I do believe that maturity is a factor in transformational learning. So, if you believe that some of your secondary ed students have the maturity needed, place them in a situation that may cause some discomfort. Group activity frequently provides the kind of discomfort, or disorientation that is required to work at a new level and transform themselves. Assign one of your best students with a much weaker student and see if the bar is raised. Also note if the stronger student becomes more of a mentor.
Any time we ask our students to stretch, to reach beyond what is mediocre and strive for excellence, we are creating that environment of discomfort and disorientation. They'll begin to realize that the status quo is no longer good enough and you will have transformed them. Peg Erdman

Mary Buck said...

Hi, Jennifer,

You asked Maria "Do you think that all learning can result in social change? Do you think all learning needs to result in social change?".

I think that all learning can result in social change. At our campus we have a class called Project in which students check out their communities in order to find something that can be changed and they develop a meaningful project of change. We've had students start community gardens, recycling programs, childcare centers in areas that didn't have any, and the list goes on and on. We even had a police officer develop a program for peer-counseling officers involved in shootings; not the traditional counseling, but help from officers who have actually been involved in a shooting.

Not all learning needs to result in social change, but it would certainly be nice if it could. This world might just be a better place.

KBetts said...

Mary Buck in your posting, you stated the following:

"As most of you, I have seen transformative learning in action. When I was working on my M.S., there was a young man in one of my classes, Internal and Externalized Oppression, who was vehemently anti-gay. There were 3 gays – 2 female and 1 male - in the class who sat quietly while he made some very nasty comments. Then, they “came out” to him. Needless to say, he was quite surprised as he had no idea that there were gays in the class. At the end of the semester, he admitted that his thoughts about gays were wrong and that they had changed his perspective."

I found this example to be a very good one and my immediate thought was that this person who was anti-gay, out of respect for everyone in the class should have kept his thoughts to himself whether or not there were gay people in the class or not. However, I think that adults who can utilize transformational learning are ones that are open minded, take in as much of the facts about their opinions as possible and use their sense of respect to voice opinions in their beliefs before saying things that might offend others. It was a great example.

Kelly Betts

kenneth bazemore said...

To: Maryjane Burdge and Lorna Williams

I read both of your post and responses and I had to chuckled to myself..... I do agree with you both. Since being my first time as an online learner, I never thought that we would have to complete a blog assignment. I had to do a "trial and error" procedure before I was comfortable in submitting my assignment. I would to say that we are all in this together.

Much Success,
Kenneth B

Michelle said...

Maryjane,

Do you feel that mentors are always right just because they have age or experience? Do you feel that there can be a new teacher who has new ideas and strategies and learned theories of best practices that may work although a mentor may have experience?

Michelle Sutton

Karen Hall said...

April said, “Transformative learning occurs when a person becomes aware of the sanctions that caused the experience. Upon realization of the problem, comes acceptance and reflection. At this point, one must be critical of their own assumptions and work to make changes.”, (2008).

The weakness in this statement is the assumption that the individual learner is willing to be critical of themselves and willing to make changes. So often, it is easier for the individual to blame outside forces for a poor outcome and insulate themselves from any blame associated with the situation.

According to Dewey, all education results in learning but not all learning is a good experience. Dewey’s view of the role of experience in education can be seen as an excellent example of the fallacy of the undistributed middle. If certain experiences have the effect of limiting vision and growth, then those experiences can be detrimental to education, narrowing “the field of further experience”, (Wiley, pg. 51) by landing people in “a rut” (Wiley, pg. 51).

Furthermore, learning does not occur in a vacuum as Merriam states, “Our construction of our experiences is affected by our ‘psychological history (Jarvis, 2001, pg. 2)”, (pg. 164). Dewey warned against the possibility that some experiences “mis-educate” and “distort growth”, (Wiley, 2001, p. 51)

I think we are all familiar with people (including ourselves) who have had bad experiences and never really “got past” them, who withdraw socially, develop a variety of anxieties and/or phobias or just simply misinterpret the result and walk away with a completely wrong idea about an experience. For those individuals, future learning experiences that are similar or familiar to the one they had a bad experience with will likely never occur again because, being human, it is natural to avoid emotions that resulted in fear, anger, hurt, etc. According to Jarvis, “often the more experiences we have, the less likely we are to learn from them. (Merriam, pg. 164).

There will always be individuals who analyze experiences and grow from that process, and there will always be others who do not wish to self-analyze or if they do conduct a self-analysis, will reach incorrect or unrealistic conclusions regarding the experience. One way to insure that transformative theory would apply so that all education results in a good experience would be to incorporate a mentor or some external mechanism that guided the learner through the logic process to aid in properly evaluating the experience.

References

Bell, April (2008). Transformational Learning Theory Blog. Retrieved February 8, 2009 from https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=8644452486233456758&postID=5581856071365443972

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Wiley (2001). Adult Learning: Theories, Principals and Applications. University of Phoenix, USA.

KBetts said...

The Transformational Theory best explains why adults learn because it is about changing what we know through transformation. This transformation is a mental construction of our experiences, inner meanings, perceptions and reflections that we have about something that we know and changing what we know based on individual and social-cultural perspectives (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007). According to Taylor, 2005, (In Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007, pg.131) there are seven lenses through which to view transformational learning. They are divided into two groups based on the locus of learning. The first group is the individual and the second group is the sociocultural. In terms of the individual focus, Mezirow, Daloz and Boyd all contribute their theories to the individual in regards to transformational learning. The sociocultural focus of learning has been theorized by Freire, Tisdell and others.

Mezirow’s transformational learning theory is comprised of 10 steps plus four main components to the process. These four main components are experience, critical reflection, reflective discourse and action. According to this process of learning, the individual draws on his/her own experiences by critical reflection and reflective discourse. Then the individual reaches out to others in society to find other perspectives, reflects on these perspectives and then begins to take action on how they have transformed what they have learned.

In Mezirow’s theory, the process of reflective learning is often set in motion by a disorienting dilemma, particular life event or life experiences such as death of a loved one or an illness that a person experiences as a crisis (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007). However, I do believe that there are cases in which one uses transformational learning in situations that are not disorienting or of a crisis nature. One example is developing a new process or practice in the workplace such as evidenced based practice in the nursing field. Let’s say if is found that a certain nursing procedure is causing a lower rate of patient satisfaction on the nursing unit. The nurses have learned this new procedure and have been utilizing it, but learn that there might be a different way to do the procedure that is better for patient satisfaction. The nurse or nurses reflect on the current procedure, reach out to the other nurses to gain perspective and proceeds to transform their thinking based on new ideas, consequences of the patients and social views from others. Then they take action to change the procedure and evaluate the new procedure for efficacy and increased satisfaction. Depending on the outcome of the new procedure, the need for additional transformational learning may be warranted.

Kelly Betts

Reference

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Taylor, (2005). In Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007) pg. 131. Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

elizabeth gatz said...

mary, I liked your comment "Not all learning needs to result in social change, but it would certainly be nice if it could. This world might just be a better place", I certainly agree with you. this thought occured to me when I read your post, learning should be accepted with the idea that it is for more than just personal gain or use? I thought if this were the case then the idea of social change would occur on a more steady basis! then the next questio to ponder if How does this happen? how can learners use their knowledge to help others? One thing for sure is that an attitude must accompany learning that the new knowledge is to be initated with society as a recipient of the advanced thoughts and ideas. another idea is that in order for learning to be real learning is that it is shared with others. what good does it do for me to learn all these things about theroy and theorists if I keep this knowledge ot myself? I have to shre it. I have to allow others to hear my take on the new informtion, then I have attempted to instigate some socail chagne, maybe not in the tangible form of a new program but in terms of others starting to thnk along the lines that will push them into further thoughts and then new methods and ideas will be related to others. waa laa! a subtle form of socail change! elizabeth

kenneth bazemore said...

To: Maria Gillespie,
I enjoyed reading your post, especially enjoyed reading your information concerning how to use this theory in the classroom. I feel as an educator that we must promote meaningful dialogues in which the students would benefit in becoming productive citizens in our society.

Kenneth B

Barry Lease said...

In response to April Bell

Hi April

I enjoyed reading your perspective on transformational learning. Your explanation is well-organized and effectively substantiated.

You explain that a problem causing the impetus or defining event for transformational learning is usually an adverse or negative consequence. However, Boud, Keogh, and Walker (cited in Brookfield, 1987) acknowledged, “critical reflection can be prompted by a positive experience.” In fact, we know from Brookfield that a creating “culture of reflection” is a desired state in the adult learning environment; to create this culture we would prefer positive rather than negative defining events.

From the previous comments, I maintain that the adult educator wants to “engineer” these positive defining events to enable transformational learning.
Would you agree or disagree with my assertion? Please explain your answer either way, but if you agree then please consider telling me how you might engineer these defining events that are the genesis of transformational learning.

Thanks for your consideration
Barry Lease

Reference
Brookfield, S. (1987). Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways for thinking and acting. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Gordon Jorgenson said...

MaryJane

Great post about Transformative Theory and your erly transformations as a new teacher. When you wrote of learning the hard way about being the "nice and friendly" teacher it brought back the same memories for me. Sometimes learning the hard way id good for us I suppose.

After considering the three theories presented on the blogs in this module, do you find that you more completely support one of them in particular or some combination?

What do hope to do next professionally and how have all these transformations prepared you for it?

Gordon

Shannon Hendrix said...

Hi Timothy Boone.

Your post on Transformative Learning was rather informational and interesting. It seems as if adult transformation occurs because of other elements. Focusing on the prior experience element, can transformation occur without it? Or would you say that it is what adults experience which suggest that a transformation may be necessary?

Shannon

K. Myrick said...

Conceived by Jack Mezirow, transformational learning theory is uniquely adult, abstract, idealized, and grounded in the nature of human communication and experience (Imel, 1998, ¶ 3). TL theory focuses on the process adults use to make sense of their life experiences (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 132). Transformational Learning theory acknowledges and unifies the cognitive, social, and developmental dimensions of the learning process. This unification validates the argument that transformational learning theory is the best approach for adult learners. Adult learners experience and appreciate education differently from their counterparts. Education is not only to add knowledge many adults participate expecting a transformational change as well.
Cognitively the brain is capable of reflective thinking around 20 to 24 years of age, after the cortical regions of the brain have been fully myelinated (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman 2007, p. 488). At this stage in adulthood there is continuous evaluation of information and beliefs which is called reflective thinking. Critical reflection is the maturation of reflective thinking. Critical reflection sets the stage to challenge underlying assumptions and beliefs giving opportunity for new perceptions to emerge. The new change in perception is transformation. The transformation often motivates the adult to act in returning to school.
To maximize the transformation social communication in the form of dialogue is essential. Dialogue frees individuals from compulsions, complexes, and obsessions (Merriam et al, p. 139). In other words dialogue gives us new ideas to consider. An example of this would be the interaction between Eric and Milt. Educators that embrace and foster discussion provide students with an array of perceptions to critically reflect upon.
The joining of critical thinking and social interaction results in development. This personal development is the transformational change many adult seek when furthering their education. Simplistically put adults learners want to be different than they were before. As stated before difference just is not knowledge, it is the way they feel, act, perceive, etc.
All of the dimensions discussed are an integral part of the adult learning experience. Other theories rely heavily on one aspect of learning. However transformation learning theory unifies the aspects of learning. Theories that are multi-dimensional, such as transformational learning theory are better applied to situations that are multi-faceted such as adult learning.


Reference:
Merriam, S., Caffarella, R., & Baumgartner, L., (2007). Transformational learning. In
Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (pp. 131-158). San Francisco: Jossey-
Bass.

Papalia, D., Olds, S.W., & Feldman, R. D., (2007). Young adulthood. In Human
development (pp. 469-508). New York; McGraw-Hill.

Imel, S., (1998). Transformative learning in adulthood (Report No. 200). Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED423426)

Gordon Jorgenson said...

Thomas Case,

You mentioned that you underwent change in how you viewed other cultures as a result of your first college experiences. You also mentioned that these changes could not be exlained by andragogy or adult learning theories. What then do you use to explain the changes that took place for you?

rhonda said...

Maria G...

Great job of explaining the transformative learning theory! Do you think learners steer away from this type of learning because of th echange it requires of the learner to create the social change. I think people are typically creatures of habit and this theiry chaalenges the status quo. Do you use this theory in your teaching? Do you find a certain "type" or demographic of students are more drawn to this theory than others?

Kate Louton said...

Kate's response to Maryjane B.
I really appreciated your description of the transformative learning theory. I am twenty-six. My perspective varies so greatly from those who did not grow up with extensive amounts of high tech toys.

I like how you discuss the differences you experienced while being younger with older mentors. As the youngest director at my college, by twenty years, I find myself in a similar situation quite often.

My final comment is on your statements regarding the age of a mentor. I very much so agree with you. I think people are capable of being positive role models and mentors for others at any age. It all depends on the situation and circumstances.

Serena said...

Mary G.,
I appreciate how you described the experience that begins the transformative process. The "jolt" as you explained so clearly, awakens us to the need for change and reprocessing of resources. In experiential learning, experience is an ongoing process. But within transformative learning, it is the birthplace of change.
At this time in our country, many Americans are experiencing that jolt. Have you seen this in your role? I am a hospital education director and have seen a surge in older adults coming to the hospital to be trained for a different role. Many of them were realtors and construction workers who now are entering into healthcare for a second career. The jolt may have been a lay off but the reality is the change forces them to reprocess what they have and seek additional resources.
Excellent post.
Serena Huggins

Greta Brantley said...

Frank,

Transformative learning theory is a hard theory to do in my opinion. When transformative learning is the goal of adult education, nurturing the learning environment should consider the following:

The teacher has to establish an environment that builds trust and care and facilitates the development of sensitive relationships among learners.

The teacher also serves as a role model by himself demonstrating a willingness to learn and change.

The adult learner as to have the responsibility for creating the learning environment.

Transformative learning has two layers that at times seem to be in conflict: the cognitive, rational, and objective and the intuitive, imaginative, and subjective.

I believe teachers should consider how they can help students use feelings and emotions both in critical reflection and as a means of reflection.

Kym said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because it is an integral part of the learning process.
We make meaning with different dimensions of awareness and understanding; in adulthood we may more clearly understand our experience when we know under what conditions an expressed idea is true or justified. In the absence of fixed truths and confronted with often rapid change in circumstances, we cannot fully trust what we know or believe (Mezirow, 2000, p. 3-4).

Dianna Medellin said...

Kim,

Your example does exemplify the main ideas that you described for the Transformative learning theory. I was also a corporate trainer and worked with training seasoned employees. The challenge with this theory is applying it within a corporate setting which expects measurable results and fosters a strict learning environment.

Demond Radcliff said...

Inez Cutler

I enjoyed your stance on the Transformative Learning theory. Change is one's thinking process is great as long as the person's ideas are realistic. In some cases, I notice that people who practice being transformative learnes tend to go against theories that have been tested and proven to be correct. I also encourage people to think outside of the box to formulate new ideas and solutions towards situations. Tell me, what is your stance on a transformative person who challenges facts? Is this transformative learning at it's best?

NildaGonzalez said...

Frank,
I truly enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for sharing the transformation in your own views.

I read some of your responses to other posts and believe your preference for adult learning would be reflective learning. Nevertheless, I would venture to ask, with regard to your current teaching experiences, what alternative teaching strategies do employ with your Chinese students if you cannot encourage transformative learning for the reasons you state?

Thank you.

Nilda Gonzalez

klee said...

Hello Suzanne,

Having your students write reflections as pre-and post assessment allows the students to observe how much learning that took place. it also gives the students an idea of any changes in thoughts from the pre-reflection until the post reflection.

Question, how much time is allowed between the reflections and do you pose the same question for responses to both reflections?

Last question is: do the results of the reflections help guide you in preparation for future instruction of the same concept?

NCHAH said...

Elizabeth,
I enjoyed reading your posting. As you quoted, Mezirow (2004) states that the individual must be an adult and not all adults can experience transformative learning and must have the “capacity” for transformation. Does “capacity” include to Freire’s terms such personal empowerment by education leading toward social change?

NCHAH said...

Inez,
As you cited in Mezirow’s view, the transformative learning theory has a constructive approach and it is about change. Whereas I somewhat agree with your idea of saying that this theory opens the door to allow one not only to think outside of the box but to create an entirely new box, I believe that a new box would include previous learning experience, critical reflection, and development.

Ted Pettinicchi said...

Response to Kelly Betts:

Kelly, I like how you incorporate reflection with Transformational learning. Have you had any experience with nurses jornaling or using reflection in order to advance their learning?

--Ted Pettinicchi

Janelle Simmons said...

Response to K. Myrick:

You mentioned reflective thinking in your post on transformative learning, which was interesting. Would it be safe to say that transformative learning and reflective learning go hand in hand? It seems like you can't get to the transformative learning piece until you participate in reflective learning.

K. Myrick said...

Good Evening Janell:

I enjoyed your post as well. Critical reflection is considered to be an element of transformative learning. It is not capable of transformation alone.
Critical reflection is the maturation of reflective thinking. TL theory requires expansion beyond RL activities.

-Warmest Regards

Wayne Kawakami said...

Hi Maryjane. I found your comments very interesting. This is my first "bloggin" experience and I am from your generation and remember being told by some of my "older" colleagues about not smiling for the first month. I remember smiling anyway, but that changed over the years. I smile to keep things in perspective, but as you mentioned, there is a line. I try to be there for the students, but students need to be responsible for their actions. I am curious about the Christensen method. Discipline is important and the key to the success in education of other countries, especially in Asia. Where did Christensen come up the "disruption" method?

Kym said...

I work for a professional development company. When I initially got the job I thought that it would be like a school but that was far from the truth. The company is owned by a Harvard Graduate and it is very much a corporation. He values the bottom line above everything. The transformative theory can be implemented into corporate training because according to Johnson-Bailey and Alfred (2006) transformative learning promotes inclusion of voices traditionally silenced and fosters a sense of belonging as a member of the group. Content employees are more productive and promoting inclusion will make employees feel as if they are valued.

Lisa Hernandez said...

To Maria

I certainly agree that transformative learning cna be extremely powerful in many situations. As you noted, support groups that help move people who have had a similiar experience toward transformation is one venue in which we can see this type of learning. Also, the classroom is another - as you touched on. I am an instructor for the Training Academy for the Department of Corrections. One of the mandated courses I teach is Hate Crimes. As you can imagine, this is a powerful topic that often causes long held beliefs, prejudics, and stereotypes to surface during training. In trying to educate people about the devastating effects of the actions and beliefs of these groups, I have often encountered many forms of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. To be effective in this course, I must create a safe environment in which people feel free to ask questions to help them understand hate and what leads people to these groups. As we discuss tolerance and sensitivity I often see transformation in people that did not understand their actions and how they could be perceived as hurtful - or in some cases even illegal.

April Bell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April Bell said...

Hi Barry,

In response to your comment, of course we would prefer positive defining events, but in real-life situations, its usually the undesriable experiences that we tend to ponder over. We learn by doing and observing others do. In other words, as Daloz (1999) states," we can indeed survive the terror of the coming journey and undergo the transformation by moving through, not around, our fear" (p.18). Sounds like a problem to me!

More importantly, Mezirow discusses how the entire process of transformative learning is triggered by a "disorienting dilemma" event; such as a death or critical illness ( Mezirow,2007, p. 135).

Needless to say, as an adult educator, I must agree on the later statements you made. We would love to just reflect on the positive experiences in our lives, but where are the true learn experiences that transforms our being? Transformational learning allows us to grab hold of "problems and situations" and take them through a process of reflection and higher learning.

Thanks for the input!

April


References:


Daloz, L.A. (1999). Mentor: Guide the journey of adult learners (2nd ed.). San Francisco. Ca: Jossey-Bass.


Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A
comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco,Ca: Jossey-Bass.

Judi B said...

from Judi Buenaflor
The Transformative theory best explains why adults learn because it recognizes the dramatic change that occurs through learning that promotes a new self image and a new dynamic in a world view (Merriam, Caffarella, and Baumgarten, 2007, p. 130). This theory reminds me of my studies of Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development. Piaget speaks of prior knowledge and how through learning we experience disequilibrium. After either assimilating new knowledge with the old or adapting the new knowledge, then cognitive balance or equilibration is achieved once again.
In Transformative theory, Mezirow refers to the adult’s “frame of reference” as that which an adult has created to make meaning and perspective (Merriam, et al, 2007, p. 132). Unlike Piaget who only spoke of cognitive knowledge, Mezirow broadens an adult’s perspective to not only be cognitive, but affective and conative as well, making the “frame of reference” a deeper mind set from which an adult could move with learning into making “more inclusive, discriminating, open, beliefs and opinions” (Merriam et al, 2007, p. 133).
Mezirow does not stop with “frames of reference” from which adults have formed their opinions, beliefs, and ideas. He also speaks of habits of mind and points of view as very much a part of adult thinking. Habits of mind are the “broad, orienting, ways of thinking, feeling and acting” which are influenced by the adult’s set of codes (Mezirow, 1997, p. 5). Points of view are subject to continuous change as adults reflect on new content or problem solving (Mezirow, 1997, p. 6).
An example of his Transformative theory, Mezirow in his book, Learning As Transformation (2000), tells the story of a forty year old man, who in his introductory statement at the beginning of his management class, made the point of telling his classmates that he was a born-again Christian. One of his assignments was to write and essay on marriage, family, and parenting. His first drafts were nothing more than a “series of biblical injunctions” (p. 154). Due to the academic level of the course, his instructor counseled that more perspectives should be examined. This proved difficult, but upon seeing other models of parenting and family life, he saw possible strengths and even determined that his views had some weaknesses (p. 154). He also participated in peer editing and discussions about his views and others in the class. By the end of the class, this student said, “I have learned to put myself on the other side of what I believe” (p. 154). This change in point of view reflects Mezirow’s theory that transformation learning moves the adult from his/her original frame of reference and habits of mind to a new point of view for the better of the learner and the rest of the world.

References

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A
Comprehensive guide. (3rd ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Boss
Mezirow, J. & Associates (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a
theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Boss.
Mezirow, J. (Summer, 1997). Transformative learning: Theory in practice. New
Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (74), p. 5-12.

Thomas Case said...

To Gordon Jorgenson

Gordon,

What I meant was that the changes could not be explained completely by any of the other theories by themselves. Transformative theory looks at learning from much wider perspective and can explain more of the change in me. Certainly, both types of theories explain at least part of the process. I hope that clarifies my answer a bit.

Bob Schwallie said...

Transformational Learning

Although there are critics stating Mezirow’s theory gives to much importance on “critical reflection” however there are theorist that support Mezirow’s theory. One such person is (Tennant, 1991) who explains teachers link their illustrations and explanation to the students prior learning experiences. (Tennant, 1991) further writes, learning activities can be linked to learners home life, work experience, and community activity. All of this can lead to learners’ critical reflection according to (Tennant, 1999)

Bob Schwallie

Reference
Tennant, M. C. (1991). The psychology of adult teaching and learning. In Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Misha Duru said...

The Transformative Learning Theory or Transformational Learning in other words:
According to Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner (2007), “Transformative or transformational learning is about change-dramatic, fundamental change in the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live” (p. 130). Furthermore,

Mezirow’s (2000) study found the following: Transformative learning occurs when there is a transformation in one of our beliefs or attitudes (a meaning scheme), or a transformation of our entire perspective (habit of mind) (Mezirow, 2000). Transformative learning, says Mezirow, is “the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning schemes, habits, mindsets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they might generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide action” (2000, p.8).

I am in agreement with the aforementioned authors definitions of transformative learning. From my perspective: learning is generally ALWAYS based on some type of transition. Rather it is a forced transition (i.e., an unknown work assignment, etc) or a natural transition (i.e., mental or social development: maturity, etc) transformational learning is an inevitable learning style. For example: I was working on a new assignment that I had absolutely no clue about. In order to produce the required results I had to research the topic and gather new information about the subject. After my research process was completed I was able to generate the results I needed and passed the exam with an “Outstanding” rating. It was that experience that changed the way I viewed my abilities, capabilities, and responsibilities. I know that I CAN DO anything even if I do not know what to do. This is an example of a forced transformative learning process.

According to Merriam et al., 2007 Geri, a mother of two, was a successful lawyer and master gardener. She expected to be named a partner at the law firm within the next year. At age thirty, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. She researched treatment options and joined a support group. Before the diagnosis, Geri’s priorities included buying a larger house in an upscale neighborhood, purchasing her “dream car,” and spending time with her family on a vacation in Europe. After her diagnosis, Geri reflected on priorities and she recognized that her relationships with family and friends were more important than material possession. (p. 130) This is another example of a (natural) transformative learning process.

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because in life, transitional or transformative learning will happen to all of us. As we grow and develop we will learn and transition into more intelligent, strong, knowledgeable human beings. My examples prove that rather you want to transition or not it will happen. This is my perspective of transitional learning.

References:
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guild (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformational learning theory. In J. Mezirow & Associates, Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in process (pp. 3-33). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Misha Duru said...

The Transformative Learning Theory or Transformational Learning in other words:

According to Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner (2007), “Transformative or transformational learning is about change-dramatic, fundamental change in the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live” (p. 130). Furthermore,

Mezirow’s (2000) study found the following: Transformative learning occurs when there is a transformation in one of our beliefs or attitudes (a meaning scheme), or a transformation of our entire perspective (habit of mind) (Mezirow, 2000). Transformative learning, says Mezirow, is “the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning schemes, habits, mindsets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they might generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide action” (2000, p.8).

I am in agreement with the aforementioned authors definitions of transformative learning. From my perspective: learning is generally ALWAYS based on some type of transition. Rather it is a forced transition (i.e., an unknown work assignment, etc) or a natural transition (i.e., mental or social development: maturity, etc) transformational learning is an inevitable learning style. For example: I was working on a new assignment that I had absolutely no clue about. In order to produce the required results I had to research the topic and gather new information about the subject. After my research process was completed I was able to generate the results I needed and passed the exam with an “Outstanding” rating. It was that experience that changed the way I viewed my abilities, capabilities, and responsibilities. I know that I CAN DO anything even if I do not know what to do. This is an example of a forced transformative learning process.

According to Merriam et al., 2007 Geri, a mother of two, was a successful lawyer and master gardener. She expected to be named a partner at the law firm within the next year. At age thirty, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. She researched treatment options and joined a support group. Before the diagnosis, Geri’s priorities included buying a larger house in an upscale neighborhood, purchasing her “dream car,” and spending time with her family on a vacation in Europe. After her diagnosis, Geri reflected on priorities and she recognized that her relationships with family and friends were more important than material possession. (p. 130) This is another example of a (natural) transformative learning process.

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because in life, transitional or transformative learning will happen to all of us. As we grow and develop we will learn and transition into more intelligent, strong, knowledgeable human beings. My examples prove that rather you want to transition or not it will happen. This is my perspective of transitional learning.

References:
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guild (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformational learning theory. In J. Mezirow & Associates, Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in process (pp. 3-33). San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Fran said...

Eliz,
Reafirming your post I believe that the key to tranformative learning is the fact, that we as adults do permit our own individual experiences as learning material change us and that in fact do help us grow and transform into wiser individuals.

Maryanne said...

Transformative Learning Theory

The Transformative Learning theory best explains why adults learn because this process involves experience, critical reflection, and development. Experiential and Reflective learning are both captured within the transformative learning theory. Adults have the advantage of bringing to the table past experiences which can be a resource for learning. “Experience is integral to learning,” meaning that adults can learn and develop through their experience (Merriam, Caffarella, Baumgartner, 2007, p. 144). Experience helps to shape beliefs, opinions, and motivates learning. “All experiences trigger learning-whether the learning is a simple addition to prior knowledge or a fundamental change in our perspective” (Merriam, Caffarella, Baumgartner, 2007, p. 145). Another key factor in transformative learning is critical reflection. This is the point of learning where the adult can take into consideration their past learning, their experiences, current learning, beliefs, opinions, facts and engage in critical thinking and problem solving (Blewett, Keim, Leser, & Jones, 2008, p. 1). The Reflection stage largely depends on cognitive processes to inspect everything the adult learner believes, knows and has experienced in order to reevaluate knowledge and formulate modified or new thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and ways of thinking. The outcome of experience and critical reflection results in development of the adult learner. Adult learners can develop through transformative learning. Development is the evaluation on whether or not learning has taken place. Development or growth is the proof that learning has taken place within the learner’s thinking, behavior, or awareness. Through transformative learning “we can become better, more critical thinkers” which is the development piece of this theory (Merriam, Caffarella, Baumgartner, 2007, p. 147).Transformative learning best explains why adults learn because it a comprehensive theory that includes experience, critical reflection and development. All of these factors are essential to adult learning.

Blewett, T.J., Keim, A., Leser, J., Jones, L. (2008). Defining a transformational education model for the engaged university. Journal of Extension, 46(3), 1-5.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

michelle said...

Response:
Transformative theory includes both reflection and experiential learning theories. This is the way the theory should be. As I was doing the reflective theory I had a difficult time defending it when I didn't feel it was a complete learning theory.

Lori DeGaetano said...

The many journeys in my life occurred because of transformational learning. For example, in reflecting on my previous teaching experience, and through dialog with family and friends, my thinking was transformed that resulted in the action to begin my doctoral journey. But as an anthropologist, I’m always searching for cultural experiences, and how these experiences are evident in adult learning theories. I set out to find culture in transformational learning and found evidence that counters the critique of such learning as being a contextual (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 149).

Mezirow theorized that learning comes from experience, bridging past and present knowledge that leads to future decision-making processes and actions (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 132). In a case study of student teachers becoming integrated within a foreign culture, that of Costa Rica, the experience transformed their beliefs and actions (Moseley, Reeder, & Armstrong, 2008). The student teachers initially received an overview of the culture prior to the experience and briefly visited Costa Rica with faculty where the student teachers became more aware of the culture. This process promoted critical reflection and discourse, a time to plan for the adventure (p. 61). When the experience began the students faced their own cultural biases and assumptions. One student upon arrival refused to eat white meat but upon becoming emerged in the culture, this perspective changed and the student learned to thrive on Costa Rican foods (p. 63). In addition, their experiences learning to live within the culture changed how they responded to daily challenges. Their initial visit and experiences with transportation limited options for commuting. As they began to live within the culture and explore alternatives, they began to adopt different modes of transportation (p. 63). Culture influenced transformation that led to new ways of adjusting to the unknown. Transformational experience working cross-culturally resulted in global awareness of others that changed these individuals’ thinking and behavior.

The cultural-spiritual approach also provides evidence of transformational learning, exemplified in a case study conducted in Botswana, Africa. Merriam and Ntseane (2008) observed how spirituality impacts learning within the context of culture. Africa is a collectivist culture and personal identity is not within oneself but is based on community (p. 186). Within this belief system are family responsibilities. For example, in Botswana people learn and believe that only relatives surround the death of family members. An interview conducted with an individual prior to a tragic accident exemplifies the influence of spirituality on transformational learning. When Radira was involved in a car accident that killed 4 strangers, he felt a sense of responsibility to stay with these individuals until relatives arrived, and this made him re-evaluate cultural beliefs in death because he was not an immediate family member. He is now more cautious and aware of the dangers of driving (p. 191). The event changed his worldview, actions, and perceptions. Through this example, personal meaning was constructed and transformed within the cultural-context of spirituality.

The evidence suggests that transformational learning is a process that can change an individual’s assumptions, beliefs, and actions through experience, critical reflection, critical discourse, and action (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 134). More importantly, culture has the opportunity to play a key role in this transformation.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: a comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. & Ntseane, G. (2008). Transformational learning in Botswana: how culture shapes the process. Adult Education Quarterly, 58(3), 183-197.

Moseley, C., Reeder, S., & Armstrong, N. (2008). I don’t eat white meat: the transformational nature of student teaching abroad. Curriculum and Teaching
Dialogue, 10(1), 55-71.

Rodney Brown said...

The Transformative Learning theory is best because…

Transformative learning is comprised of so many valid points. The base word “transform” “means to change the nature or form” of a thing. When true learning occurs, there is indeed a change in the nature or form of that being. Learning in and of itself does not necessarily lend itself to change. A requirement for the demonstration of that learning is action. A change in the action that is reflective of the experience surrounding the learning process/event.

Jack Mezirow talks about how “Adults make sense of their lives…” Learning is part of the process of how adults explain the changes that take place in their lives. We learn how to do things and it changes us. We learn from that experience that when we do “a”, “b” will result. If we like the results, we will repeat the action as often as we like. If we don’t like the results, then we have learned that we should not continue with that behavior.

Transformative learning also talks about changes in our attitudes and/or belief system. An example of this kind of change would be when someone decides to become a Christian. When people decide to become Christians, they are deciding to behave differently. They may decide to go to church on a regular basis; give up some long held habits or simply to be nice to people because it is the right thing to do. They are deciding to think differently and respond differently in certain situations.

There is also discussion which suggests that usually there is some event in life that causes such a change. Mezirow calls it a disorienting dilemma. Upon reflection of that occurrence, a person may decide that it is time to make a change in their life. Maybe a loved one was lost due to drinking or smoking. A family member may finally learn that drinking and/or smoking is not healthy. This reflection would be part of the process that causes the transformation in their life to be more health conscious.

I also think that as Daloz (1999) states learning is a lifelong personal developmental journey. There are people that are continually taking classes or obtaining new degrees. This is done not just for the sake of learning but for the growth, for the development of a new skill which may be used to make a difference in their life.

There are many other arguments for the Transformative Learning Theory being the best. As Mezirow points out, this theory is based upon experience, reflection, discourse and action. That is learning in action.

Reference:

Daloz, L.A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco, Ca.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., Baumgartner, L. M. (2007) Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco: Josey-Bass

Taylor, E.W. (2007) An update of transformative learning theory:
a critical review of the empirical research (1999–2005) Int. j. of lifelong education, vol. 26, no. 2 (MARCH-APRIL 2007), 173–191 Retrieved April 1, 2009

LDiGiovanni said...

The transformative learning theories best explains why adults learn because they begin to understand the world and begin consciously to use other strategies to rethink issues to redefine their worlds differently (McAllister, Tower & Walker, 2007).

A qualitative, descriptive research study conducted by Morris and Faulk defends this point. Morris and Faulk (2007) examined a group of RN-to-BSN candidates to see the benefits of the utilization of transformational learning activities to enhance nursing professionalism. Their findings showed that there was a significant increase in the level of the nurses’ values after the completion of their baccalaureate studies. This was evident by the self-admitted changes in the nurses’ behaviors and their commitment to the nursing profession. This concluded that there was a transformation in the nurses’ professionalism (Morris & Faulk, 2007). By using self-reflective practices, “this process can open and internal dialogue that can awaken one to patterns of one’s habits of the mind, which can be transformed through acknowledging the interconnectedness of mind-body-spirit, opening up one’s full potential as a holistic learner” (Yorks & Sharoff, 2001, p. 23).




References:

McAllister, M., Tower, M. & Walker, R. (2007, July). Gentle interruptions: Tranformative
approaches to clinical teaching. Journal of Nursing Education, 46 (7), pp. 304-312.
Morris, A.H. & Faulk, D. (2007, October). Perspective transformation: Enhancing the
development of professionalism in RN-to-BSN students. Journal of Nursing
Education, 46 (10), pp. 445-451.
Yorks, L. & Sharoff, L. (2001). An extended epistemology for fostering transformative
learning in holistic nursing education and practice. Holistic Nursing Practice, 16
(1), pp. 21-29.

Melanie said...

Transformative Learning Theory --Melanie Birmingham


The theory of transformative learning is an insightful one that takes the learning described in several of the previous theories we’ve studied and raises the learning to a higher plane or order than other theories require. It is a type of extremely powerful learning that is not easily forgotten. After reading through the materials for this module and reminding myself of prior reading from this semester and prior semesters as well. I see transformative learning as an amazing responsibility for both the students and facilitators. It also helped me to think through some of the transformational learning that I have experienced throughout life. I identified both positive experiences, successes, mistakes, disappointments, illnesses, deaths, births of children, marriage, relationships with friends and relatives and many other experiences that I see as transformative learning experiences in my life. These experiences are also some of the most memorable and valuable to me as a parent, teacher and human being.

I appreciate that Merriman, Caffarella and Baugartner acknowledge that not all learning is transformational in nature (p. 133). As described by Brookfield, and as we have all seen, there are some that may have reached the chronological age in which critical thinking and reflection should be possible, yet they are not (p. 37). Some people may not be capable of this level of learning even though most should. Additionally, Merriman, Caffarella and Baugartner note that transformational learning is the mental construction of experience, inner meaning and reflection (p. 130). They also state: “Transformational learning is about change- dramatic fundamental change in the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live” (p. 130). I find it difficult to think of all learning as transformational but can conclude from studying this type of learning that most (if not all) learning can be attributed to a subsequent transformational learning experience. I believe that every moment we are alive we are learning in some way but I would feel certain chaos in my life if every moment caused a fundamental change in my self-perception and in my world view.

The assumptions of Knowles theory of androgogy as stated by Merrimam, Caffarella and Baugartner (i.e., self-direction, experiences, readiness to learn, change in perspective, internal motivations and a need to know why) are addressed in transformational theory (p. 84). The ability to think critically as described by Brookfield throughout his book is also necessary to complete learning in a transformative way. Daloz describes the influence of teachers and mentors as “magical” in the ability to transform students. We may influence and aide in transformational learning without knowing it has happened (even though it may have been our goal) because we may do or say something seemingly magical for a student that causes his perspective to change and understanding of himself to change as well (p. 22).

I can think of one man who exemplifies teaching and care that lends itself best to transformative learning and that is Jesus Christ. He commonly used moving stories in his teaching similar to those described by Daloz in chapter 2. He showed caring (also discussed by Daloz) for others that is unsurpassable through his earthly work and his death. He helps us to learn from our mistakes and blessings and from the mistakes and blessings of others and he calls us to become involved in helping others to think rationally, critically and reflectively and to change ourselves for the better.




Brookfield, S. (1987). Developing critical thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of
thinking and acting. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners (Rev. ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive
guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Melanie said...

Response to Fran:

Fran,

Do you think that transformative learning could be alternatively defined as the process of acquiring wisdom?

Melanie Birmingham

Melanie said...

Response to Rodney Brown

Rodney,

It seems that transformative learning is a combination of reflective plus experiential learning as described in our learning resources this module. Do you agree or disagree, Why?

Melanie Birmingham

AFountain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alkia Fountain said...

The transformative theory best explains why adults learn because it focuses on change. What a better way to explain learning by understanding that when you learn new knowledge your point of view changes. People also begin to try and figure out the meaning to their lives. As quoted by Mezirow (1993) in Baumgartner, Caffarella, & Merriam, (2007): transformational learning, “The process is most often set in motion by a disorienting dilemma, that is, a particular life event or life experience such as the death of a loved one or an illness that a person experiences as a crisis” (p. 135). The movie the “Bucket List” is a great example of transformative learning theory. The movie is about two older men who have both been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Edward is a wealthy guy and Carter is a mechanic and they both have decided to do a list of things they want to do before they “kick the bucket”. After learning of their life changing situation they both make changes in each of their lives and learn new things about life from each other. Moral of the story, their reaction to life explains what transformational learning means. They learn of a crisis in their life and learn new ways to look at life to enjoy their last days instead of giving up. Baumgartner, Caffarella, & Merriam, (2007): states that “Transformative or transformational learning is about change- dramatic, fundamental change in the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live” (p. 130). Transformative learning takes life’s experience and makes the meaning and feelings that are associated with that experience and gives a new outlook about life on a personal level.

By learning new knowledge we are breaking down per conceived notions that have been formed by the emotionally reactions to pass experiences. When we are affected by traumatic experiences our personal conclusions to these reactions is what produces learned behavior. Once able to put certain behaviors with specific experiences we take the information and form an ideology. A shocking experience can cause your previously formed ideology to breakdown. Uncertainty causes a thirst for knowledge and meaning to life. We begin to break down the meaning for the unusual experience and develop a new approach to deal with the new feeling. Analytical thinking begins to produce new ways of thinking. As quoted by Mezirow (1991) in Imel (1998): “For learners to change their "meaning schemes (specific beliefs, attitudes, and emotional reactions)," they must engage in critical reflection on their experiences, which in turn leads to a perspective transformation (p. 1).

References

Baumgartner, L., Caffarella, R., & Merriam, S., (2007). Learning in adulthood: A
comprehensive guide. San Francisco, CA, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Imel, S., (1998). Transformative learning in adulthood. Columbus, OH, USA: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education. Retrieved from: http://www.ericdigests.org/1999-2/adulthood.htm

Mezirow, J., (1993). How adults learn: the meaning of adult education. University Park: Penn
State University p.185-190.

Alkia Fountain

Dianne said...

The Transformative theory best explains why adults learn because the ultimate goal is learner empowerment, critical self-reflection, and growth of one’s own perspective along with integration of others perspectives. This adult learning theory was introduced by Jack Mezirow as a change process (2000). It suggests ways adults can identify and evaluate their own and others assumptions and beliefs, evaluate and incorporate new information into those beliefs, moving from acceptances to new meaning. According to Mezirow and other theorists this often involves reframing one’s acceptance of cultural, familiar, organizational, and societal knowledge. Transformative learning requires critically reflecting on one’s assumptions and unconscious processes, and moving to what Carl Jung refers to as contemplation of the meaning of life and one’s place in it (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). This type of learning is desirable in that it can emancipate us from unquestioning acceptance of social, religious, sexual, or cultural roles. According to Mezirow (2000), by becoming aware of our interpretations and opinions in the context of our history and culture and expanding our knowledge, we have a chance of developing insight that can improve our decision-making, which is critical to adult learning. This not only helps the transformative learner but also society because improved understanding and awareness of the world, global perspectives and identification with other cultures can lead to increased social responsibility (Daloz, 1999).
Transformative learning is often a reconstruction of ourselves because the process requires us to be open to others views, to become knowledgeable about those views which may result in our reconstructing what we know and how we know it. More often than not this type of learning is the result of what Doloz calls catalytic events, such as disease, job loss, relationship issues, going back to school or entering new roles, moving (1999).

One example of a personal transformative journey comes from a recent college graduate of the institution I work with. Amy (not her real name) married shortly after high school graduation, had two children, divorced, and was working as a secretary in a mid-sized corporation when a college recruiter came to the company for career presentations. Amy had never considered college and believed a college degree was out of her reach; her family didn’t encourage going to college, she didn’t do well in high school, and didn’t think she was smart enough. After talking with the recruiter and examining her job tasks, she realized that even though she didn’t have a degree she had many of the skills of those who did. Amy then realized they were earning more and being promoted because of their degree. That gave her the confidence as a single parent with two teenagers to try college. She graduated two years ago with a bachelor’s in business (accounting emphasis) and along the way encouraged her daughter to go to college. Amy’s transformative journey involved growth and changes in beliefs about and beyond herself. One of them is still talked about as an example of unconscious barriers. The degree program was totally online. Amy became involved with classmates in a ‘coffee and chat’ group that started in her second online class and continued for a number of years. These were five women of similar age, from different backgrounds and areas of the country. They helped each other with coursework and provided encouragement to keep going. About halfway through Amy’s program Amy talked to her chat group about a face-to-face interview requirement in one of her classes and the requirement that she conduct an interview with someone in her career area. The individual she was to interview was a woman of color. Amy’s comment to her online friends was that she had never interacted with “blacks” and was uncomfortable with the project. The response from one of her chat friends was to the effect that “yes you have, I’m here”. Then a second reply was posted that said, “…and me”. Amy and her chat group met at graduation and you would have thought they’d been best friends for years. I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy along with other graduates for video presentations we eventually put in first-term classes. One of Amy’s comments was that she not only has shown her kids that education is the key to a lot of doors in life, but that she had a new family (the four women) and had already signed up as a mentor for incoming adult students at the college as she intended to pursue her own further education.

I see a transformative learner as one being open to assessing alternative beliefs and points of view, reflecting critically on the new information, and redefining their personal judgments (Mezirow, 2000). Kegan’s “way of knowing” provides a framework for application of transformative learning theory in curriculum, integrating a variety of ways of knowing and understanding the interconnectedness of our lives (1994, p.5). I, for one, want to start critically looking at our faculty curriculum development programs to ensure we help incorporate processes and opportunities to transform our teaching which in turn will help our adult students towards a deeper understanding, discovery, and transformative change in their lives.

Resources
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor. Guiding the journey of adult learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J. & Associates. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

alisa jones said...

Melanie,

Melanie,

You mentioned that everyone is not capable of reaching the level of learning as explained with the transformative learning theory. If this is the case, how can this theory best explain why adults learn, especially when some may not even reach this level?

Josephine Reid said...

Melanie,
As I read your post on transformative learning theory, it brought to mind how our lives are transformed when we experience death, marriage, divorce, child bearing and other factors that cause us to change in some form. As I am still grieving the loss of my son and mother within a three year period, it has made me appreciate life but has also caused me to see things differently. As I reflect on the joys, sorrows and other heartfelt emotions, I believe we have an innate ability to transform our own lives to fit a mode of thinking and learning that helps us to cope with everyday situations. As I am preparing to receive my doctorate degree, I feel a gratitude from the situations I've endured but also a positiveness that helps me to progress and feed off of past experiences and focus on new experiences and information that fits into my mode of progression.

Josephine Reid said...

Maryanne,
Do you think factors such as death can impact us to the point where there is no transformative learning involved? Or do you think we may be unaware of the transformation because the grief is so powerful?

Faye Melius said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faye Melius said...

If transformative learning is the process by which we transform our reference points by being open and capable of change through reflection (Mezirow, 1978), then learning cannot occur by computing, memorizing, reading, and comprehension. by definition this Kitchener's first level of the cognitive process. Does Mezirow speak to this type of learning? Is metacognition our only means of learning using this theory? Faye Melius

April 3, 2009 3:22 PM

Nedra Allen said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because it “concerns how adults make sense of their life experience” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 132). Mezirow’s theory forces students to perform a self-reflection of how they acquired knowledge and beliefs. Some individuals have to make life changing decisions based on certain circumstances they might encounter.
According to Dr. Patricia Cranton, “we expect what has happened in the past to happen again. If we failed to understand mathematics, we expect to continue to fail. If our boss has always been critical of our work, we expect her to continue to be critical. If our parents told us we were stupid, we think we are. Habits of mind are established. Habits of mind may have to do with our sense of self, our interpretation of social systems and issues, our morals and religious beliefs, and our job-related knowledge” (2009, ¶ 3).
There are various teaching strategies that educators can employ to implement transformative learning into curricula. Many college administrators welcome the challenge of developing both traditional and non-traditional students. Faculty members can provide activities that will allow students the opportunity to examine themselves to determine the students’ beliefs and emotions. Mezirow states, “the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning schemes, habits of mind, mindsets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justified to guide action” (2000, p. 8). There could be a dialogue between the student and instructor to give the student the opportunity to give the instructor more insight into the student thus helping him/her to perform at his/her maximum level.
Primarily, Mezirow’s theory proposes that student’s take charge of his/her own learning experience through a change in mind set. As illustrated in Learning in Adulthood, the authors give an example of a change in mind set: “for example, two of Andy’s friends have revealed that they are gay over the past several years. As a result, Andy begins to question his homophobic reaction to gays and lesbians. Over time, Andy changes his point of view (meaning scheme) about gays and lesbians and is no longer homophobic (change in meaning perspective)” (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 133).

References

Cranton, P. (2009). What is transformative learning. Retrieved April 3, 2009, from http://transformativelearningbermuda.com/Transformative_Learning.html

Merriam, S., Caffarella, R. & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in adulthood: a comprehensive
guide. (pp. 132-133). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow, J., & Associates. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory
in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Rob Campbell said...

Rob Campbell Said

The Transformative Learning Theory is the best explanation of how adults learn. It is a all encompassing theory that deals with a change to the adults frame of reference which Merriam, Cafferella and Baumgartner (2007) described as meaning the adults either “point of view or habit of mind”(p. 132). The habit of mind is more of a predisposition that has developed from a moral or philosophical background. The point of view is are more immediate, involving personal values or attitudes. (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner (2007, p. 133). The theory involves a transformation from past beliefs to new beliefs due to a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Mezirow (1981) described this transformation by saying that as a person develops as an adult there is a constant change to this point of view and as they gain knowledge they better understand the constraints that have bound them to these present point of views and they begin to take action that leads to a change. The adult critically thinks about their past assumptions and beliefs and reevaluates them with the inclusion of the new knowledge they have acquired. This self reflection transforms their assumptions into new ones and changes their point of view and possible their habit of mind (Mezirow, 1981). Roberts (2007) described changing this habit of mind and point of view of the learner as changing the lens through which the person will now “filter, engage and interpret the world around them” (p. 396).

Transformational learning makes sense in that as we learn we come to understand different things we will rethink our beliefs and begin to change our assumptions and attitudes towards these things. Strain (2006), Comments that these transformations begin slowly with an inadequacy in how we feel about the world we are in and how we see that world. This creates a process in us in which we question our points of views and habits of mind. We then transform our points of view and habits of mind into a more open minded version then we had before. This creates a more comfortable frame of reference for us and we have at this point been as Mezirow (1981) said critically enlightened and the transformation is complete.

Adult educators can engage in a process of transformative learning as well through a more increased awareness of themselves as the educators of adults. In order to foster transformative learning in their students it is important for the teacher to model the process themselves.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide, San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Mezirow, J. (2004). Forum comment on Sharan Merriam’s “The role of cognitive development in Mezirow’s transformational learning theory”. Adult Education Quarterly, 55(1), 69-70. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from http://aeq.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/32/1/3

Roberts, N. A. (2007). Book Review: Understanding and promoting transformative learning (2nd Ed,) by Patricia Cranton, Journal of Transformative Education, 5, 395.
Retrieved April 2, 2009 from http://jtd.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/5/4/395.pdf.

Strain, C.R., (2006). Moving like a starfish: Beyond a unilinear model of student transformation in service leaning classes. Journal of College and Character, 13(1) Retrieved April 1, 2009 form http://www.collegevalues.org/pdfs/moving.pdf

Sandra Walker said...

Aika,

You provided a great example of the transformative learning theory applied in the context of the 21st century. As you noted, the movie, The Bucket List, is a great example of how Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning allows us the opportunity to interpret our lives and experiences on an individual-basis, and as a result we grow and develop [transform] based on those events. (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p. 132).


Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner (2007) noted that transformative learning requires critical reflection on assumptions and processing information that we may not really be conscious of. Transformative learning is a plausible learning theory because I can see where it really forces us to really bare all and reflect on the good, bad, and the ugly in order that we may form new opinions about our experiences and decisions. I have found the process of reflection painful at times – reflecting on death, divorce, job loss, or illness whereas I now know that I would have made different decisions or avoided certain situations and people. Yes, mistakes were made because the transformative process can get “messy.” Yet these mistakes have proven to be defining moments in my life. I would say that a key part of my transformation has been embracing the reality that defining moments can either make or break us – it all comes down to choices.

References

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mary Ann Ashton said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because it assumes that people use all of their senses to make meaning out of the mundane, as well as pivotal experiences of their lives.
Would our lives hold as much meaning and richness if it were not for transformative learning experiences? Perhaps not. It seems that even the most mundane event can be a pivotal learning experience depending on where you are in the learning/cognitive/maturation/continuum. What can we take out of the “aha (or “eureka” from the Greek (h)euroskō, meaning to find) moment experience—that moment in time when we realize that something—an event, a happening, a catastrophe—has the power to change our lives forever? I call it “the moment when the lights go on,” when everything is different, yet the same, and when we are different, yet the same.
Mezirow’s transformative theory is a stair step approach: something happens, we interpret it, we connect it to something else in our memory, we review and discuss it, and in doing so, we reinvent ourselves, hopefully for the better, and then we pass it on to someone else.
One step (obviously) has to appear before the other in order for us to rise to the top. Moreover, in so doing, we flex those muscles that were once dormant, or that we thought we did not have. We take the transformative journey because we have to. Circumstances have made it necessary, although we do not realize this until after the journey is over.
This can be likened to walking to the top of the Statue of Liberty (prior to the 9/11 tragedy). The journey is undertaken perhaps to provide meaning to a friend’s death from lung cancer. The walk is your way of acknowledging your friend’s life, and helping you get your lungs (life) in shape.
You arrive at the base of the Statue. You look at her majesty from the ground floor, think that you can never do this, but you take the first steps because this is something you must do. You get to the fifth floor, and now the view starts to open up. You look down and see things from a different perspective. You go up 10 or 20 more flights, and the view is even better, it is clearer, it is brighter. Your legs are starting to hold you up. Your breathing is a bit better, and you find that you can, and must, talk with your mentor (the guide), encourages you. “You can do it,” she says, and you take courage and comfort in that knowledge. (Daloz, 1999)h your counterparts as you rise. The discussion is centered on how you did not think you could do this at all, but you are proud of yourself. You have made it this far, and so you can make the full journey. Along the way, you learn about the Statue. When you get winded, or lose a step, the guide is there (a mentor) (Daloz, 1999) to help you along. “You can do it,” the guide says. “Just take it one step at a time.”
Now you are on the top floor, in the crown, looking out through 25 windows. The torch is a symbol of enlightenment. The Statue of Liberty’s torch lights the way to freedom showing us the path to Liberty.
The view is spectacular, you can see everything clearly and concisely, and you start to shed a tear. The tear is for the majesty of the view, for what the Statue represents, and for what you thought you could not do, had to do, but now know you can do. The tear is for your friend’s (and others’) premature death. However, you have made friends new friends along the way. Your mentor (guide) has retreated to the background. You are just peripherally aware of his or her presence. You are full with pride and a sense of accomplishment. You think, “I’ll never be the same again.” Now you want to share this wonder with others.
This analogy may be a bit simplistic, but it gets to the point that it is the journey that transforms us. We have no idea of what the future (top of the stairs) holds for us. Nevertheless, we cannot help but be transformed by what has transpired. The journey both frees us and encumbers us. We are free because we took the leap of faith and made the journey, transforming us, providing a new reality to add to the old, but we are also encumbered because now we know that we have to take action and share this amazing in-”sight” with the world.
That is the nature of the transformative learning experience. It is freedom, and enlightenment. “Freedom is not standing still. A symbolic feature that people cannot see is the broken chain wrapped around the Statue’s (of Liberty) feet. Protruding from the bottom of her robe, the broken chains symbolize her free forward movement, enlightening the world with her torch free from oppression and servitude. The torch is a symbol of enlightenment. The Statue of Liberty’s torch lights the way to freedom showing us the path to Liberty.” (Statue of Liberty National Monument (U.S. National Parks Service))
References

Daloz, Laurent A. (1999). Mentor : guiding the journey of adult learners (1st ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fisher-Yoshida, Beth, Geller, Kathy Dee, & Schapiro, Steven A. (2009). Innovations in transformative learning : space, culture, & the arts. New York: Peter Lang.
(n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2009, from Statue of Liberty National Monument (U. S. National Parks Service):www.nps.org.

Phyllis Fisher said...

The transformative theory best explains why adults learn
The praxis of transformation is in the unconscious mind and it will take place regardless, in some form of learning. Freire’s conception of conscientious and empowerment have contributed significantly to the underlying theoretical framework of transformational learning. Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. 2007, p. 140)
Under Paulo Freire’s philosophy, he mentions, “the process of conscientization, is an ongoing process where the learner becomes increasingly aware of the various oppressive forces in his or her life and eventually becomes a part of the process of social change”. (Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. 2007, p. 140). An example of this would be quite related to the influence of music. Have you ever noticed how styles and fads began? Whatever song the artist is singing has a tendency to send out a message. In this message, is an introduction to the musician’s environment, culture, values and beliefs? Through song, a musician can send out a message quickly. Music expands, and reaches society quicker than a virus can. After everyone is inspired through the music, the song becomes popular. The media and the record companies began to spread the music. Everyone then wants a piece of it. The fashion designers pay attention to what the singing artist is wearing and began to bring in clothes that relate to the statement of the music. Beauticians began to relate to the hairstyles and everybody wants that style. In addition to that, the language begins to change to the style of the artist and society picks it up as being acceptable because everybody else is doing it. This is a form of transformational learning through social change. Musicians and their music bring about social change. The listener becomes increasingly aware of the message of the music.

Freire says, “Transformation through social change can begin with dialogue (Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. 2007 p.140) . A simple conversation or a simple rumor can put a fuse on anything. Freire feels there are several levels of conscientization. On the first level, he is suggesting (Freire, 2007), that when there is a simple conversation going on, no one asks questions about anything. There is no belief that anything can be done and things are left as they are. Midway, Freire believes people began to take control of their lives and began to ask questions. At the most advanced stages in their lives, people began to understand and become active in making a difference and began speaking up. Therefore, become aware and conscientious of what’s going on in society and then transform it into a new perspective. This can bring about adult learning through social change.
Freire’s philosophy is very interesting. The way that he differentiates between two kinds of education is exceptional. He says, “Banking education is teacher centered as the “all knowing” teacher deposits knowledge into the passive students who serves as receptacles for this knowledge. He also says, “In contrast, the purpose of problem-posing education is liberation”. (Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. 2007, p.140). Dialogue is not accepted in banking education. This poses a problem. Sometimes it is wise to teach the students from their perspective and not from the teachers’ perspective. The students may become bored because the teachers’ display of teaching through dialogue is boring and as the receivers they are not actually receiving. So there is a “road block” between the teacher and the students. The problem is too much dialogue on the teachers’ level and not on the students’ level of understanding. Perhaps transformation needs to take place where the teacher is concerned. The teacher needs to bring down her level in order for reality and learning to take place.
We just recently discussed Knowles’ assumptions on andragogy. Andragogy is distinctly different from pedagogy in that the study of adult learning takes into account that adults have amassed a body of experiences and have developed specific frames of reference through which they perceive and define their worlds. This understanding has lead researchers and theorists of adult learning to assert that in order for adults to internalize and appropriately apply professionally relevant concepts, skills, and strategies, learning must be a transformational, rather than simply informational, experience. (Curran, E., Murray M., 2008, p. 104)


References:
Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol. 8, No. 3, October 2008, pp. 104, Retrieved April 3, 2009 from http://www.iupui.edu/~josotl/VOL_8/No_3/v8n3curran.pdf

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Judy Davidoff said...

Transformation we have our beginning lives, we have mentors that can only lead us to a certain point, and then we must continue on our own (Daloz, 1999). Learning is about change in the way we see ourselves and the world in which we live. (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007). According to Mezirow transformative is “the process by which we transform our taken-for-granted frames of reference (meaning schemes, habits of mind, mindsets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open emotionally capable of change and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more truer justified to guide action” (Mezirow, 2000).

Working in the community college we are moving in the direction of transformative learning theory. It was just discussed today that our goal is to increase mentors: teacher to student and peer to peer. It is felt that student retention is low due to the fact that students do not realize resources that are available to them. They take courses out of order causing them a greater chance of failure. Our belief is if we can work with the student on their previous experiences in life, mentor them through their education years, that they will gain the self-confidence (emotionally capable of dealing with changes in their lives) that they need to be successful in their lives.

My teaching techniques in the classroom are I find out the level of computer knowledge of each student. I teach the mandatory material during the first third of the course. During the second third of the course I work with my students showing them step-by-step what they need to do. Then during the last third of my course they are able to have the confidence to complete assignments on their own. I feel this is a transformative learning in a small scale.


References

Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners (Rev ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella R. S. and Baumgartner L. M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood: A comprehensive guide (Rev ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mezirow J. (2000). Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformation theory. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Phyllis Fisher said...

Hello Judy, Having mentors as a guide is very important. we as adults, parents count on mentors to substitute for us as our children take new roles in life. When they go off to college we count on their mentors to pick up from where we left off. Hopefully their mentors have positive influences and gives great advice.

Phyllis Fisher said...

To Rodney Brown,
It is ashame as Mezirow puts it, that dilemma has to first take place in order for change to occur. I guess delimma does make us more cautious and becomes as a behavioral response. If the pot was hot the first time don't try touching it again. This is also a learned behavior.

Carolyn said...

The Transformative theory best explains why adults learn because the learner makes meaning out of his or her life. Transformation is the outcome when one envisions the world through a new orb of knowledge. Many theorists, such as Mezirow, Daloz, Boyd, and Tisdell, have studied the process of transformation and explain the process as a life experience, critical reflection, and connection between transformative learning and development(Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). Transformative learning allows the learners to develop new ways of thinking and view every aspect (cultural, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual) of one's life in a new light. However, transformation is usually the result of a problem or challenge, such as a divorce or illness, which triggers a change.

A personal experience of transformative learning is the reason for my enrollment into a doctoral program. One would think that experience, education, and knowledge will get a person further in a career; however, in the county where I am employed, one gets the better job by knowing the right people. Therefore, enrolling in a doctoral program will assist in moving away from the preferential treatment transpiring in my current setting and becoming recognized and rewarded for a resume versus knowing a person who can pull a few strings to get me a promotion.

References:
Merriam, S.B., & Caffarella, R.S. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Scott Fabel said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because it is based on change. One thing that is always constant in an adult’s life is change. Because of this, adults are continually transforming to adapt to change in their lives. There are two key theorists who support transformative learning theory. First, Jack Mezirow takes a psychocritical perspective to transformative learning. Second, Laurent Daloz takes a psychodevelopmental approach to transformative learning (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007). Each of these theorists’ approaches will be discussed next, starting with Mezirow.

Mezirow (2000) believes that transformative learning occurs when an individual’s beliefs are changed or when that individual has a completely new perspective on an issue due to some type of life-changing event. In the field of adult education, this is very often true. Adults who return to school often do so because of a major change in their lives (e.g. children move out of the home, loss of job, desire for a better job, etc.). That change has caused the adult to look at their life experiences in a new way—and learn from those experiences. Even outside of the realm of formal education, Mezirow’s theory is still true. For example, in my personal life, I recently went through a major life-changing event: I became a foster parent for five teenage boys. My own view of parenting changed drastically, and I now have a much greater appreciation for what my parents went through.

While still emphasizing change, Daloz takes a slightly different approach to transformative learning. Daloz (1999) believes adult education is more of a transformational journey, not merely the result of a life-changing event. Because of this view, Daloz sees adult educators more as mentors who guide adult learners in their transformational journey. I find this approach to be valid in Walden University’s Ed.D. program. We are all on a journey toward our doctoral degree, and our professors serve as our guides and mentors in this process. Instead of seeing us as a group to whom a great deal of lecturing must be done, the Walden professors see us as adults who are on a valuable journey, and they can lend their own experience and expertise to help guide us along the way.

Both Mezirow and Daloz believe in transformative learning. While one sees transformation as more of a result of a life-changing event, the other sees it as a journey. The destination for both is the same: Adult learners are changed in their thoughts, actions, and beliefs through the educational practice. It is because of this emphasis on change that the transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn.

References
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mezirow, J. & Associates. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

cubillosj said...

I appreciate Mezirow’s Transformational Theory of Learning because it presents a model of how learning occurs, what can stimulate change in the way we think, and how action is the result of these changes (Mezirow & Associates, 2000). I have been interested in educational technology and how it can stimulate transformational learning in teachers. Andrew Kitchenham (2006) conducted a study in which ten elementary teachers were provided with training on integrating technology in their classroom. Subjects kept journals and results were based on these journals, as well as, interviews, questionnaires and field notes. Kitchenham concluded that technology provided the “disorienting dilemma” that stimulated the journey of change for these teachers. Through discourse and reflection, teachers realized that they needed to make changes in their own learning and self-concept. Some teachers made paradigm changes in their teaching philosophy such as collaboration with colleagues instead of isolation. Kitchenham used the premises of Transformational Theory to explain the different kinds of changes that had occurred. Transformational Theory provides a shared understanding for discourse on adult learning.

References

Kitchenham, A. (2006). Teachers and technology: A transformative journey. Journal of Transformative Education, 4 (3), p.202-225. doi: 10.1177/154134606290947

Mezirow, J. & Associates (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lorenza said...

Alkia,
I found your post to be very interesting. Your examples were great ones. Your examples brought to mind when my kids transformed their way of thinking after I had a stroke. I was unable to speak, read or write. My middle son was probably the most effected by my disability at the time. He would take me to my doctor's appointment and would interpret for me since I could not speak. It was a trying time for my husband and my kids. I thank God for giving me health once more. I believe that this would fall under transformative learning theory because they had to transform their way of thinking because I could not do many of the things they (my kids) were accustomed to me doing. Do you think this would be transformative learning theory?

Lorenza

Becky Davis said...

Becky said...

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because this theory describes how meaningful learning works. Daloz talks about how adult learners have to face fears and uncertainties concerning their ability to learn and to succeed in their role as students (Daloz, 1999, p. 32). I started college when I was twenty-six years old, and I did not remember very many of my study skills from my high school days. Transformative learning did not happen at the beginning, and I do not remember those first classes. I had an excellent teacher for English Composition II. He helped me to reach inside and write about experiences from my own life. Pouring part of me into my work was transforming for me and helped me to incorporate the writing skills he was teaching much easier than I had before.
In my adolescent psychology class I had several transforming experiences which led to my learning some deep lessons that help me to this day. One of the experiments we studied was about Pavlov’s dogs. I was amazed to learn that the dogs that had been trained could be “untrained” also. This is called extinction ((Nobel Prize, n.d.). The dogs that had the most trouble stopping the trained behavior were the dogs that were rewarded sporadically. The dogs that had been rewarded every time were the first to stop the learned behavior when the reward was not given to them. The dogs that had been rewarded on a specific schedule (every fifth time, for instance) took longer to stop, but the dogs that were rewarded after varied intervals kept exhibiting the behavior the longest. Learning about the extinction facts helped me to understand some habits I had that I wanted to get rid of but was having trouble stopping. I realized that I had been rewarded sporadically throughout my life for the behaviors, so I was going to have to persevere if I was going to be able to stop the bad habits. That was definitely transformational for me.

References
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners (Second ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Nobel Prize (n.d.). Ivan Petrovich Pavlov. Retrieved April 3, 2009, from nobelprize.org/educational

Rebecca said...

There are many interesting comments on this blog about learning and culture in relation to Trasnformative Theory. I seems that not everyone will experience a transforming experience in their learning, particularly if their culture does not support learning or individualism. As far as theories go, this one seems to be based mostly on the EuroAmerican culture, and negates the learning experiences in different cultures because according to the author's criteria, they don't "transform". In our text book, the comment is even made that educators don't have the right to "tamper with the world view of the learner". Really? Isn't that part of learning and transformation? Is that really "tampering" or is it exposing adult learners to new ways of thinking about the world? Rebecca Holt

David Harrower said...

Response to Alkia Fountain:

Alkia,

I enjoyed reading your post and particularly enjoyed how well you connected it to a great movie "The Bucket List". You made an interesting point on your comment, "Transformative learning takes life’s experience and makes the meaning and feelings that are associated with that experience and gives a new outlook about life on a personal level". What do you suggest from this standpoint how we can further develop our Tranformative Learning abilities based on your comment?

Respectfully,
David Harrower

BGoodman said...

The transformative learning theory was developed by Jack Mezirow; during the past two decades it has evolved "into a comprehensive and complex description of how learners construe, validate and reformulate the meaning of their experiences." (Cranton 1994). Transformative learning occurs when individuals change their frames of reference by critically reflecting their assumptions and beliefs and consciously making and implementing plans that bring about new ways of defining their worlds (Grabov (1997). She further believes that Mezirow's theory describes a learning process that is primarily " rational analytical and and cognitive" with an "inherent logic" (Ibid).

Merriam and Cafferalla (1999) codified transformative learning into three phases, which includes critical reflection, reflective discourse and action. Each of these steps plays an integral role in transformative learning, however, I believe that action is paramount to the completion of transformative learning. Mezirow believes that transformative learning often involves deep, powerful emotion or geliefs and is evidenced in action. Learners may reflect over and over again before taking action, which ultimately results in learner transformaion.

Years ago before enrolling in college, I was filled with fear and self-doubt regarding my ability to successfully complete college. It was only through critical reflection which lead and ultimately compelled me to take action toward reaching my goal of acquiring my degree. I continue to transform as I pursue my doctoral degree and meet other challenges in my life.

Other theorists such as Boyd and Friere have researched the transformative learning theory. Boyd feels that his theory is based on a person's ability to refine his/her personalities. Freire wants people to learn about the social transformation that goes on around them. Mezirow was more involved with the self and reflection. Even though these theorist do not agree on all aspects of their findings regarding the transformative learning theory, the similarities are greater that the disparities. They all agree that through their findings learners can ultimately reach their ultimate goal of transformation

Myra Bozeman said...

Merriam and Cafferella (2007) wrote that transformational learning best describes why adults learn because each time we learn something new, it changes the “way we see ourselves and the world in which we live” (p.130). Mezirow in Merriam (2007) stated that “learning is the process of using a prior interpretation to construe a new or revised interpretation of the meaning of one's experience in order to guide future action” ( p.132).

Two years ago I decided to add to my current work load by applying for a position at a career college as their evening dean. I applied for the position because I was interested in gaining higher education administrative experience, and more importantly, I thought that a women with my background should be making a higher income.

In my mind, I had the time to take on this endeavor because everything in my life seemed so easy and even mundane. I accepted the position and promised my family and myself that we would not focus on the quantity of time that we spent together but rather the quality of time. Now, after missing countless soccer games, parent teacher conferences, and watching my overall health decline due to lack of sleep, proper diet or exercise, I am looking forward to turning in my resignation so that I can aid in re-creating richness in my home life. Had it not been for this transformational learning experience, the simple things in life like picking up my children from school, or helping them with their science projects would still be viewed as day to day tasks that needed to be completed.

A few of Mezirow's steps are quite apparent in this experience. For example, my disorienting dilemma occurred when my former father-in-law who greatly impacted my professional life, passed away unexpectedly. Over the years he reiterated my growth potential and often told me that I had the rest of my life to play and that I should focus on making money and advancing my career. I took everything he said to heart; after all, he was quite successful and saved a lot of money. Unfortunately, upon his death, none of the saved money meant much and his funeral was filled with far more co-workers than family and close friends. This event led me to rethink my decision to continue working the second job.

Self examination is where I am currently. Even though I decided to resign from the second job, I periodically experience inner turmoil because I am quitting after only being employed for 2 years, and when I accepted the position I swore to everyone that this was the right thing to do for me and my family. I am swallowing my pride, admitting and embracing the idea that right now my role at home is more important than extra money. I keep reminding myself that I still have a job that allows for the bills to get paid easily, and that others have experienced this and have found ways to live happily on budgets. We will also have that same success.

References:
Merriam, S.B., & Caffarella, R.S. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Myra Bozeman said...

Rodney,

In both of our blogs we described the disorienting dilemma as one event that leads us into Mezirow ten steps. Upon further examination, I am wondering if it is always one event or could it be a series of unrelated events which lead us into the transformational process.

Joyce Young said...

Hi Melanie
I agree with your statement that transformational learning is about change -dramatic fundamental change in the way we see ourselves and the world around us. How ever, I think you are right that there are those who can not think critically or who do not want to reflect on changing things in their life. As a teacher and a mentor, some times all we can do is to try to help they to "connect the dots " so they may learn from their experences so that the experiences can change their lives.Perhaps that is what Christ is trying to teach us in his teaching is to "connnect the dots".

Rodney Brown said...

Response to Myra Bozeman

Hi Myra,

I believe that it could be either one event or a series of unrelated events. There are times when people don't learn the lesson the first time and are destined to take "take the course over".

Thanks,

Rodney

Myra Bozeman said...

Mary Ann-

You mentioned the eureka moment when "the lights come on." Even if we experience the a-ha moment do you think that fear sometimes keeps us from actually transforming?

Rodney Brown said...

Response to Melanie Birmingham

Hi Melanie,

Transformative learning does have many facets to it. And it would beeasy to conclude that reflective and experiential learnig are included in Transformative learning. So yes, I am inclined to agree.

Thanks,

Rodney

KatiePeppers said...

Response to BGoodmen- It seems that reflerctive and transformative both play a role in reflecting. Do you believe that one is more important or outways the other?
Katie Peppers

Candi said...

Candi's response to Carolyn:

Very good essay! Would you say that your decision to enter the doctorial program took a great amount of reflection as well or could this be a situation where you didn't have a whole lot of time to reflect on the past to make this choice?

Tanisha Rufus said...

Response to Alkia:

Alkia says "The transformative theory best explains why adults learn because it focuses on change. What a better way to explain learning by understanding that when you learn new knowledge your point of view changes." While I agree with your statement, I also believe that the Reflective and Experiential Learning Theories also focus on change. When we have a bad experience or reflect upon a bad time in our lives, we have a tendency to change things in our lives to try to prevent that particular thing from happening again. Do you agree?

David Snell said...

Response to Scott

What do you (or any of us for that matter) with those that steadfastly refuse "transformation?".

Status quo, set in ones ways, rigid, etc. can all describe such a stance.

In reading your (and others) posts on transformational learning I believe that the process involves some kind of willingness, desire or sense of personal need for change on the part of the adult learner.

If this is the case, and some refuse to be either "willing, or desirous and have no felt need" then how can this theory be said to be the "best explanation of how adults learn?.

Troy L said...

Diane,

Your examples seem to stem from the Experiential Learning Theory. If it was not for the personal experiences Amy had she would not be able to deal this situations in her life.

Carolyn said...

Yes, reflecting and self-evaluations were the keys to assisting in making my decision.

Mary Ann Ashton said...

To Lorenza,

Wow, what a very personal transformative experience you all have had. I think you and your family were all transformed because of this event. You too. Don't you feel now that you have others to rely on and that you don't have to go it alone (as many wives and mothers feel)? Do you now feel just a little more liberated in your thinking? Don't your kids see a difference in you now--especially that you are getting your doctoral degree? Are you changed by the whole situation?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then yes, I think that's transformative learning. Kudos to you and your family, especially you middle son.

Mary Ann Ashton

Mary Ann Ashton said...

To Myra Bozeman

Great question, and I hadn't really thought about that, but here goes now:

I think that if we experience fear, it doesn't necessarily keep us from transforming. I think there's a transformation of sorts in fear. Sometimes, we just keep on doing the same thing out of fear, but then that's a decision (action)to do keep on doing the same. For example, when people are told they have lung cancer and must stop smoking, they are afraid, they talk to everyone, read all the literature, but the action (transformation) it to keep on smoking. Sometimes transformation just keeps us in the same place.

Mary Ann Ashton

Joey Lusane said...

Hi Scott,

I enjoyed reading your post, especially about our instructors at Walden being our guides and mentors, which I solely agree. They don’t only give grades, but are imparting their knowledge and wisdom to us. Daloz (1999) states, "At some point, the mentor always departs, generally before the journey is over. They are preparing us for the transformation (growth and development). "The trip belongs, after all, to the traveler, not the guide-and the mentor has her own promises to keep." Congratulations on building the boys lives. They will soon be young men and make you very proud of them. I know you will do well by them.


Daloz, L.A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners. (2nd.ed.) San Francisco Jossey Bass

Rob Campbell said...

In response to Myra,

Hi Myra, I enjoyed your posting, the example you gave seemed unfinished, I think you are still in the process of transformation. I think that there will be further experiences that will continue to help you change your point of view, for example some family activity that you have that will make you think how glad you are that you were not at work during the activity will help continue to change your habit of mind. You will reach a point where the lens you look through will not at all be bothered by the fact that you quit the second job because of what you gained by doing so. I think the transformative learning is an ongoing thing, we never stop learning!

Thanks for the great example.

Rob Campbell

Fran said...

The Transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because when we incorporate what we learn in our life, and what we gain, is that we acquire a wider view of things instead of unchanged views. At the same time we did not gave up our old thinking just gets expanded and things take new meaning.
Daloz describes inner change or transformational learning as “Nothing is different yet all is transformed. It is seen differently. In this change of perspective, in the transformation of meaning lies the meaning of transformation.”
Daloz also points out the need of mentors to embark successfully in this journey and how educators play an important role in the life of their students, and although they may not see the end of the journey of each student, the fact that they make an impression in someone’s life can be of prime importance, therefore seen the deeper side and correct views on what is mentorship is undeniably critical in educators.
Reference:
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fran said...

Myra,
I admire your courage to quit the job and see yourserlf as a human, and allowing yourself to recosider what you decided before as not the best for you.There are times n life where is very wise to do such things, even though might not be conventional to others or to ourselves. We are in constant transformational process as human or as they say work in progress. Have you seen the movie "Men in the wire"? describes conquering fear, determination and how sometimes things don't go as planned but is ok at the end.
I enjoyed you posting.

Rima said...

Hi A Bell,
I enjoyed reading your blog post.It reminded me of my own experience when I got to move from my country to the United States. I understand the feeling of attachment that each one of us provides to his or her own parents. Being dependable and loved by parents is a blessing. My question to you is, do you think that your experience was difficult on you because you left home at a young age or leaving home was a traumatic experience by itself?

Rima said...

Rima Ballout

The transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because it suggests ways in which adults make meaning of their lives. It assesses and evaluates new information and reframes new knowledge into adults’ belief system (Kitchenham, 2008). Transformational learning engages learners to become more critical and reflective, accepting new ideas, and more open to the perspectives of others (Merizow, 1994).
Merizow’s transformative theory explains the “essence” of adult education rather than an “add-on” educational practice (Merizow, 1997). The goal of adult education is “to help the individual become a more autonomous thinker by learning to negotiate his or her own values, meanings, and purpose rather than uncritically acting on those of others” (Merizow, 1997, p.11). Merizow’s definition is “the process of using a proper interpretation to construe a new or a revised interpretation of the meaning of one’s experience in order to guide future action” (Wiessner & Merizow, 2000, p.5, as cited in Merriam, Cafarella & Baumgartner, 2007, p.132). As Criticos (1993) quoted in Merriam et al., (2007) points out that “Effective learning does not follow from a positive experience but from effective reflection.” According to Merriam et al., (2007) we must examine the “underlying beliefs and assumptions that affect how we make sense of the experience” in order to reflect critically (p.145). According to Merriam (2007), an experience has no effect on transformation of knowledge, but the “intellectual growth” that comes after reflects on experience.
Merizow (2000) indicated that individuals frame their perceptions upon two dimensions: a habit of mind (a set of assumptions) and a point of view, “sets of immediate beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and value judgments”(p.18 as cited in Merriam et al., 2007, p.133). Transformative learning occurs when our beliefs or attitudes transform and change through critical reflection and transforming points of views and habits of mind. Also, transformative learning is effective when our beliefs and attitudes elaborate existing frames of reference (Kitchenham, 2008). Our expectations are determined by cultural, psychological, and social assumptions. Merizow (1994) states that “reflection involves a critique of assumptions to determine whether the belief, often acquired through cultural assimilation in childhood, remains functional for us as adults.” Through reflective learning, learners are able to better understand their talents (Merizow, 1994).
Boyd’s view on the topic was slightly different from Merizow’s. Boyd was focused more on discernment within the theory where Merizow was focusing more with the self and reflection (Taylor, 1998). He moves beyond the self “ego” and emphasizes more on logic and reason (1998). Freire was not interested in Merizow’s theory of just learning the self, but he encourages people to learn and be aware of the social transformation around them (Kitchenham, 2008). Freire suggested that “by the act of transformation, society is transformed” (Taylor, 1998). Freire (1998) believes that students can learn more from the learning environment than just memorization and regurgitating. In his study, Freire (1998) argues that the student-teacher relationship when they work together in the same level can help with the classroom to become more of an open, comfortable, and safe environment.
As an immigrant, I experienced the transformative theory myself. Coming from a different culture and background, one acts and behaves in accords to his or her background. As time passes, the person starts to examine his or herself, understand the origins of his or her habitual assumptions and expectations, and change his or her mental structure to finally realize that we have the choice to make the difference and start to act upon these new changes. I would like to share my experience during the Lebanese Civil War that lasted for seventeen years. At the end of the war, each militia realized that it cannot destroy the other, and Lebanon is unique because of the religious variety that its society carries so they acted upon that reality.
References

Kitchenham, A. (2008). The evolution of John Mezirow’s transformative learning theory. Journal of Transformative Education, 6.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Merizow, J. (1994). Understanding transformation theory. Adult Education Quareterly,
44 (4).

Merizow, J. (1997). Transformative learning:Theory to practice. In P. Sutherland (Ed.),Adult learning: A reader. Stirling, VA: Kogan Page.

Taylor, E. W. (1998). The theory and practice of of transformative learning: A critical review. Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational
Education.

Rima said...

Hi T Boone,
You mentioned in your blog post that "The Transformative theory best explains why adults learn because it brings together neatly three elements essential for a positive learning outcome. The three elements are prior experience, critical reflection, and development." Do you think that experiences can trigger learning for all learners?, or, do you agree more of what Criticos has indicated that " Effective learning does not follow from a positive experience but from effective reflection."

slandon said...

Response to Scott Fabel:

Transformative Learning certainly occurs for many adult learners, especially those who make a conscious change in their lives. There are however, many adults don't transform until they have an external experience to cause a transformation or motivation.

Stana Landon

PatDA said...

Transformative Learning Theory best explains why adults learn because it takes into consideration the continually changing experiences that confront an adult, and explains why learning is a continual process in every adult’s life. There are a number of theorists including Mezirow, Daloz, Boyd and Taylor, among others, who ascribe to this theory of adult learning with Mezirow being the most cited (Merriam et al., 2007).

In Snyder’s (2008) review of the literature, Jack Mezirow, who authored the transformative learning theory, defines his adult learning theory as a process that changes and creates an awareness of what an individual already knows and most often is not realized or generally taken-for-granted. Such learning generally starts with something that the individual finds to be disjointed or has caused some disruption in their life. The result of going through this transformative process allows the individual to change their thinking, if they choose, so that what is newly learned is more truthful and justifiable to the individual, thus their thinking has been “transformed” in to a higher level of learning.

Specifically, the individual goes through some new learning and decides if the reintegration of this new learning should be added to their life to think about their original frame of reference differently. New content is not learned in this process but instead, a new set of ideas about their original thinking is realized. Mezirow and Associates (2000, p.5) states that learning is the “process of using prior interpretation to construe a new or revised interpretation of the meaning of one’s experience as a guide to future action” (as cited in Snyder, 2008). Because this learning theory is heavily weighted on the experiences of an individual, it is not considered in children’s learning theory.

Mezirow and Associates (2000) state there must be three requirements in place in order for this form of learning to occur as cited in Snyder (2008). First, the individual’s context both physically and mentally must be in place. Second, the individual must go through a period of self reflection which is defined as “… being aware and critical of our subjective perceptions of knowledge…” (Cranston and Carusetta, 2006, p.13 as cited in Snyder). Mezirow (1991a, 1994b) states that self-reflection is critical to the transformation of new learning (as cited in Kitchenham, 2008). The learner must finally go through some critical discussion if a change or transformation in their thinking is to take place. With this new information, the individual can then take the opportunity to test and re-test their new frame of reference through their experience and decide whether or not to change their original frame of reference to this new frame of reference. This is a learning theory that is continual in an individual’s life as an individual’s frame of reference can continually change based on their experiences.

Even though Mezirow’s theory is widely cited, researchers have found difficulty in testing the validity of it, and actually measuring the level of transformation has that has occurred (Snyder, 2008). Mezirow (1991a, p. xiv) states that transformative learning is “…individualistic and found inside the learner and teacher rather than prescribed by external influences such as written tests and speeches...” (as cited in Kitchenham, 2008) and that learning is finally achieved through critical discourse.

For the most part, this theory fits adult learning the best because of two of the three main components, self-reflection, which involves an intense form of personal thinking, and critical discourse, allowing the individual to discuss their personal thinking and be open to new opinions and ways of thinking in regard to their original frame of reference. Learning as a result of this theory is a choice made by the adult learner.

References
Kitchenham, A. (2008). The evolution of John Mezirow’s transformative learning theory. Journal of Transformative Education, 6, 104-123.

Merriam, S.B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossy-Bass.

Snyder, C. (2008). Grabbing hold of a moving target: Identifying
and measuring the transformative learning process. Journal of Transformative Education, 6, 159-181.

Antoinette said...

Response To Myra,

Reading the transformation in which you are currently immersed really struck a chord with me. I am constantly chasing the dream of a successful career because that is what I've convinced myself I need in order to achieve a sense of purpose in life. I do not have the family life that you are blessed to have, so achieving a successful career has been my focus. As a result of not yet achieving that career success, I sometimes feel like a failure. You were able to self examine your life and make a deep assessment of the things that are important to you, and I applaud you for that. What I would like to know is, how were you able to overcome the fear of such a drastic life change and follow through with your decision to resign from your second job and focus on your family more?

Sara said...

Response to Eliz:

Hi Eliz,

I agree with you that through transformative theory adults learn to "critically examine previously integrated knwoledge and determine how new information will fit into an individual perspective." As an educator, there has been many instances that I had to rely on previous knowledge and make a decision accordingly. In your experience, how transformative theory has helped you with your teaching decisions?

Thanks,

-Sara

Shenitra said...

"The Transformative learning theory best explains why adults learn because..."
Mezirow, Daloz, and Boyd agree that adult learning takes place only when adults are able to transform information and apply that information to one's own life. Mezirow defines transformative learning as the ability to "use prior interpretation to construe a new or a revised interpretation of the meaning of one's experience in order to guide future actions" (2000, p. 5). Daloz focuses on how adults transform with the help of a mentor or a teacher. He suggests that each adult learner is on a “journey” and this “journey” is facilitated by a mentor or teacher who uses “storytelling” to help learners develop stories to help shape the learner cognitively, spiritually, socially, and culturally. Boyd takes a psychoanalytical approach to adult learning stating that transformation is “a fundamental change in one’s personality involving conjointly the resolution of a personal dilemma and the expansion of the consciousness resulting in greater personality integration (1991, p. 459). Adult experiences, reflection and development are considered integral components of adult transformation. All three agree that dialogue is important in helping adult transformation, and that discourse is “not a debate” (Mezirow, 2000), but a means to create understanding. Transformative learning is a holistic approach in addressing the needs of the adult learner.
Boyd, R.D. (1991) Personal transformations in small groups: A Jungian perspective. New York: Routledge.
Daloz, L. A. (1999). Mentor: Guiding the journey of adult learners (Rev. ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Mezirow, J. (2000) Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformative theory. In J. Mezirow & Associates, Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress (pp. 3-33). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R.S. & Baumgartner, L.M. (2007). Learning in Adulthood. A Comprehensive Guide. (3rd ed.). John Wiley & Sons