Transformational Learning Theory of Adult Education Essay

1838 Words Nov 17th, 2008 8 Pages
Transformational Learning Theory of Adult Education
Transformational learning is a relatively new and thoroughly modern yet evolving learning theory, with timeless implications for the educator. Developed initially by Jack Mezirow, it is a theory that involves, at its core, a shift in beliefs, deep self reflection and a discourse of that reflection. This constructivist-based process of making sense of the world is in stark contrast to simply acquiring knowledge. Most assume that Transformational learning assumes a certain level of developmental and cognitive maturity, though this has been disputed. Professor Mezirow’s interest and study is in adult education, but there are arguments that Transformational Learning may apply
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As Baumgartner says “transformational learning is not an independent act but is an interdependent relationship built on trust (2001). Not necessarily “direct instruction” in the old grammar school sense, but a Mezirow puts it “Transformative learning addresses…direct intervention” (2003 p. 62) by the facilitator. Though the facilitator has a direct impact on the learner initially, part of the goal of transitional learning is to increase the learner’s ability to loose their dependency on the educator. The learner must be progressively taught how to take responsibility for their learning, utilizing learning resources, planning their learning goals, and evaluating progress (DiBiase, 1998).
Effectiveness in learning Kelly McGonigal, a professor at Stanford, recently gave a couple of examples of colleagues of hers. One, a biology professor, explained how one of his favorite strategies for teaching environmental biology was to set up the activating event by engaging students with a problem that they do not yet have the understanding to address. They are then lead through the process of breaking in to teams to hold a balanced debate and then have a post-debate interview. Many students do change their previously held beliefs, but the instructor’s real goal is to teach his students how to tell fact from fiction and find valid arguments (2005). In my own teaching experience I have observed transormations of learners numerous times, and have been using

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