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Transformative Learning - A starter for 10

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This presentation by Chris Cutforth, Sheffield Hallam University, was developed to introduce academics to the University's Transformational Learning Special Interest Group. The group is open to all academics and welcomes further contributions. Its purpose is to explore how Transformative Learning (Mezirow) and related ideas can be developed and applied in academic practice.

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Transformative Learning - A starter for 10

  1. 1. TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING A STARTER FOR 10 Chris Cutforth
  2. 2. “Transforming Lives” "Our mission is simple: we transform lives. We do this by shaping our students’ futures and preparing them for whatever they choose to do, and by creating knowledge that provides practical solutions to real world challenges.“ "Our students will be confident, creative, resilient and responsible - prepared for whatever they decide to do."
  3. 3. Mezirow’s definition of transformative learning “A critical dimension of learning in adulthood that enables us to recognize, re-assess and modify the structures of assumptions and expectations that frame our tacit points of view and influence our thinking, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.”
  4. 4. Munro Turner’s definition of transformative learning “The learning that results in a fundamental shift in our world view, which in turn leads to profound changes in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.” “It’s a shift of perception and consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of being in the world. Transformational learning therefore affects our understanding of ourselves, our relationships with other people and the wider world, the priorities we hold, and our sense of purpose and direction.”
  5. 5. Characteristics of adult learning • Voluntary • Self-directed • Experiential • Practical and applied • Collaborative/participatory • Learner experiences and resources • Learner self concepts • Leaner histories, past and present circumstances Cranton (2006)
  6. 6. Adult learning perspectives • Liberalism • Progressivism • Behaviourism • Radicalism Merriam and Brockett (1997)
  7. 7. Mezirow’s theory – 10 stages 1. A disorientating dilemma 2. Self-examination with feelings of fear, anger, guilt or shame 3. A critical assessment of assumptions 4. Recognition that one’s discontent and the process of transformation is shared 5. Exploration of options for new roles, relationships and actions 6. Planning a course of action 7. Acquiring knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans 8. Provisional trying of new roles 9. Building competence and self confidence in new roles and relationships 10. A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective
  8. 8. Contexts • Formal learning environments • Workplaces • Communities • Personal and family contexts
  9. 9. Knowledge domains • Technical knowledge • Practical or communicative knowledge • Emancipatory knowledge Cranton (2006)
  10. 10. Key concepts • Frames of reference • Habits of mind • Points of view • Perspective transformation • Individuation
  11. 11. Frames of reference Structures of assumptions and expectations on which our thoughts, feelings and habits are based. These may include rules, criteria, codes, language, schemata, cultural canon, ideology, standards and paradigms. Frames of reference are often the result of early socialization, including the influence of significant others - family, teachers, peers and mentors.
  12. 12. Frames of reference Frames of reference commonly operate at the sub-conscious level suggesting lines of action that we are likely to follow unless brought into critical reflection.
  13. 13. Habits of mind A set of assumptions that act as a filter for interpreting the meaning of experiences; these can be sociolinguistic, moral-ethical, epistemic, philosophical, psychological and aesthetic. Habits of mind often lead to behavior preferences and ways of thinking and behaving in certain situations and towards others.
  14. 14. Clusters of meaning schemes - expectations, beliefs, feelings, attitudes, judgments - that tacitly direct and shape a specific interpretation and determine how we judge, typify objects, and attribute causality. Points of view
  15. 15. Perspective transformation The process by which we transform our taken for granted frames of reference to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally open to change and reflective, so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true and justified to guide future actions.
  16. 16. Reflection Critical reflection is of vital importance to transformational learning, distinguishing between critical self-reflection and the ability to exercise reflective judgment (Mezirow, 2003)
  17. 17. Reflective discourse A key tool for fostering transformational learning. Reflective discourse is used when there is reason to question the comprehensiveness, truth, appropriateness or authenticity of what is being asserted, or to question the credibility of the person making the statement (Mezirow, 1997).
  18. 18.  Content reflection  Process reflection  Premise reflection Cranton (2006) Types of reflection
  19. 19. Individuation The process by which individuals differentiate themselves from the general, collective society.” (Jung, no date) The process of individuation may involve differentiating ourselves from significant others and the questioning of assumptions and perspectives that were uncritically absorbed through early socialization. (Cranton, 2006)
  20. 20.  Over-emphasis given to rational thought and reflection  Lack of recognition given to affective learning  Simplicity of the linear model  The individual nature of TL  No account given to group or organisational learning  Lack of attention given to power, hegemony, individual and cultural differences  The lack of attention given to the role of TL in promoting and fostering social action and social change Critique of Mezirow’s theory
  21. 21.  How to create suitable disorientating dilemmas  How to create safe and secure transformative learning environments  How to cope with individual learner characteristics and preferences  How to facilitate gradual transfer of authority away from the tutor to the learner  For some practitioners, the need to re-examine preconceived values and beliefs about their primary role as ‘experts’ towards becoming facilitators of learning Implications for adult education practice
  22. 22. TL journals The Journal of Transformative Education Adult Education Quarterly
  23. 23. Transformative learning in action!!
  24. 24. References CRANTON,Patricia(2006) Understandingand Promoting Transformative Learning,Jossey-Bass. MERRIAM, SharanB (2004)The Roleof CognitiveDevelopmentinMeziro’s TransformationalLearningTheory,AdultEducation Quarterly,Vol.55, No 1, November2004, 60-68. MEZIROW, JackandAssociates(2000), Learningas Transformation:Critical Perspectives ona Theory inProgress.Jossey-Bass. MEZIROW, Jack,TAYLOR, EdwardandAssociates(2009), Transformative Learningin Practice:Insights formCommunity, Workplaceand HigherEducation. Jossey-Bass.

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