Five years ago I was at the AMEN 2013 conference in Melbourne, and was in the audience for a fantastic keynote presentation by Dr Debbie Paltridge on transformative learning. It made such an impression on me that I came home and collected some information and online resources about her topic (also called transformational learning in the literature). Ironically when I was at GPME 2018 in Brisbane, in a session run by Hilton Koppe, he reminded the group about that very keynote in 2013. So here is an updated version of the post I wrote five years ago, with updated info and links:
About Transformative Learning
The concept of transformational learning was developed by Mezirow. The fundamental idea is that learning occurs when the learner changes their frame of reference by critically reflecting on their assumptions and beliefs, and consciously making and implementing plans that bring about new ways of defining their world (wikipedia).
The goal of a teacher or coach is to design situations that lead students to internally question their assumptions and beliefs about life, to expose them to those situations, and then to facilitate and support any subsequent worldview re-evaluation and reconceptualisation.
Mezirow believes that transformation naturally results from a “disorienting dilemma”, often triggered by a life crisis or major life transition. He says transformation may also result from an accumulation of transformations in meaning schemes over a period of time (which is how adult learning often occurs – for example by the repeated exposure to new ideas).
Mezirow has identified 10 steps in transformative learning:
1. Disorienting dilemma
3. Sense of alienation
4. Relating discontent to others
5. Explaining options of new behavior
6. Building confidence in new ways
7. Planning a course of action
8. Knowledge to implement plans
9. Experimenting with new roles
Transformative Learning: Theory To Practice (by Mezirow).
Addressing Student Cynicism Through Transformative Learning.
Transformative Learning Theory In The Practice Of Adult Education: An Overview.
10th International Conference on Transformative Learning – A Future For Earth: Re-Imagining Learning For A Transforming World (2012):
Call for proposals
Recorded Conference Sessions
University of Oklahoma transformative learning conference: Proceedings from 2013