Transformational Learning Theory of Adult Education

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Transformational Learning Theory of Adult Education

By | November 2008
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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 to secondary education as well. Jack Mezirow

In 1975, Jack Mezirow began to formulate his theory by studying women in college re-entry programs, trying to find out what typically helped or hindered these women’s successful return to college and ultimately the work force. He studied women who were entering both two- and four-year colleges, and who represented a wide range of individuals from four different metropolitan areas. What Mezirow and his fellow researchers found was that the subjects had “a undergone a personal transformation” that was the key to this new idea (Kitchenham, 2008, p. 105). From this study, Mezirow identified 10 “phases of meaning” outlining Transformational Learning.

Mezirow has officially retired, but is still an active speaker and writer and continues to examine and modify his ideas. He continues to “make presentations and led seminars on transformative learning at many universities” in the U.S. and abroad, and to do research, consultation and writing (National-Louis University, 2005). Key concepts and principles of Transformational Learning

Constructivist in nature, in Transformational Learning individuals “reinterpret an old experience (or a new one) from a new set of expectations, thus...

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