Transformative Learning Theory

Transformative Learning Theory

Transformative Learning Theory is a theory for adult education that presents ways for students to understand and make meaning to their lives. This form of learning is defined as learning that will have a more far-reaching effect on the learner or the person being taught than any other forms of learning.  It is believed that adults are molded into the person they are, based on their personal experiences and histories.  These experiences of adults sway their thinking process, attitudes, and the way that they view and the conception that they have of their world.

The father of this theory Dr. Jack Mezirow had a strong believe that through a process called disorientation dilemma, mixed in with a new interpretation of the experiences that adults faced, and with critical reflection that adults could be transformed.  When transformative learning is applied to teaching, the teacher encourages his students to look into other possibilities, to explore their individual and personal assumption, and then to finally examine the validity of each of the possibilities.  Mezirow strongly believed that learning is generated through the formulation of new ideas and examination.

Some universities have been adapting to transformative learning and instead of lecturing and pushing everything down their students’ throat, these universities have been employing various methods to see which one will encourage transformational learning, and the use of critical thinking is one such methodology used.

A class that says that the professor’s words are law is not a class that uses transformative learning, instead a transformative learning class is one in which the professor have all students engaged in learning from their personal experience and the experience of others.  When a professor uses this form of teaching style, they are encouraging their students to think critically because when they see how others think and analyze situations, they will be forced to change their thinking pattern and find other ways to think.

In a nutshell, transformational learning is a theory that opens individuals up to looking into the perspective of others, instead of having a one frame mind and think that what they say is law.  However, for transformational learning to be effective the students being taught must have a genuine interest in their own personal education and learning experience, who does not like the idea of being spoon fed everything that they will just regurgitate in the end.  The students must play an important role in their own education and they must participate and be willing to engage in class activities and discussions.  While the teacher is the one to create the class atmosphere, the student must be the one to respond and be receptive to what is being taught.

In order for transformative learning to occur, the student must be able to change their thinking patterns after assimilating the information given and they need to make the connection in them self and create new awareness in order for transformative learning to have worked accurately.