Transformative Learning: Reader's Guide

Transformative Learning: Reader's Guide

Bo Chang
DOI: 10.4018/ijavet.2017010102
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Mezirow's (1978) transformative learning was influenced by Kuhn's (1962) paradigm and Freire's (1970) emancipatory learning. In this paper, the author provides readers a clear guide about the main components of transformative learning: Experience, critical reflection, and rational discourse. The author emphasizes that experience in transformative learning is not the ordinary, daily mundane experience, or the new experience added on top of our old experiences, but that experience which fundamentally conflicts with what our assumptions can explain. Transformative learning is to challenge or disturb the fixed assumptions. Through critical reflection, learners examine the origins of beliefs in their historical and biological context and take actions to change their pre-existing assumptions to better understand the current disoriented experience. Finally, the author provides recommendations about how to apply transformative learning in practice.
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Basic Component Of Transformative Learning

Mezirow (1989) stated that a disorienting dilemma is the trigger for transformative learning. It stimulates learners to use the tool of critical analysis to critically examine different perspectives, to examine their own presuppositions, which are impacted by their ways of thinking, norms, and habits, and to take actions on new perspectives. He stated that:

Each transformation of a meaning perspective requires a disorienting dilemma; a recognition of a critical analysis of presuppositions, the way that cultural norms have impacted to shape old ways of understanding and the consequences of these taken-for-granted habits of perception; access to alternative meaning perspectives; role models; new skills as well as understandings; a realignment of relationships; a decision to act and acting upon newly acquired insights. (p.173)

Mezirow’s transformative learning process includes an experience that causes a disorienting dilemma, critical reflection of assumptions, rational discourse, and action (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner, 2007), each of which is also reflected in some other learning approaches.

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