Key Concepts in Transformational Learning
of andragogy is that adults have experiences, which are relied upon in the
learning process. Michelson, 1996, suggested that experiences that are socially
constructed, as opposed to unmediated, provide the foundation for transformative
learning. The thought is that if experiences are constructed from a social
perspective, then they can be deconstructed, acted on and reconstructed.
There are several approaches
to applying experiences to the learning process.
While experience is a fundamental
aspect of tranfomative learning, it is important to note that not all
experiences trigger learning. In addition, an identical experience may
trigger learning for one person but not another. Learning from an experience
is dependent upon memories of previous experiences and store of knowledge.
Some people will have the ability to respond to the new experience based
on past experiences, while others will not.
alone is not enough to create a transformation. The experience itself does
not create or lead to a transformation. It is rather the reflection of the
experience, which leads to intellectual growth that brings about transformation.
Reflection is a cognitive process that requires one to focus on their underlying
beliefs and assumptions. It is through these beliefs and assumptions that
we make sense out of our experiences.
Mezirow studied three types of reflection and found that only one lead to transformation. Content reflection is thinking about the actual experience, process reflection is thinking about ways to deal with the experience and premise reflection includes examining long-held assumptions and beliefs about the experience.
In his book "Developing
Critical Thinkers" Brookfield talks about the importance of critical
thinking in adults and how relevant it is to reflection and transformative
learning. His model, which is at the forefront of transformative learning,
consists of five phases.
In his subsequent work, Brookfield
expanded his theory of critical thinking. He referred to it as a "questioning
and replacement of commonly held assumptions about the self and group,
and social and political structures." However, there are at least
two studies in which results suggest that transformations in perspectives
are effected without conscious critical reflection. Other researchers
believe that transformation can take place without being aware of the
change process, while others suggest that transformations may occur through
the process of assimilative learning (i.e. as the situation changes, we
make decisions to move toward a way of thinking that is more appropriate
to the new situation).
phase of the transformational learning theory is that of development. Development
is an inherent part of the maturation process, and it is also an outcome.
One must have the ability to think critically to effect a transformation.
This alone is developmental in that we become better critical thinkers.
King and Kitcheners reflective judgement model has made significant contribution to the understanding of the transformational theory. Their seven phased model shows that individuals move through developmental stages, with the last two emphasizing reflective judgment. Kegan also views development as a complex process requiring questioning the values and beliefs one holds. The result is a creation of new forms of knowledge that better links the gap between demands and one's ability to meet them.
Development is not only inherent,
but it is also the outcome of transformative learning. Development helps
us address a broader range of experiences and allows us to be more discriminating,
more open and better able to integrate our experiences and perspectives.