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The Theory and Practice of Transformative Learning: A Critical Review

Taylor E ...see all

Information Series, vol. 374 (1998) p. 90

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The theory of transformative learning, the process of making meaning of one's experience, emerged from the work of Jack Mezirow and has been explored through numerous research studies and critiques over the last 20 years. The purpose of this monographic is to provide greater insight into the transformative learning theory. The paper begins with an overview of transformative learning theory, including Mezirow's notion of rational transformation, Robert Boyd's concept of individuation, and Paulo Freire's view of social transformation. The literature review explores seven unresolved issues: individual change versus social action, decontextualized view of learning, universal model of adult learning, adult development--shift or progression, rationality, other ways of knowing, and the model of perspective transformation. Reflective notes in each section illustrate the application of theory to the practice of fostering transformative learning. The review identifies gaps and areas of controversy in Mezirow's work as well as research findings that attempt to broaden the theory. The third section outlines the essential conditions and techniques for fostering transformative learning and roles and responsibilities of educators and learners. One appendix organizes sources in the literature relevant to specific teaching-learning techniques

Author-supplied keywords

  • Adult Development
  • Adult Education
  • Adult Learning
  • Educational Theories
  • Experiential Learning
  • Individual Development
  • Social Cognition
  • Transformative Learning
  • World Views

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  • Edward W Taylor

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