Here is this week’s article from the new ProLiteracy research journal, Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy. The free online journal consists of field research and studies, best practices that can be implemented into adult basic education and English as a second language (ESL) programs, helpful information for policy makers and funders, and more.
The research journal is updated with new articles twice a year, so make sure you check back in the fall for the next issue.
In her article, Lisa M. Baumgartner covers the elements of educational settings that foster transformative learning.
Here is an excerpt from the article. To read the full article, click here.
The word “transformation” evokes images of profound change such as caterpillars turning into butterflies or humans shape-shifting into werewolves. Transformative learning refers to a perspective transformation or change in worldview. Teachers in literacy education and adult basic education as well as GED instructors can learn how to foster transformative learning. These techniques can help learners engage in critical thought and discussion with others and may gain a broader, more inclusive view of themselves and their world.
There are scholars that discuss transformative learning using a variety of frameworks such as Freire’s social-emancipatory framework or Daloz’s developmental framework. However, it is Mezirow’s framework that has been used in many empirical studies. Specifically, Mezirow (2000) describes a 10-phase process that results in a change in world view or perspective transformation. This begins with a “disorienting dilemma” which is an event or series of events that jar a person from their previous ways of thinking (Mezirow, 2000, p. 22). Most often, it is seen as a single event, such as a death or divorce, that causes a person to critically reflect on his or her previous assumptions about the world although a series of events can also lead to a perspective transformation (Mezirow, 2000). Questioning the issue itself, or what Mezirow calls premise reflection, most often results in perspective transformation. Questions such as: “Why is getting my GED important?” Why am I in this job?” are the types of questions that trigger perspective transformation (Cranton, 2016). In addition to critical reflection, individuals engage in reflective discourse or dialogue. Mezirow (2003) defines discourse as “dialogue involving the assessment of beliefs, feelings, and values” (p. 59). Questions from others help individuals think through their new beliefs. Through critical reflection and talking with others, people change their perspectives on the world. In Mezirow’s (2000) view, this change in how one sees the world is permanent.
Cory’s experiences may exemplify a perspective transformation. Cory dropped out of school in 10th grade. At age 25, he married, and he and his wife had a son. Cory knew he needed more education to obtain a better job to support his family. However, he was extremely anxious about returning to school to obtain his GED due to his previous schooling experiences which led him to believe he was not smart enough to complete a GED. He asked himself, “Why is this anxiety overwhelming? Aren’t lots of people anxious?” (Cranton, 2016). He attended his first GED class and realized, after talking with other classmates, that many people were nervous about returning to a formal classroom setting. Thorough interactions with others and the support of his instructors, Cory gained increased confidence in his academic abilities and began to see himself as a smart, capable student.