Transformative Learning - Amy Fettig


Transformative Learning Theory of Jack Mezirow

1. Description
Jack Mezirow (1997) defines Transformative Learning as “effecting change in a frame of reference” and goes on to posit two distinct frames of reference as “habits of mind” and “point of view” (p. 5). Transformation is, understandably, a process and Mezirow has specified ten phases as he articulated how this adult learning theory looks in practice:
1. A disorienting dilemma
2. Self-examination with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, or shame
3. A critical assessment of assumptions
4. Recognition that one’s discontent and the process of transformation are shared
5. Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions
6. Planning a course of action
7. Acquiring knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans
8. Provisional trying of new roles
9. Building competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships
10. A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new
perspective (Mezirow, 2000, p. 22)
2. Use
Transformative learning moves explicitly beyond just acquiring knowledge or skills to the point of critical reflection. It is this metacognitive element which allows the learner to develop greater awareness of their own assumptions and schemata. (Grabove, 1997).
3. Example of Application
Today’s technology offers a wealth of opportunities for transformational learning as there are rational and social necessities for utilizing technology. For the university, transitioning to TK20 for assessment purposes requires faculty to move their domain knowledge around outcome mapping to a digital format thus necessitating at least some engagement with Mezirows transformation phases on an internal level.
4. Comparison
One of the largest similarities between Knowle’s Andragogy and Mezirow’s Tranformative Learning is actually a critique. While empirical studies were initially undertaken, the universalism of conclusions was uncertain. Subsequent scholars have worked to broaden understanding of these theories across social groups and disciplines.

Grabove, V. (1997). The many facets of transformative learning theory and practice. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (74), 89.
Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformation theory. In J.
Mezirow & Associates (Eds.), Learning as transformation (pp. 3-33). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Mezirow, J. (1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (74), 5.


Created by: Amy Fettig