This past year I went through a major transformation, I went from a High School Special Education teacher to a corporate Instructional Designer. The journey I took is much like a road trip, I spent time planning, I stopped and admired the view and the experience changed me forever. In transformative learning theory, we (instructional designers) create the road trip in order for learners to grow and change.
Transformative learning uses community to build support around a learner, this connection and orientation of others into the learners’ world are essential. Transformative Learning creates a safe learning space for discourse and disagreement. This discourse is one of the anchors of Transformative Learning, the ability to respectfully discuss hot button issues while also coming up with reasoning, using metacognition to think about their beliefs/learning, and reorientation based on the discourse. While often used in corporate settings to transform learners on sensitive topics such as racism or sexism, research backs up the idea that transformative learning theory strategies are just good learning.
Designing a Roadmap
When thinking of designing a curriculum for your workforce, I am brought back to the concept of a road trip. While there are different ways to make it across America, each route depends on several things; road conditions, mode of transportation, season, and destination. We evaluate where we are and keep our ultimate destination in mind, designing our road trip around the many variables that come with any project; our intended audience, tools, objectives, and ultimate learning goal. Below I have included a quick video on a mock proposal I created using transformative learning.
Now that we have an idea of where we are, where we want to go, and what mode of transportation (transformative learning) we have to determine the strategies that will benefit our learners most and are specific to the performance goal. Start by researching, find a scholarly article that is peer-reviewed and measured, specify conditions such as farming or automation, corporate or education, and get reading! Erika Boney wrote an excellent article that gives some great applications of transformational Learning in the corporate setting.
Merriam & Bierema described the work of transformational learning as “…accessing the unconscious world and incorporating it into our conscious being, our ego.” (2013) Transformational learning is about the process the learner endures and how they change in the end. This “soul work” is tied to premise reflection which is a deep thought process, Mezirow describes it as “why we perceive, think, feel, or act as we do” (1991).
With this in mind, some of my favorite strategies are personalized learning paths, scenario-based eLearning, and metacognition. Personalized learning paths are beneficial on many levels. For the learner, it gives them the autonomy to decide how, when and what they will learn. Learning paths also cut down on work for administration as the learner is driving their knowledge, and becoming more independent. Serving small pieces of learning within a larger pathway provides better learning retention and can make learning more understandable as well (Gautam, 2021).
Scenario-based elearning has deep ties in academic literature as well, it is a great strategy to use and works well with transformational learning. Scenario-based elearning is all about immersive decision-making with the goal of having the learner reflect on the processes, know where to find their resources, and learn by doing. eLearningIndustry.com cites several perks to using scenario-based elearning including; increased learner engagement and knowledge retention, confidence building, and a safe place to fail and learn (Hout, 2020).
Last but not least is metacognition, which I love implementing in corporate learning environments. Metacognition is about the journey of problem-solving, it happens before instruction such as having a learner make a goal or decide on a pathway. During instruction such as having learners reflect and rate their performance on a task. And after instruction in a retrospective of what went well, what didn’t, and what to change for next time. Hattie once said; “We need to develop an awareness of what we are doing, where we are going, and how are we going there; we need to know what to do when we do not know what to do. Such self-regulation or meta-cognitive skills are one of the ultimate goals of all learning” (Hattie, 2012).
It may sound cliche, but whoever said: “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” was right! By building road trips for our learners, we are using evidence-based practices that yield high engagement and knowledge retention. Research additional strategies that fit your company’s needs, there is so much literature written on transformative learning you shouldn’t have a problem finding something. Good luck and happy road tripping!
Do you use transformational learning theory? Have you ever heard of the 16 Habits of Mind? Let me know in the comments below!
Boney, E. (2018, December 19). Fostering A Culture Of Transformative Learning
Through Informal Learning Experiences [web log]. Retrieved March 5, 2022, from https://elearningindustry.com/transformative-learning-informal-learning-experiences-fostering-culture.
Day, A. (n.d.). Metacognition Importance and Overview. Missouri EduSAIL. Retrieved March
14, 2022, from https://www.moedu-sail.org/lessons/metacognition-importance-overview/
Hout, N. (2020, February 26). The Benefits Of Scenario-Based Learning In Customer Service
Training. ELearning Industry. https://elearningindustry.com/scenario-based-learning-benefits-customer-service-training
Lorenzetti, L., Halvorsen, J., Dhungel, R., Lorenzetti, D., Oshchepkova, T., Haile, L., &
Biscette, K. (2019). Community-based mentors and journey guides: a transformative learning approach to social work education. Social Work Education, 38(7), 875–893. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1080/02615479.2019.1593956
Maiese, M. (2017). Transformative Learning, Enactivism, and Affectivity. Studies in
Philosophy & Education, 36(2), 197–216. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1007/s11217-015-9506-z
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2013). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice.
John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Owen, R. (2021). Using Mindfulness to Promote Transformative Learning in Implicit Racial
Bias Training. Adult Learning, 32(3), 125–131. https://doi-org.libproxy.boisestate.edu/10.1177/1045159520981165How Personalized Learning Paths Can Put Learners in the Driver’s Seat. (n.d.). Training Industry. Retrieved March 14, 2022, from https://trainingindustry.com/articles/content-development/how-personalized-learning-paths-can-put-learners-in-the-drivers-seat/