Date

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Teaching, Learning, and Technology

First Adviser

Hammond, Thomas C.

Other advisers/committee members

Sawyer, Brook; Sperandio, Jill; Kroll, Barry

Abstract

Transformative learning can be characterized as a learning process that, through critical self-reflection and discourse, results in learners shifting their identity, beliefs, and/or actions (Dirkx, Mezirow, & Cranton, 2006; Mezirow, 1991, 1978). Transformative learning is rooted in adult education, with an emphasis on individual learners’ meaning making and perspective shifts. Transformative curricula are often implemented in post-secondary and adult settings due to the unique cognitive and emotional development that learners experience in that time period (Cranton, 2012; Kose, 2009). The cognitive rational approach, a subset of transformative learning proposed by Mezirow (1991), outlines a process by which students are faced with disorienting dilemmas, process those experiences through reflection and discourse, and ultimately exhibit a change through behavior or actions. The critical reflection that is necessary for such transformation can take place in a variety of ways. Current research is insufficient to understand the role of different formats for reflection in aiding the transformative experience as described in the cognitive rational approach.Using a concurrent transformative mixed methods design with heavy emphasis on qualitative analysis, this study investigated the role of differing forms of written reflection—formal, private writing (offline) versus public, informal writing (online)—in processing and assessing the transformative experience of a global citizenship (GC) course (n=46). Differing reflection experiences between two cohorts of students provided the context for a natural experiment through which I examined the efficacy of the structure and medium of the reflection as it relates to the development of GC self-concept in undergraduate learners through transformative learning and the cognitive rational approach. Implications for research and teaching are provided, as well as an exploration of emergent themes in the data around learner agency, disorientation and meaning perspective shift. I conclude by providing future directions for this research based on the analysis of the data and areas of future growth or current shortcomings that could be strengthened in the future.

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