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Posted: February 24th, 2022

Mezirow’s theory of perspective transformation Essay

Mezirow’s theory of perspective transformation

Adults today are the result of their individual histories and experiences, which shape their attitudes, thought processes, and world conceptualization. Adults, according to John Mezirow, can be transformed by these experiences; however, transformative learning requires critical self-reflection (Mezirow, 1990). Mezirow recognized that adults can be transformed by intertwining a disorienting dilemma with critical reflection and new interpretations of the experience.

Furthermore, Mezirow’s process of perspective transformation is frequently depicted as linear; Mezirow identified ten phases beginning with disorienting dilemma and ending with perspective transformation (Mezirow, 1990). Understanding transformative learning and the disorienting dilemma allows adults to appreciate and comprehend Mezirow’s perspective transformation theory. An experience marks the beginning of my transformation. For example, I had an experience this past May after graduating from Immaculata University’s undergrad program.

My perplexing quandary begins with deciding whether to continue my education to pursue a Master’s Degree or to begin the long and tedious process of job seeking and interviewing in a bad economy. My decision, I believe, is life-changing and will only help me pursue a flourishing life. According to Mezirow’s theory and the phases of transformative learning, my quandary falls under the first process of a disorienting dilemma (Anonymous, n. d. ). After graduation, I had a few months to devise a strategy and put it into action.

While considering my options and devising a strategy, I was struck by fear, which stemmed from the “unknown” of my future. To overcome my fear of the “unknown,” I first examine myself. I needed to figure out who I am now and who I want to be tomorrow. After deciding to return to school, I began to discuss graduate school with my family and close friends. When the topic of returning to school came up, I began to hear about others pursuing graduate degrees all around me.

For example, I play basketball in two different leagues in my community. The majority of the teams are made up of collage or recently graduated students. When I told my basketball league friends about my plans to return to school, a few of them said they were applying to or were already enrolled in graduate school. Hearing other people commit to furthering their education and the enrollment process helped to alleviate the deep fear I was experiencing. It was also reassuring to know that others were going through the same transformation that I was.

Mezirow’s fourth phase includes this shared transformation between friends (Anonymous, n. d. ) Once I overcame my fear of the “unknown,” I began to implement my strategy, which falls under the sixth stage of Mezirow’s theory (Anonymous, n. d. ). My strategy began with researching local schools that offered MBA or MA programs in Marketing or Leadership Studies. I researched a few specific schools, including West Chester, Widener, and Immaculata University.

After researching these schools, I applied to them and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, I did not get into my first choice, Widener, because I fell 70 points short of the g-mat requirement. However, I was admitted to West Chester and Immaculata. I breathed a sigh of relief after being accepted into graduate school, knowing that I had achieved my goal of embarking on a new path to further my education. When I started graduate school, it was a completely new experience for me, as well as a new role for me.

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I wanted to boost my self-esteem in my new roles and environment in order to reach my full potential. Building my self-confidence was difficult at first, but with the help of my family, classmates, and professors, I gradually overcame this. The “unknown” that I was dealing with in a new program and environment slowed progress at first. I really started to take off with self-confidence after I got over my first road bump, which falls under Mezirow’s ninth phase (Anonymous, n. d. ).

Mezirow’s theory concludes with the action of the final component of the transformative learning process (Merriam, Caffarella, Baumgartner, 2007). When I was confronted with my perplexing quandary, I took a delayed action to retort my options and plan. This was the end of a new beginning after the realization that now was the time to make my transformation. My decision to continue my education is based on my newfound perspective from my disorienting dilemma and Mezirow’s ten stages of transformational learning.

Study Notes:
Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory: This article explains Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory in detail.

This article highlights, in addition to what the theory is, the definition, the types of learning, the basic components of the theory, the role of parents and educators, and practice. After reading, you’ll understand the fundamentals of this effective personal development tool. Have fun reading!

What is the Transformative Learning Theory of Mezirow?
Jack Mezirow developed the Transformative Learning Theory, which is concerned with deep, useful, and constructive learning. This method of learning goes beyond simply acquiring knowledge. It provides students with constructive and critical ways to consciously give meaning to their lives.

Following application, this type of learning frequently leads to a fundamental shift in their world view as a result of a shift from thoughtless or unconditional acceptance of available information to a conscious and reflective type of learning that supports real change.

Transformative learning is defined by Jack Mezirow as “the critical awareness of unconscious suppositions or expectations and the evaluation of their relevance for making an interpretation.”

As stated in the definition, transformative learning frequently results in a profound shift in a person’s thoughts, feelings, perspectives, convictions, or behaviors. This is due to the fact that it allows for a radical shift in consciousness, which permanently alters people’s world views. It also causes a paradigm shift in students, which has a direct impact on future experiences. A student who suddenly discovers a hidden talent is an example of this.

The theory distinguishes between two types of learning: instrumental learning and communicative learning. Instrumental learning focuses on learning through task-oriented problem solving and determining cause-and-effect relationships. Communicative learning is the process by which people communicate their needs, emotions, and desires. This is about the social component of learning.

When Jack Mezirow was working at the University of Columbia in 1978, he developed the Transformative Learning Theory. He developed this theory after researching factors related to women’s success or failure in university programs in the 1970s.

He concluded that a shift in perspective is critical in this process. Since then, the theory has grown into a comprehensive account of how students interpret, validate, and reformulate meaning from their experiences.

Jack Mezirow’s classifications of learning
According to Jack Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory, there are four types of learning.

1. Communication-based learning
The goal of communicative learning is to help students improve their communication skills. Students learn how to express their desires, needs, and emotions here.

2. Informal learning
Instrumental learning is concerned with task- or problem-oriented learning. This could happen in a classroom setting, but it could also happen online. Students are tasked with determining the cause-and-effect relationships of various events or cases.

Three Transformative Learning Theory dimensions
According to Jack Mezirow, perspective transformation involves dimensions.

1. Psychiatric
Students’ perspectives or self-perceptions shift. Individuals must be able to think autonomously in order to truly learn, according to the Transformative Learning Theory. Rather than having society or culture dictate what people should think and feel, they must create their own meaning and interpretations.

2. Persuasive Conviction Transformations in personal values and assumptions Students change their cognitions based on personal experience rather than accepting the status quo.

3. Conduct
Students’ lifestyles also change. For example, based on the information they have received, they may change certain habits. This learning experience changes their behavior and has an impact on their actions.

Transformative Learning Theory by Jack Mezirow’s fundamental components
To facilitate learning and transformation, the Transformative Learning Theory requires the presence of two essential components. They are as follows:

1. Structures of meaning
According to Jack Mezirow, students use their personal cognitions to assign meaning to information. For example, two people may interpret the same information in entirely different ways. According to Mezirow, there are three codes that form meaning structures:

Sociolinguistic codes: the influence of a society on people’s schemas and structures. Social norms, cultural expectations, and language usage are common examples.
Psychological codes are concerned with a person’s emotional and mental state. These include their thoughts and emotions, which have a direct impact on their meaning structures.
Epistemic codes are concerned with how knowledge is acquired, its validity, and the circumstances surrounding the learning experience. Students will place less value on new knowledge if it does not come directly from a reliable source.
2. Critical thinking
Individuals, according to Jack Mezirow, must also think critically about their own experiences. This, in turn, results in a shift in perspective. Students can only develop meaning structures if they are allowed to reflect on their own learning behavior.

This process of reflection increases their self-awareness and facilitates deeper self-understanding. As a result, they can better manage and comprehend information and gain more from the experience.

Reflection, on the other hand, includes a critical analysis of assumptions to determine whether a particular conviction, which often stems from cultural assimilation in childhood, is still functional for adults.

Individuals must be able to question and challenge their current assumptions, as well as critically and thoroughly investigate the validity of these assumptions. They may discover, in some cases, that these cognitions are rooted in social or cultural convictions rather than their own meaning structures.

Critical reflection enables them to criticize and change assumptions, thereby effecting meaningful change.

Parents’ and educators’ roles
There is no guarantee that transformative learning will occur. Teachers and other educators can only provide students with the opportunity to engage in transformative learning. Teachers can assist students in becoming aware of and critically analyzing assumptions. Assumptions lead to interpretations, convictions, habits, and points of view.

Teachers must teach students how to recognize specific reference frameworks. Teachers encourage students to evaluate problems from various perspectives by doing so. The goal is to create a community of students who are united by a shared experience in order to give meaning to their lives.

The learner’s position
When students’ goal is to learn and build knowledge about themselves, others, and social norms, teachers and educators become facilitators. Students, for these reasons, play a critical role in the learning environment and process. In order to help each other, students must develop classroom norms such as politeness, respect, and responsibility. Students must also promote diversity in the classroom and strive for mutual collaboration.

Furthermore, in order to transform their unchallenged reference framework, students must be critical of their own assumptions. Students work on critical reflection of assumptions that underpin intentions, values, convictions, and emotions through communicative learning.

When students critically reflect on their own and others’ assumptions, they are once again involved in objectively reframing their reference frameworks. Subjective redefining, on the other hand, occurs when they critically evaluate their own assumptions.

Putting Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory into Action
These quandaries also arise in academic learning environments. This is because teachers allow for critical analysis of new ideas and developments. Teachers who want to use transformative learning in their classrooms should consider the implementation strategies listed below to train their students.

Make opportunities for critical thinking available.
Teachers can encourage critical thinking by presenting students with content that introduces new ideas or points of view.

Following that, students must engage with the new content through discussions with peers and critical reflection on their own assumptions and convictions.

Providing chances to act from new perspectives
According to research, it is critical that teachers provide students with opportunities to put their newly discovered convictions into action. When students are unable to take active steps to acknowledge their new conviction, there are signs that a successful transformation is impossible.

Ten stages of transformation
The ability to give meaning to experiences is a requirement for being human. For some, each explanation from an authority figure suffices, but in today’s society, people must make their own interpretations more frequently rather than acting on the goals, assessments, emotions, and convictions of others. The primary goal of adult learning is to facilitate the acquisition of such insights. Transformative learning fosters and promotes autonomous thinking.

A transformation that results in a new perspective, on the other hand, is far less common. According to Mezirow, such transformations frequently result from dilemmas caused by a major crisis or a life transition. It could also be the result of multiple transformations occurring at the same time.

Jack Mezirow describes ten stages that he found frequently in his research on women who were successful students at public universities.

Transformative Learning Theory Applications

Disorienting quandaries are common in academic learning environments, where teachers provide space for students to critically engage with new ideas. Teachers who want to use transformative learning in their classrooms should consider providing students with the following opportunities.

Creating opportunities for critical thinking – Teachers can create opportunities for critical thinking by introducing new ideas in their content. The opportunity for students to engage with new content through journaling, dialogue with other students, and critically questioning their own assumptions and beliefs is then required.
Providing opportunities for students to relate to others who are going through the same transformative process – Transformation often occurs in community as students bounce ideas off one another and are inspired by the changes their friends and acquaintances make.
Giving students opportunities to act on new perspectives – Finally, research shows that it is critical for teachers to give students opportunities to act on their newly discovered beliefs. There is some evidence that true transformation cannot occur until students can actively take steps to acknowledge their new belief.

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