Transformative Learning Theory

The term transformative brings to mind images of significant change, such as tadpoles becoming frogs. Similarly, transformative learning represents a profound change in worldview. While scholars have conceptualized transformative learning in many ways, Jack Mezirow’s approach is the focus of this entry, as it has generated much scholarship in adult and higher education since the late 1970s. Transformative learning concerns a profound change in one’s worldview. This entry discusses the origins and evolution of transformative learning theory as developed by Mezirow and its application to higher education theories and practices.


Introduced in 1978, Mezirow refined his theory over time as a result of critics’ reactions and his own changes in thinking. His theory emerged in the 1970s during a time of great change when women ...

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