Transformative Learning Theory

What E-Learning Experts Must Know About Transformative Learning Theory

Change facilitation is the goal of any eLearning professional. It could involve something significant, like assisting their online students in achieving a life goal, or it might involve something minor, like increasing task proficiency. I’ll cover all the essential information regarding the Transformative Learning Theory and how to use it in eLearning in this article, so you may use it to influence your audience in a positive way.

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The Transformative Learning Theory: What eLearning Professionals Need to Know

The foundation of Jack Mezirow’s groundbreaking transformative learning theory is the idea that personal experience plays a crucial role in the learning process. It implies that meaning is created by a learner’s perception of an event, and that meaning causes a change in behavior, mentality, and beliefs.

A student may experience a “paradigm shift” as a result of transformational learning, which will have an immediate impact on subsequent experiences. They might learn, for instance, that they possess a talent they didn’t know they have or that a long-held belief is untrue. This article examines the fundamental ideas, scope, and elements of the transformative learning theory, as well as how to use it in the creation of eLearning courses.

Transformative learning theory fundamentals

To guarantee that their online courses offer a transformative eLearning experience, eLearning professionals can follow these 4 key principles:

1. An individual experiences two types of learning that are separate from one another:

  • Instrument involves learning through tasks or problems. The link between the principles must be understood by online students as well as the cause and effect.
  • Online students that are communicative express their needs, desires, and feelings.

2. A shift in the learner’s perspective is necessary for learning to take place. A shift in the meaning structures is also required, according to the Transformative Learning Theory.

3. By considering the eLearning method, the material, or the underlying ideas, online learners experience a change in their meaning structure.

4. The eLearning process could involve developing new meaning schemes, expanding on old ones, changing current ones, or changing one’s own perspective.

Transformative learning theory’s components

The Transformative Learning Theory states that “perspective transformation” involves the following 3 dimensions:

  • Convictional

A change in one’s belief system, including one’s values and presumptions. The learners change their cognitions based on their personal experience rather than accepting the current quo.

  • Behavioral

Students modify their way of life. For instance, people might alter some of their habits in light of the knowledge they learned. The educational experience alters their behavior and has an impact on their actions.

  • Psychological

Students alter their self-perception or self-understanding. According to the Transformative Learning Theory, individuals need to be capable of thinking independently in order for learning to actually occur. We should invent our own meanings and interpretations rather than letting society or culture define our thoughts, feelings, or who we are.

Fundamental Elements of Transformative Learning Theory

According to the Transformative Learning Theory, learning can only take place when two conditions are met:

1. Critical Reflection

Only when students are given the chance to reflect on their learning experiences are they able to develop meaning structures. They are able to better comprehend themselves through this process of contemplation, which increases their level of self-awareness. As a result, kids can comprehend the information more clearly and benefit more from the educational process.

In other cases, people could find that these cognitions are based on cultural or societal norms rather than their own set of ideas. They have the ability to examine and revise their preconceptions through critical reflection in order to effect real change.

2. Meaning Structures

Mezirow contends that based on their individual cognitions, learners give information its own meaning. For instance, two people could interpret the same information in very different ways. Mezirow contends that meaning structures are composed of three types of codes:

Epistemic Codes:

Emphasizes the methods used to acquire knowledge, its reliability, and the circumstances surrounding the learning process. Learners are less likely to give significance to information if it does not originate from a trustworthy source.

Psychological Codes:

The emotional and mental health of a person. In most words, their mental and emotional states have a direct bearing on the meaning they give to things.

Sociolinguistic Codes:

Our plans and structures are impacted by society. Societal expectations, cultural conventions, and language usage are a few examples of this.

What it is to Implement Transformative Learning Theory in e-Learning

You must enable a change in their meaning structures in order to generate transformative eLearning experiences. You are bringing about a beneficial shift in the thought processes of online learners by presenting them with fresh ways and ideas for problem-solving while also challenging their presumptions. An online learner’s perception of the world, themselves, or the topic must be changed in order to achieve the ultimate goal of “perspective transformation.”

Give your online students space for reflection, prompt them with challenging questions, and push them to examine their beliefs to determine the veracity of their ideas. Also, bear in mind that changes, particularly those involving a shift in perspective, can come about gradually.


Apply the transformative learning theory in your e-learning course design using the information in this article. While some tactics can call for subtler modifications, others might call for bigger ones. Whatever the situation, it’s critical to keep in mind that even the tiniest adjustment can help your online students achieve their objectives.


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