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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Transformative learning : becoming aware of possible worlds Taylor, Jane Anne


Human learning is a complex multidimensional phenomenon many aspects of which continue to elude understanding and explanation. One facet of the learning puzzle that has not been adequately explored is the role that individual consciousness plays in human learning. Adult education has been instrumental in shifting the focus in studies of learning from an emphasis on the material to be learned to an emphasis on the experience of the individual in the learning transaction. This shift in focus has brought more attention to the processes of individual consciousness as a critical factor in the learning process. In adult education a sense of urgency about the importance of broadening the concept of learning, and a growing awareness of the importance of consciousness, and changes or transformations in consciousness as aspects of a more comprehensive concept of learning, are beginning to merge. The course of human history and culture speaks eloquently of the transformative powers of the human mind to amplify and extend knowledge by transcending what is already known. While current learning literature stresses learning as the process of facilitating changes in behaviour or the acquisition, organization, retention and retrieval of knowledge, little attention has been given to learning as a process of creative transformation of knowledge. This study arose out of a desire to explore the ramifications of transformations within the consciousness of the individual as a major aspect of learning, and to integrate literature on this topic as a means of extending understanding of learning as a transformative process. The study began with explorations in two directions stimulated and directed by the qualitative method of constant comparative analysis. One was the development of the case study of Sara which supplied a slice of experiential data. Sara's case illustrates learning experiences from a personal point of view which emphasizes changes in consciousness as a central dynamic of those experiences. The second direction for exploration was a search of the literature for sources which might account for this type of learning. An analysis and integration of the writings of selected authors supplied the foundation for the development of a model of transformative learning. Finally, this model was applied to Sara's case as a means of clarifying her personal learning experience and illustrating the usefulness of the model as a tool for understanding learning as a process of creative transformation of consciousness.

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