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Title:Tales and testimonies of transformational learning in young adults
Author(s):Grider, Charles J.
Director of Research:Aragon, Steven R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Aragon, Steven R.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Anderson, James D.; Boverie, Patricia M.; Treat, Tod; Zola, David
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Human Resource Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):transformational learning
transformative learning
critical friend
critical incident
young adults
adult education
Jack Mezirow
Abstract:This qualitative study took a naturalistic inquiry approach to explore vignettes of the process of transformational learning in young adults, ages 16-24, working as lifeguards in the aquatics environment. Data were collected through a progressive interview and focus group format. Eligibility to participate in the study was determined through real-time experience with a critical incident, defined as “a circumstance requiring action on one’s part to facilitate or prevent consequences that would have a lasting impact on the well-being of another.” Ten lifeguards participated in the study. Responses indicated that participants were able to experience Mezirow’s (2000) three criteria for transformation, which carries significance regarding the theoretical foundations of transformational learning. From a practitioner perspective, the data suggested transformations were contextually based, as participants were unable to apply perspectives gained through transformative experiences in the aquatics environment to other areas of their lives. Additionally, participants indicated that actual critical incidents had a greater likelihood of enacting transformation than simulations. Responses did not suggest that the severity of a critical incident had influence over the transformational experience, provided the fidelity of the situation was high. The most significant finding was the presence of an appropriate critical friend or facilitator played an important role in bringing the transformational experience into consciousness in young adults. The cohort demonstrated the capacity to engage in transformation, but needed to realize that they could. It is important to consider the findings of this study in situations where young adults are subjected to critical incidents; especially work environments. By bringing the transformational experiences into consciousness at an early age, there is significant opportunity to assist this cohort towards individual efforts of meaning making, identification of values, and the overall process of “growing up.”
Issue Date:2011-05-25
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Charles Jefferson Grider
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-25
Date Deposited:2011-05

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