Witnessing a mosaic emerge: The phenomenon of transformative learning within a professional master's degree program

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Personal and professional growth experienced by adult learners has been explored by education researchers for decades. Now in a second wave of theory development, transformational learning research has broadened from its earlier focus on cognitive and rational processes, to explore methods that promote and acknowledge a more holistic view of learning processes and an enhanced range of expressed and demonstrated outcomes that reflect multi-dimensions of transformative growth. What is not currently well documented in the research literature is evidence of sustained changes to personal and/or professional ways of being in the world arising from graduate level professional education programs. Unstructured phenomenological interviews were conducted with 20 alumni of a Master of Education in Educational Practice program (M.Ed. EP) 16-20 months post-graduation. Conversations focused on what the M.Ed. meant to them personally and professionally, experiences of sustained growth, as well as meaningful processes that facilitated and supported their expressed changes. Through phenomenological reduction, a common essence of the experience emerged which highlighted the role of the learning community and a variety of learning activities that were meaningful for the alumni’s change processes. A range of personal and professional outcomes were expressed as either transformative in nature, or professionally grounding, validating, and affirming in terms of professional identity and praxis. In this thesis, the phenomenon of the M.Ed. EP experience is presented as a narrative utilizing phenomenological reductions as exemplars to the nuanced experiences. Potentially adding to the second wave of transformative learning research, it is proposed that these varied accounts may all be expressions of transformative learning when applying a broader interpretive lens that includes professional praxis and professional identity changes as evidence of transformation. Collectively these 20 individual experiences, interpreted as nuanced accounts, act as pieces of a mosaic converging to provide a contextualized vision of transformative learning in the professional practice master’s degree. Findings may support faculty and educational designers who wish to facilitate transformative outcomes for their students.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Hill, Cher
Thesis advisor: Kaufman, David
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