Romano, p. 53
Transformative Learning: A Review of the
University of Siena (Italy)
In this review essay1, I try to explore the following question: How can we evaluate
the process and the outcomes of perspectives transformation? Where is the
research on the assessment of transformative learning outcomes today and where
it is going in the future? I will describe the most popular tools (see Stuckey,
Taylor, Cranton, 2013) for the evaluation of the outcomes of learning activities
that may be conceptualized as transformative experiences. The four instruments
1. Kember’s Critical Reflection Questionnaire, a 16-question, four-scale
questionnaire (Kember et al., 2000, p. 392);
2. Learning Activity Survey (Learning Activities Survey, King, 2009)
questionnaire, based on the theory of the ten steps precursors to transformative
learning (King, 2009);
3. Transformative Learning Survey (Stuckey, Taylor, Cranton, 2014);
4. VALUE rubric (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education)
(AACU, 2013), whose variation Student Transformative Learning Record
(Barthell et al., 2010) was created for the assessment of students’ own authentic
Those instruments represent the effort of (a) going beyond the qualitative
retrospective approach and (b) finding indicators for the critical reflection
engaged by people (students or professionals) in their learning experiences. The
purpose is to appeal to faculty members, adult educators, professional coaches,
mentoring experts, healthcare professionals in Counselling and Psychotherapy,
offering them a review of both qualitative and quantative approaches that they
could adopt in their professional practices.
Keywords: transformative learning, survey, quantitative methods, assessment
1 Part of the review here offered was published in the article “Romano A. (2017). The challenge of
the assessment of processes and outcomes of transformative learning. Educational Reflective
Practices, 1, 184-219.”
Romano, p. 54
Current Trajectories of Transformative Learning Theory
The popularity of transformative learning theory (TL) over the last several
decades speaks to the interest in understanding highly impactful learning
experiences. Mezirow used the terms transformative learning and perspective
transformation to refer to the process of “becoming aware of one’s own tacit
assumptions and expectations and those of other and assessing their relevance for
making an interpretation” (Mezirow & Associates, 2000, p.4). Mezirow (2000)
limited transformation to those learning experiences whereby one’s preconscious
mental schemas are laid bare and scrutinized through the process of critical self-
reflection: “Transformative learning refers to the process by which we transform
our taken-for-granted frames of reference in order to make them more inclusive,
discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they
may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more truth or justified to guide
action” (2000, p. 7-8). In the last decade, transformative learning theory has been
accused of stagnation and lack of theoretical progression, due to:
• a confusion about research paradigms,
• an overreliance on a research methodology in which participants are
interviewed retrospectively and in which is carried out just as thematic
• the misinterpretation of kinds of data as research paradigms and the reliance
on secondary sources (Taylor, Cranton, 2012).
In educational research on transformative learning the basic interpretive
methodology is mostly adopted. The researcher interviews a small number of
individuals in specific environments or related to specific issues (retrospectively),
does a thematic analysis of the interview data, and reports on four or five themes
that appear in the data. Some unresolved issues persist, such as: how to evaluate
the perspectives transformations in adult people? How to disambiguate the field of
the evaluation of transformative learning experiences? How can we track and
support the processes of perspectives change?
The Post-Mezirow Approaches of Transformative Learning
Mezirow’s theory finds its home within adult education and its expansion
has come through its intersection with other theories about transformation and
development. The cross-fertilization (Schapiro et al., 2017) between different
approaches and disciplines continues to help TL theory evolve far beyond its first
Following Taylor’s categorization (1998), Hoggan (2016) recognizes four
approaches to transformative learning theory: psychocritical,
psychodevelopmental, psychoanalytic, and social emancipatory. The
Psychocritical Approach (Taylor, 1998) considers that people have habits of mind,
a set of assumptions which dictate how they make meaning of the world. The
Romano, p. 55
Psychoanalytical Approach stems from the work of the analytic psychologist Jung
and focuses on the expansion of one’s ego consciousness. The
psychodevelopmental approach defines transformative outcomes as an increase in
cognitive capacity. These approaches describe different, although partially similar,
ways to interpret how people can change. The trajectory of approaches to
transformative learning continues to expand, as evidenced by Taylor (2007), who
added neurobiological, cultural–spiritual, race-centric, and planetary.
How Can We Evaluate Quantitatively Perspectives Transformations
Most research on the outcomes of transformative learning have been
qualitative in nature and relied on retrospective interviews as a means of data
collection. Methodologically, there is a growing specificity in the type of
qualitative design, such as action/teacher research, narrative inquiry,
autoethnography, and case study (see Merriam & Kim, 2012). In addition,
participants writing in journals, students writings, photography, and portfolios
have continued to be viable data sources. The predominant qualitative inquiry on
transformative learning has become more sophisticated through the use of
longitudinal designs, action research, scales, surveys, content analysis of various
documentation (e.g. emails, journals, portfolios) and the use of video recorded
interviews. In a review of the methods for the evaluation of transformative
learning, Cranton and Hoggan (2012) indicate self-evaluation methods,
interviews, narratives, metaphor analysis, art-based techniques, surveys, and
Table 1 Methods of Evaluation of Transformative Learning
• Evaluation Methods
Self-evaluation methods are especially
congruent with the philosophical
foundations of emancipatory learning
that have influenced the theory of
Interviews are frequently used for
evaluating transformative learning.
Interviews can focus on learners’ story
of a particular experience to gain
insight into the processes or outcomes
of learning, as well as to track learners’
Romano, p. 56
Table 1 Methods of Evaluation of Transformative Learning continued
• Narratives and Journals
Narratives are learning practices that
include learning journals, concept-
focused autobiographical writing, and
case studies. Journals can take many
forms, such as: imagined dialogues
between the learner and someone else;
real dialogues among multiple
• Art-based Techniques
Arts-based techniques include
photography and collage, creative
writing, music, improvisation, body
movement, and visual imagery.
Arts-based techniques, when used in
evaluation of transformative learning,
are designed to help learners gain
personal insights, recognize ways in
which they have changed, and help
crystallize ways in which they may
• Metaphor Analysis
Metaphor theory asserts that
metaphors actually represent maps
that people use to understand
concepts. Metaphor analysis is the
process of recognizing, “unpacking,”
and critiquing the metaphors we
tacitly use to understand our world
The Critical Reflection Questionnaire: How to Engage in the Assessment
of Critical Reflection’s Outcomes
Based on Mezirow’s definition of reflective thinking, Kember, Leung, Jones,
Like, McKay, Sinclair, Tse, Webb, Wong, Wong, and Yeung (2000) designed a
16-question, four-scale questionnaire, the Reflection Questionnaire, to measure
“the extent to which students engage in reflective thinking in professional
preparation courses” (Kember et al., 2000, p. 392).
Romano, p. 57
In developing a protocol for assessing the level of reflection in journal
writing, Kember et al. (2001) found the work of Mezirow provided a
comprehensive, logical and workable framework for developing a method to
assess reflective thinking. From theoretical elements, Kember et al. (2000, 2008)
proposed tools to identify quantitatively and qualitatively reflection levels. In the
qualitative proposition, Kember et al. (2008) proposed writing texts in which
students were asked to write about learning processes in their professional
practice. To analyze the texts, the authors developed an analysis log based on the
four reflection levels, used as guide for the analysis of the reflection level in
written works. The quantitative instrument assessed four constructs: habitual
action, understanding, reflection, and critical reflection. Kember (2001), after a
rigorous literature review, recognized that
• the subject matter of reflection is an ill-defined problem—the type of issues
and cases dealt with in professional practice;
• in professional practice, the process of reflection may be triggered by an
unusual case or deliberate attempts to revisit past experiences;
• reflection can occur through stimuli other than problems or disturbances to the
normal routine. The stimuli may be encouraged or arranged;
• reflection operates through a careful re-examination and evaluation of
experience, beliefs and knowledge;
• reflection most commonly involves looking back or reviewing past actions,
though competent professionals can develop the ability to reflect while
carrying out their practice (Kember, 2001).
Kember et al.’s (2000) Reflective Questionnaire needs to be combined with an
additional instrument (maybe one of the surveys described below) to fully capture
the perspective transformation: first, because perspective transformation happens
on so many levels (e.g., individual, organizational, cognitive, affective,
behavioral) that it may be impossible to develop a single scale to capture every
aspect; second, because it is focused on the process of critical reflection, and it
doesn’t consider the outcomes of learning in terms of change of meaning
The Learning Activity Survey: A Questionnaire for the Evaluation of
The Learning Activity Survey (King, 2009) is a questionnaire constructed
and tested by the research group directed by King (2009), and implemented in
more than ten years of studies.
The Learning Activity Survey has two major purposes: identifying whether
adult learners had a perspective transformation in relation to their educational
experience; and if so, determining what learning activities have contributed to it
(King, 2009, p. 14). The assessment tool has four major parts. Part one identifies
the stages of perspective transformation and asks participants for a brief
Romano, p. 58
description of their experience. Part two determines which learning experiences
have promoted a perspective transformation. Part three is a series of questions
determining the learning activities in which respondents were involved. Lastly,
part four collects information on demographic characteristics. The LAS survey is
a self-report survey totally filled out by participants all by themselves. Item 1 uses
Mezirow’s original ten stages of perspective transformation as a guideline for
presenting carefully paraphrased and texted statements for the respondent’s
consideration. For Mezirow’s stage one, a disorienting dilemma, the tool has the
following statement that could be selected: “I had an experience that caused me to
question the way I normally act.” The learners from a checklist may select the ten
stages of perspective transformation individually. Item 2 has three purposes: it
improves the validity of the tool by summarizing and rephrasing Item 1, it assists
the respondent in completing the tool, and it focuses the items on one experience
of perspective transformation. If respondents did not have a perspective
transformation experience, they are directed to Item 2 to go directly to the last two
sections of the assessment tool.
Until this point, the tool has used closed-response, while Item 3 and Item 5
require free responses. Item 3 seeks a basic description of the perspective
transformation experience in order to verify that the perspective transformation
was in fact related to the respondent’s educational experience. Items 1, 2, 3, and 5
guide the respondent to reflect on an experience of change and delve into what
exactly it was, how it happened, and what contributed to its occurrence. The
educator uses the information from these items to determine a score for each
participant on a scale from one to three. This PT-Index scale indicates whether
learners had a perspective transformation in relationship to their education, PT-
Index = 3; whether they had one not associated with their education, PT-Index =
2; or whether they did not have a perspective transformation experience, PT-Index
= 1. The PT-Index is classified according to multiple literature sources (King,
2009, p. 16). The PT-Index provides three concise categories for representing who
have experienced perspective transformation and who have not. Learning
activities assessed by the instrument are classroom assignments and support (of
the teachers, of the facilitator, of the colleagues). Classroom assignments are
divided into five sub-categories: critical thinking assignments, class discussions,
student self-assessment, discovery of one’s voice, and miscellaneous learning
activities. One may use all six of these categories to group the learning activities
listed in Item 4 and 7 of the instrument:
1. Critical thinking assignments: term papers/essays, personal journals, period of
deep thought, assigned readings, and personal reflection.
2. Discussions: class/group projects and discussion of concerns
3. Students self-assessments: self-evaluation in courses and Personal Learning
4. Discovery of one’s voice: writing about concerns, class discussions, and
5. Support by: teacher, advisor, student, classmate, or other person.
Romano, p. 59
6. Discover of own voice: logbooks, self-report.
7. Miscellaneous learning activities: nontraditional structure of courses,
experiential workshops, and laboratory experiences.
The researchers who administer the Learning Activity Survey can use the Data
Summary Table published with the original version of the handbook (King, 2009)
or may use an Excel Page to tabulate the data. Each response on the LAS has a
variable code assigned to it as listed before the administration of the survey. Each
learner that completed the LAS comprises one record of data, and each response
entered in the system is likewise coded per field. The simplest analysis is
descriptive statistics in the form of frequencies.
More detail is needed to configure the Dataset for statistical program of
choice in order to distinguish between schools/organizations,
class/group/individual respondents. Examining frequencies and rankings of the
entered data is possible to identify characteristics of the respondents, including
age, college, affiliation, semester of enrollment, or the percentage of individuals
experiencing a perspective transformation within their education. Individual
effects are studied with the use of crosstabulations and chi-squared tests of
significance between each of the demographics and those with PT-Index of 1 and
3. As final check, these data should be examined for adult learners having the
opportunity to participate in learning activities: the educator/teacher should note
which learning activities are much less available than others.
The pilot studies for the construction of the instrument included interviewing
adult learners using critical incidents and collecting data about participants’
perspective transformations. There was an iterative pattern of repeated sampling,
formative adaptation of the instrument, and successive member-checking
interviews repeated cyclically in three different educational institutions (King,
2009, p. 41). In addition, a panel of experts critiqued the tool and made
suggestions. The method of supplementing the quantitative instrument with
structured interviews especially improved the internal validity of the instrument
As told by King (2009, p. 18), the Learning Activity Survey can not isolate
the specific impact of other variables that may have a role. Data gathered with the
LAS questionnaire should be compared with data collected with other
instruments, such as interviews for a small part of the sample, logbooks and
journals. The Learning Activities Survey Questionnaire (LAS) saw applications in
a variety of contexts over the last decade (Brock, 2010; King, 2009). Brock (2010)
used the LAS Survey in her study on transformative learning experiences in
undergraduates in business school; Glisczinski (King, 2009) adopted both
quantitative and qualitative methods for the evaluation of transformative learning
experiences in participating teachers. King’s survey (2009) lacks construct
validity, which raises questions about which inferences can be legitimately made
and what was operationalized in the survey. Even though King reports that experts
reviewed the instrument: there is no statistical evidence demonstrating its validity
and reliability. In addition, the survey lacks factorial validity. Additional questions
allow the researcher to perform a factor analysis to determine the degree of
Romano, p. 60
relatedness between the questions and the construct. When there is a high
correlation between the questions, then researchers can infer factorial validity.
These concerns and others should remind scholars of the limitations of similar
instruments until validity and reliability has been established. (Taylor, Snyder,
The Transformative Learning Survey: Methods of Evaluation
The Transformative Learning Survey (Stuckey, Taylor, Cranton, 2013) is a
validated quantitative survey that assesses outcomes of experiences of
transformative learning in college-educated adults. Survey development included
a comprehensive literature review, external review by experts in adult education,
focus groups for clarification of the items, the calculation of interitem correlations
for each scale and cross-scale correlations, and the calculation of Cronbach’s
reliability coefficients (Stuckey, Taylor, Cranton, 2013, p. 211). Its purpose is to
assess both common outcomes in transformative learning and variety of processes
for reaching those outcomes. The survey instrument could help educators and
scholars determine more accurately what strategies have the potential to foster
transformative learning. The 112 items of this survey reflect and include three
dominant conceptions of transformative learning (Cranton, 2006):
1. Cognitive/rational perspective (Mezirow, 1991) that emphasizes rationality,
critical reflection, and ideal conditions for discourse, according to a constructivist
and universal view of learning;
2. Extrarational perspective (Dirkx, 1998; Lawrence, 2012; Tisdell, 2006),
which emphasizes the emotive, imaginal, spiritual, and arts-based facets of
learning beyond rationality, and which recognizes personal, intuitive, and
imaginative ways of knowing that lead to individuation;
3. Social critique perspective (Brookfield, 2012; Freire, 1970) that emphasizes
ideological critique, unveiling oppression, and social action in the context of
transformations, understood in terms of social change by “demythizing” reality,
where the oppressed develop critical consciousness. This emancipatory approach
is based on four broad concepts/methods, such as i) the centrality of critical
reflection for helping learners develop an awareness of agency to transform
society and their own reality; ii) the maieutic teaching couched in acts of
cognition; iii) the problem-posing and dialogical methodology; and iv) a
horizontal student–teacher relationship where the teacher works on equal footing
with the students. All those elements concur in promoting a social transformation
over personal change.
The survey can provide feedback to individuals on the extent of their
perspectives transformation as well as feedback on whether change of
perspectives was fostered in a particular group. The questionnaire includes
qualitative elements to investigate participants’ transformative experiences and the
kind of changes they observed that may be missed through quantitative methods.
The constructs described were grouped into three processes: i) for cognitive-
rational process, five scales were developed to represent: critical reflection, action,
Romano, p. 61
experience, disorienting dilemma, and discourse; ii) extrarational process is
comprised of six subscales, namely arts-based learning, dialogue with others,
emotional reactions, imaginal learning, spiritual learning, and soul work; iii)
social critique includes four subscales, namely ideology critique, unveiling
oppression, empowerment, and social action. Outcomes of transformative learning
experiences were grouped in acting differently, having a deeper self-awareness,
and having more open perspectives and experiencing a deep shift in worldview.
The survey was tested in United States and Canada in a pilot study with 136
people2 and was not tested cross-culturally.
A person who engages in replying to the survey receives a score on each scale
by combining his/her responses to the items representing the scale. Outcome
scores indicate the degree to which the person has engaged in transformative
learning in general; the process scores indicate the probable processes a person
undergoes during a revision of perspectives.
The survey may be useful for educators to describe the extent to which a
specific class, in the context of a course, engages in transformative learning and to
convey it in an educational experience (Stuckey, Taylor, Cranton, 2013). The
limitations of this survey are that the qualitative approaches were translated to
quantitative form to perform measurements with tools and techniques that appear
to produce numerical and binary answers. The survey represents the most precise
effort to operationalize the construct of the transformative learning, even if future
tools may be closer to quantifying the outcomes on a graduated scale and
assessing the process of transformative learning experiences or activities. The
instrument has the merit of allowing defining transformative learning on several
dimensions, considering the individual and the social dimension of change and
both the internal and the behavioral dimension of transformation.
The Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education: A Tool for
the Assessment of Students’ Transformative Learning
The VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) is a
campus-based assessment initiative sponsored by AAC&U as part of its Liberal
Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative
(http://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics/). VALUE rubrics and scoring guides provide
tools to assess students’ own authentic work, produced across their diverse
learning progressions and institutions. The scope is to determine whether and how
well students are meeting graduation level achievement in learning outcomes that
both employers and faculty consider essential.
The Student Transformative Learning Record (STLR Rubric) is based on
VALUE rubrics created by the Association of American Colleges and
Universities. In 2007, after several years of experimentation and development
(Cunliff & Hughes, 2011), UCO (University of Oklahoma) formulated an
initiative called “Transformative Learning” (TL), articulated at UCO as a
2 For more details about the development of the survey, see Stuckey, Taylor and Cranton, 2013.
Romano, p. 62
learning-centered education model for all students (Barr & Tagg, 1995). Since
students’ transformative experiences (and hence students’ learning) can take place
both in and out of a traditional classroom, UCO’s approach to TL encompasses all
aspects of students’ learning including curricular, co-curricular, and extra-
curricular activities (Barthell et al., 2010). Students’ transformative experiences
are included in a set of six developing practices, all of which promote high levels
of students’ engagement, high-impact educational practices, service learning and
civic engagement practices of Astin (Astin & Sax, 1998). These six practices are
called the Central Six Tenets of Transformative Learning: 1) Discipline
Knowledge; 2) Leadership; 3) Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activities; 4)
Service Learning and Civic Engagement; 5) Global and Cultural Competencies;
and 6) Health and Wellness.
Assessment of Transformative Learning according to VALUE rubrics is
accomplished with the STLR (the Student Transformative Learning Record)
Rubric. Based on the willingness to create learning activities and expanded
learning environments, following Mezirow’s idea of fostering transformative
learning as teaching for change, the STLR Rubric helps to evaluate students’
progress in the associated Central Six Tenets. The assessment offers a
standardized rating of students’ achievement towards transformative learning and
is documented in transformative learning record. According to the instrument,
student’s major field of study is central to the learning experience and is a vital
part of the Central Six. STLR measures and records students’ transformation
across the five core tenets: Global and Cultural Competencies, Health and
Wellness, Leadership, Research, Creative and Scholarly Activities, Service
Learning and Civic Engagement.
These experiences are recorded in University databases and displayed via
students’ online Dashboard and in their student-built ePortfolios. STLR utilizes
three badge levels for each tenet: exposure, integration and transformation. To
earn a TL badge in Leadership at the exposure level, for example, a student must
successfully demonstrate achievement of the criteria for that badge as measured
with the rubric. Faculty and staff who manage the curricular, co-curricular, and
extra-curricular programs identify activities suitable to meet badge criteria.
Artifacts producted (virtual and material) associated with badge learning
outcomes are captured in e-portfolios along with assessments of student work. The
STLR process is designed to promote student’s participation in transformative
learning experiences, as well as the development of workplace and life skills
competencies. As a student progresses beyond the exposure level, badge criteria
reflect deeper levels of learning, much as upper level courses are more
challenging and complex than lower level courses. Whether students pursue
multiple badges or focus on just one, they will develop many skills and abilities
that employers indicate as critical to successful job performance (Hart Research
Associates, 2013). The connection of so-called “soft skills”3 (often achieved
3 The promotion of the soft-skills required for the labour market are now one of the main interests of
the European educational research, according to the European Qualifications Framework of 2008.
Romano, p. 63
outside the classroom) to success in the workplace is increasingly well established
among surveys of employers (Stratford, 2013). STLR provides a tangible method
for verifying the skills that employers indicate are crucial to career success, thus
providing demonstrable evidence to students, employers, and the public of the
critical added value that high-impact practices bring to a student’s preparation and
career readiness. The evidence of students’ transformative learning as
automatically captured within the STLR e-portfolio may also be replicable by
other colleges. It provides other graduates a means of substantiating to prospective
employers their workplace-ready skills as they customize the presentation of
themselves both on their résumés and as they select key evidence from their e-
portfolios. One of the main values of VALUE Rubric and STLR portfolio is to
take into account students’ process of learning in academia for future professional
development and for their employability.
Conclusions and Future Trajectories
How does one prevent the risk of misuse of transformative learning theory
as an abstract framework for framing each kind of reflective process? Using
multiple data collection pathways, opting for thematic embedding, clarifying the
use of transformative learning theory and attending to feelings are all good
strategies. The instruments presented here sustain educators and teachers to
“unpack” purposes and practices of fostering transformative learning. They assess
dimensions and variables of so-considered effective practices for promoting
transformative learning in formal and informal settings, putting in evidence
successes, strengths and outcomes of transformative educational activities and
risks, challenges and caveats when doing the effort of “teaching for change”
(Taylor, 2009, p. 3).
These instruments represent the effort of going beyond the qualitative
retrospective approach and finding indicators for the critical reflection engaged by
people (students or professionals) in learning experiences. How much of the new
role and new perspectives opened will be integrated into the person and will shape
new pattern of actions? How can we really evaluate the level of significance of an
experience measuring people’s level of change? These tools for the assessment
give good feedbacks for the facilitator/teacher who is involving students in
learning activities, giving the opportunity for tracking the on-going change.
Considering that each educational setting differs from another, transferability of
instrument is not well ensured by just adopting it, but implies considering
sociomaterial conditions, features of the research and educational contexts of use.
Because perspective transformation happens on so many levels (e.g., individual,
organizational, cognitive, affective, behavioral), it may be impossible to develop a
single, generic scale to capture every aspect. Rather, a more useful approach
would be to use instruments that are specific to the type of change sought.
Researchers who would like to commit in assessment of transformative learning
through surveys should first consider factorial validity of instrument, high
correlation between questions, and all the limitations of similar instruments until
validity and reliability has been established. Future research is recommended to
Romano, p. 64
extend these quantitative surveys to other schools and other populations of
learners.This can be the track for next development in transformative learning
theory. The open-inquiry, multi-modal nature of transformative learning defies
most traditional assessment strategies. For example, we could develop a theory-
based list of facets of transformative learning process from a variety of
perspectives, and a theory-based list of outcomes of transformations. A rigorous
psychometric approach could be used to develop, standardize, and validate
instruments that could be used in further research. Surveys can be adopted in
conjunction with other data collection techniques such as interviews or
Triangulation of observation, written, and verbal accounts increases the
chance that our coding efforts actually result in meaning-making. Using multiple
data collection tools enables researchers to understand more of individuals’ social
environment in which reflection takes place. In a study conducted on
transformative potential of the Theatre of the Oppressed methods, used in
educational and formal settings (Romano, 2016), the author adopted a mixed-
methods design with these three instruments:
1. self-reports, journals, logbooks of participants
2. LAS Survey
3. questionnaire on the Theatre of the Oppressed methods (Vittoria, Strollo,
Romano, Brock, 2014). The author combined, for each participant, the outcome of
the administration of the two surveys compared with the analysis of self-reports.
The research questions were whether and how participants had gone through a
process of critical reflection on their assumptions and had an experience of
transformations of meaning perspectives.
According to this review, I suggest the following questions as a track for future
1. When establishing a conceptual transformative learning framework, are you
looking at different traditions and perspectives of critical reflection research?
2. When setting up the research design, are you using multiple data collection
pathways to record and capture meaning-structures on participants’ reflection
processes and outcomes?
3. When stimulating reflection recall during data collection, are you embedding
questions in study-relevant themes?
4. And finally, how are you attending to participants’ feelings in the overall
meaning perspectives’ transformation process?
The search for quantitative survey is the counterpart of deny of the
qualitative retrospective approach that dominated transformative learning theory
until now. However, the search for quantitative measurement of what changed can
foster the mythization of the factish (Gherardi, Landri, 2014) of quantitative
assessment in transformative learning theory. From this perspective, quantitative
Romano, p. 65
surveys are factishes of the effort in standardizing outcomes of perspectives
transformations. In transformative learning theory, perspectives transformations
are “matter of fact,” traces of changes, and result from negotiations of different
perspectives and triggering events. A quantitative survey appears to be means of
validations and promises of statistic accountability for perspectives
transformations. How do quantitative surveys describe and represent
contemporary dilemmas of the discourse of post-Mezirow approach to
transformative learning theory in empirical research and studies? Could surveys
guarantee as garancy of scientific rigor in the future? Right now, it is quite known
that there’s no unanimous agreement between the research community in
transformative learning on what perspective transformations mean.
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Author’s Note: Alessandra Romano works in the Department of Education,
Humanities and Intercultural Communication at the University of Siena.
Citation: Romano, A. (2018). Transformative learning: A review of the
assessment tools. Journal of Transformative Learning, (5)1, 53-70.
Romano, p. 70