From disorientation to reintegration : an exploratory investigation of mature students' engagement in transformative learning

Moloney, Andrea and Lackovic, Natasa (2018) From disorientation to reintegration : an exploratory investigation of mature students' engagement in transformative learning. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Mezirow describes transformative learning, which originates with the study of adults in the U.S. returning to full-time higher education, as learning that transforms problematic frames of reference to make them more inclusive, discriminating, reflective, open and emotionally able to change. This thesis explores the level of engagement with transformative learning of fulltime mature students at three Irish Institutes of Technology. An extensive review of higher education, learning theory and transformative learning literatures along with an exploration of the Head, Heart and Hands (3H) Model of transformative learning, provide the theoretical framework for this research while highlighting the limited exploration of transformative learning in an Irish higher education research context. Mezirow’s 10 phases of transformative learning are traced, utilising a mixed methods research design, through the narratives of fulltime mature students, using reflective accounts and photo elicitation interviews. A number of over-arching issues are identified including triggers of transformative learning, such as unemployment, in addition to enablers, including government funding and challenges of such experiences, for example, self-doubt. Significant evidence of transformative learning is found in this research, and the implications of this for mature students, including a necessity for colleges to increase their focus on the specific needs of mature students, are examined. The integration of the theoretical foundations and empirical findings leads to a key conclusion, that the concept of transformative learning cannot be over-simplified into the achievement of a series of ten phases. This resulted in an expansion of the 3Hs to a 4H Model, and the development of a multi-theory full-time mature student learning model. Final conclusions are presented illustrating the complexity of full-time mature student learning. A range of recommendations are made including a deeper appreciation of the ways mature students learn and increasing support for mature students in their transition to full-time higher education.

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Thesis (PhD)
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17 May 2019 09:10
Last Modified:
11 Jun 2024 23:30