Bierema, L. L., & Merriam, S. B. (2014).

Transformative learning. In Adult learning: linking theory and practice (pp. 82-103). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

The authors attempt to define what transformative learning is (cognitive, beyond rational, and for social change). They identify where it can happen (at the individual level, within classroom and online settings, in the workplace, and in the community). They then provide suggestions for how to foster it (through critical reflection, storytelling and other ‘nonrational’ forms, social interaction, and the creation of ‘sacred’ spaces, and how to evaluate it (through interviews with learners, self-evaluation, and other techniques – though caution is advised as to deciding when and whether to evaluate it). Finally, the authors present some challenges to the theory (lack of specific definitions of what is being transformed, where it is happening, how it is defined, and ethical questions around the educator’s responsibility beyond the transformative experience).

Bolton, G. (2014).

Reflective practice: An introduction. In Reflective practice: Writing and professional development (4th ed.) (pp. 1-20). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Cranton, P. (2013).

Adult learning theory. In T. Nesbit, S. M. Brigham, N. Taber, & T. Gibb (Eds.), Building on critical traditions: Adult education and learning in Canada (pp. 95–106). Toronto, Canada: Thompson.

Elias, J. L., & Merriam, S. B. (2005).

Introduction: Philosophy of adult education. In Philosophical foundations of adult education (3rd ed., pp. 1-16). Malabar, FL: Krieger.

In the introductory chapter to this informative book, the authors discuss the links between philosophy and practice and the influence and benefit of grounding practice in philosophy. They introduce the seven philosophies of adult education (Liberal, Behaviorist, Progressive, Humanistic, Radical, Analytic, Postmodern) further discussed in the rest the book.

Fletcher, D. and associates (2014).

Program manual: Facilitation and training approaches for community change. Coady International Institute.

Groen, J., & Kawalilak, C. (2014).

The big four adult learning theories. In Pathways of adult learning: Professional and education narratives (pp. 137-160). Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Hope, A., & Timmel, S. (1995).

Training for transformation : A handbook for community workers (Rev. ed.). Gweru: Mambo Press.

Mezirow, J. (1978).

Perspective transformation. Adult Education Quarterly, 28(2), 100-110.

Mezirow, J. (2012).

Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformation theory. In E. W. Taylor, P. Cranton, & Associates (Eds.), The handbook of transformative learning (pp. 73-95). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

This lengthy essay reads somewhat as a further clarification of and evolution in Mezirow’s thinking about transformative learning and transformation theory, and somewhat as a response to some of the critiques raised against his thinking. He covers a vast array of ideas, from defining the purposes and importance of transformative learning, to discussing the methods by which the process of transformation may occur and the preconditions that enable it, to explaining the importance and the process of meaning making. It’s a pretty heavy read which needs to be slogged through and read several times to fully make sense of all that is being offered, but it is a foundational and essential reading to appreciate Mezirow’s thinking on the theory he founded.