Transformative pedagogy

Transformative pedagogy encourages the learner to critically explore attitudes and perspectives, question them in the light of social issues and attain social agency through action. Mezirow, J. and Associates. (2000) identify the following three themes central to the transformative learning framework:

  1. Centrality of experience: The learner’s experiences are the realm wherein learning (and transformation) occurs. This theme establishes a close connection between experiential and transformative learning.
  2. Critical Reflection: The learner examines their assumptions and attitudes critically. One of the primary characteristics of adult learning.
  3. Rational Discourse: The learner engages in dialogue with others in order to recontextualize and transform their experiences.

Taylor, E. W. (1998) argues that rationality although central to Mezirow’s transformative learning framework is less significant in the eyes of other theorists. Mezrow’s critics argue that affective dimensions of knowing play a crucial role in reflective learning. McDrury and Alterio, for instance, argue that emotional discomfort as a prelude to critical reflection is a necessary precondition for critical reflection and transformation. Taylor, E. W. (1998) also argues that other ways of knowing, such as connected knowing and learning through relationships are not necessarily rational (as defined by Mezirow) but they are necessary for the occurrence of transformative learning.

Meyers, Steven A. (2010) provides the following basic principles of using the transformative learning framework in online courses:

  1. Creating a safe environment
  2. Encouraging students to think about their experiences, beliefs, and biases
  3. Using teaching strategies that promote student engagement and participation
  4. Posing real-world problems that address societal inequalities
  5. Helping students implement action-oriented solutions.



Meyers, Steven A. (2010) Using Transformative Pedagogy When Teaching Online. College Teaching, 56:4, 219-224

Mezirow, J. and Associates. (2000) Learning as transformation: critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Taylor, E. W. (1998) The theory and practice of transformative learning: A critical review. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, Center on Education and Training for Employment, Ohio State University.
Veletsianos, G. (2011). Designing Opportunities for Transformation with Emerging Technologies. Educational Technology, 51(2), 41-46.

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