Mezirow in 1978 said: “Only through reflection, active learning, and placing ourselves in an uncomfortable situation are we fully able to develop our understanding of the world and of ourselves”.
Then Transformative learning means we construct our knowledge based on our experiences in the world, it is achieved when a change occurs to our frame of reference as a result of an event or experience.
According Mezirow we define our world based on our frame of reference, where a change occurs to our frame of reference, we can expect to see a subsequent change in action.
There are four stages:
- Elaborate our existing point of view
- Establish a new point of view
- Transform our point of view or
- Become aware of the world around us and be critically reflective of our environment and actions.
Our ability to change our frame of reference allows us to build professional competencies such as analytical problem solving, planning and organizing, communication, teamwork and global understanding.
Transformative learning encourages us to be more inclusive, self-reflective and integrative. Here there are three methods for the transformation: learning through a task, communication to understand and to help others to understand, and independence to understand individually the perspectives.
Study abroad is a context where we have this transformative learning: our meaning structures culturally acquired suffer an alteration. Then the students experience a perspective transformation, and their new structure will be more inclusive, differentiating, permeable, critically reflective and integrative of experience.
To achieve growth and learning we must be conscious of our own assumptions and the assumptions of others.
Experiential learning is a way to learn, but also a way of connecting with the community.
Experiences are not educational in their own right, but rather need to be reflected upon and analyzed until learning is achieved. Experiences have the potential to become knowledge if they are applied and tested through actions.
There is a four stage process to go through before experiential learning can be said to have been achieved. First, students must have a concrete experience, second, students should achieve a reflective observation of the event that occurred, third, students need to abstractly conceptualize
what can be learned from the experience, before finally actively experimenting with the knowledge they have gained until it has been grounded solidly into what is known about the world.
Studying abroad, experiential learning has an impact on an individual’s ability to understand globally complex and it plays a critical role in the values and behaviors that students take from study abroad programs.
Transformative and experiential learning maximize the educational outcomes for the students who have to interact with the world, critically reflect and analyze their experiences before taking new actions.
Working all these aspects with the study abroad program leaders, it will help to get a transformative experience through an experiential learning program.
Fuente: HANNAH STRANGE, University of Florida