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Exploring How Transformative Learning Can Improve Academic Effectiveness

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

WELLESLEY HILLS (February 20, 2018) - During her first sabbatical, Dr. Kate Duchainey Chair of the Business Department at MassBay Community College, explored implementing an adult learning theory known as transformative learning in the classroom to observe if this type of learning would improve student outcomes by increasing critical thinking and giving the students a different perspective in the classroom. What she found was, yes, having students use the process of rethinking the norm to change thoughts and believes based on the new knowledge improved students’ academic outcomes.

To prepare for the sabbatical, Dr. Duchainey administered the Kings’ Learning Activities Survey (LAS) to a random group of students in business classes, surveying if a student’s perspective was changed at any time during their learning experience. The goal of the survey was to investigate whether influences from classroom learning caused a transformation among adult learners participating in a classroom setting. She then examined how implementing transformative learning into business classes would foster a more efficient and successful student and/or future employee. What Dr. Duchainey found was overwhelmingly 80% of students said a teacher influenced a change.

The focus of her sabbatical research found the inclusion of transformative learning in a classroom added to the subject matter curriculum and may have transformed a student to a higher functioning student/employee and created a competitive advantage for the student and the school. She discovered transformative learning focuses more on theory formulation and must have the involvement of the facilitator and the student. Through her research she implemented this technique into her teaching and when immersed into her curriculum in Fall 2017, she was amazed at the increased grade point averages for the entire class by the semesters end.

Dr. Duchainey has added a transformative learning segment in her classroom teaching, resulting in a more active classroom. The transformative learning curriculum requires the student to explore new roles and relationships through dialogue. She found the first few weeks are an adjustment for students while learning the new process. However, once the process is in full swing students enjoy the class and learn from each other, resulting in better academics.

“It was very exciting returning to MassBay after my sabbatical,” said Dr. Duchainey. “From my research I was anxious to observe the results of implementing the theory of transformative learning into the classroom. Through observation and grading this was a success! Students experienced improvements to self-efficacy, a deeper understanding of oneself, and awareness of personal growth. I look forward to continuing the theory in my traditional classrooms. For the future, I will implement the theory in my online classes.”