Designing Curricula for Fostering Transformative Learning

By Larry Riggs and Sandra Hellyer-Riggs.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Transformative education is the process of encouraging students to change from being receptacles of knowledge to more meaningful learning through considering diverse viewpoints and questioning their own beliefs, values, and assumptions. Students need a safe environment where they self-reflect and develop hypotheses, test solutions, explore diverse opinions, and become truly engaged in the learning process. Students come to any class with different experiences, prior knowledge, abilities, learning styles, attitudes toward gender and diversity, and personal and social values. The entire person is brought to the learning environment: values and the full gamut of particular life world circumstances, including cognitive dispositions. Whether they realize it or not, students are emotionally, as well as intellectually, committed to certain ideologies and narratives that support particular versions of truth and meaning. By designing a curriculum and classroom that fosters reflection on values and on diverse versions of the truth, transformative learning and personal growth can flourish.

This paper presents ideas about how to design the curriculum and the classroom to foster transformative learning in two different content areas. Different pedagogical practices, appropriate to different kinds of courses. One key is focusing on the students’ process from identifying topics of particular interest through hypothesis formulation and development of research strategies. One author teaches in a Department of Educational Psychology at a large, public university. The other author teaches a required core curriculum course for sophomore students on Global and Historical Studies at a small, private, comprehensive university. Both have encountered obstacles and opportunities in their efforts to understand and implement transformative learning and are committed to designing a learning process that features experiencing, conceptualizing, analyzing, and applying both new information and new ways of coming to know.

Keywords: Designing Curricula, Transforming Learning, Hypothesis Development, Pedagogical Practices, Testing Hypotheses

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.629-638. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.063MB).

Dr. Larry Riggs

Professor, Modern Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Larry W. Riggs earned his doctorate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is Professor of French and head of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Butler University. He also teaches in the Interdisciplinary Global and Historical Studies program. Although his principal research specialty is early modern French literature, Dr. Riggs is the author of books and essays on subjects ranging from Montaigne to Kafka, and from cultural studies, literary theory, cinema, and most recently Transformative Learning.

Dr. Sandra Hellyer-Riggs

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA

Sandra Hellyer-Riggs earned her doctorate in Higher Education from Indiana University. She has taught in the College of Education at Butler University and in the Department of Educational Psychology at Ball State University. She teaches Developmental Psychology, Tests and Measurements, and Behavioral Analysis. Her research interests are student diversity and transformational learning.


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