A defining condition of being human is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience. For some, any uncritically assimilated explanation by an authority figure will suffice. But in contemporary societies we must learn to make our own interpretations rather than act on the purposes, beliefs, judgments, and feelings of others. Facilitating such understandings is the cardinal goal of adult education. Transformative learning develops autonomous thinking.
Since first introduced by Jack Mezirow in 1978, the concept of transformative learning has been a topic of research and theory building in the field of adult education. Although Mezirow is considered to be the major developer of transformative learning theory, other perspectives about transformative learning–influenced by the work of Robert Boyd–are emerging. Following a discussion of transformative learning as conceptualized by Mezirow, this Digest describes research and theory building by Robert Boyd and its influence on current perspectives of transformative learning. Some suggestions for fostering transformative learning conclude the Digest.