Transformative Experience: An Integrative Construct in the Spirit of Deweyan Pragmatism

Transformative Experience: An Integrative Construct in the Spirit of Deweyan Pragmatism

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A sentiment held by Dewey and shared by other educators is that learning should enrich and expand everyday experience. However, this goal has not been a focus of research. In this article, I propose transformative experience as a construct capable of reflecting this goal and functioning as an empirical research construct. I discuss the theoretical grounding for this construct in the work of Dewey and define it in terms of three characteristics: (a) motivated use, (b) expansion of perception, and (c) experiential value. In doing so, I describe how transformative experience integrates current research constructs such as transfer, conceptual change, and task value in a holistic way. I then provide illustrations of transformative experiences and review the existing research.

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2011