First Advisor

Susan Lenski

Date of Publication

Summer 7-16-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Transformative learning, Foreign study, College students -- Attitudes, Multicultural education, Race awareness



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 491 pages)


Transformative learning theory (TLT) describes the process of reframing discriminative, untenable worldviews with a more inclusive, permeable, and reflective epistemology. Although TLT has been around for more than 50 years, few studies empirically engage critical theoretical frameworks to move beyond personal learning to identify the impacts of transformation on society. Through a critical race theory (CRT) framework, this study analyzed how the participants' socio-cultural identities (race, class, gender, sexuality, and heritage language) impacted the transformative learning of eight study-abroad students from a medium-sized, rural Midwestern university. Focusing on the extent to which the participants experienced the elements of transformative learning during a month-long study-abroad experience in Spain, this project explored what the experience of traveling to an "other" place and experiencing "otherness" had on transformative learning. This qualitative study drew from extensive ethnographic observations, photo analysis, and informal, semi-formal, and focus-group interviews. During the study, the researcher analyzed data to construct codes and categories for further analysis, incorporating multiple member-checks to promote the narratives of the participants. Following data collection, the researcher used constructivist grounded theory to further scrutinize the data searching for salient themes and patterns connected to the research questions. Race and class privilege (or marginalization) had an impact on the study-abroad participants' worldviews and transformative learning. Participants from backgrounds of racial and class privilege experienced transformations that were deeply engaging on a personal level, but were not motivated toward more justified beliefs or action toward others. In contrast, participants from backgrounds of lesser socio-cultural privilege demonstrated increased critical social reflection and transformative outcomes, both personal and social. These findings led the researcher to question if there might be more effective avenues toward critical social transformation than the pedagogy of the privileged of travel for transformation.


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