Monday, February 4, 2013

An Introduction to Transformational Teaching

Transformational teaching is a new approach to teaching, which draws on existing approaches, such as active learning, student-centered learning, collaborative learning, experiential learning, problem-solving learning, and problem-based learning, all of which have been discussed extensively on this blog. It also synthesizes several learning theories, such as constructivism, social constructivism, social cognitive theory, transformative learning theory, intentional change theory, and transformational leadership. A good introduction to transformative learning appears in Transformational Teaching: Theoretical Underpinnings, Basic Principles, and Core Methods by George M. Slavich & Philip G. Zimbardo, 24 Educational Psychology Review 569-608 (2012) (online here).

These authors "define transformational teaching as the expressed or unexpressed goal to increase students’ mastery of key course concepts while transforming their learning-related attitudes, values, beliefs, and skills." They continue, it "involves creating dynamic relationships between teachers, students, and a shared body of knowledge in a way that promotes student learning and personal growth." They add, "Instructors assume the traditional role of facilitating students’ acquisition of core course concepts, but they do so while promoting students’ personal development and enhancing their disposition toward learning." Transformational teachers "view courses as stages upon which life-changing experiences occur."

The basic principles of transformational teaching are: 1) facilitate students’ acquisition and mastery of key course concepts, 2) embrace students’ strategies and skills for learning and discovery, and 3) promote positive learning-related attitudes, values, and beliefs in students. Specific techniques include: 1) establishing a shared vision for the course, 2) providing modeling and mastery experiences, 3) intellectually challenging and encouraging students, 4) personalizing attention and feedback, 5) creating experiential lessons that transcend the boundaries of the classroom, and 6) promoting ample opportunities for preflection and reflection.

In sum, transformational teaching combines the best teaching techniques with a concern for the whole student. Advocates of this approach consider teaching life-changing.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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Hi Scott,

Great post. I have always considered teaching to be a transformational profession. In law, as in life, all change begins from the inside out. Unless we engage with students about their internal attitudes and beliefs, we will not be able to help them grow personally or professionally. Thank you for getting this important information into the conversation.

Posted by: Laurie Morin | Feb 5, 2013 7:40:05 AM

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