Learning from Reflections: Reconceptualising Professional Development as Transformative Learning

Caroline COTTMAN
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
ccottman@usc.edu.au

Maxine MITCHELL
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Mitchell@usc.edu.au

Abstract

This showcase presentation is framed on the central tenet of 'educators are learners' and the reciprocal nature of learning in the Foundations of University Teaching (FUT) professional development course offered to academics. The authors, as self-reflective practitioners, team teach in the course, and model the four key steps of the transformative learning process:

(a) trigger a disorienting dilemma,
(b) promote critical reflection,
(c) engage in discourse with others, and
(d) enable action (Henderson, 2010).

These steps underpin the authors' individual and shared transformative epistemological stance and serve to guide the curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment of FUT. The authors, in pushing the boundaries of transformative learning with their students (peers), came to the realisation that they too were experiencing transformation. This emerged as inner discomforts which led to critical self-reflection, being opened to cross-disciplinary scholarly discourse, and embracing continuous incremental action. In other words, in fully committing to transformative learning to challenge the students taken-for-granted assumptions, the educators' own self-awareness illuminated their 'habits of mind' (Cranton, 2000; Mezirow, 2000). This resulted in the sense that the course, while effecting deep-seated perspective transformation in the students, was authenticating the foundations of the educator's life and work (Palmer, 2007).

Taking on Brookfield's (1995) four lenses of critical reflection (self, student, peer and scholarly discourse) the showcase presentation will take an 'as-lived 'experience approach, which looks at the ways of educators as learners rethinking professional development to support practitioners as they continue to learn through their working lives (Webster-Wright, 2009).

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