From barriers to breakthroughs: Student experiences of the RRU learning model

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Walinga, Jennifer
Harris, Brigitte
Education, Higher
Royal Roads University
This narrative inquiry examines students’ stories of transformative learning. The paper describes the constructivist, social constructionist, and transdisciplinary theoretical roots of Royal Roads University’s Learning and Teaching Model. It also reviews the literature on transformative learning, stages of change, change readiness, and transformative change facilitation models. Five hundred and sixty students in the Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Management (MAELM), Master of Arts in Professional Communication (MAPC), Master of Arts in Intercultural and International Communication (MAIIC), and Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL) programs were invited to participate in an anonymous survey to elicit their perceptions and stories. We received 94 responses, which were analysed for themes and insights into the meaning-making processes. Eight stages of transformative learning were identified: (1) a disorienting dilemma, (2) a threat or challenge which presented an opportunity to reflect, (3) a conscious choice to reflect and problem solve, (4) questioning of assumptions, (5) releasing old ways of knowing, (6) reaching a new level of consciousness or insight, (7) feelings of satisfaction and freedom and/or sadness, and (8) enduring change. Students experienced disequilibrium as a result of struggling to make meaning of an unfamiliar learning environment that deliberately fosters questioning of assumptions. This struggle triggered deep learning and, ultimately, transformation, as predicted in the literature. For our participants, however, the reward was in the new consciousness. This study both affirms the utility of transformative learning and helps us to better understand the student experience. This increased understanding will allow us to better support students on their learning journey.
Part I: Learner Experiences and Outcomes
Harmful Language Statement