This post-intentional phenomenological study examined the phenomenon of shifting perspectives as it took shape for six adult learners through a graduate-level, online parent-child interaction course (Vagle, 2014a). Learning in adulthood is not a neutral endeavor, but rather a process involving the assimilation of new information to fit with prior knowledge, assumptions, and practices. Acquiring content expertise and developing proficiency in professional skills alone may transfer to practice, but in a manner that supports one's current frame of reference, which may perpetuate narrow minded and/or rigid beliefs (Kumashiro, 2002). Therefore, adult learners must be guided to critically examine preconceptions in order to recognize and revise faulty assumptions and narrow views, which may lead to the development of competencies that are more thoughtful, justified, and inclusive (Mezirow, 2012). Conceptual change and transformative learning theories provide useful frameworks for understanding and investigating how this type of learning may be promoted and investigated in higher education settings (Mezirow, 2000; Strike & Posner, 1985). This study aimed to understand how shifting perspectives took shape for adult learners through a graduate-level, online parent-child interaction course designed to promote change and transformation with pre-service parent educators and others who plan to support families in a professional capacity. Additionally, this study explored the topics about which participants shifted their perspectives, and ways in which the learning environment may have contributed. Data was gathered retrospectively in the form of students' written participation in the online course Moodle site, and analyzed using a whole-parts-whole phenomenological approach (Vagle, 2014a). Findings depict the phenomenon of shifting perspectives as taking shape through four tentative manifestations: 1) moving through multiple contexts and relationships, 2) distancing and taking ownership, 3) experiencing cognitive-affective conflict, and 4) broadening horizons. Embedded in these dimensions are findings revealing that participants' shifted perspectives regarding topics related to parent-child interaction content and parent educator practice. Furthermore, shifting perspectives was supported by ongoing opportunities for both peer dialogue and personal reflection within a process-oriented learning environment that encouraged deep engagement in rich course material. Study implications inform pedagogical practices which may promote shifting perspectives with adult learners in higher education settings.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. April 2015. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Susan Walker. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 184 pages.
Shifting Perspectives of Adult Learners Through a Graduate-Level Parent-Child Interaction Course: A Post-Intentional Phenomenological Investigation.
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