Transformation Learning: How adults actually learn


It’s 2017. Isn’t it about time for us to design all courses and programs based on how adults actually learn? And not on how we want to teach them?

The days of the ‘expert instructor who knows all’ is long gone with the democratization of information (aka the internet). While we value the experience and knowledge of experts, we understand that deep learning goes beyond quality content.

To simplify the deeper science underlying the theory founded by Jack Mezirow*, we break up adult learning into 4 main elements which we refer to as Learn. Think. Apply. Share. It’s rooted in Mezirow’s work on the importance of critical reflection, behavioral change through application and group dialogue to deepen the learning experience.

For us, the concept of Learn. Think. Apply. Share. brings theory to life.


Learn is about studying new or revisiting known concepts and ideas. This can be through multiple methods. How do you consume new content? Videos? Articles? Guest speakers? Case Studies? Podcasts? Truth is we absorb new information from multiple sources.


Think is about critical reflection and triggering the learner to make meaning of what they have just learned. This can be through reflection or assessing understanding of content. Writing our thoughts and feelings down is a powerful way of internalizing information.


Apply is about putting the concepts and ideas into practice to ultimately drive behavior change. This is when learning is internalized and becomes part of your ‘be-ing’ and is truly yours. Even deciding to take an action starts to trigger the process of changing our thought processes and pushes us towards shifting our actions. 


Share is empowering individuals to share, like and post their learnings with others to create a powerful peer learning community. When we share with others and get feedback, it furthers our depth of understanding.

The time for us to be more fully engaged in our learning using multiple senses and methods has come. We believe in designing holistic experiences to guide our learners to not just learn, but to think and apply their learnings in their daily decisions and actions. This is where the real impact is.

How are you designing transformative learning experiences for your adult

*Acknowledged as the founder of transformative learning. As we cannot do full justice to the concept of transformative learning here in this short article, we will continue the series by discussing the evolving role of the educator and the learner in future pieces.

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So-Young Kang