A Holistic Framework for Transformational Learning

8 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2019

See all articles by Joseph W. Harder

Joseph W. Harder

Darden School of Business of Business Administration; Spirit of the New Workplace, LLC

Peter J. Robertson

University of Southern California - Sol Price School of Public Policy

Stephen E. Maiden

Independent

Abstract

Knowledge, creativity, adaptability, and the ability to learn are critical necessities in a world in which the pace of change is accelerating. Many of us will choose to or be required to make a career pivot, in which we must reassess our aptitudes, interests, and priorities. It is in these junctures that significant, positive change is possible. This is where transformational learning can occur.This note offers a framework that encourages the deep learning required for transformational change. Specifically, this note argues for a holistic approach that explicitly focuses on the four aspects of being: body, mind, heart, and soul. Learning typically follows one of four modalities: lecture/discussion, physical/recreational, experiential/relational, and reflective/meditative. This note proposes a two-dimensional transformational learning matrix for generating ideas about the kinds of topics, issues, and activities to be considered in a holistic learning approach.

Excerpt

UVA-OB-1281

Feb. 14, 2019

A Holistic Framework for Transformational Learning

In the information age, knowledge, creativity, and adaptability are increasingly valuable qualities for individuals and organizations to nurture. Learning, and the ability to learn, are critical necessities in a world in which the pace of change is accelerating. Many people will choose or be required to change careers at least once, if not more often, before they retire. In this context, lifelong learning is becoming a prerequisite to long-term health and well-being. There often comes a point in life where we must reassess our aptitudes, interests, and priorities during a career pivot. It is in these junctures that significant, positive change is possible. This is where transformational learning can occur.

Transformational change can be abrupt. Normal learning patterns, which beget more incremental adjustments, may suddenly enter a transformational period where radical changes may take place. One researcher called this a “punctuated equilibrium” pattern of change. This distinction between incremental and transformational change has been apparent in human learning for quite some time. Amir Levy, for example, differentiated between first- and second-order change, arguing that the latter is deeper than the former in that it entails changes in paradigm, mission, purpose, and core processes. Similarly, Chris Argyris and Donald A. Schön contrasted single-loop learning with double-loop learning. In single-loop learning, the learner assumes a goal and focuses on improving performance toward that goal. In double-loop learning, the learner asks a deeper question: Is the goal or objective still viable or appropriate in light of current circumstances?

This note offers a learning framework that encourages deeper, double-loop learning. With more people confronting the challenge of making significant changes in their lives more frequently, a learning modality that encourages second-order change has never been more important. Specifically, this note argues for a holistic approach that explicitly focuses on the four aspects of being: body, mind, heart, and soul. Learning typically follows one of four modalities: lecture/discussion, physical/recreational, experiential/relational, and reflective/meditative. This note proposes a two-dimensional transformational learning matrix for generating ideas about the kinds of topics, issues, and activities to be considered in a holistic learning approach.

Keywords: transformational learning, double-loop learning, holistic learning, team learning, career change, Eastern philosophy, New Age

Suggested Citation

Harder, Joseph W. and Robertson, Peter J. and Maiden, Stephen E., A Holistic Framework for Transformational Learning. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-1281. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3335540

Joseph W. Harder (Contact Author)

Darden School of Business of Business Administration ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434.974-1940 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/html/direc_detail.aspx?styleid=2&id=4371

Spirit of the New Workplace, LLC ( email )

445 Mallard Lake Drive
Earlysville, VA 22936
United States
434-249-4939 (Phone)

Peter J. Robertson

University of Southern California - Sol Price School of Public Policy ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States

Stephen E. Maiden

Independent

No Address Available

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