Transformative Learning Around Issues of Language and Culture Among ESL Teachers

Open Access
Schmick, Dara Pachence
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 25, 2014
Committee Members:
  • Elizabeth Jean Tisdell, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Edward W Taylor, Committee Member
  • Karin Sprow Forte, Committee Member
  • Patricia Johnson, Committee Member
  • Transformative Learning
  • Langauge
  • Culture
  • English as a Second Language
  • ESL Teachers
  • Online Learning
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the significant teaching and learning experiences of ESL teachers around the issues of culture and language. The theoretical framework of the study was informed by transformative learning theory. The study began with semi-structured in-depth interviews with twelve teachers who obtained their ESL certificate from an ESL endorsement program. Sources of data included these transcribed interviews. The findings of the study are organized into two major areas relating to: learning in context and possible dimensions of transformative learning. Findings relating to learning in context highlight two primary areas: negotiating the online learning environment; and the disorienting but beneficial learning experience of the English Language Structure course. The second major set of findings in regard to the possible dimensions of transformative learning include three primary findings relating to: participants’ deeper understanding of language and culture, particularly through relationships with ESL students and families that promoted the greater development of empathy; the communicative dimensions of teaching and learning; and the limited dimensions of artistic ways of knowing that were present in the study. The study ends with a consideration of findings in light of the theory and offers implications for theory, practice and suggestions for further research.