Free Essay Sample on Theories of Change

Published: 2017-09-18
Free Essay Sample on Theories of Change
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Psychology Personality Personal experience
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1463 words
13 min read

Personal experiences and your value system make up who you are today. The individuals you interact with, the schools you attended, the family you associate with, and the everyday challenges and opportunities you face make up the core of your individuality. These personal perspectives, whether you admit it or not, contribute to your teaching practices and approaches in the classroom. Various theories have been developed by people in their attempt to explain how personal experiences and individual values make up a person. This entry discusses some of the three theories of transformative learning and change management.

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The first theory is Jack Mezirow’s theory (Lundgren & Poell, 2016). This theory was developed two decades ago and has since evolved to become a more complete and involved tool that is used to explain how people interpret, prove and change the meaning and applications of their personal experiences. Jack Mezirow used three main themes to describe the mechanisms that lead to transformational learning. The first topic was experienced that he explained that a person’s experience provides the essential beginning point of all the changes that they will go through in their lives. The second theme, critical reflection, was a differentiating tool. It explained why people tend to behave and react differently to different scenarios in life. Critical thinking told why people view the world differently and therefore will tend to conform to it depending on where their interest lies.

Lastly, Mezirow argued that rational discourse was the catalyst for all the changes that people undergo. Intelligent discussion induces the various life explorations and the view of the world in people and thereby causing them to choose and make sure decisions that affect how they will live their lives. He, therefore, stated that for an individual to transform their beliefs, attitudes and emotions, they must critically reflect on their life experiences and make a rational decision about them. As strengths, the theory has comprehensively explained change and transformation that people go through. It identified three themes that can define the changes (Lundgren & Poell, 2016).

The weakness of this theory is that it fails to be so willing to let their experiences transform them. That is why someone would let what they have already gone through determining who they become when it is always inspiring to try out new methods of doing things and learning. Secondly, the reflection and discourse are factors that can be quickly shifted in the life of a person. This means that the time interval between them may not be enough to allow for any evident transformation in anyone. And lastly, the theory emphasizes so much on the experiences and live events of the person to cause the conversion. It, however, does not consider communication between people and interaction with the natural environment that are also an important tool that is taken into consideration when analyzing how people change (Lundgren & Poell, 2016).

The second theory was developed by Robert D. Boyd. This was an observe, orient, decide and act theory (OODA). Boyd argued that transformation is caused by one's personal visions. The images involved the decisions about one’s dilemma and the expansion of the consciousness that result in much larger personality integration. Normally the resources that an individual can use in developing their personal visions are images, archetypes, and other symbols. In the process of transformation, the person must receive and accept alternative statements of meaning and then accept that the information contained in the declaration is accurate and valid. Boyd argued that grieving as the greatest catalyst of the perception process, especially when the individual realized that old methods of doing things are outdated and therefore there is a need to develop and use new and more efficient methods, which they finally integrated as part of their behaviors (Boyd et al., 2015).

The strengths of this theory are that, first, in the opinion, the person has compared both the past and the current methods of doing things. This means that the personal reasons for transformation can be established. Also, the theory considers the emotions of the people involved. This means that the conversion may not affect the person negatively but will only make them grow to be better. Lastly, the temporal conflicts that are emphasized by the theory promote creativity and innovation among people as they attempt to develop new methods of doing things.

The weaknesses of this approach are that it fails to explain how the mental images that people construct in their heads are shaped by their cultural beliefs, experiences and genetic heritage. The theory also emphasizes so much on temporal conflicts that may be adverse to the society in general (Boyd et al., 2015).

The main differences between the two theories are that unlike Mezirow’s theory that considered ego as a crucial factor in transformation, Boyd’s theory uses logic and reason to explain the change. Also, as opposed to Mezirow, Boyd believed that emotions rather than experience rational discourse and critical thinking, are the primary cause of change. Lastly, Boyd’s theory augured that the desired transformations were no so much automatic but depended on so much of the relationship between people. However, both of the theories uses the element of experience to explain the change. For instance, in Boyd’s theory, the person has to evaluate the past actions to determine their future and current course of action. In the same way, Mezirow based all his arguments of previous experience on being the role cause of transformation.

Lastly, was the theory developed by Edmund O'Sullivan (O'Sullivan et al., 2015). The theory argued that change entails going through a structural shift in one’s feeling, actions, and even thoughts. When these are altered or affected by the activities in the world, then the person is likely to go through a shift in their conscious and their view of the world. Such changes may involve better understanding of oneself, relationships with other people and improved understanding of people’s race, class, body, visions, and gender. In so doing, the person is likely to conform to new methods of living. Also, they will be able to accept social justice and the importance of peaceful coexistence and personal joy between people (O'Sullivan et al., 2015).

However, feeling and thoughts and actions are continually divergent. Therefore, the theory fails to incorporate how these drastic changes in one's feelings may cause drastic transformation since conversion is usually a slow and continuous process that needs time. Also, people’s actions are commonly controlled by certain rules and norms in the society. This, therefore, means that for a change to be active; it must agree with the current laws and this might always be-be the case. The theory, however, considers one's conscious, an element that is vital for anyone to accept change (Neill, 2015).

The three arguments compare in that they all involve a systematic step. They all recognize the fact that change is a gradual process and needs time. They all consider both the past and the present state of mind of the people involved. People do not just wake up one morning and transform. They have to evaluate their lives and see the need for the change. However, they all vary regarding the catalysts that cause the change. For instance, while Mezirow based all his arguments of change on experience, Boyd on personal vision, O'Sullivan believed so much on feeling, actions and thoughts to be the cause of transformation in an individual and therefore cause a permanent change in postsecondary institutions.


Lundgren, H., & Poell, R. F. (2016). On Critical Reflection A Review of Mezirow’s Theory and Its Operationalization. Human Resource Development Review, 15(1), 3-28.

Boyd, W. L., Crowson, R. L., & Mawhinney, H. M. (2015). The politics of education and the new institutionalism: Reinventing the American school. Routledge.

O'Sullivan, J. A., Shamma, S. A., & Lalor, E. C. (2015). Evidence for neural computations of temporal coherence in an auditory scene and their enhancement during active listening. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(18), 7256-7263.

Neill, E. (2015). Oakeshott, Modernity, and Cold War Liberalism. In Michael Oakeshott’s Cold War Liberalism (pp. 39-63). Palgrave Macmillan US.

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