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ERIC Number: ED546995
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 253
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2675-1298-7
Learning from Disaster: The Learning Environment of the 2006 Rutgers University Hurricane Katrina Relief Project and How Service Learning Generates Transformative Learning: A Case Study
Heilman, Donald C.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick
Problem: The study primarily focused on how a Service Learning project resulted in a Transformative Learning experience. The sample was drawn from 82 participants from Rutgers University who took part in a week-long alternative Spring Break community service project in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2006. Interviews were conducted about their experiences, their perceptions of the learning environment encountered, and its resultant perceived impact on their previously held beliefs, assumptions and perceptions as a result of the experience. Using purposeful sampling, the richest examples and a descriptive case study methodology described in greater detail below, the study was conducted to better understand how specific elements of the experiential learning environment of this experience generated, stimulated or facilitated those changes in previously held beliefs, assumptions and perceptions reported by the participants. Of particular interest was an effort to determine how participants described experiences derived from the actual setting, living and working conditions created by the Service Learning experience and its relationship to, and effects on, their own Transformative Learning experience. Methodology: Participants were interviewed by various methods over a three-year period following the experience. Sixteen participants responded to an email interview. Using grounded theory, 28 semi-formal audio and audio/video interviews were conducted. Of these two prime sources, interviews from 26 different individuals who went to New Orleans as part of the Rutgers-Cook College Hurricane Katrina Relief Project were selected for value. Private journals, field notes, articles and photographs produced by the participants as well as the field notes, articles and journal of the primary researcher were used. The data was coded for relevance to specific examples of elements of the experiential learning environment, which the participants claimed, created, stimulated or facilitated their individual Transformative Learning experiences. Once these elements of the learning environment were identified, purposeful sampling and the richest examples were extracted from the data to describe these elements and their claimed impact. Photographs that depict the elements were selected for their illustrative value using the same method. These specific examples of the learning environment and their relationship to impact were then also evaluated for relevance to the model for processing Transformative Learning as a result of Service Learning experiences developed by Kiely (2005) and evaluated for their relevance to specific Phases of Transformative Learning as defined by Mezirow and Associates (2000) and Mezirow (2003). Significance: Transformative Learning is a relatively new field and not well understood. Its exploration remains in a state of discovery. Kiely (2005) states that it is not well understood how Service Learning experiences generate Transformative Learning experience. The current study is an effort to answer such questions as: "How did certain elements of the learning environment of this particular Service Learning experience produce a Transformative Learning experience for these individuals?" Kiely writes that (a) few studies have dealt with traditionally-aged college students (18-23 years old), (b) all the studies that he could locate dealt with experiences related to in-class subject matter, (c) all seemed to have been pre-planned to collect Transformative Learning-relative data and, (d) emphasis was always on impact, as opposed to the learning environment or generating elements, because continued funding was always based on impact. This study addresses each of these four issues. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Louisiana; New Jersey