Sharon Schaff


This study explored the conditions and outcomes of student transformational learning (TL) in a semester-long community college work placement context. Thirty-five interdisciplinary students participated in an appreciative inquiry survey and interview protocol. 31% experienced a high degree of TL, reporting nearly twice the degree of change as low TL students and also exhibiting multiple TL outcomes. They exhibited self-growth, changed frame of reference, confidence, new behaviors and habits, and also described an emergent sense of hope, empowerment, and new possibilities. Positive emotions were the strongest differentiator of high versus low TL. The professional learning context, work culture, and relationships facilitated the greatest impact for high TL. Financial aid was the only personal condition of significance. Leveraging new workplace experiences to catalyze authentic learner capabilities as characterized by TL, offers promising potential for educators and employers alike to build sustainable future capacity. Continued TL research should explore positive, holistic methodologies.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Research projects (MSOD); Transformative learning; Experiential learning; Community college students

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Feyerherm, Ann;