Transformative Learning in Online Theological Education: A Case Study of an Online Program at a Theological Seminary
Description: Using Mezirow's (1991) transformative learning theory as a framework, this qualitative case study investigated conditions conducive to transformative learning experiences among theological students in an online program at a seminary. Learning Activities Survey developed by King in 1998, a Community of Inquiry framework proposed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer in 2000, and semi-structured interviews were employed. Emails were sent to 85 students (81 current In-Ministry M.Div. students and four recent graduates), and 38 (44.7%) took the online survey. A typical participant in this survey was a married White male in his 30s. Of the 38 survey respondents, 30 (78.9%) indicated having experienced transformation during their study. Among those 30, class assignment (66.7%) and a person (60.6%) were two factors that influenced them the most in their transformative learning experiences. Data collected from the online survey and two online courses shed light on the semi-structured interviews conducted with 11 students. A qualitative analysis software ATLAS ti. and Strauss and Corbin's grounded theory were utilized to analyze the data. This resulted in a proposed integrative learning condition model which proposed two conditions conducive to transformation, being in-ministry and using integrative learning strategy. These two conditions were significantly influenced by physical presence. A surprising result was that physical presence does not indicate a three- or four-year stay on campus at a traditional seminary, but is a by-product of a blended, online program which gives students more opportunities to develop quality relationships both during their on-campus intensives and in their local ministries. This study provides empirical evidence supporting the idea of online theological education using a blended model which promotes integrative learning strategy and learners being in-ministry.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Tran, Nghi
Partner: UNT Libraries