Understanding the Psychological Foundation of University Students' Identity Development Processes and how this Interplays with Transformative Learning

Niels Kornum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


While transformative learning (TL) research has focused on adult learning (Mezirow, 2009; Illeris, 2014), some researchers propose a broader examination on how transformative learning unfolds with age (e.g., Taylor, 2000). Developmental psychology has extensively studied the issue of identity exploration and commitment as related to age (Erikson, 1968; Kroger, 2007; Kroger et al., 2010; Negru-Subtirica, 2016). The findings of this proposal suggest that instead of age as a sole denominator of identifying readiness for TL, it is more instructive to evaluate the psychological profile of a given group of learners and how open they are to change. Thus, focusing on the individual psychological differences amongst learners will more directly be of use when designing and interpreting the results from TL learning processes. Identifying the learners’ personality traits and/or causality orientations can help to interpret observed individual differences among learners (e.g., Hoggan and Cranton, 2015) concerning their openness and robustness toward transformations (Luyckx et al., 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014). It is also possible to specify the basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness) to which certain identity changes are found to be related, and hereby better identify which of the three needs should be supported to foster transformations. Simultaneously, it is possible to identify vulnerable learners that need extra attention when designing TL processes (Ryan and Deci, 2017).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuilding Transformative Community : Enacting Possibility in Today’s Times. Proceedings
EditorsMarguerite Welch, Victoria Marsick, Dyan Holt
Number of pages2
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherTeachers College, Columbia University
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventInternational Transformation Learning Conference. ITLC 2018: Transformation in Action: The Power of Community - Columbia University, New York City, United States
Duration: 7 Nov 201810 Nov 2018
Conference number: 13


ConferenceInternational Transformation Learning Conference. ITLC 2018
LocationColumbia University
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York City
Internet address


  • Fostering transformation
  • Psychological openness and robustness towards transformation
  • Identity development
  • Personality traits
  • Satisfying basic psychological needs

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