Transformation learning theory and the adult learner: the development of information literacy skills in response to the informational context
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The information explosion is being fueled by informationai imperatives (Lamb, 1996), or rhetoric aimed at the preeminence of information technology which maintains the gap between expectations and practice in its use in the schools. The informational context of the school which is composed of people, the information with which the people, or students and teachers interact, and the technology which mediates the information should be considered in attempting to close this gap. Training activities which support people within the informational context focus on skills which promote negotiation of the context, or information literacy skills (Zurkowski, 1981). Appropriate training practices which facilitate adult learning through the recognition of past experiences and meaning perspectives are critical for skill development and personal change. Opportunities for critical reflection, including content, process, and premise reflection assist learners in recognizing distortions in ways of knowing, or epistemic distortions (Mezirow, 1990) that may interfere with professional development. This dissertation provides an examination of an on-line learning environment where opportunities for critical reflection are provided in an effort to illuminate those factors which promote transformation of meaning perspectives, supporting new and more integrative ways of knowing. Qualitative in nature, the study attempts to consider the impact of the informational context on the development of information literacy skills in a systemic manner. The research promotes the importance of the informational context in the design and delivery of training opportunities. Specifically, study outcomes point to the need to (a) consider the nature of the informational context, (b) specifically consider the needs of people in the informational context, (c) recognize that people, information, and technology within the context continually define and redefine the context, (d) recognize that the identified structures simulate access and interaction, thereby impacting the transformative capacity of the context. The user's interface with technology and innovation in a naturalistic setting will continue to provide opportunities for study as technology emerges to mediate the informational context in schools. In this way the study uniquely contributes data and findings in support of a systemic approach to content delivery via electronic communications and concornitant theory development.