Critical Thinking and Transformative Learning
Donna Kienzler & Frances M. Smith
Vol. 14, No. 2
Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM
Vol. 14, No. 2.
Editor: Dorothy I. Mitstifer.
Official publication of Kappa Omicron
Nu National Honor Society. Member, Association of College Honor Societies. Copyright © 2004.
Kappa Omicron Nu FORUM is a
refereed, semi-annual publication serving the profession of family and consumer sciences. The opinions expressed by the
authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of the society. Further information: Kappa Omicron Nu, PO Box 798, Okemos, MI 48805-0798. Telephone: 517.351.8335
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Table of Contents
Dorothy I. Mitstifer, Editor
As humanitys ability to inflict
damage on people and the earth keeps growing, it becomes more important than ever that our students learn to think
critically and envision ways to improve their communities and societies. Modern communication brings world-wide events
to our attention as they happen, but also bombards us with 10-second sound bites that tell only part of the truth. The
pressures of everyday life allow less and less time for thoughtful reflection and meaningful dialogue. Students, as
future world citizens, need to learn to make reasoned judgments in light of the facts available. Clayton (2003) quoting
Minnich, offers these descriptions: [critical thinking] is exploratory, suggestive, it does not prove anything,
or finally arrive anywhere. [Critical thinkers] are open-minded, reflective, challengingmore likely to question
than to assert, inclined to listen to many sides, capable of making distinctions that hold differences in play rather
than dividing in order to exclude, and desirous of persuading others rather than reducing them to silence by refuting
them. They continue the search for information to improve themselves and their world.
As decisions related to family, careers,
and social concerns (e.g., workplace ethics, personal health care, money management, child rearing practices, and
environmental practices) become more complex, the need for being able to use a critical thinking process becomes
increasingly vital (Pillay & Elliott, 2001; Waller, 2001). Citizens in a global world need not only critical
thinking skills but also the disposition to use them (Tishman & Perkins, 1997, Facione, 2000).
The ROWEL poverty simulation was
implemented as course content in two undergraduate courses at University of Wisconsin-Stout during summer session 2003.
Students majoring in Family and Consumer Sciences and Education and Human Development and Family Studies were able to
simulate life in a single parent family. A pre-post attitudes questionnaire and reflection papers were used to evaluate
the value of the experience.
This article explores the possibility of
guiding student's critical thinking abilities in a hospitality management class to encompass the opportunity for
transformative learning. It is suggested that the case studies provided ethical inquiry based on a critical reflection
of the assumptions, biases, beliefs, and values involved in their decision making. Prospective managers were encouraged
to combine a moral and a financial element in their later business practices.
If individuals experience a
transformation of their paradigm, their practices will transform. I share my own personal transformation as a home
economist over the past few years, prefaced with a short discussion of transformative learning. The frame of reference
of my work has changed from the principles of technical practices in a consumer rights driven marketplace to one of
relational and emancipatory responsibility based on the principles of holism, peace, social justice, and global