Transformative learning and the development of cultural humility in social work students

dc.contributor.authorZhu, Ruilin
dc.contributor.authorOlcon, Katarzyna
dc.contributor.authorPulliam, Rose M.
dc.contributor.authorGilbert, Dorie J.
dc.description.abstractCultural humility is increasingly important in social work literature given its emphasis on mitigating power imbalances in helping relationships, particularly across cultural differences. Consequently, there is a need to understand whether and how cultural humility can be taught in social work education, both through traditional classroom instructions and cultural immersion programs. Guided by the Transformative Learning Theory (TLT) and relying on ethnographic observations and reflective journals, this study explores the process of developing cultural humility among 19 U.S. social work students who studied abroad in Ghana in the years 2016–2018. To summarise how the learning process required to develop cultural humility manifests at each of the TLT stages, we identified three major themes: 1) confusion and discomfort, 2) re-moulding, and 3) humility in action. Specifically, this process seems to depend on the experience of a disorienting dilemma, meaningful connections with others, and the ongoing readiness to function beyond one’s own cultural frame of reference. We suggest TLT can serve as a guide to social work educators and study abroad coordinators in planning, facilitating, and evaluating transformative learning experiences which can help students begin this life-long journey.
dc.description.departmentSocial Work
dc.format.extent28 pages
dc.format.medium1 file (.pdf)
dc.identifier.citationRuilin Z., Olcoń, K., Pulliam, R. M., & Gilbert, D. J. (2022) Transformative learning and the development of cultural humility in social work students. Social Work Education, pp. 1-16.
dc.publisherTaylor & Francis
dc.sourceSocial Work Education, 2022, pp. 1-16.
dc.subjectcultural humility
dc.subjecttransformative learning theory
dc.subjectstudy abroad
dc.subjectqualitative methods
dc.subjectethnographic observations
dc.subjectsocial work education
dc.subjectSocial Work
dc.titleTransformative learning and the development of cultural humility in social work students


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