Date of Conferral







James P. Keen


Though distance higher education instructors may attempt to facilitate meaningful learning in their adult undergraduate students, their efforts are unaddressed in the literature. This study addressed the perceptions, experiences, and intentional practices of distance higher education instructors in facilitating and observing epistemological development and transformative learning within distance higher education adult undergraduate students. Constructivist views on epistemological development theory and on transformative learning theory formed the conceptual framework. The guiding research questions addressed ways that distance higher education instructors intentionally support epistemological development and transformative learning in their adult undergraduate students and best practices for doing so. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 11 distance higher education instructors familiar with theories of epistemological development and transformative learning. Data were analyzed through open coding, leading to identification of emergent themes. These themes included extensive dialogue, meeting students where they are, relationships, supportive and challenging environment, making room for reflection, access to multiple perspectives, and the continued growth of the instructor. By clarifying educational practices that can lead to outcomes such as enhanced epistemological development as well as skills such as critical reflection associated with the field of transformative learning, this study can foster a sense of agency and abilities to construct and reframe approaches to positive social change in adult undergraduate distance higher education students as well as in larger society through their lives and work.