Date of Completion


Document Type

Campus Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Robert Ricketts

Second Advisor

Jeremy Szteiter

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //


Critical reflection and critical thinking are integral components of transformational learning experiences that broaden individuals’ perspectives about other people and how the world works. This paper presents a narrative case study investigation of ongoing research that demonstrates how insights derived from examination of novel action learning experiences (ALE) that feature reflective practices are used to advance the design of ALE that facilitate transformative learning for social purposes. Transformative learning theory in the context of adult education provides the conceptual foundation for a comprehensive review and analysis of three ALE cases that were inspired by the Critical and Creative Thinking MA program, and designed and delivered by the author. The investigated cases vary in format but share an objective to help participants build collaborative relationships across differences. Key ALE design practices are illuminated and examined. An additional level of analysis uses an action research framework to elevate general design movements. A new structure for considering ALE design elements and design practices emerges from synthesis of case analyses, theoretical frameworks, and the author’s lived experiences. The author intends to use research outcomes to inspire and instruct equity and inclusion advocates and activists who are eager to create new paths for cross-cultural understanding in their roles and work positions. To that end, three ALE design principles are offered as work-in-progress toward an evolving slate of design resources for developing unique ALE that promote transformative learning. The research also suggests further exploration of critical and creative thinking processes that enable ALE designers to generate novel design ideas and continuously improve design practice.


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