The Process of Identity Transformation: Analysis of Illustrative Examples from the Literature

Drawing on Illeris’ (2014) framing of transformative learning, this literature review explored the process of identity change. Using stringent inclusion criteria, a content analysis was completed of six empirical articles selected for their explicit conceptual framing of identity and rich description of process. The process of identity transformation was associated with a novel and challenging social experience that served as a catalyst for learning. There were strong emotions counterbalanced by a sense of striving. Adult learners encountered social realities and messages that led to reckoning with a sense of duality and reconfiguring one’s self-description. Social connectedness supported managing identity development. The overall active change process was characterized as navigating. The results align with Illeris’ conceptualization of restoring transformative learning comprised of striving, withdrawing, and reconciling or reconstructing identity—an iterative and dialectical process. The findings highlight the need for more research where the mechanisms of identity change are conceptualized in theoretical frameworks and the breadth of learners’ identity work is detailed in the findings.

Format: Paper Presentation


Cheryl Baldwin, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Session Date & Time: Wed, 06 Apr 2022 | 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EDT