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The Impact of Action Learning on the Lives and Learning of Baby Boomers Open Access

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This phenomenological study examined how baby boomer adults perceive and describe their transformative learning experiences within an action learning group. The study employed Mezirow's (1981) transformative learning theory and Marquardt's (2004) framework of action learning to facilitate action learning groups with a total of 16 self-selected baby boomers. The researcher explored and examined the power and applicability of action learning as one of the most effective approaches for adult learning (Marquardt, 2004; Waddill & Marquardt, 2003). Review of the literature suggested that action learning may lead to transformative learning outcomes. A phenomenological approach that employed Moustakas's (1994) method of inquiry was used to gather data. The data were analyzed with the modified van Kaam method (1966) and NVivo© 7 (2007) analytic software. Two co-researchers confirmed the findings.The action learning groups served as a forum for presenting a personal problem or challenge while engaging in discourse and reflection, and receiving support for actions. New learnings were realized and described by all study participants. The study results revealed five themes that describe the phenomenon of the baby boomer experience within the action learning context. The study results are significant because there has been limited research on how baby boomers make meaning and learn in an action learning group, and on the relationship of action learning to the transformative learning experience.This research has the potential to contribute to both theory and practice, and is important for several reasons. First, the findings can assist adult educators, performance trainers, facilitators, managers, and organizations in developing the type of learning programs that will support the development of individuals, teams, and leaders. This could increase organizational effectiveness and support the building of learning organizations. Second, the study can provide valuable information on elements of action learning and activities. This information could increase the opportunities and outcomes for transformative learning in developing change initiatives, program designs, adult education programs, teaching methods, and related self-help, support, and network groups.Third and finally, the findings of this study provide individuals and organizations with critical information about the potential of action learning programs for fostering transformative learning, and the impact of such programs.

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