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Spotlight on Professor Chad Hoggan

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Dr. Chad Hoggan improves educational outcomes through research that directly impacts adult learning. He focuses on transformative learning — experiences that dramatically change people — and especially on transformations that occur during important transitional experiences in adulthood.

Transformative Learning remains one of the most-researched theories in the field of adult education over the past 20 years due to the integral nature of change in adulthood. Hoggan, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development (ELPHD), and his colleagues know that major life changes and transitions impact how adult learners engage with course material, as well as how they develop outside the classroom.

Learning outside the classroom intrigues Hoggan, and this interest led him to study learning and growth among breast cancer survivors. He found that many survivors experienced dramatic positive change due to their struggles with the disease.

Hoggan’s breast cancer study revealed that the challenges that elicited the most significant learning and change for participants were almost unbearable in the moment. Most participants noted they would have chosen to avoid those challenges if possible.

“And yet, it was precisely because they were forced to go through those challenges that their most profound learning and change occurred,” said Hoggan.

In contrast, Hoggan’s recent research explores a different sort of learning and transformation — the process of radicalization that leads to acts of terrorism. Both studies have influenced his creation of a transformational learning typology that helps researchers engage in interdisciplinary conversations on the kinds of transformation they study. For many researchers, this will mean developing new perspectives on how to turn research on significant learning and change into practice.

In addition to theory and research development, Hoggan advocates for innovation in adult learning through membership in the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE). Since 2014, he has served as the association’s treasurer, as well as a member of the executive committee and board of directors. Last year, the AAACE recognized Hoggan’s efforts with a President’s Appreciation Award for his contribution in helping the association navigate through a major organizational restructuring.

“Chad sets an example for everyone who is invested in excellent adult education to follow, and his AAACE honor exemplifies his impact on our college and students” said College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz. “Through teaching, research and organizational service, he has put knowledge to work to improve the overall educational experience and learning outcomes for adults throughout North Carolina.”

Learn more about how Hoggan and other ELPHD faculty inspire and guide students from day one through teaching, advising and dissertation supervision.