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Transfer Like a Champ!. By Michelle Brazeal. Transfer Training. Why do we teach?. Transfer Training. Transfer: The ability to extend what has been learned in one context to new contexts. Transfer Training. Now let’s do some boxing….

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Transfer Like a Champ!

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Transfer like a champ

Transfer Like a Champ!

By Michelle Brazeal

Transfer training

Transfer Training

Why do we teach?

Transfer training1

Transfer Training

Transfer: The ability to extend what has been learned in one context to new contexts

Transfer training2

Transfer Training

Now let’s do some boxing…

Transfer like a champ

Aunt Maud wants to pack a box of breakables and mail the package to her sister. How could she pack the items so that nothing gets broken?

Now let s transfer

Now let’s transfer…

You are working for an electrical distributor. It is your job to find the most efficient way to pack the trucks, even with an inventory of thousands of products. As customers order products to be shipped, you need a quick way of taking whatever combination is ordered and packing with care and efficiency. Let’s say a customer orders 24 lamps, 2 fixtures, and 3 transformers…

What if the aunt maud problem had been presented differently

What if the “Aunt Maud” problem had been presented differently?

What if the aunt maud problem had been presented differently1

What if the “Aunt Maud” problem had been presented differently?

  • This is the same kind of information a student would get out of a teacher standing at the front of the room, giving steps, and saying “Do this”

What if the aunt maud problem had been presented differently2

What if the “Aunt Maud” problem had been presented differently?

  • This is the same kind of information a student would get out of a teacher standing at the front of the room, giving steps, and saying “Do this”

    When teaching in this manner, there is no meaning for the student.

What about memorization

What about memorization?

  • When the emphasis is on drill and practice then emphasis is taken off of problem solving, creativity, and motivation

  • Effective for memory skills, but poor for transfer

  • Students are learning things that are more specific instead of developing a general skill

What influences successful transfer

What influences successful transfer?

  • The degree of mastery of a subject

  • The degree to which people learn with understanding

  • Realistic view of the amount of time it takes to learn a complex subject matter

  • Learning is most effective when people engage in deliberate practice that includes active monitoring of one’s learning experiences

What influences successful transfer1

What influences successful transfer?

  • Appropriately arranged contrasts to help students notice new features that previously escaped their attention and learn which features are relevant to a particular concept

    Ex: The concept of linear functions is more clear when contrasted with non-linear functions

What influences successful transfer2

What influences successful transfer?

  • Motivation

    • Challenges should be at appropriate levels in order to be and remain motivating

    • Too easy tasks become boring

    • Too difficult tasks can cause frustration

    • Feeling like you are contributing to others is highly motivating

What influences successful transfer3

What influences successful transfer?

“Learners of all ages are more motivated when they can see the usefulness of what they are learning and when they can use that information to do something that has an impact on others.”

Dealing with lack of flexibility in transfer

Dealing with lack of flexibility in transfer

  • Look at how tightly learning is tied to the context

  • Ask learners to solve a specific case and then provide them with an additional similar case

  • Use specific context and then “what-if” problem solving

  • Ask students to create a solution to a whole class of related problems

Transfer training3

Transfer Training

We should view transfer as a dynamic process that requires learners to actively choose and evaluate strategies, consider resources, and receive feedback. Transfer is not just solving a set of “transfer problems” right after the initial learning task, but asking questions/prompting appropriately for the level of your students.

Transfer and metacognition

Transfer and Metacognition

  • Transfer is improved when students are able to monitor their own learning strategies and resources and assess their own readiness for particular tests and performances

  • Metacognitive approach to instruction increases the degree to which students will transfer to new situations without the need for explicit prompting

Reciprocal teaching

Reciprocal Teaching

  • Instruction/practice enabling students to monitor their own understanding

  • Provision of an expert model of metacognitive processes

  • Social setting that enables joint negotiation for understanding

    The instructional procedure is reciprocal in the sense that a teacher and a group of students take turns in leading the group to discuss and use strategies for comprehending and remembering text content.

Building on existing knowledge

Building on Existing Knowledge

  • All learning involves transfer from previous experiences

  • However, one’s existing knowledge can make it difficult to learn new information

    - when people construct a coherent representation of information while deeply misunderstanding the new information (Ex: Fish is Fish)

Misunderstanding new information

Misunderstanding new information

Consider fractions:

  • Math principles underlying fractions are not consistent with principles of counting (Ex: ¼ is not more than ½)

  • Early knowledge of numbers can serve as a barrier to learning about fractions – and for many learners it does

Prior knowledge

Prior Knowledge

  • Can also include kinds of knowledge learners acquire because of their social roles (race, gender, class, etc)

  • Interpretations of a students resistance to answer a question can have consequences for how academically capable a student is viewed or for instructional approaches toward them

School environment vs everyday settings


Emphasis on individual work

“Mental work” used to solve problems

Abstract reasoning emphasized


Many settings are working with others

Heavy use of tools to solve problems

Contextualized reasoning often used

School Environment vs. Everyday Settings

Transfer like a champ

The most effective transfer may come from a balance of specific examples and general principles, not from either one alone.

Summary and conclusion

Summary and Conclusion

  • A major goal of schooling is to prepare students for flexible adaptation to new problems and settings

  • Instructional differences become more apparent when evaluated from the perspective of how well the learning transfers to new problems and settings

  • Initial learning, motivation, time on task, the context in which one learns, and feedback are all important for promoting transfer; none of these stands alone, they must all work together to create a flexible transfer

How can we become champions of transfer

How can we become champions of transfer?

  • Help students make their thinking visible

  • Understand cultural practices

  • Encourage!

  • Actively identify relative knowledge/strengths and help students build on them

  • Use a metacognitive approach to teaching to help students learn about themselves as learners, so they can gain the ability to regulate their own understanding

  • “By all means, have fun!” (Brawner, 2008)

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