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Transfer

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  1. Transfer • Transfer • What is Transfer? • Types of Transfer • Views on Transfer • Behaviorism (Thorndike) • Computational Theory of Mind • Distributed Cognition (Packer) • Critiques of Transfer: Dewey, Lave • What becomes of the person? • What do schools do? What ought they do?

  2. What is Transfer? • Transfer is… • The application of knowledge learned in one setting or for one purpose to another setting and/or purpose … or… • The ability to extend what has been learned in one context to new contexts • Formal Schooling assumes that knowledge does transfer (that what students learn in classrooms will be useful beyond the school walls) • Assumptions about transfer accompany the belief that it’s better to broadly ‘educate’ people than simply ‘train’ them to perform particular tasks

  3. Types of Transfer • Vertical Transfer • Use of subskills in some larger skill. • Skill of writing letters of the alphabet are useful to writing words • Near transfer • Transfer from one school task to a highly similar task • Far Transfer • Transfer from school subjects to non-school subjects • Negative Transfer • When experience with one set of events hurts performance on later tasks.

  4. Near Transfer • Transfer from one school task to a highly similar task

  5. Far Transfer • Transfer from school subjects to non-school subjects

  6. Activity Do the problem set on the handout provided. Work individually.

  7. practice problem Group One problems designed to establish a ‘set’ for solving problems in a particular manner* *b-a-2c solution. Group Two critical test problems Activity: Negative Transfer

  8. Activity: Negative Transfer • People in Group One (E) were highly likely to use the Einstellung Solution on the critical problems even though it was less efficient. • People in Group Two (C) used more direct solutions Prior experience can limit people's abilities to function efficiently in new settings. 

  9. Transfer • Transfer • What is Transfer? • Types of Transfer • Views on Transfer • Behaviorism (Thorndike) • Computational Theory of Mind • Distributed Cognition (Packer) • Critiques of Transfer: Dewey, Lave • What becomes of the person? • What do schools do? What ought they do?

  10. Behaviorist View Thorndike (1901) • Tested doctrine of ‘formal discipline’ • Practice by learning Latin & other difficult subjects has broad-based effects (such as developing general skills of learning & attention • Mind as ‘mental muscle’ • Claim. Transfer is facilitated by teaching knowledge & skills in school subjects that have elements identical to activities encountered in transfer context • Elements = specific facts & events • Emphasis on identical elements of tasks excluded consideration of any learner characteristics • when attention was directed • whether relevant principles were extrapolated • problem solving • creativity • motivation

  11. Transfer • Transfer • What is Transfer? • Types of Transfer • Views on Transfer • Behaviorism (Thorndike) • Computational Theory of Mind • Distributed Cognition (Packer) • Critiques of Transfer: Dewey, Lave • What becomes of the person? • What do schools do? What ought they do?

  12. Computational Theory of Mind Factors that influence successful transfer: • Degree of initial mastery of original subject • Time on task (don’t underestimate!) Chess masters • 50-100k hours learning roughly 50k chess patterns • pattern recognition skills & knowledge of their implications for future outcomes Third Graders • On one task, it took 15 seconds to integrate pictorial & verbal information. • With only 8 secs, they couldn’t mentally integrate info (working memory) • Learner’s deliberate metacognitive monitoring of her initial learning • Context of initial learning: single context or multiple ones? • Contrasting cases / examples & non-examples • ‘what if’ questions

  13. p.221 p.222 less abstract problem representation more abstract problem representation Computational Theory of Mind Factors that influence successful transfer: • Degree of abstraction of learner’s problem representation

  14. Computational Theory of Mind Factors that influence successful transfer: • Degree of abstraction of learner’s problem representation • Abstracted representations become schemata • Knowledge representations built up thru many opportunities for observing similarities & differences across diverse events • Memory retrieval & transfer promoted by schemata because they derive from a broad scope of related instances (not single learning experiences) • Extent of conceptual understanding(rather than memorizing facts)

  15. Conceptual Understanding e.g. Finding Area of a Figure Understanding Method • Focus on Structural Relations Rote Method • Memorize Formula Findings on Transfer Only understanding group could: • Transfer problem solving to novel problems • See which problems were solvable/unsolvable

  16. School vs. Everyday Life • Ultimate goal of schooling = to help students transfer what they have learned in school to everyday settings (home, community, workplace) • Transfer between tasks is a function of (among other things) the similarity between them • SO… an important strategy for enhancing transfer may be to better understand nonschool environments that students function in • Contrasts btwn School & Everyday Life • School places way more emphasis on individual work • In everyday life, we use tools to solve problems (compared with ‘mental work’ of school) • Abstract reasoning often emphasized in school, whereas contextualized reasoning often used in everyday life  ‘School should be less about preparation for life and more like life itself’ ~ John Dewey

  17. We will stop here & continue tomorrow. ^_^

  18. Transfer • Transfer • What is Transfer? • Types of Transfer • Views on Transfer • Behaviorism (Thorndike) • Computational Theory of Mind • Distributed Cognition (Packer) • Critiques of Transfer: Dewey, Lave • What becomes of the person? • What do schools do? What ought they do?

  19. Critique of Transfer: Dewey • Rejected ‘mind as muscle’ notion • When something general is learned, it’s not ‘transfer’ but rather becoming skilled in activities ‘broad in scope’ • They incorporate social relationships • Weight training vs. playing a sport • Flexibility, elasticity, ability to react to novel & emergent circumstances • Human activities with social dimension require a wider range of responses & the qualities that render someone ‘an effective competent member of a group’ • Schools should be about “greater individualization on the one hand, and a broader community of interest on the other” • “The conception of education as a social process & function have no definite meaning until we define the kind of society we have in mind”

  20. Critique of Transfer: Lave • Rejected ‘functionalist’ conception of knowledge • Knowledge as ‘tools’ for thinking • Added to the ‘toolkit’ of the mind • Transported from one situation to another (w/out change) • ‘Good’ knowledge = abstract, decontextualized, scientific • Instead, there is no one ‘math’ or ‘english’ or _____ • Proportional reasoning on a classroom worksheet • Proportional reasoning in a grocery store isle • Whether two settings are the same (initial task, target task) is not a natural fact; rather, the product of social order • ‘Matching game’: See the world my way! The right way! • Hence, no such thing as bringing ‘real world’ tasks into the classroom. They change b/c context changes. • Conceived of learners are motivated, concerned JPF (always in social relations & practical activities)

  21. Packer’s Two Big Questions • First Big Issue • Cognition is situated. Different depending on context. • Identity & learning only make sense in terms of some community of practice • We are all members of multiple (at times, conflicting) communities of practice • UHOH…. What becomes of the person? Where does the unique person go? • Second Big Issue • Transfer underlies our entire understanding of what schools are, yet it’s a vexed issue (framed wrong way) • Schools don’t provide ‘tools’ for our mental toolkit • UHOH…. Then what do schools do? What ought they do?

  22. What becomes of the person? • What’s ‘portable’ when a person shifts among communities is “modes of acting and problem solving, not a system of rules & representations” • Not schemas but how to actually do practices • “A pre-reflective grasp of complex situations… the ability to improvise” • Learning is … • “the historical production, transformation, and change of persons” ~ Lave & Wenger • Learning is ‘a process of coming to be, of forging identities in activity in the world” • Issue of identity, not discrete facts Learning is change in who someone is, not just what they know (ontological, not just epistemological)

  23. What becomes of the person? • What is this ‘change in identity’ like? • The person is constructed • In a social context • Formed through practical activity • Formed in relationships of recognition & desire • That can split the person • Motivating search for identity • Every community splits, alienates its members • So…people struggle for sense of continuity, for self-sameness • Identity: this grasp of who one is – one’s rights, one’s obligations, one’s possibilities • This search for continuity is the trajectory of identity change

  24. What do schools do? • Contemporary school settings … • Commodify learning • Establish an exchange value of knowledge via testing • Focus on acting on learner rather than increasing their participation • Equates progress with rationalization & abstraction • And so reduce ethical/normative questions to technical ones*cough Computational Theory of Mind cough* Packer: We’ve got to do better than this!

  25. What ought schools do? “What’s required if children are to become adults who can negotiate the rapids of modern society is the fostering of a different attitude, one of appreciation of the complex, dynamic character of society, one of understanding that there will be conflicting interests and differing perspectives in any situation, perspectives that must be recognized and understood before the situation can be transformed, people’s differences reconciled, and the problem ‘solved.’” ~ Packer x

  26. Activity Pick one of the following & write down your reflections: 1) Packer argues that the process of identity change goes something like this: • The person is constructed • In a social context • Formed through practical activity • Formed in relationships of recognition & desire • That can split the person • Motivating search for identity Is he right, based on your own experiences in the world? Why/not? 2) Dewey argues that the goal of learning is ‘to enhance a person’s life experiences. What, in your opinion ought to be the goal of education? x

  27. School versus Everyday Life e.g. Cottage Cheese Problem 