Transfer of Learning Essay

Words: 4200
Pages: 17

Transfer of learning is the study of the dependency of human conduct, learning, or performance on prior experience. The notion was originally introduced as transfer of practice by Edward Thorndike and Robert S. Woodworth. They explored how individuals would transfer learning in one context to another context that shared similar characteristics – or more formally how "improvement in one mental function" could influence another related one. Their theory implied that transfer of learning depends on the proportion to which the learning task and the transfer task are similar, or where "identical elements are concerned in the influencing and influenced function", now known as identical element theory. Transfer research has since attracted much …show more content…
The situation perspective: specific vs. general, near vs. far transfer

The situation-driven perspective on transfer taxonomies is concerned with describing the relation between transfer source (i.e., the prior experience) and transfer target (i.e., the novel situation). In other words, the notion of novelty of the target situation per se is worthless without specifying the degree of novelty in relation to something that existed before. Butterfield and Nelson (1991), for example, distinguish between within-task, across-task, and inventive transfer. A similar classification approach reappears in many situation-driven transfer taxonomies (e.g., similar vs. different situations, example-to-principle and vice versa, simple-to-complex and vice versa) and can be noted as distinctions made along the specific vs. general dimension. Mayer and Wittrock (1996, pp. 49ff.) discuss transfer under the labels of general "transfer of general skill" (e.g., "Formal Discipline", Binet, 1899), "specific transfer of specific skill" (e.g., Thorndike’s, 1924a, b, "identical elements" theory), "specific transfer of general skill" (e.g., Gestaltists' transfer theory, see origins with Judd, 1908), and "meta-cognitive control of general and specific skills" as a sort of combination of the previous three views (see, e.g., Brown, 1989).

Haskell's (2001) taxonomy proposes a more gradual scheme of similarity between tasks and situations. It distinguishes