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1 CHAPTER 8 TEACHING FOR TRANSFER AND PROBLEM SOLVING The issues and observations that concern educators in these opening vignettes are related to the concept of transfer of learning. Transfer is the process whereby the results of previous learning influence performance in a new situation. Sarah Fenton’s district wants to make sure that the curriculum is articulated, so that what students learn in one class can be usefully applied in other classes. Sarah’s district is concerned with transfer because they realize that students’ ability to profit from a learning activity often depends on what they have already learned. Keith Randich’s school wants to do what they can to prepare students to face their post-graduation challenges and to benefit from the opportunities they will face after graduation, which are very important form of transfer. As a teacher you will need to take transfer into account in many of your day-to- day decisions. A clear understanding of the nature of transfer will help you make better decisions when planning curricula, designing effective lessons, interacting with your students, or creating assessment activities. Chapter Organization and Goals The purpose of this chapter is to provide you with an understanding of transfer in order to help you make decisions that will enhance your students’ transfer in and out of your classroom. We will begin by expanding the definition of transfer presented above, and by discussing why transfer is a pivotal concept in your decision-making about
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2 teaching. We will then discuss how the theoretical principles developed in chapters 2 through 6 may be applied to enhance transfer in your classes. When you have completed this chapter, you should be able to do the following. Define transfer as a psychological process, and understand different types of transfer. Explain the relationship between transfer and students’ ability to solve problems and their ability to learn more effectively. Explain the characteristics of instruction that contribute to students’ ability to transfer what they learn. Use the instructional principles developed in Chapters 2 through 6 to understand how to teach for transfer School Learning and the Importance of Transfer Earlier we defined transfer as the process whereby the results of previous learning influence learning or performance in a new situation. Helping students to be able to transfer what they have learned is widely recognized as an important goal of schooling (Brooks & Dansereau, 1987; Cornfield, 2002; Mayer & Wittrock, 1996; Yamnill & McLean, 2001). This is because the effects of transfer are apparent in many situations. Reading a book, balancing your checking account, writing a paper, and successfully solving novel problems are all tasks that are affected by the concepts and skills you transfer to these tasks. Transfer is also often a critical component of successful learning.
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