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Unformatted text preview: ferred, such as transferring
how to drive a stick shift car from one car to another or the application of a
• Experts’ knowledge is more context sensitive to context, which means they are
more likely to be able to identify the part of their knowledge base that is most
relevant for a problem.
The differences between experts and novices have led to a discussion of surface and structural similarities and transfer. Surface similarity refers to the degree to which the
elements describing a situation are identical. Structural similarity refers to the degree to
which the two situations share analogous relationships among the elements that describe
the situations. Gick and Holyoak (1987) have suggested that comparing situations in
terms of their structural and surface characteristics allows for a different analysis of the
concept of similarity that can be useful for understanding transfer. Figure 8.6 (appears at
the end of the chapter) provides a graphic illustration of their reasoning. The analysis of a
transfer task begins by asking two questions. Does the current situation (transfer
situation) share surface similarity with previous experiences (learning situations)? Does
the transfer situation share structural similarity with the learning situation? The answer to
the first question determines the likelihood that some types of transfer will occur because
the likelihood of retrieving prior knowledge is directly related to the degree of surface
similarity shared by the transfer situation and experiences stored in long-term memory.
The answer to the second question determines how our prior knowledge will affect our
performance in the transfer situation. When the transfer situation shares a high degree of 27
structural similarity with the recalled learning situation, then positive transfer is likely.
However, if the recalled learning situation isn’t structurally similar to the transfer
situation, then negative transfer is the likely result.
In addition to positive and negative transfer, Figure 8.6 also makes a distinction
between near and far transfer. When there is a high degree of surface and structural
similarity between two situations then the learner is attempting near transfer. In a near
transfer situation, successful (positive) transfer is likely. When the degree of surface
similarity between two situations is low, but there is a high degree of structural similarity
then the issue is far transfer. The low surface similarity means that people often do not
remember facts and procedures that would be useful in dealing with the new situation.
For this reason, cognitive psychologists expect far transfer to be a relatively rare event.
Can you use the description of transfer presented in the preceding paragraph and Figure
8.6 to explain the following situations?
Allen is on the varsity baseball team and is taking his first golf lesson. As he
places his ball on the tee, He thinks, “How hard can this be, both baseball and golf have a
stick and a ball.” On his first attemp...
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This document was uploaded on 03/29/2014 for the course EPS 324 at N. Arizona.
- Spring '08