This form of transfer has come to be known as general

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Unformatted text preview: ine approach were suggesting that it was possible for learners to acquire general thought capabilities 10 that would transfer across situations (Mayer & Wittrock, 1996). This form of transfer has come to be known as general transfer, or sometime non-specific transfer, because it refers to the application of general skills and knowledge to apparently dissimilar situations. For example, a student who is able to transfer a general problem solving strategy such as visualization to different problem situations would be demonstrating general transfer. In contrast, Thorndike (1903) argued that transfer is more specific. Transfer involves the application of specific behaviors learned in one situation to a new situation. This type of transfer is referred to as specific transfer because it involves the transfer of specific behaviors learned in one situation to a new similar situation. For example, the student who can add two plus two in algebra and in statistics is demonstrating specific transfer of this addition behavior. Thorndike also argued on the basis of his data that transfer is much more likely to occur if the learning and transfer environments are more similar. In contrast, advocates for the formal discipline approach seemed to be arguing that the training of the mind that occurs in Latin should transfer to quite different environments or academic areas. Transfer that occurs between similar environments is referred to as near transfer, while transfer between dissimilar environments is referred to as far transfer. For example, transferring the ability to drive a manual transmission from a Datsun to a Toyota is an example of near transfer. Being able to recognize that the scientific principle of a lever learned in physics might help you design a pop-top soda can is an example of far transfer. Additional Research on Similarity and Transfer Further research into the transfer phenomenon revealed that the relationship between the similarity of situations and transfer was not so straightforward. While it is 11 often the case that experiences in similar situations can facilitate performance, sometimes these experiences can actually inhibit people’s ability to perform. When a previous experience results in improved performance in a new situation, it is called positive transfer. When previous experiences actually interfere with performance in a new situation; it is called negative transfer. For example, some of what you learn to do while teaching one group of students may positively transfer and help you with the next group. Other things you learn may negatively transfer and create a problem with a different group. To help resolve the inconsistent effects of similar experiences on transfer, Osgood (1949) suggested that the actual similarity between two situations had to be looked at more closely. Behavioral learning theorists study learning by observing the effects of stimuli on students’ responses. Osgood (1949) suggested that to understand transfer we had to look at the similarity between...
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