Transfer of Learning

How people "transfer" knowledge from the learning context to other contexts

Transfer of learning is among the most important problems in education today. Students, especially in science, are all too often unable to apply what they learn to novel contexts both in, and outside the classroom. Making headway on the transfer problem is important since all of education is predicated on the premise that what is taught in one course will be used in relevant situations in other courses, as well as out of school and in the workplace. Research suggests, however, that lack of transfer is pervasive and persistent, and that promoting more transfer is a difficult enterprise given the complexity of factors that affect it.

Transfer has attracted recent attention from both cognitive scientists and science education researchers. A recent conference, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and organized by Jose Mestre, brought together cognitive scientists, science education researchers and NSF program officers to discuss primary issues, identify the research base, and propose a future research agenda for transfer. The report from this conference has been disseminated by NSF through a report, Transfer of Learning: Issues and Research Agenda.