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What are some examples of “transfer of learning” and how might a teacher go about practicing this with her students?

Follow up Teachers can provide opportunities for practicing transfer without explicitly letting students know what is happening.  For example, they may ask a student to write an essay after having studied and practiced several essay writing techniques and use of graphic organizers.  The teacher makes no mention of techniques at the time of assigning.  Afterwards, the teacher can ask students what techniques they used (if any) and why they chose them.  This moves students towards the ability to judge and make decisions about what knowledge and experiences to transfer and when.

Make it their own By rephrasing, recreating or somehow re-presenting information, students are able to memorize and use the knowledge more flexibly.  This means they have a better chance at transferring the information.

Transferring knowledge should be the goal of every teacher and educator.  It should be something very much a part of lesson planning and prioritized in class time.  Students are benefited greatly by learning how to manipulate and use the knowledge they work so hard to attain in new and different situations.

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Learning has little value if the knowledge obtained doesn’t become useful for the student later in life.  Although the belief that children are empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge isn’t quite the reality of most educators today, some believe that they are being pushed in that direction with standardized testing.  Unfortunately, this attitude of teaching to attain knowledge, and stopping there, doesn’t benefit students very much.  Alternatively, by focusing on teaching “transfer of learning”, teachers could give students much more than knowledge.

With a goal of teaching only knowledge, the result is students who can only recall and perhaps plug in information in previously seen scenarios.  However, when students are able to utilize information or experiences to solve new and unique problems, knowledge has a much greater usefulness.  When facing a new problem, students feel prepared with an arsenal of tools and knowledge to solve it – rather than feeling stuck.  However, this ability or “transfer of learning” is also a skill that must be coaxed out of students and practiced.

What are some examples of “transfer of learning” and how might a teacher go about practicing this with her students?

Near Transfer Simple or short transfers of concepts from one situation to another similar situation may include using essay-writing skills learned in English class for writing an essay for a history class.  Students may also find equations used in geometry useful for calculating the sides of a triangle when building a bridge.  These are relatively easy for teachers to encourage and plan to include in their curriculum.  For example, using a high-level goal on Bloom’s Taxonomy as an end of unit project such as creating or evaluating can encourage use of course-content in a unique context.  For example after learning about the scientific method and completing experiments provided by the teacher, students may be required to invent their own experiment and carry it out. Teachers may even collaborate to ask students to complete projects that integrate several subject areas and thus encourage transfer of learning.

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Pros

In addition, the minds of the children will have a chance to develop in ways parents or teachers never dreamed of. What better way to get a child out of his/her shell than to give them an opportunity to express themselves creatively. The project allows the child to learn about things in a different way. Reading will now become a project in disguise. Many schools use help children learn about books by getting them involved in reading fairs. They develop their own storyboards to express their ideas and views about the books they have read. When a child is given the task of molding a dinosaur out of clay, he/she is given the chance to learn about dinosaur facts. These and other projects are just the beginning of how our children learn. Teachers have better tools to reach young minds by using these hands on approaches to learning. When teachers are better equipped to teach, our children are the winners.

The Finale

Our children are the future for this world. When they learn new things it gives them the chance to create newer and better things. It is important for our children to have the best learning experiences of their lives. Children are at their best when they are being creative. Schools that adopt the project based learning concept can be proud that they have shaped these young minds of our future. An innovative world starts with a creative mind.

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Children learn in different ways and at their own pace. It is important for our children to get the best learning experiences that will shape their young lives. Many schools have developed project based learning techniques that help children grasp the concepts being taught. It also allows them to be creative while they are learning. It is important to shape the minds of our children in a fashion that will stay with them forever.

The Draw

Drawing our children in to the project based learning concept is relatively easy. Many of our children are more open when they are creating something they can be proud of. When a child feels that sense of accomplishment and pride, it opens them up for future projects. Many children today have short attention spans and when their interests are piqued they learn better. Children learn from what they are taught on a daily basis. However, some children learn better with visual aids and hands on approach. When a child is given the opportunity to participate on a project, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. If you have ever watched a child at play, it is easy to see that they can be very creative. When a child is able to see their work it lets them know that they can do anything.

Pros

It is important for our children to have the learning experiences that will stay with them for a long time to come. Some experts may say that project based learning will help children of any age communicate better.

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If you are looking for a great opportunity to network with prominent women in school leadership, don’t miss the 2015 AASA/ACSA Women in School Leadership Forum.  This year the forum will be held on October 1-2 at the Coronado Island Marriott Resort and Spa in Coronado, California.

I have attended and presented at this conference in past years and in my experience it is well worth the time to attend both in terms of professional learning and networking opportunities.  The 2015 conference promises to be great.  The presentation strands are:

  • Leading Equity and Accesibility
  • Coaching/Mentoring
  • Balancing Work and Life
  • Instructional Leadership

One tip about this conference – the years that I have been able to bring a team of women from my district were the most productive.  As a group, we were able to ensure that at least one person was in all of the relevant presentations and could share the material with everyone.  We also took the time to de-brief as a group and discuss the most interesting aspects of the presentations we attended.  Finally, we were able to set aside time for district planning time.

Save the dates!  The program is not available yet, but its sure to be another great conference.  Check aasa.org for updates and the full program in late summer or early fall.

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