Retrieval and Transfer: It’s Not Just ‘Can They or Can’t They?”

When you check whether pupils in your class can do something they either can or they can’t. Then you decide how to respond. It’s black and white. What about the grey?

Do we typically opt for the top left and bottom right options?

One well researched area of learning is on transfer. It is notoriously difficult to apply knowledge from one context to another. It is likely that many of your pupils are getting answers wrong not because they don’t get it, but because they can’t apply it.

There is a useful taxonomy for transfer by Barnett, S. M., & Ceci, S. J. (2002) (see below). I’ve added two columns: one to suggest questions you might ask yourself about the cause of an incorrect response and another to suggest strategies for addressing it.

adapted from: Barnett, S. M., & Ceci, S. J. (2002). When and where do we apply what we learn? A taxonomy for far transfer. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 612-637: https://www.scirp.org/(S(351jmbntvnsjt1aadkposzje))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=589513

I’ve got a google docs version of this table here.

Yesterday’s post on transfer: here.

I hope someone finds it useful!

Ben

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