Academic Leadership: The Online Journal (2003-2012)


Stephen Ntim


Transfer can be defined as ‘the degree to which behaviour will be repeated in a new situation’ (Detterman and Sternberg, 1993, p. 4). Thus transfer of learning occurs when learning in one context or with one set of materials impacts on performance in another context or with related material. Pennington and Rehder (1995) borrowing from Larkin (1989) also define transfer as the use of knowledge or skill acquired in one situation in the performance of a new, novel task, a task sufficiently novel that it involves additional learning as well as the use of old knowledge. Research evidence as to whether or not transfer occurs is rather ambivalent. On one hand some research indicate that there is no transfer and that even if there is, it is rather through manipulation of one sort or the other: subjects are told what to do. Detterman (1993) makes two important conclusions: a) Spontaneous transfer is very rare; b) those studies claiming to show transfer can only be said to have found transfer by the most generous of criteria and would not meet the classical definition of transfer. (ibid: 13-15).


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