Ensuring Each Student Reaches Their Potential: (2) Transferability Issues

Sibbett, Lorna (2010). Ensuring Each Student Reaches Their Potential: (2) Transferability Issues. In: ICERI 2010 (International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation), 15-17 Nov 2010, Madrid, Spain.

URL: https://library.iated.org/view/SIBBETT2010ENS1


Isolation of knowledge within disciplines or within the confines of single taught modules, diminishes the learner’s richness of understanding. Whilst flexible degree programmes are attractive to prospective students, there is a need to ensure that such programmes do not situate understanding within narrow contexts. The curriculum must provide both incentive and structure for students to develop transferability of knowledge and skills.

Transferability of skills is dependent upon transfer of both principles and dispositions (Bereiter,1995). Teaching to maximise the former requires active development of student understanding of generalisable principles, this being a minimum aim of any educator. However, transfer of dispositions, for example towards critical thinking, is more problematic, particularly within the higher education (HE) sector where individual students are exposed to varied tutors and lecturers, each of whom has built a career upon arguing the uniqueness of their thoughts and approaches.

In the University of St Andrews School of Biology, introduction of core skills teaching has facilitated and integrated learning across modules and from co-curricular activities. This structure has been successful in establishing transfer of both principles and dispositions. This reflexive analysis reviews the strategies and successes of this programme in relation to transfer conditions as suggested by Alexander and Murphy (1999) and Bransford et al (1999) and argued for by Billing (2007).

Alexander, P.A.; Murphy, P.K. Nurturing the Seeds of Transfer: A Domain-Specific Perspective. International Journal of Educational Research, v31 n7 p561-76, 1999.

Bereiter, C. A Dispositional View of Transfer p21-34 Teaching for Transfer: Fostering Generalization in Learning, editors McKeough, A. et al. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0805813098. 1995.

Billing, D. Teaching for Transfer of Core/Key Skills in Higher Education: Cognitive Skills. Higher Education:The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, v53 n4 p483-516, 2007.

Bransford, J.D.; Brown A.L. and Cocking R.R. (Ed.) How People Learn. National Academy Press, Washington , D.C. ISBN 0-309-07036-8. 1999.

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