Transfer of Learning : Concept, Types & Theories Best B.Ed Notes

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Transfer of Learning – Introduction

Transfer of learning is an important concept in life and in the field of education. It’s all about how the things we learn in one situation can be used or applied in other situations. Means the learning of one thing helps in the learning of something else. Imagine you’re learning to ride a bicycle. The skills and balance you gain don’t just help you ride that specific bicycle; they can be transferred to riding any other bicycle or even a bike. This ability to transfer learning is incredibly valuable in education, and it’s explained by various theories.

Types of Transfer of Learning

There are many types of Transfer of Training or Learning. Here we have discussed about the 8 most common types.

  1. Positive Transfer – when previous learning helps the acquisition of new knowledge or skills.
  2. Negative Transfer – when previous learning hinders or interferes with the acquisition of new knowledge or skills.
  3. Zero Transfer – when previous learning has no significant effect on new learning in a different context.
  4. Bilateral Transfer – where learning in one context enhances or positively influences learning in another context, and the transfer goes both ways.
  5. Specific or near Transfer – occurs when the learned skills or knowledge are applied to situations that closely resemble the original learning context.
  6. General or far Transfer – involves applying knowledge or skills to contexts that may be quite different from the original learning situation.
  7. Lateral Transfer – when knowledge or skills are applied in a context that is different but parallel to the original learning situation. 
  8. Vertical Transfer – transfer of learning from one difficulty level to another within the same domain or subject.

Theories of Transfer of Learning

There are four important theories of Transfer of Learning or Training as follow:

1. Theory of Identical Elements

According to this theory, transfer takes place from one activity to another to the extent that there are common or identical elements in the two activities. In other words, if two situations are very similar, what is learned in one can be readily applied to the other.

2. Theory of Generalization of Experience

Generalization involves applying knowledge or skills learned in one context to a somewhat related, but not necessarily identical, situation. It doesn’t require complete similarity between the two situations.

3. Theory of Ideals

This theory was propounded by W.C. Bagley. According to this theory, Ideals of procedure, neatness, punctuality, hard work, honesty etc. when consciously striven for and given an emotional tone, it can be transfer.

4. Transposition Theory

According to this theory, it is not solely about the direct transfer of specific skills, facts or underlying principles, but it is the understanding of relationship between facts, processes and principles. It focuses on perceiving the similarity or patterns between different situations. Hence it is also known as pattern of relationship.

Application of Transfer of Learning Theories

1. In Education

  • Teachers use transfer of learning theories to design lessons that help students apply what they’ve learned to real-life situations.
  • If students have learned about the water cycle, they can apply that knowledge to understand how a washing machine works because both involve the movement of water.

2. In Skill Development

  • Learning a skill, like playing a musical instrument, can help in the development of other skills.
  • For example, if you can play the piano, you might find it easier to learn to play the guitar because of the similarities in musical concepts and finger dexterity.

3. In Problem-Solving

  • Transfer of learning theories is essential for problem-solving. If you’ve solved a particular type of problem before, you can use the same problem-solving approach for a similar problem.
  • If you’ve fixed a leaky water tap, you might be able to use the same problem-solving skills to address a leaky roof because both situations involve identifying and repairing leaks.


Transfer of learning is like the superpower of education. It’s about taking what you’ve learned in one place and using it in another. Whether you’re a student trying to understand new concepts or an adult facing various challenges in life, the ability to transfer learning is incredibly valuable. Understanding the concept of transfer of learning helps educators and learners make the most of their knowledge and skills, applying them to different situations, both near and far. So, keep learning, and remember, your learning can be like a bicycle that takes you to many places!

   Also Read :  
  • Read more about Types of Transfer of Learning or training in detailed.
  • Read more about Theories of Transfer of Learning or training in detailed.
  • Get the complete Notes on Sociological Foundation of Education.
  • Get the complete Notes on Learning and Teaching.

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