4 Important Theories of Transfer of Learning – B.Ed Notes

Here we have discussed about the 4 Important Theories of Transfer of Learning in detailed. You can also download it as a PDF after reading this article.

Theories of Transfer of Learning

  1. Theory of Identical Elements

  • This theory was propounded by Thorndike
  • 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.
  • For example, if you’ve become proficient at solving mathematical equations involving addition, you can transfer these skills to tackle similar situations involving subtraction because the fundamental mathematical principles are the same.
  1. Theory of Generalisation 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.
  • This theory accepts the identical elements theory, but further adds that transfer of learning takes place because the pupil learns to acquire some broad principles and generalization, which he applies in a number of situations which have identical elements.
  • The attitudes, skills and abilities are transferred only when these are systematized and related to many situations wherein these can be utilized.
  • As an example, if you’ve acquired proficiency in writing essays, you can apply the general writing skills to other contexts like drafting business reports or letters because they all involve effective written communication.
  1. Theory of Ideals

  • This theory was propounded by W.C. Bagley.
  • Ideals of procedure, neatness, punctuality, hard work, honesty etc. When consciously striven for and given an emotional tone, it can be transfer.
  • This theory combines generalization and appreciation, that is a recognition of the worth or value of the generalized controls. To ensure transfer of learning, the attitude in question must be raised to the level of an idea and given an emotional tone.

Experimental Evidence

  • Bagley conducted certain experiments on transfer of neatness as an ideal. In one of his experiments, he emphasized neatness as an ideal in arithmetic for children of grade 3. The children were given no instruction regarding neatness in other subjects. The arithmetic work showed learns evidence in the improvement of neatness, but no such evidence was visible in children’s work in other subjects.
  • In another experiment, the experiment, the experiment emphasized neatness in arithmetic work but also talked about the importance of neatness as an ideal in whatever work children were expected to do in various activities. The ideal of neatness got fixed in children’s mind. Consequently, there was an overall improvement of neatness in children’s work in different subjects, not in arithmetic work alone.
  • Hence the transfer of ideal neatness was evident. Similarly, ideals of punctuality, honesty, hard work, tolerance etc., get easy transfer from school situation to other situations in life.
  1. Transposition Theory

  • It is supported by Gestalt psychology.
  • 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.
  • For example, consider a student who has learned to identify patterns in geometric shapes in one context, such as recognizing the symmetry of different polygons. Later, when presented with a completely different situation, like identifying patterns in a series of musical notes, the student successfully applies the concept of pattern recognition developed in geometry to identify musical patterns.
  • In this example, the transfer is not about directly applying specific skills or principles, but rather understanding the relationship between patterns, which enables the learner to apply the concept across different domains
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