Presentation on theme: "Q uest for the elusive transfer Danièle Bracke Michel Aubé PhD, Sciences cognitives."— Presentation transcript:
Q uest for the elusive transfer Danièle Bracke Michel Aubé PhD, Sciences cognitives
Transfer is perhaps the ultimate goal of educational efforts. All societies invest considerably so their youngsters will acquire powerful tools applicable to a variety of predictable, but also and most often, unforeseeable situations. Yet, the phenomenon is not so often observed, except perhaps in experts, and the question is whether learning methods could foster transfer skills..
There are many reasons why transfer fails so often and appear so elusive: Learning is facilitated when it is situated, but change of context is apt to disrupt performance. Human learning is facilitated by social exchange but school settings do not exploit this much. … and the transfer processes are manifold with plenty of opportunities for breakdown!
1. The components of transfer 2. The dynamics of transfer 3. Some consequences for education 4. Conclusion and alternatives Plan of the talk
Accessibility is a key problem: STM capacity is limited, while EM and LTM have potentially unlimited capacity Retrieval and matching should operate quickly, hence preferably on the basis of surface cues Solution: all three memory stores should already be filled with compatible data structures indexed by surface cues easily computable 1. The components of transfer
The units of EM are the «affordances» which encapsulate the opportunities of the environment The units of STM are «mental models» which encapsulate the goal structure of the problem The units of LTM are «categories» or schemata which incorporate semantic as well as episodic aspects of knowledge
1. The components of transfer Categories have a two-fold structure, horizontal and vertical. The horizontal dimension captures the taxonomic and hierarchical aspects; the vertical dimension captures the exemplars from experience The entry point is in the middle, at the «basic level», where is registered the prototype
Transfer operates in four steps: 1. Transfer always starts in STM with a problem to be solved 2. Then, an analog structure should be accessed either in EM or LTM 3. Analogic reasoning is thus applied onto both structures in STM 4. The whole process is concluded by success (learning) or failure (possibility for metacognition) 2. The dynamics of transfer
Strategies for step one (problem solving): Put learners in problem solving situations Choose preferably ill-defined problems Try foster qualitative elaboration on the problem as experts typically engage in Get students to reflect upon their own goal structures
Strategies for step two (accessibility): Stimulate enriching the horizontal aspect of categories Stimulate enriching the vertical aspect of categories Stimulate exploiting resources from external memory Stimulate capacities to recognize new affordances Encourage exploratory activities Stimulate the translation of affordances into new conditional knowledge
Strategies for step three (analogical reasoning): Exercise students’ ability to reason on analogies Make sure that the source analog is always more familiar than the target analog Make sure to exploit all types of similarities Structure information in packages (categories) to alleviate memory overload Train students to evoke a large diversity of analogies Distinguish processes which operate upon similarities from those which operate upon differences Get the students to consider particularly low level differences Keep the students aware of the risks associated with AR
Strategies for step four (metacognition): Reinvest the outcomes of AR into building up new categories or editing old ones Reinvest the outcomes of AR into acquiring the ability to recognize and exploit new affordances Reinvest the results from the whole process into new metacognitive stategies
4. Conclusion and alternatives Indeed, there are plenty of reasons why transfer could suffer breakdown, be it merely from the inherent complexity of the subprocesses involved. But also remember that there are other possible causes of failure: Learning is facilitated when it is situated, but change of context is apt to disrupt performance. Human learning is facilitated by social exchange and school settings do not exploit this much.
4. Conclusion and alternatives Hence, one good strategy is to train students to try apply each new skill to a variety of contexts (decontextualization-recontextualization). Another one is to exploit perception and external memory as grounding mechanisms for situated learning. Collaborative learning also offer good opportunities for varying contexts and multiplying points of view so as to enrich the repertoire of potential analogs.