The transfer of learning is a common concept that is usually embraced in the context of educational literature. The fact that most training and education seeks to convey knowledge or skills makes ‘transfer’ one of the major concepts in learning theories. The preferred workplace for discussion in this paper is the classroom environment, and; therefore, this paper will focus on training or transfer of learning in a learning environment. The main aim of education is ensuring that people apply the knowledge and skills they acquire in different contexts so that they can recognize and ensure that the acquired knowledge is extended to new situations. Therefore, classroom environments are essential because they play a major part in building skills. Some authors use the term ‘transfer of training’ whenever the transfer itself entails the field of work. According to Weber (2014), transfer of training is the extent of retention as well as application of attitudes, skills, and knowledge from the environment of training to the environment of work. In the education domain, transfer of learning entails generation of information and knowledge via education. In the broad sense, transfer of learning entails construction of knowledge in one context and making sure that it is utilized in a another different context.
There exists a powerful relationship between instructional practices and learning theories. In a classroom context, effective learning occurs following utilization of effective teaching strategies. In order to have effective teaching strategies, teachers should be able to comprehend the learning concepts in order to develop a reliable theoretical orientation that forms the basis for an effective instructional design. According to Weber (2014), the level of effectiveness of instructional design ranks among the critical factors that affect the process of teaching and learning. For there to be effective student learning in a classroom environment, there requires being effective approaches of teaching coupled with the teacher’s comprehensibility of that particular subject. Besides, openness to opinion, stimulation of interests, and a teacher’s clarity are, also, critical factors that require consideration in order to manage efficiency and effectiveness of learning.
However, the most significant underlying factor is how well the teacher understands learning theories and how well he/she can apply them in regard to the psychological, motivational, and cognitive learning process that relates to academic success. It is vital to consider that any productive teaching approaches fall under the governance of learning theories, which comprise a divergent area in educational practice and curriculum practice (Schunk, 2012). Therefore, development of effective lesson plans that can lead to achievement of desired objectives requires teachers to be in possession of various skills. Besides, teachers should, also, be able to understand and apply different theories, ideas and concepts. It is, therefore, in the interest of this paper to discuss various instructional models that need successful application in classroom contexts, and base on a holistic consideration of learning theories: behaviorism, social cognitive, information processing and constructivism.
In regard to behaviorism, it is essential to note that learning happens due to observable changes that are witnessed in human behavior. The acquisition of these changes occurs through a process called conditioning that is achieved through occasional or constant interaction with the environment. This, therefore, implies that if no changes are observed in human behavior, then learning has not occurred. Consideration of behavioral perspectives brings to light the fact that cognitive and internal process cannot be seen and studied in a scientific manner. Therefore, the main indication of human learning is the outward behavior, which can be studied through observation. In considering behaviorism, it is essential to note that there is a powerful relationship that exists among its three essential factors: antecedent conditions, behaviors and consequent conditions (Schunk, 2012). In behaviorism, it possible to predict a response upon issuing a stimulus. For instance, a teacher can be motivated to utilize a positive stimulus such as friendly attitude, praise, or smile in order to enhance the desired response from learners, which could be motivated attitude, hardworking and many others that can ensure a positive consequence such as high achievement. In line with behavioral theories, therefore, teachers can effect the learning process through determination of what should be taught while basing the objectives on the desired behavior. This means there should be a programmed instruction to help in shaping responses so that successful outcomes can be achieved. Programmed instruction contains carefully organized discrete steps through which learners can progress with assistance of the teacher. Transfer of learning, in behaviorism, demonstrates the capacity to link theoretical orientation to practical application so that whatever has been achieved through the learning process can be applied in real-life situations.
Social cognitive perspectives, on the other hand, regards learning as a transformation that happens in cognitive thinking. The main focus, therefore, is on the internal mental processes that affect the manner in which people conceptualize, grasp and comprehend their environment. According to Schunk (2012), cognitivism has the capacity to make essential inferences regarding the mental process, which can manage and determine a person’s behavior. It is vital to note that human memory is the learning foundation upon which cognitivism is based. Besides, it should be clear that cognitive learning puts a lot of emphasis on social interactions, a meaningful association among individuals as well as their perceived environment. Cognitive teaching aims at fostering the motivation of students so that they can become active learners via interactions with and within the environment. During transfer of learning, self-directed learning and cognitive strategies are essential. In regard to self-directed learning, teachers in a classroom context should ensure that learners are equipped with the strategies and actions that can enable them control and implement their own learning. In regard to cognitive strategies, teachers require organizing tasks or teaching materials in order to enable students develop efficient organization skills.
Information processing perspective, on the other hand, combines several theoretical views, which aim at explaining human learning as an establishment of networked memory structures (Schunk, 2012). Sensory memory, working memory and long-term memory are the three function of the information processing model. Therefore, during transfer of learning, attention is a vital precursor for learning. In this regard, classroom management and motivation skills are essential for enhancing the learners’ attention towards the learning tasks. This implies that teachers require creating a range of strategies to attract and hold the attention of learners. Teachers are, also, supposed to measure the information processing skills of their learners. This can be done by testing their information gathering, focusing, organization and remembering skills.
Constructivism, on the other hand, bases on the belief or idea that an individual has the capacity to construct his or her own comprehension of the surrounding world through reflecting or considering personal experiences (Schunk, 2012). In other words, learners should not just sit and claim that they are waiting for knowledge; instead, they should be active in seeking to understand the world that surrounds them so that they can nurture their self-awareness. During transfer of learning, learners should be able to interpret and establish rules to facilitate comprehension of ideas whenever they encounter a concept, phenomenon, or principle that does not make sense. In line with constructivist perspective, the process of learning happens whenever learners actively engage in a learning process and add the newly acquired knowledge to the existing knowledge. To effectively apply constructive strategies, educators can begin by discussing the information that learners are familiar with and then lead to the information that they do not know by utilizing scaffolding and thought-provoking techniques.
In conclusion, the transfer of learning is a common concept that is usually embraced in the context of educational literature. The preferred workplace for discussion in this paper was the classroom environment, and; therefore, this paper focused on training or transfer of learning in a learning environment. There exists a powerful relationship between instructional practices and learning theories. In a classroom context, effective learning occurs following utilization of effective teaching strategies. In behaviorism, it possible to predict a response upon issuing a stimulus. Therefore, teachers can effect the learning process through determination of what should be taught while basing the objectives on the desired behavior. Cognitive teaching aims at fostering the motivation of students so that they can become active learners via interactions with and within the environment. In line with constructivist perspective, the process of learning happens whenever learners actively engage in a learning process and add the newly acquired knowledge to the existing knowledge.
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