Factors Involved in Achieving an Effective Transfer of Learning

Teaching is essentially transferring your past learning to a student. To successfully do so, you need to do more than just understand the subject matter. You also need to understand the key factors that affect learning -- motivation, feedback, application and understanding. By combining these factors in your lesson plans, you can make your teaching more effective.

  1. Motivation

    • Students need to want to learn. This doesn't necessarily mean that they need to be extremely interested in the direct subject matter, but they do need to be interested in what you're saying or the activity you're using. You need to motivate your students by using games, an engaging speaking style or anything else that will make them want to focus on you. You can impose discipline to force them to listen, but this is not as effective as making yourself entertaining enough for them to actually choose to focus on you and, by association, the subject matter.


    • Students also need feedback to encourage their learning. When they get a question right or make an insightful point, it is your job to tell them they are on the right track. It's a psychological "more like this." If you encourage right answers, students will feel more inclined to give more right answers. What's more, they will know they are on the right track and will follow that same train of thought. Teaching isn't just throwing information at students -- it's letting them know when they are processing it correctly and when they are not and encouraging the former.


    • Application is another key factor of learning. Students need to apply their knowledge through activities and discussions in order to understand the point of it. By applying the knowledge they've acquired, they are making it relevant to their life, which solidifies it in their memory and gives them a reason to learn more.


    • The combination of the other processes result in understanding. This is when the students assimilate the information, understand it in context and can apply it on their own. Once understanding or "getting their head around it" is reached, the student has learned the concept. An example of this is in English teaching for speakers of second languages. Making students memorize vocabulary words is part of the learning process, but they aren't really English speakers until they can apply those vocabulary words in conversation. They need to be able to understand why they follow different rules rather than just blindly follow an algorithm. Understanding the difference between "better" and "best" is learning; pronouncing each word correctly without knowing its meaning is parroting.

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