The Science of Learning: Transferring Learning to Novel Problems


  • Richard Wells
  • Thanh Le


transfer, prior knowledge, mental maps, novel problems


The fourth Key Question posed in the Deans for Impact report (2015) asks, “How does learning transfer to new situations in or outside of the classroom?â€Â  DFI (2015) propose two cognitive principles addressing the question.  This paper dissects each of the cognitive principles to distill the following themes educators should employ in the K-12 and Higher Education classrooms to foster students’ ability to transfer learning to novel problems: 1) Students should participate in deep initial learning experiences as described earlier in this review that will enable them to see relevance and meaning both in-context and beyond the context of the problem at hand.  2) Learners should develop the ability to decipher signal, relevant details and perspectives, from the noise.  3) Learners need to develop mental maps that make connections between existing knowledge and new knowledge.  4) Students should also have flexibility in applying knowledge to novel problems using an abstract systems perspective.






Application of Knowledge