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On Wednesday 4 April, Dr David Huang of NTU Singapore led a seminar at JIAS entitled ‘Preparation for Learning Transfer: A research agenda’. This was the fourth in the 2018 JIAS Writing Fellows Seminar Series.

ABSTRACT: Using the author’s research on analogical transfer and generative learning as the point of departure, this seminar shares a series of studies on learning and transfer and presents a research agenda for future inquiry. The purpose is to examine the design of pedagogical activities that better prepare students and school leaders for learning transfer.

The seminar covers three sections. The first section provides an overview on education policy and education research in Singapore. It underscores the value of research on learning transfer in the Singapore context.

The second section presents two studies that the author conducted in Singapore schools. One is a case study on how school leaders use analogies to learn about diffusion of pedagogical innovations. The study suggests a possibility for ‘less’ to create ‘more’ in conceptual change: analogues that have fewer degrees of similarity to innovation diffusion were found to be more helpful in inducing school leaders’ conceptual change in innovation diffusion. The other study uses experimental studies to investigate how preparatory tasks prepare students for learning transfer in algebra word problems. The study varied preparatory tasks in terms of generating analogies versus comparing given analogies as well as more versus less task complexity. The study delineates boundary conditions of Productive Failure. The knowledge-learning-instruction dependency revealed in this study supports the expertise reversal effects.

Learning from the past studies, the third section shares a research agenda for future inquiry. More specifically, it reviews the literature and seeks to understand how learning activities, such as generation, imitation, analogical comparison, and contrasting comparison lead to differentiated knowledge that influences transfer. It also seeks to understand how, bounded by neurocognitive constraints, integrating and sequencing the learning activities could interweave this knowledge and better prepare students for learning transfer. Conjectures and hypotheses are drawn from the literature review for future investigation.

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