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Gick & Holyoak tried 3 ways to induce transfer

- Subjects were told to summarize story in abstract terms

- A general principle was provided
- "If you need a large force to accomplish some purpose, but are prevented from applying such a force directly, many smaller forces applied simultaneously from different directions may work just as well"

- Create a diagram


What worked?

- All 3 ways (summary, general principle, and diagram alone) failed to facilitate transfer

- Subjects were given the two stories and told to write down the basis for the similarity in the story
- This worked!
- It's known as analogical problem solving


Gick & Holyoak's Conclusions

Gick and Holyoak concluded that analogical problem solving depends on three steps:

- Noticing that an analogical connection exists between the source and the target problem
- Mapping corresponding parts of the 2 problems onto each other (fortress= tumor, army= ray)
- Applying the mapping to generate a parallel solution to the target problem (using small groups of soldiers from different directions= sending several weaker rays from different directions)



- Transfer: When we apply knowledge or skills
- In new ways
- In new situations
- In familiar situations with different content


Contemporary Perspective

- Transfer is a specific process, not a general one

- Learning occurring at one time can facilitate learning at another time if, in the process, the individual learns how to learn

- Learning processes may not be the only thing to transfer
- Emotions and motivation may transfer too (Ex. Little Albert, PTSD)


Transfer from various theoretical perspectives

- Behaviorism: Generalization (i.e., responding in same way to different stimuli because of similarity)

- Information Processing: Encoding information in a way that information or skills can be recalled in appropriate contexts

- Social Cognitive Theory: Latent learning; certain actions will lead to favorable outcomes in other contexts

- Situated Cognition: Transfer is unlikely to occur from one context to another context


What facilitates transfer?

- Meaningful learning vs. rote learning

- Thoroughness of learning process (less is more)

- Similarity of situation/context/problem type

- Practice!

- Brief time interval between original and transfer task

- Setting up a classroom culture that expects transfer


Types of Transfer

- Vertical vs. Lateral

- Negative vs. Positive

- Near vs. Far

- Low Road vs. High Road


Vertical Transfer

- Knowledge of previous topic is essential to acquire new knowledge
- Ex: To understand multiplication, one needs to understand addition


Lateral (or Horizontal) Transfer

- Knowledge of previous topic may be helpful- but is not essential- to learn a new topic
- Ex: Knowledge of physics may be helpful for understanding geology


Vertical vs. Lateral Transfer: Examples

- V: Learning to multiply -> learning to raise numbers to a power (squaring, cubing, etc.)

- L: Learning psychology -> Learning sociology

- V: Learning to sew -> Learning to embroider

- V: Learning how to use a jack -> Learning to change a tire


Positive Transfer

- What is learned in one context enhances learning in a different setting
- Ex: Knowledge of how to create a PowerPoint will help you to make a Prezi


Negative Transfer

- What's learned in one context interferes with learning in another; elements incorrectly identified as being similar
- Ex: Mac vs. PC keyboard shortcuts; using a different computer operating system


Positive vs. Negative Transfer

- Learning one Romantic language -> Learning a second Romantic language

- Learning to drive a manual car -> Learning to drive an automatic car


Near Transfer

- Old and new contexts are similar; overlap between situations
- Ex: A restaurant where you order at a counter and another where you order at a table


Far Transfer

- Old and new contexts are not similar; little overlap between situations
- Ex: A teacher using skills developed in running a classroom to running a business

- Usually requires analysis, deep thinking and seeing similarities that are not always apparent (ex. analogical problem solving)


Near vs. Far Transfer Examples

- N: Practice test -> Real test

- F: Statistics Test -> Using software to analyze data for research

- N: Driving a Ford pickup truck -> Driving a Chevy pickup truck

- F: Driving a speedboat -> Sailing a sailboat

- F: Typing on a typewriter -> Typing up Braille

- N: Typing on a typewriter -> Typing on a computer


Low Road Transfer

- Transfer of well-established skills happens in an automatic or nearly automatic fashion
- Ex: Taking a multiple choice exam in multiple contexts and domains


High Road Transfer

- Purposeful and effortful formulations of ideas about relations and connections among contexts
- Ex: Using knowledge of chess strategy to become an effective politician


Near/Far vs. Low-Road/High-Road

- Near vs. Far: Primarily focus on the degree of similarity between the original task an transfer task, as well as contexts

- Low-Road vs. High-Road: Refer to mechanisms of transfer (i.e., how a person approaches the situations: Is it more automatic? Or is there a conscious search for connections?)


Well-Defined vs. Ill-Defined

- Well-defined problems
- Clear goals
- Only one correct solution
- Structured procedures for reaching a solution
- All information is specified
- Ex: How to get a car to mechanic after an accident/ How to earn enough money for down-payment on house/ Chess

- Ill-defined problems
- Ambiguous goals
- More than one solution
- No generally agree-upon strategy for reaching a solution
- One or more features of the problem are not specified or are ambiguous
- Ex: Writing poetry/ Cleaning your apartment (could be well defined if limits set)/ Learning to play guitar


3 Parts of a Problem

- Goal: Desired end state

- Givens: What you are told at the beginning; your starting state

- Operations: Actions that you can perform to reach the goal, including the rules of the game and how to get from one state to another


Well-Structured Problem-Solving Process

- Identify the problem goal

- Represent the problem

- Select a strategy

- Implement the strategy

- Evaluate the results


Represent the Problem

- Stating in more familiar terms

- Relating to previously experiences problems

- Represent visually


Select a strategy, and Implement

- Trial and error

- Insight

- Heuristics vs. Algorithms

- Brainstorming

- Means-End Analysis

- Working Backward

- Drawing Analogies


Trial and Error

- Thorndike's Puzzle Box
- Trial and error is something we use
- Not effective or reliable



- A sudden awareness of a likely solution
- An Aha! moment

- Research has found 4 steps for insight to occur:
- Preparation (time to learn and gather information)
- Incubation (time to think)
- Inspiration (Eureka!)
- Verification (time to test)


Silveira (1971): The cheap necklace problem

- "You are given four separate pieces of chain that are each 3 link in length

- It costs 2 cents to open a link and 3 cents to close a link

- All links are closed at the beginning of the problem

- Your goal is to join all 12 links of chain into a single circle at a cost of no more than 15 cents

- Control group: Worked on the problem for half an hour

- Experimental group 1: Worked for half an hour, interrupted by a half-hour break in which other activities were performed

- Experimental group 2: As 1, but with a 4 hour break


Heuristics and Algorithms

- A heuristic is a mental shortcut
- General method for solving problems that uses rules of thumb, which usually lead to a solution
- Informal, intuitive, speculative strategies that sometimes work

- An algorithm is a sequence of operations that when repeated over and over again guarantees success
- Methodical, but often slow
- If you get stuck or forget a step, you can't move on


Other methods

- Brainstorming: Generating large number of possible approaches without regard to practicality then evaluate for usefulness

- Means-end Analysis: Break problem down into 2+ sub-problems to solve

- Working Backward: Start at problem goal and work in reverse toward initial problem state

- Analogies: Drawing an analogy between the current problem and another previously solved problem can provide insight (Fortress/Tumor)