Transfer and Social Practice
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This paper examines knowledge transfer from cognitive and sociocultural perspectives. It is held that transfer is not from the general to the specific or vice versa, neither is it wholly from the disembedded to the embedded. Rather, transfer is the process of disembedding knowledge from one situation and transforming it to have utility in another, which includes finding analogies which ease transfer. Consequently, expectations of and understanding about transfer across different types of social practice (e.g. the classroom and workplace) may be based on incomplete assumptions. It is proposed that vocational knowledge has its genesis in different levels of social development, each with its own characteristics and potential for transfer. In current vocational curriculum frameworks, goals for vocational education often relate to the disembedded sociocultural level of knowledge, yet there is an expectation of that knowledge being transferable across communities of practice, such as workplaces with their own sets of embedded norms and values. Yet, not only are these communities distinct, but that transfer is from one type of community of practice to another (e.g. a workplace to a .particular classroom). This makes the prospect of transfer across different kinds of settings 'far' (transfer to circumstances which are novel), something which does not readily happen. This may help explain the paucity of transfer between two different communities of practice - the 'classroom' and the workplace. The paper concludes by discussing approaches to instruction for maximising transfer across settings and circumstances, which emphasise the need to embed and disembed knowledge as well as seeking to construct analogous opportunities for transfer.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Vocational Education Research