Strengthening students' ability to transfer knowledge?

Too often I witness students who perform well on a test or participate in class because they are reciting or memorizing the correct answer; however, when asked to explain that same information, or contribute to a group project in which the material must be applied, student participation and grades significantly decline.

Each day students are immersed in two types of knowledge both in and outside of the classroom: declarative knowledge and functioning knowledge. Declarative knowledge is second-hand knowledge in which students are mostly reciting back or memorizing what they have heard. There is very little processing required for this type of knowledge. Functioning knowledge, however, is the ability for students to put the declarative component to work by constructing meaning and applying it to situations.

For my senior research project I decided to look into factors affecting students' abilities to transfer knowledge among various contexts. For my study I chose to focus on a first grade class of 27 students both male and female. Through various observations, it has been documented that students, regardless of gender or abilities, struggle to master knowledge transfer particularly in mathematics. The purpose of the study is to answer the question: Will students’academic performance increase if educators teach for transfer of skills and concepts to real-world application? Throughout this research, the students will be unaware they are being observed in a study. The goal is to determine if incorporating various teaching modalities, while also teaching students transfer skills that apply to real-world applications, will improve either one or both of the two main areas; testing scores and classroom participation. In addition, is there a difference in performance among high and low performing students? Also, if the study is successful, how can these skills be incorporated into each subject area and classroom within the school district?

Ms. Vince

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