Learning Transfer amongst First Year University Students

By Francesco Sofo and Michelle Berzins.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study reports the perceived learning transfer that occurred for a group of first year university students. The research question answered in this paper is ‘to what extent do students perceive that learning transfer will occur as a result of their enrolment in a first year community education unit?’ The participants in the pilot study were 34 students enrolled in a bachelor degree at an Australian university. The methodology involved the completion of an abridged version of the Holton and Bates (1998) Learning Transfer System Inventory, as well as attendance at a voluntary focus group to discuss learning transfer and possible barriers. The results reveal that most respondents thought that the activities and exercises used in class helped them to know how to apply their learning in the workplace where resources would be available to them. Most students were also confident in their ability to apply newly learned skills, and as a result felt that their performance would improve which would then lead to further good outcomes. More than 40% of students were found to disagree that they possessed a good understanding of job-fit or that they received encouragement from colleagues or support from supervisors. The overall findings indicate that the mixture of lecture-style delivery, small group work and exposure to practitioners currently working as community educators all combined to allow learning transfer to occur amongst the convenient sample of first year Australian university students. The opportunity exists for the study to be extended to include a comparative analysis of a wider selection of students (such as those from differing disciplines) or to explore the similarities and differences amongst post-graduates, or amongst those students in the second or third year of their university studies where greater opportunities exist for on-the-job learning transfer.

Keywords: Learning Transfer, Survey, Focus Group, Barriers, University Student

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.89-98. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 707.701KB).

Prof. Francesco Sofo

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Associate Professor of Human Resource Development, and currently convener of postgraduate programs in Professional Development Education and Human Resource Development. Career goal is to be the best he can in assisting in the learning and development of individuals, teams and organisations. Fellow of both the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian Human Resource Institute.

Dr. Michelle Berzins

Faculty of Education, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Sessional lecturer in the Faculty of Education University of Canberra. Recipient of two Chancellor’s Commendations and an Australian Postgraduate Award for research into cartel conduct. Research interests include white collar crime, critical thinking and the transfer of learning.


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