Jumping through Hoops: Learners’ Beliefs about Knowledge and Their Impact on Learning Transfer
Transfer of learning, although a main aim of education, comes neither easily nor automatically. It requires attention to at least three dimensions: learning structure and environment; teaching strategies; and the characteristics of the learner. Although many studies have focused on the first two, few, particularly in English for Academic Purposes (EAP), have looked at the more intrinsic qualities of the last.
This presentation aims to explore an aspect of the learner’s disposition to learning – his or her personal epistemology, or belief of how knowledge works, and how this may be linked to transfer. As a case in point, rather than seeing them as providing a plethora of useful skills for later study, many undergraduate students may perceive compulsory Freshman Composition or EAP courses as a “necessary evil” to be completed and discarded as soon as possible for the apparently more relevant learning in the major electives. If the learner does, for example, perceive learning to be about “jumping through hoops” rather than “climbing a staircase”, what are the reasons for this perception and how could it affect the desired transfer? How can educators address this dimension to achieve more effectively the goals of learning?
Against the backdrop of existing literature, these questions will be considered in the context of an EAP course at a Thai university.
Keywords: Transfer of Learning, English for Academic Purposes
Jonathan H. Green
Lecturer, Humanities and Language Division, Mahidol University International College