Making Connections: Transferring and Applying Learning Among Courses

November 28-30, 2012
Location: Weitz 231
Sponsor: CISMI and HHMI

This event has already occurred, registration for the workshop is closed


Wish students would carry more of what they learned in one course into the next? What would you like students to transfer from other courses or experiences and apply in the courses you teach? For example, do you long for the day that a student makes connections between what they learned about energy in physics, chemistry, geology, and biology? That they are able to apply what they learn in an introductory class into upper division course? Join us as we identify common understandings and skills we'd like students to transfer among their science and math classes, explore what is known about facilitating the transfer and application of learning, and develop strategies to achieve this in our courses. As a group we'll develop a model for transfer that can be implemented at Carleton. Our seventh HHMI grant will provide curriculum grants for interested faculty to develop and implement specific applications and working with SERC we'll investigate what works.


Three afternoon workshop sessions with three morning writing group sessions to capture the framework that will emerge. The goal is to build a testable model. Our workshop will include presentations by three faculty members who have been engaged in this work at other institutions. In addition, two advisors will support us in developing a testable framework for enhancing transfer of learning at Carleton - Janet Carlson '82, Executive Director of Biological Sciences Curriculum Study and Mary Huber, Carnegie Foundation.


Wednesday, Nov. 28: Why is transfer of learning between courses so hard?

The goal of the afternoon workshop is to identify the challenges to transfer by exploring the underpinning cognitive theory.

12-1 Lunch – introductions, overview of goals of workshop

1-2 Small group discussion about why transfer is hard and what we've tried or observed in our own teaching.

2-3 Dan Schwartz, Stanford University – What do we know about how students transfer and apply prior learning?

3-4 Brainstorming about how the research on transfer of learning might inform our own curricular experiments. How might we measure successful transfer?

Thursday, Nov. 29: What works to facilitate transfer?

The goal of this afternoon is to identify evidence-based strategies for enhancing transfer.

1-2 Arthur Eisenkraft (physicist and physics educator), University of Massachusetts, Boston – What's worked in figuring out how to teach about energy in a transferable way across multiple science departments?

2-3 Todd Cooke (biologist and biology educator), University of Maryland, College Park – Lessons learned from a seven year collaboration between a biologist and a physicist (Joe Reddish) in integrating biological concepts into a physics class and physics concepts into a biology class. What does it take to really build a collaborative teaching partnership.

3-4 Discussions on how we might leverage our own work with the lessons learned from other institutions.

Friday, Nov. 30: Developing a testable model

Carleton faculty and our two advisors will work to refine a testable model for transfer sketched out by the morning writing group. The model will guide the curriculum development proposals and thus will be a collaborative effort.

Conveners and Staff

Cathryn Manduca, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College
Joe Chihade, Department of Chemistry, Carleton College
Susan Singer, Department of Biology, Carleton College
Ellen Iverson, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College
Kristin O'Connell, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College