Conceptual Innovation and Transfer

Authored by: Lee Martin , Daniel L. Schwartz

International Handbook of Research on Conceptual Change

Print publication date:  June  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415898829
eBook ISBN: 9780203154472
Adobe ISBN: 9781136578212


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Conceptual change involves building new knowledge. Changes can be small and local, like an individual’s realization that whales are mammals, not fish (Chi, Slotta, & De Leeuw, 1994b), or large and society-changing, like the scientific discovery that disease is caused by germs (Thagard, 1996). People build new knowledge from a foundation of old knowledge, and for this reason, theories of transfer are pertinent to the study of conceptual change. Transfer is the use of learning gained in one context or topic to help with another. Individuals may transfer learning from school to kitchen or from algebra to chemistry. The literature on transfer shows that it is both ubiquitous, if one considers any use of existing knowledge in a new setting to be evidence of transfer (Lobato, 2003), and exceedingly rare, if one looks for the application of specified, instructed knowledge on a single transfer problem (Detterman, 1993).

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