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Recasting transfer as a socio-personal process of adaptable learning

Educational Research Review Volume 8, Number 1, ISSN 1747-938X Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Transfer is usually cast as an educational, rather than learning, problem. Yet, seeking to adapt what individuals know from one circumstance to another is a process more helpfully associated with learning, than a hybrid one called transfer. Adaptability comprises individuals construing what they experience, then aligning and reconciling with what they know, and enacting responses. This learning process is mediated by societal and cultural contributions shaping tasks, their goals and solutions and also by individuals’ capacities and interest, as shaped by their ontogenies (i.e. socially derived life histories). Labelling this process ‘transfer’ arises from concerns about educational institutions’ key rationale: that what is learnt through them should be applicable elsewhere. However, expectations of educational provisions generating wholesale adaptable learning (i.e. transferable knowledge) are unrealistic because this learning is mediated by culturally, societally and situationally derived facts and personal factors. To moderate expectations and inform practice, transfer of knowledge needs to be understood as human thinking and acting mediated both internally (intra-psychologically) as well as inter-psychologically (from social and brute suggestions beyond the individual). Consequently, a socio-personal conception of adaptability is advanced here to illuminate this process. Through intra- as well inter-psychological mediation, it comprises individuals construing what is experienced, reconciliation with what they know and constructing new knowledge or adaptability.


Billett, S. (2013). Recasting transfer as a socio-personal process of adaptable learning. Educational Research Review, 8(1), 5-13. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved March 23, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Educational Research Review on January 29, 2019. Educational Research Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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