This paper will take a specific learning theory, in this case, information processing, which demonstrates methods to apply the transfer of learning concepts within a specific workplace.
Transfer of learning offers “the ability to take what one has learned in one context and use it in a new instance” (Williamson & Schell, 2015, p. 1). The application of different learning theories allow for the transfer of knowledge to occur; these include, but are not limited to behaviorism, social cognitive, information processing, and constructivism. In order to better understand how a particular learning theory allows for the application of this transfer of learning within a specific workplace setting, the learning theory of information processing has been selected for review.
There are many different types of information processing, or ways that information may be processed by the human mind. Regardless of the type of information processing that occurs, the information processing model is, essentially, the same. The brain receives a particular stimulus, which leads to the input process, the storage process, the output process, and, finally, the response to the stimulus (MacLeod, 2008). The input process is concerned with analyzing the stimulus; the storage process encompasses everything that happens to the stimulus within the mind, including the coding and/or the manipulation of the stimulus; and the output process refers to the process used by the brain to prepare the response that the brain and body will provide to the stimulus received (MacLeod, 2008). Information processing is not limited to a particular discipline or situation; it is something that is going on constantly, the interaction between the individual and the environment in which they are operating in, regardless of whether the individual is awake or asleep (Sowa, 1983).
One particular form of information processing is that which occurs when the individual in question is reading. “Visual information is transformed through a series of processing stages, involving visual, phonological, and episodic memory systems until it is finally comprehended in the semantic system” (La Berge & Samuels, 1974, p. 293). The material that has been read and processed by the individual is said to be learned if the information that the individual is able to convey regarding what he or she has read may be presented with accuracy and if it may be presented automatically (La Berge & Samuels, 1974). In other words, if the individual is able to accurately recall, without hesitancy, the information that has been read and present that information to another, the individual is said to have learned the information that they have read. This reading comprehension and application of information serves as a means of assisting the individual throughout the course of his or her daily life, both personal and professional.
Within the professional setting, i.e. the workplace, this particular type of information processing through reading serves to provide the individual with the necessary knowledge and skills that he or she needs in order to accurately apply and affect the transfer of knowledge within that setting. Looking to a hosting company, where the vast majority of the information being taught is read, the individual must first go through training, reading the necessary information, if the individual does not already have the requisite knowledge of Linux and Windows servers, and then taking that information and practically applying it within a tech support setting. The individual will read about how to create a database in WordPress. This simple process, once retained by the individual, will provide them with the necessary information that he or she needs in order to effect a transfer of knowledge when it comes to the creation of a standalone database within cPanel, a custom coded database tied to a website programmed in a different manner, or even aiding in the setup of a database on a Windows server, for, though the process is different on a Windows server than it is on a Linux server, the main key phrases that the individual will need to look for to ensure that the database is setup properly are not dissimilar.
In this way, the individual is able to take information that they have learned regarding WordPress databases and be able to transfer that information from one context to the other, regardless of whether that be the creation of a new database, the fixing of a database error, or the setup of a database on a Windows server. The transfer of learning process infers that a jump between two, or more, different contexts has been made by the learner, “wherein what is learned in one setting is applied to another situation, leading to expanded and/or new understanding” (Williamson & Schell, 2015, p. 1). In this context, the application of this information, the process of creating and correcting databases, is considered to be a near transfer as the individual is working either within the same environment, or in a different environment, albeit one that uses verbiage that is not dissimilar from what the individual is used to.
An example of far transfer within the same context, the hosting company, and using the same form of information processing, reading, would occur if the individual were to have read about the process necessary to tie two spreadsheets together within Microsoft Excel, and then during the course of their time at the hosting company, realize that the same basic principles may be used to tie two databases together, allowing for the processing of the information contained in both of the databases at the same time, as opposed to processing one and then processing the other.
Transfer of learning is used by individuals each and every day, in the workplace and without. Information regarding the operation of a bird’s wings in flight aided in the creation of more aerodynamically sound wings on commercial vehicles. Understanding how to solve a basic math equation can be transferred to learning how to determine how much distance there is between the individual and their next stop on a road trip. Information processing is just one of the many ways that may be used to ensure effective transformation of learning within a workplace setting, and it is a highly effective one.