Improving Transfer of Learning

Transfer of learning from a training program into one's job or role is the goal of the Alliance.

Because social work and caregiving are complex and involve human behavior, emotions, and thoughts, no training program can address the exact situations that a social worker or caregiver may face.

The Alliance works to achieve adaptive transfer, or the appropriate adaptation of knowledge and skills into new situations. Research shows that adaptive transfer depends on a combination of theory and practical application (e.g., simulations or scenarios) during training.

Research also shows that one-on-one coaching has a large positive effect on transfer.

Expert Design and Delivery

The Alliance's curriculum is designed by a team of professional curriculum developers and two instructional designers. Every course is designed around what evidence from decades of research has shown about how adults learn. Bodies of research that inform our curriculum design and teaching methods include:

Research has shown that adult learners need appropriate sequences and balances of theory, presentation, demonstration, practice, and coaching. Theory and presentation should be contextualized with scenarios and connections to the learner's job. General principles from research include the need for:

  • Active Involvement: Activities that require students to work with, process, and make meaning of knowledge
  • Contextualization: Practicing, learning, and processing within the context of situations and problems found on the job
  • Mastery: Assessment according to external criteria and practicing until criteria are met
  • Feedback: Giving the student feedback on their thinking or performance within a meaningful context
  • Reflection and Self-Evaluation: Self-assessment of acquisition of knowledge and skills and identification of next step