A three-attribute transfer skills framework – part II: applying and assessing the model in science education
In an era in which information is rapidly growing and changing, it is very important to teach with the goal of students' engagement in life-long learning in mind. This can partially be achieved by developing transferable thinking skills. In our previous paper – Part I, we conducted a review of the transfer literature and suggested a three-attribute transfer skills framework presented graphically as a cube. The goals of this paper – Part II are (a) to investigate the application of the three-attribute transfer skills framework by conducting two studies; and (b) to demonstrate the value of the framework as a tool for design of assignments and assessment of students' transfer skills. In this paper, we have applied the three-attribute transfer skills framework to design assignments and to assess middle and high school students. In order to achieve the first goal we conducted two studies: (1) investigating high school chemistry students in a computerized laboratory setting, and (2) exploring middle school students who were exposed to a science enrichment program. Study 1 took a case-based chemistry approach and included assessment of high school honor chemistry students' transfer skills. In Study 2, we evaluated the transfer skills of ninth grade students who had participated in a science enrichment academic program with emphasis on physics and we compared boys to girls. Findings of Study 1 indicated an increase in students' far transfer skill as expressed by the progress students made in transferring knowledge from chemistry to other science domains and by using more chemistry understanding levels in their responses. In Study 2, we found that the near transfer skill of middle school boys was significantly higher than the same skill among girls who participated in the same enrichment program. Both parts, the review and the three-attribute transfer skills framework (previous paper – Part I) and the research (this paper – Part II), contribute to narrowing the gap between the theory of transfer, empirical research, and the practice of transfer in science classrooms.