Teaching for Transfer

Deeper learning is called for, when the goal is to prepare students to be able to solve new problems and adapt to new situations. Calls for such “21st Century skills” as innovation, creativity, and creative problem-solving can also be interpreted as calls for deeper learning.


Research suggests that deeper learning involves developing an interconnected network of five types of knowledge. The way in which a learner organizes these five types of knowledge influences whether the knowledge leads to deeper learning and transfer. This is what separates novice learners from experts.

In formal education, realizing the vision of deeper, transferable knowledge for all students will require complementary changes across the many elements that make up the public education system. These elements include curriculum, instruction, assessment, and teacher preparation and professional development.

To learn more, download the information graphic.

Source: National Research Council. (2012). Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills, James W. Pellegrino and Margaret L. Hilton, Editors. Board on Testing and Assessment and Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Download the report.

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