Exploring metacognition as support for learning transfer


  • Lauren Scharff United States Air Force Academy
  • John Draeger State University of New York Buffalo State
  • Dominique Verpoorten University of Liège
  • Marie Devlin Newcastle University
  • Lucie S Dvorakova University of Queensland
  • Jason M Lodge University of Melbourne
  • Susan Smith Leeds Beckett University




learning transfer, metacognition, learning processes, teaching, student perspectives, faculty perspectives


The ability to transfer learning to new situations lies at the heart of lifelong learning and the employability of university graduates. Because students are often unaware of the importance of learning transfer and staff do not always explicitly articulate this expectation, this article explores the idea that metacognition (intentional awareness and the use of that awareness) might enhance the development of learning transfer. Our exploratory study includes results from a survey of 74 staff and 118 students from five institutions in Australia, Belgium, UK, and USA. Our data indicate that many staff and a majority of students do not have a clear understanding of what learning transfer entails, and that there are many mismatches between staff and student perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors regarding learning transfer. This helps explain why learning transfer does not occur as often as it could. We found significant positive correlations between thinking about transfer and thinking about learning processes and the likelihood to use awareness of metacognition to guide practice. Our findings suggest a positive relationship between metacognition and learning transfer. Implications for the scholarship of teaching and learning are discussed.


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Author Biographies

Lauren Scharff, United States Air Force Academy

Lauren Scharff is Director, SoTL Program and Professor of Behavioral Sciences at United States Air Force Academy.

John Draeger, State University of New York Buffalo State

John Draeger is Director of SoTL and Associate Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Buffalo State.

Dominique Verpoorten, University of Liège

Dominique Verpoorten is Lecturer of Learning Sciences at IFRES-University of Liège.

Marie Devlin, Newcastle University

Marie Devlin is Lecturer of Computing Science at Newcastle University.

Lucie S Dvorakova, University of Queensland

Lucie S. Dvorakova is an Honors Student at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland.

Jason M Lodge, University of Melbourne

Jason M. Lodge is Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne.

Susan Smith, Leeds Beckett University

Susan Smith is Head of Curriculum Development and Review at Leeds Beckett University.


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How to Cite

Scharff, Lauren, John Draeger, Dominique Verpoorten, Marie Devlin, Lucie S Dvorakova, Jason M Lodge, and Susan Smith. 2017. “Exploring Metacognition As Support for Learning Transfer”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 5 (1):78-91, 92. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.5.1.6.



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