UNDERSTANDING TRANSFER Transfer occurs when prior learning contributes to solving subsequent problems, the term 'problem' being used, as it is in this book, to include learning. 'Transfer involves learning something in one situation and applying it in another' (Blagg and Lewis 1993). As discussed throughout this book, the components of the 'something' which is learned are concepts and procedures. When people are confronted with a problem, they need to select from memory concepts and mental operations those which can serve as the intellectual building blocks of a solution. It is commonly assumed that transfer somehow just happens. One of the clearest messages from research is that this is not the case. Research demonstrates that we have to learn to transfer our learning from one situation to another. This means that transfer is unlikely to happen unless promoted systematically through instruction until it is mastered by learners. The errors at work described in Chapter 2 could easily have been avoided if the performers had asked themselves a few questions which should be well practised in vocational education.