Learning and transfer: Instructional conditions and conceptual change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely assumed that instruction plays a role in learning and in transfer. The present studies examine how type of instruction (containing principle-based vs. procedure-based information) influences learning and transfer in a mathematical concept. In the first study, both types of instruction led a comparable number of children to learn, but principle-based instruction led significantly more children to transfer their new knowledge. In the second study, the types of instruction were combined (i.e., children received both principle and procedure information). The results were virtually identical to the results obtained from the procedure-only instructions. This indicates that principle-based instruction may be crucial for transfer to occur and, when children also are exposed to procedures, few will transfer. It is hypothesized that children may ignore the conceptually rich information inherent in the principle when procedures are also provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-468
Number of pages20
JournalCognitive Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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