Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Chemistry Education

Promoting Transfer Processes in Chemistry Education

Abstraction from, and generalisation of a particular situation are prerequisite to the transfer of acquired knowledge and strategies onto a new situation. This transfer competency is an important factor for the development of an effective problem-solving competency.

The ability at problem-solving is one of the key competencies, which should be acquired in science education. It has been taught successfully, if acquired capabilities can be extended to new situations, but it has been observed in many lessons that transfer often fails. Hence, the aim of this project is the development of problem-solving schemata for chemistry education and their use as an implicit learning strategy for promoting transfer competency.

Problem-solving schemata, as other schemata, are prerequisite to the acquisition of knowledge (Mandl, Friedrich & Hron 1988; Kopp & Mandl 2006). The acquisition and the alteration of schemata are described by three processes (Rumelhart & Norman 1978; Mandl et al. 1988): Accretion, tuning and restructuring. Accretion of knowledge does not change the schema, existing gaps are just filled with information. A schema undergoes small structural changes or an evolution by tuning. New schemata are generated only by restructuring, for instance, through schema induction. A schema induction is the formation of a (new) schema by the appearance of frequent time-related or simultaneous facts.
Science education research classifies change of knowledge structure, including schemata, predominantly under the term conceptual change.

Problem-solving schemata are constructed in such a way, that the components of problem-solving are centred on abstraction and generalisation, and that the problem-solving process is clearly structured. Learning environments are created so that the first experimental group receives instruction at teacher and pupil level and the second experimental group receives instruction only at teacher level.

Therefore, the investigated subject is, to what extent a combination of teacher and pupil interaction promotes transfer competency in such a way, that this competency can apply to other situations.


Funke, J. & Zumbach, J. (2006). Problemlösen. In H. Mandl & H.F. Friedrich (Eds.), Handbuch Lernstrategien (pp. 206-220). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Kopp, B. & Mandl, H. (2006). Wissensschemata. In H. Mandl & H.F. Friedrich (Eds.), Handbuch Lernstrategien (pp. 127-134). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Mandl, H., Friedrich, H.F. & Hron, A. (1988). Theoretische Ansätze zum Wissenserwerb. In H. Mandl & H. Spada (Eds.), Wissenspsychologie (pp. 123-160). Weinheim: Psychologie- Verlags-Union.

Rumelhart, D.E. & Norman, D.A. (1978). Accretion, tuning, and restructuring: Three modes of learning. In J.W. Cotton & R.L. Klatzky (Eds.), Semantic factors in cognition (pp. 37- 53). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.